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Spider-Man 3 Review

Greg_Damiano By:
Greg_Damiano
05/11/07
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Action 
PLAYERS
PUBLISHER Activision 
DEVELOPER Treyarch 
RELEASE DATE  
T Contains Alcohol Reference, Animated Blood, Mild Language, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

SPIDER-MAN A MENACE!

As a movie tie-in game, it seems appropriate that Spider-Man 3 demonstrates an old Hollywood lesson: pouring all your money into visual effects is no substitute for good form and substance. This game looks like the real thing, but it has the proportional speed and strength of a daddy longlegs, after you step on it.

Spider-Man 3 is an action-oriented treatment of the movie plot, pitting Virtual Tobey Maguire against his movie foes and a few game exclusives like the Lizard and Rhino. Where Real Tobey might break into dance, Virtual Tobey wrestles with lizardmen in the sewers. So really, it’s your call which version is more realistic. 
 
click to enlargeIt isn’t all symbiotes and pumpkin bombs, though; important elements like the black Spider-suit don’t appear until you’ve exhausted yourself with six to seven hours of filler subplots. It takes way too long to get the black suit and more time still to fight with it. This conflict should have been the premiere feature through the whole game and the pacing is destroyed as you wait for it.
 
I know it’s a Spider-Man game, but talk about jumpy - the levels, cameras and action stop and go like bad traffic. Spidey moves, room by room, through a very difficult series of large fights and Dragon’s Lair-style button matching games. Each room feels like an isolated segment; I liked the longer, low-pressure sections best, like leisurely swinging to my next target or sleuthing around the city with Spider-Sense. When the pressure went up, the game got frustrating. You already know what a Spider-Man can do, this game teaches you what a Spider-Man shouldn't.
 
Spider-Man 3 features the series’ worst combat yet. The amazing acrobatic Spider-Man can’t jump out of his attacks so you’re stuck boxing with one creep while the rest of the gang beats you to death. At least on the PS3 and 360, Treyarch can squeeze a dozen enemies on-screen, so watching Spidey die is a real group experience. Instead of adding new activities, maybe they should have nailed the core gameplay; that’s why you can wail for forty minutes straight in a game like God of War, while every five minutes of Spider-Man 3 makes you want to snap your controller in half.
 
Spider-Man 3 isn’t just broken, it’s unreasonably buggy software. Expect slowdown, even though the game installs itself onto your hard drive; the timed button-matching sequences especially get screwed up when the frame rate starts jumping around. You’ll wish that the pedestrians and city traffic actually had AI, to make your character part of a living world, but maybe it wouldn’t matter - many pedestrians blink out of existence when you get closer. They are casualties in the never-ending war on frame rate.
 
click to enlargeAside from a worse framerate in the PS3 version, and weaker anti-aliasing on the 360, the main difference between Spider-Man 3 on the two consoles is the opportunity to spend ten extra dollars for a PS3 Collector’s Edition, featuring a playable New Goblin. This feature is the height of ineptitude: you pay ten extra Collector’s dollars for a character who (a) sucks to control and (b) has no new story or mission content. No wonder he's so angry.
 
You also figure the game is the perfect place to add a few story missions, maybe fill the gap after Spider-Man 2 and let us teach Harry how to use his new arsenal. Nope! You don’t even get instructions on how to use the glider until you find your way to one of Harry’s six race missions.
 
Still, the overall presentation is generally very ambitious and polished. The lip-synced human characters may be a little overdone and their animation is laughable at best, but I dug all of the gestures and business in the cut scenes. Authentic voice acting and excellent music would be right at home in a much, much better game.
 
And frame rate issues aside, Treyarch really captured the blockbuster graphics from the movies: Spider-Man truly interacts with every bump on the skyline as he crawls around nooks and pedals his feet on whatever surface he skims. It looks exactly like the choreography from the film, in real-time. It’s crazy when you notice all the little transitions in his movements. The graphics impress but can’t carry the weight of Spider-Man 3’s many, many flaws.
 
With great processing power comes great responsibility, and Spider-Man 3 introduces a lot of polygons without fixing any of the broken gameplay. All I wanted, however, was a solid action game where I could wrestle with the suit and do some fun Goblin missions, and I got none of that. Neither should you.
D+ Revolution report card
  • Combat sucks
  • As do non-combat missions
  • Lots of story telling
  • Great animation
  • Terrible pacing
  • You don't feel strong
  • New Goblin, no fun
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