Aside from Star Wars, there has never been a movie property adapted for videogames faster and in more iterations than 2004’s Spider-Man 2. The upcoming PSP edition will mark the 6th major game version of the film, counting the Big 3’s console titles as well as the GBA, NGage, and DS releases (and the edutainment software Spider-Man 2 Activity Center). The variety in each release is striking, especially when Spider-Man PSP’s developer Vicarious Visions is fresh from completing the DS game.
Spider-Man 2 for Sony’s new portable looks to be an intriguing hybrid, with different game mechanics plucked from pre-existing Spidey games. The gameplay is split between 3D sections in the style of the console games and 2D side-scrolling levels drawing from previous handheld releases. A strikingly large amount of the console versions’ feature set remains intact, with Spidey’s web attacks returning in addition to new exclusive moves such as a web net, a heavy web ball for smacking thugs around, and a web cocoon that completely incapacitates foes. Also returning is the console games’ innovative jump mechanic, whereby holding down the jump button until the meter is full will net the player an impressive condo-scaling leap. Most noteworthy are the 3D free-roaming sections that successfully recreate the sense of scale and freedom that the console games managed to achieve.
Yet there are still limitations based on the hardware – the free-roaming sections are blocked in to relatively small cordons (when compared to the console versions), and the web-swinging mechanic itself, which quite a few claim was a saving grace on the console title, has been simplified to resemble the first movie game’s approach. Indeed, the sandbox feel of the multi-platform game has been pared down to the PSP’s abilities, and the movie’s narrative has been (again) reconfigured for game purposes, presented over 19 distinct game environments.
The compressed field of play is quite forgivable upon seeing Spider-Man 2 in action on Sony’s handheld hardware. The city, and just about all the game’s environments, looks eerily similar to that of the console games, and the Spidey model is possibly better than the one used for the home game. Spider-Man 2’s graphical prowess is matched by a slick framerate, which pumps out gorgeous visuals almost effortlessly. Basically, if this game plays as good as it looks, it’s going to be an extreme slice of fun.
While sticking somewhat close to the plot of the film, the game will diverge from the movie’s storyline now and then to offer new content and introduce more bosses, such as Shocker, Vulture, Rhino, and the digital Spider-Man staple, Mysterio. A good portion of the film’s cast will return to supply fresh dialog, in addition to some reheated voiceovers from the existing console game.
With their established expertise in the handheld Spider-Man experience, let’s hope that Vicarious Visions will have the, well,