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Spider-Man 2 (Xbox) artwork

Spider-Man 2 (Xbox) review


"Spider-Man 2 is a real piece of work, and I like it. It offers you complete control of Spidey, with all the freedom of movement that comes with it. And this time, itís the real deal. "



Spider-Man 2 is a real piece of work, and I like it. It offers you complete control of Spidey, with all the freedom of movement that comes with it. And this time, itís the real deal.

Itís nothing like those previous Spider-Man games. Back in the day, programmers either made the mistake of thinking that just the familiar red-and-blue outfit would be enough, or didnít have the technology to create a worthy simulation. Oh, theyíd let you lift heavy objects, maybe web-shoot up a few crooks, but none of it was ever really impressive. There was all that responsibility without much of the power, which is just wrong and totally missing the point. Rest assured, Spider-Man 2 remedies all those things-- with gusto.

Spider-Man 2 features an interactive and fully exact model of Manhattan and an island beyond for Spider-Man to web-sling through (or if not fully exact, exactly what I imagined Manhattan would be like). This island pretty much contains everything that the real one does: skyscrapers, heavy traffic, and evildoers. The game presents you with plenty of opportunity to beat up thugs, rescue folks who need rescuing, wall-crawl upside all sorts of dirty places (including some of more well-known landmarks of New York, such as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty), and even experience some of that trademark New York discourteousness. Of course, you shouldnít expect things to be entirely realistic; in actuality this virtual incarnation of Manhattan looks and functions more like a comic-book version of Manhattan. So, itís slightly cleaner and rush hour isnít quite as busy.

In a title such as this, itís clear that a fair degree of control is required. The gameplay of Spider-Man 2 centers around the playerís ability to control Spidey more than it does anything else. (You probably spend half the game just being in a hurry to get someplace.) Given the Spiderís range of motion, the programmers have done an admirable job of incorporating all of his abilities into ten buttons or less. Theyíre still not always the easiest to handle, but nobody ever said itís easy being a professional swinger. With enough practice, itís entirely possible to master the controls completely. And you donít really need pull off any of the more advanced moves in order to make it through the main plot, anyway.

The plot of the game follows the plot of the movie, more or less. A few of the lesser details are different, but the key parts are mostly the same. But if you havenít purchased the DVD and youíre worried that the game might spoil the movie for you, well, youíre only getting the obvious parts here, so it shouldnít be too big a deal. Plus, with the original cast doing the voices of the main characters, you know youíre flying some movie-to-videogaming in first class.

Since the only source material for this game is a mere 120 minutes of movie, the programmers have seen fit to include extra super-villains and plots not found in the movie in order to provide a sorely needed beefing-up of the main game. But the extra material isnít mere filler, by any means. The best of the action come from these more so than the movie parts, and several of the gameís scenes are executed well enough to be able to resonate as deeply as the movie could with a viewer. Take the scenes in the game with Black Cat in it, for example. Each and every one of them are truly a work of beauty.

However, even with the extra stuffing, the lifespan of the juicy parts likely will feel rather brief. While this is in part due to the genuine quality of the product, itís also because the game really is quite short. After the eight or so wonderful hours leading up to the final battle, youíll finish, and its clear that Spider-Man 2 feels like itís missing something.

(Not enough responsibility.)

Still, there are plenty of challenges left to try after youíre done with the story part. And when youíre done with those, thereís still the final challenge of just perfecting how to swing with style. These challenges, while lacking in the same sense of urgency that the plot events have, maintain a fair level of entertainment value. Itís as much as being in control of Spider-Man should be.

In theory, you could literally make your rounds over Manhattan as Spider-Man indefinitely without for even a moment ceasing to look awesome. Itís evident that the main focus of the programmers in this project was to perfect the web-swinging action, and it shows. Unfortunately, that in the process of doing so the programmers seem to have neglected some of the various other aspects of the game more than they really would have (the deadline to coincide with the release of the movie rearing its head, likely). The combat is certainly interesting, with the ability to utilize Spideyís powers as great as one would expect. Thereís plenty of fun to be had with webbing, and Spider-Man has a slow-motion ability thatís inspired by a scene from the movie, so it actually isnít gratuitous. But the Spiderís got a few issues to be resolved with combat situations; you canít always aim attacks at a target without locking on to it first, and if youíre locked onto a target it gets difficult to run the hell away, which is very often necessary.

The greatest shortcoming of Spider-Man 2 lies in the task of helping out the citizens with their troubles. Any evil of the ordinary variety is terribly lacking in it. Youíve got the petty troubles to correct, like recovering a childís balloon, or a purse from a mugger. And then youíve got the more major ones, like armored car robberies or attacking robots that you can only notice by talking to a random citizen, for some reason. More quickly than youíd expect they stop telling you anything new. Sometime after the sixth armored car robbery that youíve foiled in one game day you start to wonder whatís going on in this town. And then after another while they donít even seem like people, let alone anything youíre obligated to care about. There isnít much incentive to keep helping out, save for the award you get that isnít even shiny at all.

If nothing else, the game really could have used some more interesting interaction with the non-player characters, along with fine-tuning of the combat system. Although, Iíd be willing to sacrifice any chance of those things for more time with Black Cat.

MmmÖ Black Cat.

Spider-Man 2 succeeds at fulfilling its promise of unprecedented freedom with spider-powers. And while thatís enough for now, it wonít stop you from wishing for more. Iíd say itís worth experiencing, even if you arenít someone who particularly appreciates the Spider-Man mythos. Navigating the concrete jungle with nothing but silly string is quite a rush, by anyoneís standards.

Rating: 8.0/10

disco1960's avatar
Community review by disco1960 (December 21, 2004)

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