Spiderman 3 Xbox 360 Review
Most superhero movies live and die by their special effects and Sam Raimi sure took his time to make sure everything was looking good before the release of Spiderman 3 in cinemas on May 4th. Now imagine if you will that on May 4th you went to the cinema and Spiderman started jumping up and down randomly, climbing up a building when he was supposed to be going down and losing battles against all the baddies multiple times before he was finally victorious. Basically what I am trying to say is imagine if the film was released with half the special effects done accompanied by a soundtrack created by Raimi’s pet dog – it goes without saying that you would not be too happy. If it did happen though the heart of the movie would still be there, the cool ideas, crucial plot elements and the storyline would all be intact but you’d know something crucial was missing. You see where I’m going?
Well, unfortunately this is the sad fact when playing Spiderman 3. We’ve seen it all before when it comes to film/game tie-ins and the simple fact is that the game was rushed to sell a few more thousand copies when the Spidey loving crowd was still on a movie high. However, this time it is a much more bitter pill to swallow and there are moments in the game that hint that Spiderman 3 could have been great… but all we are left with is a mess of a game.
As you would expect, the basis of the plot for the game is derived from the movie with the three main antagonists – Sandman, New Goblin, and Venom – making an appearance. Three villains are however not enough to build a free-roaming game around so a few more names such as Scorpion, Lizard and Kingpin pop-up to try and take you out. Interestingly it is their addition that leads us to the game’s first big problem which is that there is very little of the Spiderman 3 film plot in Spiderman 3 the game. Now, this would not be usually considered a problem if the side story they chose to tell was interesting but the sad fact is that it is a very boring one. To make things even worse Treyarch have done very little to make the beginning of the game fun to play as you are left running around with limited abilities (you have to unlock more) doing the most basic of photo taking missions for the vociferous J. Jonah Jameson of the Daily Bugle.
Following on from there the game does begin to get a little bit better as you gain more abilities such as dual web swinging and combo options for fighting. Unfortunately just the simple mention of the word fighting brings us to the game’s next big problems – the combo system. Now I personally feel that most developers should put some thought into their combos and make you learn at least a few to get the best out of the game but during my time with Spiderman 3 I did not even learn any combo, in fact I am not even sure I could learn them. It seems no matter what I pressed Spiderman would do something different. If I just randomly jabbed at the face buttons with my thumb then Spiderman would leap into the air and spin around before pile driving the unfortunate enemy into the ground. If I tried to put some more thought into it, he’d do something similar, and if I did something nice looking that I wanted to try and do again he would do something different. The only part of the fighting I 100% figured out during my time with the game was pressing and holding LB to ‘auto dodge’ leaving the enemy open to whatever random button jabbing I was about to do hurt them. On top of all this the camera is borderline terrible. It wont snap behind Spiderman, you constantly have to readjust it yourself (sometimes mid combat) which ruins any fun you may be having, or forcing yourself to have to justify a reason for buying the game. Some of the AI is also very cheap meaning that if you do let the bad guys surround you then they will chip away at your health very quickly. Maybe Treyarch have made the fighting so basic to appeal to Joe Public so they can boast to their mate that “Man, I kicked teh fools ass with the webs, ya know innit!” but if they did make the fighting so easy for that reason then why are the rest of the missions so hair-tearingly, cushion-bashingly, mind-numbingly awkward to do?
You see, even though the fighting parts of the game are less than perfect most of the other missions are even further down the slippery slope. Firstly there are some timed mission which challenge you to get from one area to another as quickly as possible. This idea should have been scrapped at whatever meeting it was first decided at, as forcing someone to rush from section to section when trying to put up with all the game’s bugs and shortcomings can only lead to disaster. Other problems are that even though the game boasts many, many mission; many of these are just copies of each other but just in different locations in the city. There are however some welcome additions to the game. Firstly the inclusion of QTEs (Quick Timer Events) that works so well in the likes of God of War. Unlike in God of War Spiderman’s QTEs mostly take place during cutscenes and are often well over 10+ buttons long. Although some would argue these can get annoying I personally felt that they help to immerse the player in the game and although they are not up to the level of what was seen in GoW they do work. If you have checked out any of the game trailers you will have probably seen the QTE for Peter fighting Harry so this should give you a good example of what to expect. There are however a few QTEs included in boss fights which are far less successful and can cause multiple retries on some bosses if you are not proficient in using them. Another addition is the inclusion of a 3D map which you can pick your missions from. Instead of the map being just a menu screen you instead press the ‘back’ button and the camera zooms out high above the city to let you pick your desired mission. Once a mission is picked you then zoom back in and a marker is left on screen for you to swing to – a very nice touch in my opinion. Other welcome new additions come in the form of small mini-games to do certain tasks – such as defusing a bomb – which also seem well implanted.
Graphically the game is relatively nice looking. There is no doubt the scale of the city on show is impressive as you can see miles down a street if nothing is obstructing your view. Unfortunately there are more than a few blemishes that ruin the eye candy, the same kind of blemishes as the gameplay based ones that could have been fixed with a few more weeks work on the game. The most notable of these problems is pop-up, with huge buildings appearing out of nowhere on the horizon as you are swinging though the city. Character models are also not very impressive with almost all the characters, bar Spiderman, looking a bit iffy. Continuing on from talking about the models, the animation in the game is also below par with many of the characters, in both the cutscenes and in-game, making very jarring, off-putting moments. Sound on the other hand is not as impressive… and there is only one man to blame for that, namely, Toby Maguire. His voicework is just hopeless; he quite simply does not care about the words coming out of his mouth. His performance is monotone, lifeless and just flat out boring. On the other hand the script is so badly written with lines like “If I don’t disarm the bombs something terrible will happen” popping up every now and then I suppose I can understand why he did not put much effort in. Perhaps I am been a bit too hard on poor ole’ Toby as he at least showed up… something which Kirsten Dunst completely failed to do! I will admit that that I did enjoy the music in the game as it makes the fights and swinging through the city feel incredibly epic, it could however have been implemented better as it seems to cut in and out far too much, without reason.
Ultimately the game’s biggest problem (apart from the numerous bugs) is that it starts off far too slowly. The decision to make Spiderman unlock his abilities as he advances through the game was a misguided one as gamers are then left with a shockingly bad first impression of the game. By the time you feel like you can really start to love it you have already encountered far too many things that will have got on your nerves. When all is said and done I will admit that the game is still fun to play but with countless problems on show which vastly outweigh any of the positives listed I personally feel that that this game is nothing but a step down from the highs of Spiderman 2. So, is a step down something you really feel like spending £40 on? Well, I suppose that is up to you …maybe if the film, and thus the game, was released a few months later it’d be a much easier decision to make… well maybe!
Interspersed with moments of quality but it’s ultimately a letdown.