• Spider-Man 3, the third in the movie tie-in series from the Activision – Treyarch tandem, faced somewhat high expectations when it released. This ‘anticipation’ was due in large part to the promotional hype the game the game received during development as well as the anticipated blockbuster success of it’s movie namesake. Unfortunately, it’s rare to find a movie tie-in game that actually delivers as promised. And even more unfortunate is the fact that Spider-Man 3 suffers from this same phenomenon.

    To it’s credit, Spider-Man 3 features a large, free-roaming environment (New York City and it’s sewer and subway systems) and plenty of things to do in the way of it’s main storyline missions, challenges, random crime events, puzzle solving and token collecting – all laid out in sandbox design for the freedom gamers have now come to expect in an open-world experience. Where the game falls short however is it’s lackluster presentation. In reality, Spider-Man 3 feels much more like a beta version of the game than a true finished product. Graphically, the game seems much more last-gen then current-gen. Combine this with several bugs that are floating around in the programming and one can’t help but wonder if the title was really ready to go to market or could it have benefited from some more testing time with the developers.

    Spider-Man 3

    That being said, there are some bright spots in the game, including the how easy it is to just ‘pick up and play’. The controller layout is well designed which makes tasks like webslinging around the city fun and easy. Scaling buildings in the game’s virtual New York is another simple feat. Simply press the “B” button when Spidey is in contact with a structure’s surface –whether on the ground or well above it – and he will immediately take hold. Hand to hand combat controls are focused onto the “X” and “Y” buttons while web-combat is controlled with “B”. Combine these button presses with “RB” and the result is a Super Attack. When playing as Black-Suited Spider-Man, “RB” assumes the role of Rage Modifier, allowing Spider-Man to unleash a powerful array of devastating attacks on his foe. Holding down “LB” activates Spider Reflexes, slowing the action ‘Matrix’ style, allowing for Spidey to dodge incoming attacks and execute un-blockable counter moves.

    While engaged in battle, players can use combination-attacks, (a small list of which are available at the start of the game which continues to populate itself as the player progresses) although pure button-mashing will also do the trick. Where combat poses a real challenge though is keeping track of enemies using the game’s camera. This third-person view works well while swinging through the city – due to the wide angle of view afforded by being above the metal and glass landscape – but suffers greatly in the tightly congested streets, forcing players to constantly swing the camera back and forth in order to find the individuals looking to do them harm. This challenge removes the feeling of fluidity in combat sequences leaving players detached from the experience of battle and instead, somewhat frustrated.

    Another area in which Spider-Man 3 does a nice job is in it’s fast-action sequences. These moments, which play out by way of short cut-scenes (think of the original arcade version of Dragon’s Lair), occur at various times throughout the game with Spider-Man quickly zipping around his environment either saving the innocent or engaged in battle with a signature foe. During each segment, a single controller action will appear on screen that must be executed quickly and correctly. Hit each one right and you’ll bear witness to some impressive super-hero action. Miss one and Spidey gets his ass handed to him in very un-hero like fashion.

    As mentioned earlier, Spider-Man 3 has no shortage of things to do. The main storyline missions have players facing off against a variety of foes including Sandman, Lizard, Venom and New Goblin, grabbing photo assignments from The Daily Bugle, combating the three gangs that have taken over the streets of the city and even webslinging with Mary Jane in a collection of Thrill Rides. While crossing the city to reach the next mission, random crime events will occur on the streets below, which players can choose to quell by simply heading in the direction of the trouble. Successfully defeating the ‘bad guys’ reduces the crime rate in that specific city zone and provides a nice health boost for Spidey to boot. However, these sequences are lacking in variety and become somewhat of a bore in just a short period of time. Gamers may find themselves just avoiding them altogether after a while unless they’re in need of health.

    The biggest disappointment with Spider-Man 3 is in the way it settles for “good enough”. What had the potential to be a truly awesome game, instead turned out mediocre. It’s certainly possible that Spider-Man 3 just suffers from a deadline to release in time for the movie since the majority of issues plaguing the game seem as though they could have been corrected given the right amount of time to do so. Although most gamers should find that reaching 100% completion of Spider-Man 3, including the games 43 Achievement, will keep them busy for a while, it comes at a cost of being able to ignore the game’s shortcomings. Of course, Spider-Man 3’s lack of Xbox Live play really doesn’t help much either.

    Score: 5/10

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