Product Number: 147
How much: £49.99 RRP
Where can I buy one: Amazon.co.uk
Every now and then as a reviewer I’m bound by certain ‘veto’ agreements which mean I’m not allowed to post a review before a certain date. This is similar to any non disclosure agreement for a film or anything secretive and although it’s not technically legally binding we’re all a little scared to break the date in case we have to undergo a baptism of fire, the loss of our career or loves ones. Thankfully the veto for Spider-Man 3 the Game was something I was more than happy to follow…
The veto in question meant I wouldn’t be able to post a review of the game until May 4th, the day of the movie and games release. This makes perfect sense of course to stop spoilers from getting out in to the mass media, any anyone reviewing the film was also tied to a similar deal. The thing is I had absolutely no interests in knowing the secrets of the movie either, and therefore I didn’t even unwrap the video game until I’d sat down with the movie on May 5th. Who needs veto agreements when you’ve got reviewers obsessed with avoiding all spoilers?
I needn’t have worried, although Spider-Man 3 the Game does include the plot of the movie, it also offers nine other storylines that you can play through at will. The movie storyline also doesn’t quite seep in till about a quarter of the way through the game (well aside from one cut scene) so if you haven’t seen the movie yet you can still play the game safely.
The ten storylines on offer each focus on a different gang or villain in the Spidey Universe including The Lizard, The Scorpion, Arsenic Candy (Goths with exploding teddy bears) and Daily Bugle photo quests. Sadly the gang quests start to merge in to one after a while and essentially involve scrap after scrap until you’ve beated ten or so enemies. Your reward for doing this? Some minor objective (run after this, press X on this) and then another mission with another ten on one scrap. Aside from bomb defusing missions this pattern barely changes for any of the gang missions which is a shame as they could have further developed the games' combo system in these scraps.
The Supervillian missions are handled best of all and it’s here where the Quick Time Events (QTE’s) are utilised with some creativity. For the unfamiliar, quick time events see a giant button appearing on the screen as and when something crucial to the action happens. This occurs both in fights (press RT to slow down time, and then X when displayed to counter attack) and in various cut scenes. The cut scenes are handled perfectly and involve fleeing villains, a New Goblin scrap in the skyline, an exploding train and several car chases, all waiting for your well timed button press to save the day. It’s far more involving than the pointless gang scraps and if you mess up the game repeats the sequence immediately without punishing you or forcing you to repeat bits.
One of the most promoted aspects of the new Spider-Man game is that it features the voice-over work of the real actors. Naturallly fans of past Spider-Man games will tell you that Bruce Campbell is all the voice over work you need, but it’s nice to see Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco playing their parts too. That they’re all outshone by J.K Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson is more than a coincidence as he’s the only character to put any emotion in to his performance (even if that emotion is just hilarious anger) and this makes playing through a number of photo missions all the more enjoyable.
The character voicework is also slightly soiled by the inclusion of some character models which don’t really live up to next gen expectations. Dead Rising gave us detailed facial expressions in a similarly interactive environment so the only excuse for Mary-Jane’s clumped together hair and the deep dark circles around Peter Parkers eyes is a limited development time sped on by a need to launch day and date with the movie.
But I digress, shouldn’t a Spider-Man game be all about swinging around giant buildings at rapid speeds? In this area the game excels and the virtual New York at night time has far more character then any of the villains or character actors. Sure it may be the equivalent to stopping your car in a racing game so you can look at the scenery but there’s no denying it’s where the real fun lies in the game.
Whether that can sustain you in-between repetitive missions and unclear objectives is the real question. Ultimately Spider-Man 3 isn’t as fun as last years Ultimate Spiderman, (which also told the Venom story in a far more interesting fashion) and with rumors of a new Spider-Man game out in time for Christmas perhaps this is one to veto for now…