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Spider-Man: Friend or Foe
Developer: Next Level Games
Publisher: Activision
Platform: Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Release date: 10.02.2007
Hello, true-believers. Can you smell that something special stirring in the cool, crisp, fall air? Waft it in, because that stank is nothing less than Activision's latest contribution to their now categorically disappointing Spider-man video game franchise. Sure, I can admit it. I got caught up in the hype. I allowed myself a momentary lapse into childlike giddiness, tantalized by Activision's E3 announcement for the release of what was touted to be "A new twist on the Legend".

Eh, not quite the case.

The premise of this action adventure is that you, as Spider-man, will battle a new threat to human kind so terrible, that you are forced to enlist the help of a bevy of your sworn classic Marvel enemies, now under the mind control of this uber-villain, in order to prevail victorious!

It really wasn't even that cool.

Thanks in part to lack luster vision, Next Level Games has officially proven that you can actually beat a dead horse, by regurgitating the same mindless multi-player co-op game engine that has not evolved much since? oh, I don't know Golden Axe; which in its defense, for a game now about 20 years old, still has a whole lot more creativity than this homage to slackerdom.

But, I will sum up my experience of playing this particular game with one question; how are you going to go and create a Spider-man game, and not have any wall crawling capability? Let's see, you're Spider-man, but on that particularly off day that he might just need to hail a cab, or ride the bus, because he can only web swing about eight feet at a time.

With all the cool things the developers of this game should have enabled these characters to do, within the realm of their unique individual arsenals of abilities, they resolved to reduce our heroes to be about as dynamic as the bunch of jerks in costume in front of Mann's Chinese Theatre. Stan Lee must be rolling over in his grave because if he were alive, he'd be pissed about this one (yes, I know he's still alive today).

On the plus side, if you are into button mashers with your mama, this is the opportunity of a lifetime to flex your skills. In fact I was absolutely impressed at the ease of which I was able to breeze through complete levels without the confusion of hitting more than one button. The enemies and battle scenarios were as linear as they were redundant. And, aside from the occasional costume change any allusion to A.I. for the baddies in this game was non-existent.

Granted, a character upgrade model is used where you can collect advanced fight skills, and there is also a reward system to unlock multi-player arenas to give you some sense of accomplishment. But, neither are really necessary though as multi-player is not existent online and let's face it this is one hell of a button masher without the confusion of adding all sorts of fancy web-shots!

So, if you can do this ?Go to a location, beat up small, medium, and large baddies, until a bridge magically appears for you to again move forward and then beat up more small, medium, and large baddies, on all manner of exotic locale, this game is definitely for you!
On the plus side, I guess you can say the game looks really neato, in a retro inspired Xbox-gen 1 kind of way, if you had the better rendering capabilities of a?360. But, even for the spectacular use of the 360's complete color palette array, and seamless rendering, nothing here is of any measure worth commenting. In fact, this game is a step backward from the cell shading advances that were used in Ultimate Spider-Man and paled in comparison to the efforts employed by reviving Lara Croft in
Tomb Raider Anniversary.

There was sound quality. I cannot complain. I do have to say that no expense was spared six years ago when Activision locked in the rights to use the movie soundtrack, and to this day it still pays off.

Voice-over acting was good, the scripts were uninspired, and little care was put into spatial displacement. Nothing new or special was seen here to advance this as a next gen game with the exception of avoiding Toby Maguire?s, lame delivery. So, kudos to the sound team, but keep your day jobs.
replay value
I have to say, I am just not a fan of this latest addition to the Spider-man franchise, and realistically none of these games have offered much in the way of replay value -even if you were to suffer from amnesia.

But, the truth of the matter is that even really good linear action adventure games never have much replay value because let's face it, after working through all the games bells and whistles, and finding all the hidden whatchamacallits, you leave the game with a definite sense of been-there-done-it.

So, the onus is on the game developers to give us more. The sophisticated palate of next-gen consumer commands a higher expectation; in fact for $50 of my hard earned loose change tease me, tickle me, make me want to come back for more and show you off to my friends (or foes as the case may be). Toss in online, give me alternate endings, more sophisticated game play, a better versus dynamic, and not to harp deliver the laundry list of things that were just missing from this title to make a good game.
bottom line
Unfortunately, this title continues to perpetuate the concept of how little thought can be put in the co-op genre to just meet a shipping deadline to make a quick buck. With all the potential that this storyline had, and all the amazing characters it included, I have to admit the execution leaves a whole lot to be desired.

I would say don't bother buying this. In fact, don't even rent it. Without the compliment of this franchise having an accompanying movie release, it should very successfully just collect dust on the store shelves and go away. But, if you do suffer a momentary lapse in judgment, and let this game slip into the sanctity of your home, hide it. Hide it well from your friends and family better than you hide your porn.
Review by: Michael Preston Igartua
Posted: 11/30/1999
Replay Value:
Bottom Line:
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