Spiderman 3 follows the same model as most other licensed games – – loosely follow the movie’s storyline while adding in new original content to satisfy even the most hardcore fans. The game does a great job with this, incorporating a wide variety of missions, like landing a stolen helicopter, to stopping car thieves, especially when Spiderman 2 consisted of roughly three repeating side missions. Each time you stop crime, your Citizen Satisfactory Index (CSI) goes up in a specific gang territory and crime will go down. For instance, if you have a strong CSI rating in the Dragon Tail’s gang (yes, that truly is the gang’s name) territory, the area will have less crime than the others.
Making the whole CSI thing even cooler is the fact that the game’s designers have completely redone the Spider Sense feature. Now, clicking the right thumbstick will not only slow down action on the screen, but will illuminate all crime and threats in bright red while everything else turns a muddy shade of gray. This is where the city truly comes alive as you could be on your way to a mission, when you see cops race by you, and your spider sense acts up. Want to see something cool? Swing up to one of the tallest buildings in the city and look down, now turn your spider sense on — New York is not a safe place indeed.
A city that never sleeps must have it’s fair share of problems, and boy does Spiderman 3’s New York have its own. While, the NPC’s that populate the cities streets will react to the action going on during the missions, when swinging around the city, they act as if you’re not even there. I’m sure it’s easy to ignore a grown man dropping from a skyscraper in a red and blue spider costume. Though the developers made the city huge, they did so at the expense of detail and continuity. Most buildings look the same, with little or no distinguishing features, and when Spiderman climbs to the top of some of the tallest buildings, his animations become very sporadic and jumpy looking.
Like Spiderman 2 before it, web-slinging is at the heart of Spiderman 3. Literally every inch of New York City is completely open to you as soon as you boot up the game. Want to go to the top of that building? Go for it. Feel like watching traffic from high atop Times Square – you can do it – and in style too. As you progress through the game, you’ll receive upgrades to everything from your speed to your vast array of gymnast like air maneuvers. It’s a really cool feeling to be able to swan dive off one of the city’s tallest buildings, and then pull a web line at the last second, zooming up to the top of another tall building.
With how awesome web-slinging is, it’s too bad that the game’s camera system is so atrocious. Too often when zooming around the city, you will suddenly go from a clear view of Spidey going through the city at Sunset too the backside of a building. What’s more, this happens a lot during races and pursuit missions, which of course hinder your progress. Things don’t get better during combat either, as you’ll find yourself looking at Spiderman, instead of the bad guys who are shooting guns or throwing fire at you. What’s the point in having icons above enemy’s heads if you can’t see them?
Spiderman 3 features new contextual mini games. Inspired by God of War, these mini games take Spidey through scripted heroic events like rescuing people from buildings or disarming bombs with a sense of times button presses. These events don’t happen frequently, so when they come up they manage to stay fresh, even if they are extremely simple. Most of these events require you to press one, or two buttons, which obviously can be done quite easily. They also come up at weird times, sure, it’s cool to have them during boss battles, but why couldn’t I just save that woman from the burning building?
Combat is pretty much what you’d expect if you’ve played previous Spiderman games – button mashing and bad AI. The thugs and gang members you’ll encounter in Spiderman 3’s New York are so inept that you’ll find them trying to fight a wall, or trying to run through cars more often than you will find them attempting to fight you in any way. New to Spiderman 3, is the game’s reversal system, which slows down time much like bullet-time in other games. By pressing the right bumper when a small yellow icon appears over an enemies head, Spidey will be able to dodge and issue an attack to the enemy. The system works well, but the game relies on it too much. When surrounded by a crowd of enemies, it seems to be the only thing that can clear out the crowd – even with all of Spidey’s fancy moves.
As a licensed game, Spiderman 3 is exceptional, but its problems and shortcomings stop it from being a notable game altogether. Though fans of the movies and comic books will enjoy swinging through a wide-open New York, and the mildly amusing storyline, the game could prove to be all too frustrating when the glitches really start to go bad.