Developer Treyarch is back at the helm again and is tasked with not only capturing all of the excitement of the movie, but also seeing that Spider-Man makes his next-gen debut in style!
Games based on movies are a dime a dozen in this industry and every year more and more publishers try to make a quick buck by licensing the rights of a popular movie and turning it into a game. Most of these titles tend to be rushed out the door in order to make it to store shelf's in time for the movies big-screen release. What we, the gamers, usually end up with is a bad title that fails to capture any of the fun and excitement of it's big screen cousin. But every once in a while, when all of the planets align in perfect order, a publisher actually gives one of it's developers the time it needs to put together a first class video game based off of a hit movie. Over the past few years, Activison has done just that, and what followed was a series of very well put together games based off of the Spider-Man movies. And here, on the eve of the big screen release of the 3rd Spider-Man movie, Activison is set to launch it's own game based upon the movie, Spider-Man 3.
King of the world!
Developer Treyarch is back at the helm again and is tasked with not only capturing all of the excitement of the movie, but also seeing that Spider-Man makes his next-gen debut in style! Marking the first time the web-slinger has appeared in his own game on a next-gen console, Treyarch has invested alot of time in making sure the game is as faithful to the movie as possible while still keeping it fun and accessable to gamers. Anyone who has played any of the other games in this series will feel right at home with the 3rd one. Keeping with the same basic design concept of past games, Treyarch has built a fully interactive 3D version of New York City in which you are free to roam around at will. There are a set of 40 + missions in the game, about 1/2 of those are side-quests that are not directly related to the events of the movie it self, but help expand upon what has taking place. The other 20 or so missions are based completely off of events that happen in the movie and serve to drive the story forward in the game. Besides your standard missions, as you swing around the city you will come across random event missions. These missions will pop-up in the form of cops chasing some one down the street or hearing some one that is in need of help. These event's take place in real-time as you traverse the city and you are free to choose to help out or totally ignore them if you so desire. If you successfully complete one of these events, you will earn higher points with who ever you help out. If you help out a cop you will gain higher points with police in general, if you help a member of the public who's in need, you will gain higher public opinion. In theory these event's are suppose to dynamically effect how the virtual world reacts to you, but sadly not much really changes in the game based on how you decide to handle these event's.
Apart from the missions them self's, you are also treated to a bunch of dynamic cut-scene events (or if you a Shenmue fan from back in the day "QTEs"). Instead of just a boring cut-scene to revile part of the story, you are treated to a in-engine cut-scene that you can actually control. You do this by quickly pressing button combinations that flash up on the screen at different parts of the cut-scene. If you hit the button sequences correctly, you will advance the cut-scene further, if you fail then the cut-scene ends with something bad happening to Spider-Man and resulting in a retry of the whole event. These event's really work well in the game and allow you to interact in complex scenes in ways that would not be possible if you were in control of the action your self. On top of that they tend to be quite fun and a nice break from the standard gameplay.
Even in virtual NYC the traffic sucks!
Scoping out the scene
The core gameplay of Spider-Man 3 is based around two key areas, web-slinging and combat. Web-slinging around the virtual city has never been easier as Treyarch has done an outstanding job in capturing the look and feel of swinging from building to building. You can guide Spidey around the city pulling off the most complex of his moves with ease thanks to the incredibly tight controls. Pretty much every move Spider-Man does in every one of the movies and comics has been faithfully recreated in the game. Not only are these moves easy to pull off on the Xbox 360 controller, but they look good too thanks to some great animation work.
The combat it self works well too, even when taking on a large number of enemies at the same time. You can easily switch between enemies on the fly by simply pointing Spidey in a different direction, allowing you to fight while being completely surrounded. At your disposal is a massive list of moves that you unlock as you make your way through the game. Most of these are combinations of different button presses and despite the large number of moves, they are quite easy to memorize and will quickly become second nature. Helping with the combat is a new spider-sense that allows you to slow down time. With the press of a button you can go into a "Matrix" style slow-motion where it is much easier to take on large group of enemies. Doing so drains a small blue bar in the upper left side of the screen, but not to worry as it quickly refills allowing you to reuse it again and again. Besides being really cool to look at, using this new ability can give you the time needed to get a better hold on the fight at hand.
While developer Treyarch got many things right with Spider-Man 3, the game is not without it's flaws. My biggest issue with it comes from the game design it self. The whole game is layed out in the same way as the previous titles in this series, which in this case is not a good thing. You have a full city to explore, but you explore it in the same exact ways as you did in the other titles. The story is different, but the missions them self's are not all that different from the other games. You are stuck with a go here, do this, follow this, fight this gameplay system that lacks depth. Making things worse are the random missions, which thankfully they are no where near as bad or as repetitive as they were in Spider-Man 2, but you still find your self doing the same sort of missions that you have already done in the other two titles in this series. If you have spent any decent amount of time with the previous titles then Spider-Man 3 starts to feel like the same song and dance all over again. That being said, Spider-Man 3 is extremely polished in terms of gameplay and controls, much more so than the other titles were.
Unfortunately, the graphics are one area that could have used a bit more of that polish, specially on the 360. It's quite clear developer Treyarch took the old Xbox Spider-Man 2 engine and simply gave it a slight face lift instead of building a new engine from the ground up for this game. All in all the visuals are a mix bag. On the positive side you have a massive draw distance, lots of people, cars and objects on the screen at the same time, and decent to great animation. On the downside you have character models that have very low polygon counts, buildings that are flat and also low on the polygons, bland textures, and a fair amount of pop-ups. In the end, Spider-Man 3 looks more like a Xbox 1 game in high-res than a true next-gen game.
The only quick way to get around NYC
When all is said and done, Spider-Man 3 get's far more right than it does wrong. It would have been nice to see Treyarch go out and change things up a bit as far as the gameplay and game design go, but instead they simply took Spider-Man 2 and gave it a extra layer of polish and fine tuning. If you are one of the people who hasn't played the other two Spider-Man titles in this series then you will most likely fully enjoy 3. If your like me and have already invested a lot of time in one or both of the other titles, then Spider-Man 3 is definitely a rent-only title for you. Theres nothing new here, and once you beat the game there really isn't a whole lot of urge to go back and get 100% on everything. On top of that, the average gamer will beat the games story mode in around 8-10 hours, leaving only short side quests to keep you busy for a few more hours at best.
Top Game Moment:
TOP GAME MOMENT
Climbing to the top of the tallest building in the game, taking a moment to look around, then sky diving off of it!