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MaximusPaynicus avatar 10:04 PM on 07.11.2007  (server time)
Spider-Man 3: Why I Still Hate It

I actually wrote this review many moons ago for X360R, BUT... because I just saw my youngest cousin playing through it again, I figured it was time to remind the world just exactly why I hate this giant, steaming turd.
Before I get to the actual review, let me say a couple of things. First, I have always been a huge fan of the Spider-Man games, going back to the Playstation titles. When Activision started doing titles based off the films rather than the comics, I was somewhat disappointed. I thought the first Spider-Man movie tie-in game was a disaster, and the second game improved significantly with a realistic-looking New York that was to scale. That, and nose-diving off the Chrysler Building is just plain cool. So when I heard that Spider-Man 3 will have, in addition to the city, over twenty miles of sewers and subways, I was naturally excited. But, the question remains – is Spider-Man 3 any damn good?

The first thing you’ll notice about Spider-Man 3 IS, in fact, the massive scope of the game. The sheer size of the world (or in this case, New York) is something to behold. You have New York City painstakingly recreated street-by-street, as well as having miles upon miles of underground to explore. The most impressive aspect of this is the fact that, throughout the whole game, whether you go inside or down into the subways, there is absolutely zero environmental loading. In short – you could jump from the top of the Empire State Building into the subway, and not see a single loading screen.

Unfortunately, that same graphical polish wasn’t applied to the character models. Spider-Man looks impressive, no doubt. Some of the major enemies that are featured in the game who AREN’T in the movie (Kraven the Hunter, Scorpion, Rhino) are detailed and look impressive. This throws you off when you see characters who DO appear in the film, such as Harry Osborne and Lyle Van der Groo—er, I mean, Flint Marko. For whatever reason, the character models based off the actors look rubbery, almost like you’re watching action figures moving around. Their facial expressions are awkward and stiff, and the overall lack of detail on the character models make them look almost alien.

There are a lot of stories going on in this game. Of course, you have the main storyline that loosely (like size 42 jeans on a 120lb guy loose) follows that in the new Spider-Man 3 film (which owns), but in addition to the film’s storyline, you have several others. Out of the bunch, my personal favorite involves Kraven the Hunter doing what he does best (Hunting, in case you’re an idiot) as he pursues Dr. Connors through the sewers. Others include Spidey taking part in three separate gang wars between a bunch of Warrior knock offs (The Apocalypse), the Yakuza (Dragon Tail) and Goth chicks (Arsenic Candy). Each gang has their own storyline that spans several chapters, and the only way to progress in the actual storyline is to go through these side-stories. This artificially inflates the length of the game’s story, because in order for you to play through all of it, you have to play through every other damn side-quest.

This wouldn’t be such a chore if the game was any fun to play. The combat system is broken. Most of your fights just boil down to you tapping the Y and X buttons randomly. This monotony is broken up by the new “Spider Reflexes” system, which only winds up being a whole new monotony as you rapidly tap LB to try and time your reversals just right. This, by the way, only seems to work when it wants to. Every once in a while, when you’re on a mission, you’ll enter into what the game calls “Agility Trials” or “Strength Trials”. These basically take from God of War on the PS2, in that a button will flash on the screen, and you hit the corresponding button. It adds a bit to the gameplay mix, and the bomb defusal minigame is actually quite fun. But it’s not enough to make up for the broken combat system, and the camera that seems to hate you. And did I mention the camera? After about two hours, I was starting to think I had insulted the camera’s honor, because it was doing everything in it’s power to kill me.

The sound is unremarkable, but serviceable. The city’s ambiance is very good. The sounds of cars honking and police car sirens howling in the distance both add a subtle sense of realism, and at times provide little hints to you that there’s some crime happening. The voice actors, on the other hand, are awful as a whole. Now, no one is expecting that every cop or robbed store clerk is supposed to have an award-worthy performance behind it, but the named stars should at least try. The best performance in the game, by far, is by J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. Tobey McGuire also did an ok job as Spider-Man, but outside of those two, everyone else seemed to just be reading off the script, without any emotion whatsoever. This further adds to the feeling that you’re watching dolls act.

But thankfully, there’s no Kirsten Dunst this time around, so we’re at least saved THAT abysmal performance. Yeah, I remember you in Spider-Man 2, you wretch!

Easily the most fun you will have with the game is swinging around New York City. The physics that the game shows off when you’re swinging from skyscraper to skyscraper is second to none. But sadly, this third time around that isn’t even as fun as it once was. Partially because this is almost the only fun you will have with the game. But all the while, there IS a certain timeless quality to being able to get to the highest point in the world and jumping, only to swing back upwards mere inches from certain death. But that’s the only guaranteed fun you will have.

If you loved the movie (like I did), or just love Spider-Man in general, it’s worth checking out. But if you’re not, you’ll probably get very frustrated with the broken combat and camera. Avoid if you can, play if you must.

2 1/2 out of 5

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