Title: Spider-man 2
System: Xbox (Also on PS2, Gamecube)
When I heard that Treyarch had decided to take the go anywhere do anything approach of Grand Theft Auto 3 and apply it to their next Spider-man game, I instantly realized what had been missing from all his previous games. The freedom to just swing around the city, being the vigilante you wish you could be. Up until now anytime you played a superhero game you were following a pretty linear storyline, fighting one super-villain’s goons until you faced him, and then moving onto the next until finally reaching the end boss. There was no stopping to see the sites of Manhattan or to race across town to get to a date as there is in Spider-man 2.
This is a game based on a movie, so it should come as no surprise to you that this game follows the storyline of that movie closely. Not to spoil it for you, but the opponent is one Dr. Otto Octavius, and he takes a sudden and immense dislike for old web-head when Spider-man shows up and tries to stop Otto’s experiment from destroying the city. Bad things happen and it drives Otto over the edge. However, just as with the first game, the developers at Treyarch have realized that gamers are used to fighting numerous super-villains in their videogames, and so you won’t only run into Doctor Octopus in this one. Other villains, like Rhino and the Shocker make appearances, as does Spidey’s sometime crime fighting partner, Black Cat. Really, the movie does a better job of telling this story, but that is no fault of the game. It’s just an awesome movie.
The graphics in the first Spider-man movie game were some of the best the Xbox had seen up until then. Buildings looked sharp, character models were realistic looking. Everything had a shiny new feeling to it. This time around, it’s hard to say that this is a fantastic looking game, because it isn’t. I say that in the same way that Grand Theft Auto 3 wasn’t great looking. Did you care about it then? You wonÃƒÆ’Ã‚Ât here either. The polish that was so clearly evident in the graphics of the first game is gone now, but considering the entire city of New York is rendered in almost exacting detail, I’m not complaining. My only real gripe with the graphics involves some of the character models. Spider-man and the rest of the spandex clad crowd all look fine, but when the costumes come off and regular people become involved, some of the characters are just plain ugly. Mary Jane should not look like she was put through a meat grinder before staring in this game.
In the audio department, Bruce Campbell returns to instruct you in the ways of being a superhero. He’s pretty damned funny as he does it too, even funnier than last time around. Spider-man himself is voiced by Tobey Mcguire, and he seems to be less than interested in doing the voice. Maybe that’s unfair, perhaps it’s just the way he sounds. The lines he recorded that have made it into the game are often very funny, despite the apparent lack of enthusiasm. Unfortunately not enough of them made it into the game. For a character whose charm is often his witty humor, you don’t really get to hear a lot of it. Just the occasional joke every now and then. Expect to hear the joke more than a few times too. All the other major players are voiced by their real life acting counterparts, so Mary Jane is voiced by Kirsten Dunst, Dr. Octopus is voiced by Alfred Molina and each of them seem to be at least interested in delivering their lines as they should sound.
Background noise is pretty important in the game, as while you are swinging around town you are constantly on the lookout for new missions. You are prompted on the map by emblems, but you can also home in on concerned citizens by listening to them call you down. Also, some people just feel the need to shout encouragement up to you as you swing by. But not everybody is in love with you. If you take to long to clear the street after stopping a crime cars will start to honk at you. If you make a mistake and land too close to somebody walking on the sidewalk they will yell at you for hitting them or scaring them. As often as you hear people cheer you on you will hear someone else yell “Menace!”Â
Swinging around town, going from building to building sort of lends itself to instrumental melodies, and Treyarch again delivers the goods here with a soundtrack that is part symphony and part rock and roll. It’s not playing all the time, but when it is something’s going on.
Gameplay wise, what can I say. This game is about as fun as you can have on a videogame system. Particularly if you were ever a fan of the comic book or the movies. The genius who decided to allow you to web swing across the city and interact with the citizens below deserves a huge raise. Going around town rescuing cops, stopping car-jackings, catching balloons for little kids, you ARE the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man. So far the only complaint about the gameplay would be how repetitive it gets after a while. There are about seven or so missions you can be assigned by the good citizens. Random gangs of thugs will also set traps for you to fight out of, and sometimes out of the blue you will stumble onto a gang without being called by a concerned bystander.
Even if the gameplay is a little repetitive, it is still enjoyable as you can buy new moves and combos as you earn hero points for doing your good deeds through out the city. The fighting system does get a bit complex as you get deeper into the game. However, just like games like Virtua Fighter, as you practice you will get better at pulling off moves you are looking for. Keep working at it and you’ll get it.
I like that they included Black Cat in the game, but I think it would be really cool of the developers to have more than just Black Cat in the game. Even if it were for just a cameo appearance. Dare Devil lives in New York. As do the Fantastic Four. And I’m sure they could have found a few more villains to include, had they chosen too. Rhino, Shocker and Mysterio all make for nice diversions, but Spiderman has a bigger rogues gallery than that. Heck, they don’Ã‚Ât even have to be the A-list villains. The Vulture’s calendar looks pretty bare, you know what I’m saying?
When a game decides it is going to clone some of the gameplay elements of Grand Theft Auto, this is the one area that you would hope the developers concentrate a decent portion of their attention. After all, in GTA3 you could do any number of things to keep yourself occupied, from gang missions to taxi missions to vigilante missions. In Spider-man 2, they did choose to go the GTA3 route, but not to the extent you would hope. Obviously, since you are a vigilante as Spidey, you lose that option. Ordinary life as Peter Parker would probably be kind of boring. Gang missions are out too, since Marvel would probably frown on having their number one property used in drive by shootings etc. I suppose they could have slipped in Taxi missions, but that would have been kind of weird. Cool, but weird.
They did put in something for those of us who want to do anything other than fight bad guys or save balloons or rescue people from precarious roof ledges. Whether it be racing from one point of the city to another, or taking pictures of various New York City landmarks for the Daily Bugle, there is more to do in this game than most. Perhaps in a future sequel we will see more diversions, more things to do outside of being Spiderman. If you think about it though, who cares when you are having so much fun swinging from building to building, stopping crimes and being Spider-man? There may only be a limited number of missions to perform, a small variety of things to do in the red and blue tights, but it’s a hell of a first try. This is the game that fans of this character have been dying to play since they connected the dots between videogames and Spider-man.
This game won’t get points for being the first Spider-man game, it won’t get points for being the first game to let you do anything in a city environment, and it won’t get points for telling a unique story. It will get the points for being the first videogame about Spider-man that lets you do anything you want in a city environment while telling Spider-man’s story.
Do you like Spider-man? Did you watch the movies with a frog in your throat as you watched Spidey learning how to webswing? Did you collect the various comics for any length of time as a young kid? Do you wish your girlfriend would say to you in a sultry voice ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¬Face it tiger, youÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âve hit the jackpotÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â®? Do you like comic books or superheroÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âs at all? This game is for you.
On the other hand, do you hate everything about Peter Parker and Spider-man? Do you wish the world had never heard of that damned Arachnid? Do you have 4 metal arms attached to your back telling you what to do? If so, perhaps this isn’t the game for you. But then again, even you will enjoy this game. After all, what other game lets you climb to the top of the Empire State Building and then leap off….again and again and again?
The gameplay is simple enough and at the same time challenging enough to make you keep coming back for more. Finding all the various packages, completing all the challenges, just being Spider-man. You don’t get much more addictive than that.
I know the game environment was basically cloned from Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City, but did they really have to include the inability to swim? Can somebody please teach these people how to swim?
Short Attention Span Summary
Whether swinging around NYC or taking care of missions, Spider-Man 2 has plenty of options to keep you entertained all summer long.