Platform(s):PS2 (Xbox 360/PS3/Wii)
Developer: Vicarious Vision
ESRB: Teen [Mild Language, Violence]
I could save a lot of people a lot of time with a single sentence about Spider-Man 3 for the PlayStation 2, but then I wouldn’t be doing my job. The truth of the matter is that, like the movie, Spider-Man 3 the game has some good spots, like donning the black suit or web-slinging through New York. But sadly, like the movie, it suffers from some very disappointing elements.
The game follows in the likes of Spider-Man’s (mis)adventures that occur after the black goo from outer-space and Spidey form a symbiosis. There’s a simple tutorial that takes players through the basics of the gameplay...showcasing Spider-Man’s ability to web-sling, climb on walls, perform combos and interact with the environment.
Now the basic storyline is pretty close to the movie, with the exception of a few changes and alterations for gameplay purposes. Personally, the PS2 version of Spider-Man 3 actually has a storyline that’s slightly better than the movie, but not by much. See, the reason I believe the story is better is because it ties a lot of the story elements together that sort of makes more sense than the movie. The meteorite fiasco actually affects more than just the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and his arch-rival Venom, and that alone adds a deepened sense of importance to the game's overall plot.
I was very impressed with the actual storytelling for the game, especially how the meteorite landing, The Lizard/Dr. Conner, Shriek and Morbius are smartly intertwined into what transpires with The Sandman and Venom. It’s funny because the one villain who actually seems completely out of context with everything else that happens in the game, is The Sandman. He comes out of nowhere; he has no driven purpose in the game; no direct connection with the events surrounding Mary Jane, Peter Parker or Eddie Brock, and the tacky exploitation of his daughter at the end made me feel like it was a total copout for his character. I’m not going to give anything away but I will say that the biggest disappointment in this well-told storyline is The Sandman.
The feigned sense of importance given to each side-mission is quickly made evident after repeating it for the third-time within twenty minutes. The reason things happen this way is because ALL missions are activated. Unlike The Godfather, True Crime or Scarface, players have to approach certain gang informants on the street to activate any sort of event. It takes away from the appeal of web-slinging through the city and spotting out crimes as they happen. Instead, time and time over, an informant will give Spidey a tip for one of the following events: Terrorist bombing; civilian/cop being attacked; property that needs to be returned/delivered; person/child that needs to get to a destination.
If that seems like a lot of different mission variations, it’s not. Most of the time it turns into Spidey having to beat up a handful of baddies and then moving on to the next mission. Now on the plus side, every time a mission is completed or an evil-doer is subdued, Spidey receives experience that goes toward hero points. Much like other Activision super-hero games, Spidey can upgrade his abilities with the hero points earned from completing story-missions or side-missions. But as fun as it would seem to upgrade Spider-Man’s abilities via thwarting crime, it’s more of a chore than it is an adventure. You know how Rockstar made it fun stealing cars and out-running cops in GTA? Well, Activision doesn’t quite make the experience anywhere near as fun when you’re a super-hero trying to stop those kind of bad guys.
On the plus-side, the game is graphically sound. When the camera comes in up-close to Spider-Man and other characters (especially Venom) they’re well modeled and have strikingly good texture work, for a PS2 game. And since web-slinging through New York is such a big part of the game the draw-distance is surprisingly good. Standing atop a skyscraper and overlooking a sunset painted city is quite a sight to behold. This is further accompanied by some hit and (tons of) miss dialogue sequences by most of the movie cast – although Dr. Conner and The Sandman deliver the best lines, despite their brief appearances. But hands-down, the best part about Spider-Man 3 is the music. The soundtrack plays a crucial part in bringing this game to life and I honestly don’t think it could have been any better.
Overall, though, good music, decent-enough controls and an engaging story doesn’t entirely make up for this game’s obvious faults. Falling through the floor when riding on cars going up an incline can be annoying; sinking through floors while wall-crawling on curved obstructions can sometimes result in the unfortunate event of falling into an abyss(?); web-slinging onto a building and then trying to sprint up the wall usually results in running uncontrollably in the opposite direction; the loading times between EVERY mission gets to be irksome; and performing combos is more of a timed-hassle, contrary to being a fluent function. If you can put up with the fore-mentioned flaws, the repetitive side-missions and a rather monotonous looking New York, then Spider-Man 3 wouldn’t be bad addition to your PS2 collection. Really.