Treyarch
Activision
Action/Adventure
1
06.28.04

Spider-Man 2


Spider-Man 2, developed by Treyarch, is the new videogame based on the blockbuster movie of the same name. It blends in superhero action with an open-ended design similar to that of the Grand Theft Auto series. It remarkably incorporates the entire city of New York for you to wander and purge of evil. Spider-Man 2 is an awesome achievement. It is the first superhero game to feature open-style gameplay, an idea sure to be built upon in future superhero games. Spider-Man 2's massive world is filled with richness and detail, and it features intuitive gameplay and sleek design, but it is clearly overshadowed by its repetitiveness. While still a good game, it is disappointing because it feels like it could have been so much better. It is a game that does not fulfill its potential, and is truly a missed opportunity.

Gameplay

You progress through the game by completing a series of chapters, each of which contain a set of different missions. In every chapter, one of the missions is to earn a certain number of "hero points". One way to earn hero points is to talk with the various citizens of New York who are in distress. Once you meet with them, they will describe a ghastly situation to you in which you will have to summon your spidey powers, and save the day. There are around six types of situations. You will need to either save someone from falling off a building, deliver someone to the hospital, rescue cops from being shot at, stop an armored car robbery, chase down a car, or survive an ambush and defeat waves of criminals. These situations are limited and repetitive. You will often have to perform the same task more than once in a chapter, and this can get frustrating and bothersome. Hero points can also be obtained without talking to civilians. Criminals are scattered about the city, and you can search for them and beat 'em up to earn more points. The game's controls are mapped out perfectly and are easy to learn. The combat system is simple, but effective. The X button is used for punching attacks, and the Y button is used for web attacks. You can charge your jump by holding down the A button. Web-slinging is a breeze with the simple press of the right trigger. You have a "spidey sense" that let's you know when there's danger. When you're warned of the danger, you can press the white button to use your spidey sense to dodge and perform counter attacks. You can enhance your combat skills by purchasing new moves and upgrades at the store as well. In some chapters, upgrading your skills is essential for completion. There's an assortment of both aerial and ground attacks at your disposal and the animations when you pull them off are fluid and impressive.

The boss fights in Spider-Man 2 leave something to be desired, but they're far from horrible. Some boss fights feel out of place and others are exceptionally easy. One boss fight that is particularly interesting is against Mysterio, who is out to prove that Spider-Man is a fraud. You have to beat him in a contest in which you round up thugs and throw them into pits. If you round up more thugs than him, you advance to his obstacle course. The obstacle course is fairly difficult, but it's lots of fun to play. He has a special laser, which does not seriously harm you, and you need to complete the course while trying to avoid his beams. If you get zapped 3 times, you lose and have to start the course again.

Graphics

Spider-Man's animations are spectacular and fluid. He swings gracefully through the air and runs and jumps just like he does in the movie. The entirety of Manhattan is incorporated into the game, and it looks fantastic. Treyarch does an incredible job of implementing a huge world into the game while still maintaining a solid frame rate. Not once did I encounter any sort of slowdown as I zipped around the city at Amazing Spider-Man-like speeds. The buildings feature reflective windows and the time shifts from day to night. It is truly awe-inspiring to swing from building to building and to explore the city's rich environment and detail.

Sadly though, the character models are very disappointing. Spider-Man and some of the other main characters, notably Black Cat (who features an extremely healthy set of breasts) and Doctor Octopus, look great, but the citizens of New York are blocky and dull. The camera zooms in when you speak with them and their flawed faces and clunky bodies are exposed. Furthermore, their mouths don't move when they talk and they give you the impression that they were carved out of a rock. Even the models of main characters like Mary Jane and Harry Osborn are dull. Their faces are flat and their bodies are as clunky as those of the civilians.

Sound

For the most part, the voice acting in Spider-Man 2 is exceptional. Much of the cast from the movie voices their character for the game. As expected, Tobey Maguire plays Spider-Man to perfection and is on par with his work in the film. He spews several witty comments when he talks to civilians, engages in battle, or completes a mission. Civilians will cry for help or congratulate Spider-Man in heavy New York accents as he swings by. Though the voice work for the characters of Spider-Man 2 is surprisingly well done, one of the game's most impressive features is the voice acting for the tutorial, done by Bruce Campbell. He offers tidbits of sarcasm and humiliates you in any way possible as he guides you into learning the game. He provides the game with humor and freshness, and is clearly one of the game's best aspects.

Thankfully, the game's dialogue refrains from being too cheesy, a problem that has plagued movie-based games in the past. Spider-Man will have intriguing conversations with his foes before he ascends into battles and the storyline is executed quite well through the use of cut-scenes. The sound department's major disappointment is the music. There is none. Swinging around the city and climbing onto rooftops loses some of its thrill because you'll be doing it in nearly dead silence. In fact, the only time you'll really be hearing any sort of musical score is in combat.

Replay Value

The replay value in Spider-Man 2 is phenomenal. Once you finish all the chapters you've only completed around 50% of the game. You can deliver pizzas, continue to search for thugs, or complete different timed trials as well. The city is enormous and you'll always be able to find a mission.

Bottom Line:

Spider-Man 2 is a pretty good game that is severely weakened by its incredible repetitiveness and lack of musical score. Too often will you have to repeat the same mission again and again just so you can earn enough "hero points" to progress to the next chapter. The game's open-ended design makes swinging around the city a blast, but it does little to advance the game's story and often times it can be a hassle when you're trying to reach a destination on the other side of the city. The game clearly feels as if it could've been much better, but if you are really craving for some web-slinging action, this is hands down one of the best Spider-Man games ever made and it is absolutely worthy of your time.

I would also recommend picking up the strategy guide for Spider-Man 2. The guide has a nice layout of the city and walks you through each chapter nicely.

Related Links:

Official Spider-Man 2 Website
Official BradyGames Website

-Marc Smith




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