Inside Pulse 12

Review: Spider-Man 2 (Sony PSP)

Genre: Action/Adventure
Platform: Sony Playstation Portable
Rating: E (Everyone)
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: 03/16/2005

Spiderman has seen a renaissance in the world of video games with the latest titles on consoles. Spiderman 1 was a great action title, but Spider-man 2 busted everything wide open, allowing Spider-man to travel throughout New York City, combining a linear gameplay experience with the wide-open gameplay style of Grand Theft Auto. The PSP version of Spider-man, which is the 8th version of the game (PS2, XB, GC, GBA, DS, PC, NGage), its yet another fully new game, using the PS2 game engine as a base. The DS exclusive version was a slick 2.5D platformer, but the PSP version plays like a younger brother of the PS2 version. Was Vicarious Visions able to capture the wide open feel of the console game with the limitations of the handheld?


STORY

There is an incredible amount of story and dialogue in this version of Spider-man, considering the game is a totally new creation. The developers had access to the stars of the movie, including Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and Alfred Molina, to add vocal talents to cut scenes and the game itself. Plus, in addition to movie-influenced levels, and an overall goal to defeat Doctor Octopus, the PSP version features a variety of other Spider-man villains not featured in the movies.

Story Rating: 8/10


GRAPHICS

The graphics in Spider-man 2 resemble the PS2 console version, but with higher resolution textures and overall feel. An advantages that PSP has over a console is the wide, clear, high rez screen, and SM2 is a great example. The character models are fairly basic, but since they appears so crisp and clean, it provides an overall impressive effect.

The cityscapes are impressive, and despite not being able to travel throughout the whole city, the environments look great. The character models of Spiderman and the bosses are especially impressive. Overall Spider-man 2 is a great showcase of action titles for new PSP owners.

Graphics Rating: 8/10


SOUND

The voices of Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and Alfred Molina lend an authentic audio experience to Spider-man 2. There are other voices used in the game as well, including a trainer (who is NOT Bruce Campbell, and a poor imitation at that), that add to the ‘next generation’ feel of the portable game.

The music is standard fare, combining music from the movie and other console versions. The other effects in the game are standard as well, but do a good job of adding to the combat and boss battles.

Sound Rating: 8/10


CONTROL

Offering a wide variety of moves and abilities, PSP Spider-man 2 is a fairly deep and enjoyable 3D action game. In addition to the typical ability to jump, kick and shoot webs, Spider-man has many advanced maneuvers, some available from the start, others earned as the game progresses.

Hitting the R shoulder launches Spidey into a web slinging rollercoaster throughout the city. Much like the console version, shooting webs and traveling over, between and next to skyscrapers is the highlight of the game. Also, you’re able to use the web to knock weapons out of enemy hands and also wrap them up like a cocoon. As in the console version, Spidey can then hang the baddie from a light post, a sitting duck for the local authorities.

The analog stick responds well to the player, but the use of the D-pad to control the camera is unwieldy at times, especially since the camera sometimes doesn’t react the way you want. It’s a minor note and something I’m sure developers will get more used to as development on the PSP continues.

Combat in the game is also fairly deep, although it feels curiously like a 3D Final Fight clone in areas. There a number of more advanced moves and combos, and these are added to throughout the game, but generally punching kicking jumping and webbing is enough to get through most of the game.

Control Rating: 7.5/10


REPLAYABILITY

Because the focus of the game has changed from a wide-open GTA style experience to a more linear, level based game, the long term replayability factor falls precipitously. Honestly, the game is pretty short, it has about 20 levels, and doesn’t have much more available after that basic quest is over. There is some unlockable bonus content, but unlike the console versions, there aren’t any sidequests or item collection tasks to keep th e game going much longer. It’s basically the linear levels, and once you’re done, you can play them again and again to your heart’s delight. There is a point system by which you can buy and earn stuff, but its pretty shallow.

Replay Rating: 2/10


BALANCE

If you are a veteran of the console versions, this game will seem very easy and short. It is definitely cool to play a visually impressive and fun Spider-man game on the PSP, but the reality is that this is a short game. The challenge is almost nonexistent, especially if you have any experience with recent Spider-man console games. Rather than feeling I was playing the game, many times I felt like I was playing through the game, which could be as much me as the game itself. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling throughout that Spider-man 2 was easy, and that the focus of the developers was to create a fun, authentic Spider-man experience rather than a challenging game.

Balance Rating: 4/10


ORIGINALITY

Because the PSP version is the 8th home version to accompany Spider-man 2 the movie (which itself is being used as a PSP pack in), there isn’t much more that this game could bring to the table. That said, there are some of the original, fun elements that set the console version of the game apart. Spider-man has a nice variety of moves, and the ability to use the web shots in a multitude of ways, including traveling throughout the environments.

Players who loved the PS2 or other console versions might feel some deja vu with the PSP version, but these levels are entirely new.

Originality Rating: 3/10


ADDICTIVENESS

There is a surprisingly lack of action titles to launch with PSP, so that boosts Spider-man 2 up a few notches, as it fills a genre need that is underrepresented. Once I started playing, I couldn’t put it down until it was finished, so in that respect, I’d agree it was addictive. However, there is not much to go back to, and now that it’s beaten, I cant say I have an overwhelming urge to play it again.

Addictiveness Rating: 5/10


APPEAL

I ended up turning this review around pretty quickly, and I’m not sure if that makes this game appealing or not. I beat the whole game in one sitting, and it wasn’t really much of a challenge. However, the game itself was incredibly fun, and the presentation wowed me like it has on many PSP games. It’s Spider-man! It really comes down to whether you’re a fan of the series and the character.

Appeal Rating: 7/10


MISCELLANEOUS

As with all these launch PSP games, it’s tough to review them in any sort of perspective. There just aren’t any corollaries in the handheld world to compare these titles to, so the result is an odd mix of comparing them to GB games (for ease of play, quick play), PS2 games (graphics, depth, loading) or just take them for what they are. At face value, if this were a console game, it would be too short and shallow to justify a high score. However, compared to the GBA or DS versions of Spider-man 2, it clearly is the strongest. Taken as one of the only action games amidst a PSP launch filled with racing and sports games, it might just be the best bet for action game fans.

Misc Rating: 8/10


Final Scores:

Story: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 8/10
Control: 7.5/10
Replayability: 2/10
Balance: 4/10
Originality: 3/10
Addictiveness: 5/10
Appeal: 7/10
Miscellaneous: 8/10

Overall Score: 60.5/100
FINAL SCORE: 6.0 (ABOVE AVERAGE!)