Activision Spider-Man 3
- Web slinging, great looking visuals, sky-diving missions.
- Repetitive combat, clumsy camera, annoying boss battles.
Spider-Man 3 isn't the travesty many people are making out, especially if you enjoyed the movie. Our advice is to ignore the online venom and give the game a chance.
Price$ 119.95 (AUD)
The recent online backlash against Spider-Man 3 has been pretty hard to ignore. Literally thousands of disgruntled former fanboys have savaged the game as a farcical, shark-jumping mess, including the popular web comic Penny Arcade (after playing it, their advice is to curl up and wait to die). Just what did Spidey do to bring on all this hatred?
Well, the bad news is that Spider-Man 3 isn't great -- in fact, parts of it are downright mediocre -- but despite a few radioactive warts, it remains an enjoyable action romp from start to finish. It seems everyone is being a negative nelly for the sake of it.
As you probably suspect, the best part of Spider-Man 3 remains the web slinging. Firing a strand of web onto a nearby building is as simple as tapping a button, with the game's A.I. taking care of the rest. This intuitive control scheme is helped along by some intelligent level design, and most gamers will happily spend hours swinging around aimlessly like Tarzan in a fruity costume. However, we should point out that owning a gamepad is essential if you are playing on a PC -- the mouse and keypad controls are pretty crummy.
Much like the previous outings in the series, Spider-Man 3 takes its inspiration from Grand Theft Auto III. In other words, the game throws you into a 'virtual sandbox' city which needs to be explored to trigger special missions. Some of these are based on the movie (taking on Sandman, wearing the black suit), while others are simply random events (saving pedestrians from harm, fighting classic Spider-Man villains). The best of these side-missions are undoubtedly the skydiving events, which require you to scale the tallest of structures in the city. The view from above is suitably awe-inspiring.
Indeed, the visuals are pretty top-notch throughout, with busy traffic, lighting effects and detailed architecture all combining to create a believable New York City. Slightly less impressive are the character models, which occasionally look jagged and suffer from choppy animations. Nevertheless, it remains an impressive looking title.
Now, on to the flaws. The biggest stumbling block faced by the Spider-Man series has always been the combat system, and unfortunately it has tripped the franchise up once again. The constant button-mashing isn't just boring, it can also get highly frustrating, especially during the lengthy boss battles. This isn't helped by the need to engage in special 'slow-mo' attacks which can make fights drag out even longer.
Another area in which the game falls down is its clumsy camera. Often, it will get confused and jerk about uselessly as it attempts to get the best view of the action. Frankly, there's no excuse for this type of thing in a next-gen title -- it's something we'd hoped to see the back of years ago.
Despite these significant flaws, however, we still managed to enjoy the game thoroughly. It isn't 'amazing' or 'spectacular' by any stretch of the imagination, but neither does it deserve the toilet-flushing so many critics have suggested.
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