The first Spider-man game to come out on the Playstation2 was great, although quite limiting. The control, graphics, and gameplay were all done really well, but there was no real exploration. Well, this time around Treyarch left what was right and fixed the few problems the first one had.
Spider-man 2, as most can guess, is based on the new movie with the same name, although to spice up the story and keep gamers guessing some liberties have been taken. Some of these liberties I liked a lot, such as the periodic cameos of Black Cat and appearances of super villains other than Doc Ock. These additions to the story are a nice change of pace, but the changes in dialogue aren’t as fortunate. A lot of the script seems unrealistic and a little silly at times, but at least it’s acted well due to the voice talents of Bruce Campbell, Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and Alfred Molina (who, in case you didn’t know, were all in the movie).
When you first start up the game, you’re thrown directly into New York and the talented and entertaining Bruce Campbell walks you through the various abilities you have as Spider-man. He’ll also tell you about Hero Points which is basically the game’s currency. You can earn Hero Points by doing pretty much anything heroic at all, and as you complete more of the game more abilities open up for purchase at the store.
The first thing you might notice as you start playing is that your webs actually have to attach to something when you swing around. This is new to Spider-man 2, and is a huge improvement to the invisible floating swing points from the first. The new swinging mechanics not only make web slinging a bit more realistic, but it gives the player a lot more control. Now to make a 90 degree turn you can stick your web to the corner of the building and smoothly round the corner. Other objects like trees, flag poles, construction cranes, and even helicopters can add some interesting variety to your web slinging. The webs even stay connected to whatever you swung from, even after jumping off, which is a cool little detail that sort of brings the character to life. Web slinging will take some practice, and you’ll most likely be a little clumsy at first, but once you get it down it’s very rewarding to swing about the city without smacking into any buildings and pulling off cool tricks.
Of course web slinging isn’t your only ability; Spider-man has other abilities such as sprinting, jumping, beating up baddies, sticking to walls and ceilings, and even Spider Reflexes. Sprinting allows Spidey to run or crawl faster, and he can now charge his jumps allowing him to hop a short distance or leap insane distances. When a fully charged jump is paired with a sprint you can cover close to a full city block.
Combat has been improved upon on many levels. When I said before that one of Spider-man’s abilities is beating up baddies, I meant it. In the beginning you don’t have too many combat options – press X a whole bunch and maybe figure out how to juggle your enemies in mid-air. As you start earning Hero Points, though, you can start purchasing combos and combat abilities. Eventually you can earn moves that allow you to juggle enemies into the air higher and higher, tie thugs up to light poles, or even piledrive them from the roof of a skyscraper into the streets below. Spider-man 2 has an amazing fighting engine that allows players to integrate fist fighting and crazy web maneuvers, as well as dodging enemy attacks with well-timed button presses, which is not only fun to execute but fun to watch. Plus the new ragdoll effects make it really fun to beat up on bad guys and toss them around with your webs.
Okay, I’ve mentioned Hero Points twice already yet haven’t told you how to earn them. There are quite a few ways to earn Hero Points, the most obvious being the story missions. As you progress through the game and complete the objectives assigned to you, Hero Points are earned and new abilities become available for purchase. However, this isn’t the only way to play the game. Spider-man 2 has a very open-ended style of play; the next mission is marked on your map, but you don’t have to go to it right away. Delivering pizza, finding hidden tokens, or even racing through checkpoints in time trail of sorts are some examples of mini games you can find while exploring the enormous city. Citizens will also request you for help, and others won’t but will still be in trouble, and one of your many duties of being a super hero is assisting these people. These small distractions are a lot of fun, and they’ll all land you Hero Points, but there isn’t much variety in them. You’ll be surprised at how many kids let go of their balloons or at how many workers are accidentally stuck hanging from a roof. Even with the limited variety in these side missions, it’s pretty hard to get sick of them. Besides, you don’t HAVE to do them.
