IGN Review of Spider-Man 3
Well, PlayStation 2 owners, if your were wondering when developers would stop putting effort into "current-gen" titles that have a "next-gen" counterpart, Activision and Vicarious Visions have an answer for you.
Part of the all-out marketing blitz for the new movie with the same name, Spider-Man 3 loosely follows the plot of the Hollywood blockbuster while adding Morbius and the Lizard from the comics and a quartet of gangs to keep the wall-crawler busy as he deals with the symbiote, which is the black suit you've seen so much of lately.
Normally, I'd write something good about the game here to soften the soul-crushing complaints I'm about to unleash, but I'm really coming up empty, readers. The only thing that is somewhat cool, I guess, is that Spider-Man can control the symbiote at will. Whenever Spidey needs a boost in heath or strength he can summon the symbiote to wash over his red and blue number. However, if Spidey stays in the black duds too long, the suit will start feeding off of him and hurting the hero. Plus, each time he puts it on, the string of button commands you have to press to get the suit off gets longer and longer -- the symbiote doesn't want to leave its host.
All that's a neat idea, but it's only "somewhat cool" because it completely flies in the face of the fricking movie the game is based on, enemies are kind enough to not attack while you're switching suits, and in-game Spider-Man continues to make goofy comments about the suit being regular clothing even through cut-scene Spidey knows it's not.
If you can believe it, the news only gets worse from there. Boot up Spider-Man 3, and you'll notice right away that this game looks like trash. The buildings are uninspired, bland boxes; there's no detail in the roads or pedestrians even from the shortest building; pop-in is everywhere; and lots of the characters you interact with have no facial features.
The blank slate isn't limited to models either; it's also good for 24 incredibly generic missions. At one point some thugs had stolen meteorite shards from a museum and hid them in a trash can. Spidey punched the trash can to death -- a tactic the web-head uses for everything from defusing bombs to stopping crooks -- took the shard and dropped it off to some dude in a striped polo. Polo Dude thanked Spider-Man for saving him (even though Spidey was just dropping off an item) and then asked the hero to save a professor getting roughed up. Spidey sprang into action and traveled a few buildings away and ended up saving the same Polo Dude who was apparently now a professor. A faceless professor.
The fun doesn't stop there. Early in the tale, Spider-Man saved a woman from a group of thugs. Although she was a redhead and seemingly Caucasian, the woman spoke with an Asian accent and made a crack about Spider-Man saving a doctor instead of the doctor saving him. It was an odd thing to say because web-head had no idea who she was, but he and I let it slide -- the doc just went through a traumatic experience, so it's understandable if she's not making sense. However, an hour or two later Spider-Man was dispatched to save a kidnapped doctor. He arrived on site, beat down the baddie and took the MD to safety. There, the same faceless redhead gave Spidey the same song and dance again, except this time it made sense.
Sound and looks are an interesting combination in Spider-Man 3. Although the majority of the story missions involve you fighting lizards or trying to reunite Morbius and his wife, when the game needs to keep you busy for awhile, it'll send you to get information from a gang about the whereabouts of a main character. To shake down these gangs, you head to that gang's color-coded question mark on the map and talk to an informant. This guy -- who looks the same each time -- will change his accent a lot as he sends you to foil gang business. You'll stop the jerks, one of them will tell you about a car bomb or whatever the troupe is going to do next, and you'll head off to fight. When you've beaten enough question marks, the game directs you to the next piece of the main story -- a beaten bad guy doesn't even give you the decency to tell you about the location in a cut scene.
The lack of an animated scene might be for the best though. The PS2 version of Spider-Man 3 borrows a lot of its big brother's cut scene work and tones down the textures to make it work on the PS2's almost 7-year-old parts. Not everything's recycled in this version -- Morbius is exclusive to current-gen builds and you get some more story with Doc Connors and the symbiote as well as Eddie Brock's rivalry with Peter Parker -- but these new tidbits are not worth your time, your money or the boredom you'd be forced to endure as you used the game's button-mashing control scheme.
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