Release Date: May 4, 2007
The move to bring Marvel Comics' greatest superheroes to the screen continues with the return of Spider-man, yet again, in Spider-man 3. And as the latest marketing memorandum surely dictates, Spider-man 3 must hit the store shelves at the speed of light.
Spider-man 3 follows the successful gaming paradigm of allowing players to choose what they want to do in a non-linear fashion. Similar to games like the Grand Theft Auto series, you will have the freedom to move around New York and choose to fight random criminal elements, compete against yourself in various time trials or take on 42 crime-fighting missions. Not only will you play as the red bug himself, you also get the opportunity to play as the stronger, more uncontrollable alter ego, Blacksuit Spider-man. Also similar to the GTA franchise, detailed statistics will be maintained as you journey through your job as New York's number-one crime fighter. As usual, there are plenty of upgrades and enhancements to be unlocked, as well as tokens and other surprises to find. Unfortunately, you won't find a multiplayer mode in Spider-man 3; by design, it is best suited for single-player action.
Spider-man 3 is designed to be playable using your keyboard and mouse. However, I would strongly recommend the use of a programmable gamepad for better control, especially considering the number of controls involved. Spider-man 3 contains a play-as-you-go tutorial at the beginning, which provides the fastest and best possible understanding of the basic controls. The game comes with a short seven-page manual and a single DVD-Rom. If you would rather not play on a PC, the game is also available on several console platforms. Trailers for the game are online here at WorthPlaying.
The graphics in Spider-man 3 are exceptional and make excellent use of the latest generation of graphics cards with faster render engines and shader effects. Everything down to New York's fast moving fog is present in the game, and you will get the opportunity to battle crime both during the day and at night. The 360-degree camera system offers an almost unlimited number of perspectives without being a hassle to control. One of the coolest features in Spider-man 3 is the city map. When you access the city map, you will zoom out from your present location to a detailed island view of New York, and after you are done, you zoom right back to where you started. Besides looking impressive, the city map is an important tool to allow you to identify crime areas in the city, locate missions and set waypoints to assist you with navigating through the city.
The sound effects and music you will hear while playing Spider-man 3 will be what you expected. The only notable point to the sound design is the well-placed voice work that is consistently placed throughout the game, which definitely adds an extra level of quality.
You will start out playing Spider-man 3 by moving through a series of training missions which will help you to learn the controls and objectives. You will be instructed on some of the basic fighting moves, and many more advanced moves will be unlocked as you progress through the game. To the dismay of window washers everywhere, you will also be trained on using you web-making capabilities to move quickly through the city; these capabilities, like others, are subject to multiple upgrades. An interesting function which you will also be required to master is that of taking photographs. As Peter Parker, you will have several missions where you will be required to photograph situations for evidence purposes or for your newspaper.
While you have complete freedom to select what you will do while playing, there is a main storyline and sub-storylines which will progress as you begin and complete missions. Missions will usually progress in a similar pattern, where you will take on multiple minions prior to meeting a boss, which will require some fancier techniques to vanquish. Without spoiling any of the game's main or secondary storylines, I will say you can expect to encounter not only a few of Spider-man's comic villains, but also the ones you would expect from the Spider-man 3 movie as well. Since gameplay is non-linear in nature, you can check the extensive stats pages to see just how far you have progressed through the primary storyline.
When you are not in the mood to take on the challenge of a mission, you can choose to either "fight crime" or perform an "activity." Fighting crime entails stopping random crimes in sections of the city. The city is divided up into seven or eight boroughs which may be experiencing light to heavy crime levels, as indicated on the city map. As Spider-man, you will need to locate crimes in progress, usually using your spidey-senses, and then thwart the assailants. There are three primary gangs you will encounter when fighting crime, and rarely will you have less than four gang members at any given crime scene with whom you will have to deal.
Sometimes, you will have to "give chase" when the thugs take to driving vehicles. This would seem to be a problem but luckily, Spider-man can land on moving vehicles (with the help of a "bullet-time" type slo-mo feature.) and start whooping on the bad guys from there. As you successfully prevent crimes in this game mode, you will notice on your city map that the crime indicator color will start to lighten up from red to yellow. Another area of New York made better by your friendly neighborhood Spider-man.
In "activity" mode, you will be able to complete or improve timetrials (against yourself) in three primary activities. The first activity is just racing around the city in the shortest amount of time, and the second will have you defusing a series of bombs in different locations using what I call key-dancing, (similar to the A-A-B-B-C-A-B button sequencing games). The third activity amounts to getting a high score through sky-diving from buildings in a graceful manner.
You will find that the most difficult aspect to master will be the use of webbing to navigate around New York. It took me about 30 minutes of practicing and doing face-plants into buildings before I was fairly proficient at this task. It is important to get the hang of moving effectively through the city because several missions involve getting around town within a certain amount of time. You will also want to make sure you are proficient at webbing because it is really the only effective means of navigating from one end of the map to the other within a reasonable amount of time. Luckily, the more swinging you do, the more speed and distance is made available to you through additional unlocks.
I enjoyed swinging through Spider-man 3 even though I felt that game tasks were becoming more and more repetitive as I progressed. The game is solid, graphically pleasing, and fast-paced. Spider-man 3 even includes the periodic jabbing humor you would expect from a Spider-man endeavor. I found Spider-man 3 to be surprisingly well-designed for a movie marketing game, and I would recommend it to all superheroes fans out there who have a newer PC system.
More articles about Spider-Man 3