Spider-man 2 follows the movie’s plot very closely, but will sometimes take detours to add new characters. Doctor Octopus isn’t the only villain Spidey faces in the game; players will recognize other bad guys from the Spider-man story line. Boss fights are handled well, with usually a pattern to follow or a specific weakness to exploit. They’re pretty typical boss fights, but to aid you in defeating these powerful adversaries you have Spider Reflexes. With a simple press of a button (and given you have a full reflex meter) the world around you will slow down, giving you more time to dodge attacks or launch a full offensive. Spider-man’s attacks become a lot more powerful in this state, and you’ll notice combos change a bit too.
Well, now you’ve used up your reflex meter and you want it back. Don’t worry, there’s a simple way to refill it: be stylish. That’s right, don’t bump into buildings as you swing around, do flips, swing on traffic lights, and be graceful. The longer you can swing through town without being clumsy, the more your reflex meter fills up. As you continue through the game and purchase new abilities, you acquire more ways to be stylish. Different tricks like running along a wall or doing various acrobatics between web swings will fill your meter even faster.
Spider-man 2 is a huge game set in a huge city, and thanks to the graphics and sound you actually feel it. There is a fair amount of pop in, but when you’re swinging at 150mph trying to save a woman from a group of muggers you won’t really notice it. If you are looking for it though, you will se that cars and people tend to pop up as you swing by. One really cool feature is that when you’re up on a skyscraper and look down, you can see little cars driving around on the streets below – in fact you can see just about the entire island including buildings in the distance. If you were to jump off of this skyscraper and fall a considerable distance a very cool blur effect kicks in, causing you to feel a believable sense of speed. The graphics are very impressive and really bring the city to life. The soundtrack is mostly sounds of the city: traffic, random quips from Spider-man, and various praises or insults from pedestrians.
The passage of night and day is pretty common for games like this, but I just have to mention it. It’s there and everything changes around it. Windows on buildings light up, stores that you can enter during the day are closed, and billboards light up.
Aside from the gameplay, there’s a cool little stats page that GTA players are used to seeing. It tells you every little thing accomplished, from distance crawled to how many thugs you’ve hung from a light pole to number of pizzas delivered. It’s a fairly extensive list, and taking a gander at it can clue you in on things you may not have known you can do.
Spider-man 2 actually makes you feel like Spider-man. From the way he moves to the way he swings to the way he fights, it’s pretty amazing how easy he is to control. When you watch the movie or read the comics, you see how flexible he is; how he can go pretty much anywhere – this game lets you accomplish what you’ve seen. Spider-man 2 is easily one of the best super hero games I’ve played, and I recommend it to everyone.
The web slinging is extremely simple, but takes practice to perfect. Also the deep fighting engine allows for some fantastic brawls and lengthy combos. Overall this game is a blast and very hard to put down.
The graphics are great, and while the Playstation2 version doesn’t look quite as good as the other two console versions, it still looks great and does the large environment justice. When you think about it, for the game to be this large and have no load times as you swing through it, it looks very impressive.
Nothing too spectacular here. You have the typical jokes Spidey likes to spit out as he webs bad guys, pedestrians calling “Look, it’s Spider-man” or “Get a job,” traffic noise, and sometimes music. The voices in the game’s cut scenes are acted well, although written not so well.
The depth is there for using combos and such, but you can usually get through small fights just by hitting X. Bosses have patterns that are fairly easy to nail, and if you don’t ignore your dodge button you’re fine. Throughout the story, though, you will get missions that don’t involve brawn but brains instead. It never really gets too hard, and if a mission is hard, you can try as many times as you need to. The game ends up very well balanced.
Movie games have had a bad reputation, but lately there’s been a surprising growth in quality movie licensed titles. This doesn’t really mean anything, however, because the first Spider-man was done really well. Spider-man is the perfect hero to base a game on, because he’s not a boring hero at all. He’s so versatile, and with the ability to crawl, swing, or jump anywhere you can make one of the most open games out there.
Hats off to Treyarch for making a game based on probably the most difficult character to harness. They have nailed Spider-man from his animations to his abilities – this game is nearly a perfect adaptation. If they were to make a perfect Spider-man game, I think the controls would be almost impossible navigate. Besides all that, Spider-man is a great game and a whole lot of fun to play. With all the exploration to be had, mini games to conquer, and crimes to be solved it’s hard to put down the controller.