Much like the blockbuster film that was recently released in theaters, the Xbox 360 version of “Spider-Man 3” has our super-hero pitted against super-villains, all while trying to keep girlfriend Mary Jane happy and dealing with a personality crisis thanks to his new black outfit that makes him act on impulses and even more powerful.
Being based around the movie, players get the film’s actors voicing their video game counterparts’ dialogue, making it that much more appealing and helping it connect with the film seamlessly.
The game will have gamers busy for hours upon hours with tons of things to do, whether it is required missions or optional crime to advert. For example, as you swing through a re-creation of New York City, Spider Man will spot crimes taking place or hear police sirens nearby. Although these are strictly optional, they do add to your overall game completion percentage and stats, so if you don’t want to, you don’t have to help out the police or stop a bad guy.
Additionally, there are a slew of story-based missions and activities that go with the game being a “sandbox” title. There are the standard races through gates spread around the world. And you also have “bomb tours” where Spidey has to disarm timed bombs before they blow up landmarks, subways or the city all together.
The game’s developer, Treyarch, did a wonderful job on the city and much like the real New York, it’s easy to get lost with the size of it. So, to help you navigate, they’ve added a nice overhead map. With a push on the Back Button, you zoom out to a whole view of the city, with icons indicating where certain missions, points of interest and other things are located. It also has lots of adjustments (such as zoom, tilt and rotate). You can hit the bumper buttons to scroll through the various key activity icons with ease. As with Spidey 2, when you bring the map up or put it away, it smoothly zooms in and out of where you are at the time.
Like an RPG, in “Spider-Man 3,” as your play the game, Spidey becomes stronger and more enhanced. Beginning with basic combat moves, as you progress through the game, you unlock special and even more powerful moves. That also applies to the speed of swinging through the city, which also gets faster as your complete tasks and missions. But, like you expected, the game gets more difficult along the way, so these types of enhancements are needed.
“Spider-Man 3” also features a new combat system with extensive punches, kicks, juggles and web draws. But with a new system comes problems. With more enemies on you when you encounter them, the combat ends up being more of a “how fast can you push the buttons” rather than a skilled fight scene. By the end of a huge battle, your fingers will become mush or further injure your arthritic fingers.
Like some of the larger combat encounters, a new addition called “cineractives” have been added, that are like cutscenes, though with limited interactivity included for the player to help trigger a desired effect. A controller button is overlaid on the screen, and you have to hit it immediately to cause a desired effect (an attack or a dodge). These often come with no warning, and failure causes you to repeat the section, so they most often become tedious chores of memorization.
Another mundane aspect of the game is in some of the game’s activities, which are modeled in the “play-die-repeat” design. Though most missions are broken into stages, so if you die during a latter one, you won’t have to go all of the way back to the beginning of that encounter.
Another aspect that failed with “Spider-Man 3” is the graphics. They are plain terrible. Aside from Spider-Man model, most everything else sucks. In addition to jagged edges on nearly any straight-edged surface, sloppy texture seams and poor collision detection between objects make for not the best visual for the game. In some cases, it looked almost like a PS2 game ported up to the Xbox 360, instead of a game that was designed for a next-gen console.
The problems continue as you get accustomed to playing the game. One major flaw is the camera angles. Spidey 3’s camera is horrible. You can’t look up and move at the same time, because, when you start to move, the camera wants to correct itself to show your heading, which sometimes conflicts with what you need to see when you’re playing. Also, during many battles (particularly in small, enclosed spaces), you’ll often feel like you’re moving around in a blender, because the camera keep adjusting and readjusting with the fast-paced action. It’s at the least disorienting, and at the worst, affects your movement in 3D space and may give you a case of nausea.
Despite the aforementioned missteps, “Spider-Man 3” does have some enjoyable playing time. When you’re out on the streets freely swinging is when the game works and is entertaining. Although you still have to deal with the camera issues, navigating across Manhattan is fun.
The movie was successful and this game may be successful as far as sale, unfortunately, it does not live up to the hype. Gamers may want to hold out for games coming later this year like “GTA IV” and “Halo 3” instead of buying this. But, if you can’t wait and need something to do in the meantime, maybe “Spider-Man 3” will do.
Our Rating: 2.5 out of 5.0