Review: Spiderman 2
Version Reviewed: 1.00
I'd like to start this review with a confession. I am, have always been, and will always be, a geek. I love gadgets and have an almost total lack of fashion sense. I didn't have a single date in high school, have worn glasses since grade school, and grew up on comic books, movies, video games, pen and paper RPGs and all the things that earn a nerd classification. Like many American geeks who have lived through a comic book phase I was a Spider-Man fan. I had my bouts with X-Men addiction or Ghost Rider fascination, I liked Captain America and Batman, and got chills at the mention of "clobberin' time", but I always reserved a place for Spidey. When his movies came out I was there and to this day I take note when his games get released... which brings me to the N-Gage movie tie-in to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man sequel.
From the first mention of this title, I was wary. I've played Spider-Man games as far back as my Atari 2600 and they have definitely been a mixed lot. This one comes in at around Genesis/Mega Drive early 90's in style and game play. It is essentially a 2D game with pleasantly laid-out levels that allow Spidey's wall crawling and web swinging to be more than just a special attack. While this all sounds big, it tends to fall flat after a few levels of repetitive find the bombs/hostages/poison canisters game play. It leaves you wanting more. It's not that you can't zip around like Spidey, its just that it has no real function through most of game play and feels wasted. Worse still this freedom of movement does not extend into the N-Gage version's big selling point, the 3D levels.
When it was decided that the game would be ported to the N-Gage the powers that be smartly decided to add some 3D levels as a nod to the N-Gage's power, but even more so than the 2D levels they fall completely flat. Envisioned as Spider-Man unleashed on a 3D city to travel in the traditional Spider-Man way, they unfortunately play as watch the repetitious animation of chunky flavor Spider-Man as you travel from point A to B yet again. Worse still a collision with a building or other object causes Spidey to begin falling. Falling. Spider-Man falling. In over a decade of enjoying Spider-Man I don't recall one incident of him falling. I've seen him batted with girders or pimp slapped by a strength superior opponent and thereafter flying or falling limply through the air, but I have never seen him clumsily fall because he simply wasn't coordinated enough to grab the surface he collided with. This is the antithesis of Spidey-like movement. I would have like to have seen him given the freedom to crawl up and down or across building faces, perhaps even climb over and under objects. Instead of this Spider-Man dies when he touches the ground. What?!? Above this fundamentally boring implementation of these travel from A to B levels, their VERY linear track makes them even more boring. There is no branching or decision making. The experience is literally "turn left, turn right, a little lower now" like I was running construction equipment. With more emphasis on player maneuverability, some better designed levels with branching or design depth and support for Arena ghosts this could have been a blast, but as these levels stand they are unrealized.
While the game does have it's moments, they are few and far between with the boss fights generally being the most fun part of the game. Sadly, the utterly unimaginative levels that lead to these short bits of glory bog down the overall fun value of the title and often reduce the game play experience to utter boredom. Worse still is that while the developers created a lot of unlockables, they require you to torture yourself by playing those boring levels again and again and AGAIN. Aargh! And what are you rewarded with for enduring this torture? Some of the ugliest in-game art I have ever scene in the form of pre-rendered "photo" stills. These are not the only thing unlocked but they really do nothing to further the value of the title and only serve to give Spider-Man 2 the appearance of being a game with lots of replay value. In reality this game will be blown through in one or two afternoons unlockables included and you'll not likely touch it again.
You'll not touch it again unless you're after Arena medals. Yes, this game supports score rankings online in the N-Gage Arena. This adds some value to the title, but it's not enough to make me want to play the game again and that is a true disappointment considering the potential of some of the ideas that sat behind this game. In the end Spider-Man 2 is a shelf filler that does nothing to further the cause of movie tie-in games everywhere and ends up enforcing the increasingly widespread belief that they are all (insert expletive here).
Despite the litany of complaints that this review has been, Spider-Man 2 does provide N-Gagers with an action title fix that is not horrible. Against any other game out there I'd say buy that other game first, but if there is nothing else available you can consider this worth a try so long as your expectations are low and the cash outlay is not uncomfortable for you. All things considered it's a 53% from us here at All About N-Gage.
Reviewed by Chris Rydberg at