Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Spider-Man 2

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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

docock.JPG (1627 bytes)            After an impressive (although less than spectacular) first outing on the current generation of home consoles, the web-head returns to do battle with more nameless thugs, and the crazed villain Doc Ock. Yes… it’s the same story as the second film, now there’s a surprise. But – hold your groaning and don’t click away, this is one movie licence that appears to be more than a flashy name…

            Point one – the ground. This is just for those of you who spman21.jpg (28293 bytes)played the first title; the rest of you may as well skip to the next paragraph! Ground level, pedestrians and cars are now not only viewable, but interactive also! The entire of New York has been scaled into the title (although it strikes me to be more of a fantasy version of New York, which is no bad thing) and, as Spider-Man, you now have the ability to scale huge skyscrapers, and then plunge headfirst into the asphalt. This is by far the biggest change from the first title, and makes for some very nice gameplay variation.

            The game runs similarly to the Grand Theft Auto series, however the missions run consecutively at a progressive difficulty level. Certain missions will call on you to gain “hero points” (more on these later) by performing general good-guy actions; rescuing people hanging onto buildings, stopping muggings, joy-riders etc. other missions will accelerate the story, and include a few nice boss fights among the regular chase-down/fight scenarios. While the occasional story-based mission will require you to concentrate on it’s specific task and NOTHING else, many of the missions allow you the time just to potter about city, helping citizens in distress or looking for the hundreds of hidden tokens lying about the game, including Hidden Base tokens and Tall Building tokens. These have no direct effect on the game, other than rewarding you with “hero points”.

Hero points appear to represent a levelling-up system. You can purchase a variety of upgrades throughout the game; new moves, jumps, swings etc. from a few locations dotted about the city. Each of the upgrades costs a specific amount of hero points. As the game is free-roaming, I see this as a very calculated move on the developers’ part. Too many gamers would try to reach a high-status with lots of upgrades before moving onto the next part of the story, creating an incredibly easy game, where as the purchasing system automatically adds a limit as to what you can achieve without progressing the story.

            With all the aerial acrobatics at your disposal, it’s a damn good job those controls are reliable. Very rarely will you find yourself plummeting to the ground even though the jump you launched should have seen you sailing across three buildings. The web-swinging at first may seem very awkward, but after an hour or so you will realise the effect the developers have achieved and be quite surprised at the depth of the detail.

            The graphics are, hmm, well to be honest, the graphics are the most disappointing feature of the title. Spider-Man himself looks incredible, superb animation and very well distinguished – but the general population and the majority of the bad-guys could’ve been drawn on the Nintendo64 and look as though the models have been taken straight from an early PlayStation2 title. However, with what the title lacks in graphical prowess, when remembering the size of the game and the fact that the system has to remember where every one of those thousand little guys are in case at that precise moment you decide to look down, you can forgive a few little faults in the visuals. There are no problems with the draw-distance and the slow-down is practically non-existent.

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The title handles at a very nice pace, swinging through the skies in red and blue Lycra has never been so attainable and yet astonishing. The title is a real achievement by any standards, allowing for an incredible display of the programmers talent – a full scale city to swing, climb, run, fight, ride through, without any mid-game loading delays, or the draw-distance the plagues True Crime: Streets of LA.

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            The sound sported by the title is a dependable feature. With 5.1 support and very little in the way of a soundtrack, those city affects are fantastic… if you’ve got the set-up, make sure you visit the theatre-district at night… the lights, the noise… you could almost forget it’s a game!

 

            So, with the mediocre first outing banished from our minds, condemned forever to be remembered as the “test-run for Spider-Man 2”, how do we feel about Activision’s second shot? Great! The story play will probably only take about fifteen hours on the first play, but by today’s standards that’s a good mark to hit, and the game is extended by the added depth of hidden items and tasks to find/complete throughout and after the story. There is very little else on our current systems that could draw the attention for not only the developer’s talent, but also the actual gameplay! While it’s got its’ flaws, you can’t ignore the charm of the complete package and, as a movie-licence, its groundbreaking work; setting the standard for the licences that follow.

 

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