Developer: Vicarious Visions
Release Date: May 4, 2007
Let's just get it out of the way — the "Spider-man 3" movie was an over-hyped action-fest that disappointed most Spidey fans. There. I said it. But with the success of the Spider-man 2 game, Spider-man 3 was something to look forward to, right? Well, unfortunately a franchise that seemed like it could only be improved was plagued with "If it ain't broke, then break it."
What should have been a movie tie-in about the Green Goblin, Sandman and Venom ended up concentrating more on Dr. Connors (The Lizard) and Morbius the Living Vampire. Throughout the game, you help Dr. Connors with his regeneration project gone wrong and then cure Morbius of his vampire ailment, for which he his wife to thank. You have a brief fight with Harry Osbourne in the beginning, and Sandman and Venom are not even mentioned until the very end of the game — seemingly tacked on as an afterthought.
You will be spending much of Spider-man 3 playing sheriff to all the gangs in the city. Some of them have information about the major villains you fight, while most are just there to cause trouble and essentially give you something to do. This is an improvement over the side-missions from the last game, where you literally had to help a little girl find her red balloon – not particularly a good use of Spidey's time.
You shouldn't be expecting just a simple web-slinging adventure from this game on the Wii console. Vicarious Visions made an effort to make this feel like you are Spider-man and are actually swinging around the skyscrapers of New York City. When you hold the B button and flick the Wiimote, Spidey will jump and swing with a web-line. You can also use the Nunchuk to swing (using the Z button), making both controllers correspond with which hand he uses to swing. While it may be annoying at times when you simply want to press a button to swing, it does add a bit of depth to Spidey's web-slinging.
Additionally, the combat has a few motion control elements added to it. When you shake the remote, you start doing your light attacks, and when you move the nunchuk, Spider-man performs an evasive tumble. Some moves, like the Web Rodeo, require you to move the remote in a circle. The moves will be carried out at the slightest movement of either controller, so at times, it can be frustrating when you simply rest your left hand and Webhead starts tumbling around on the ground.
One of the most interesting aspects of the combat this go-round is definitely Spider-man's black symbiote suit. Once you acquire it, you can switch into the black suit whenever you please. You get stronger attacks and a longer health bar, but when your adrenaline bar fills up, Peter Parker can't control the black suit anymore, so you have to do certain motion controls to fight it off.
The motion controls don't stop there. Where you otherwise might mash buttons to pry open a door or lift a car, you waggle the controllers, and when you would be rotating the control stick to throw a bomb, you're spinning the remote. Unfortunately, these simple replacements are just as boring to perform as the originals.
The enemies come in a few different varieties: standard fighters, shielded baddies, the larger folk, and the evasive ones. Each one is defeated in a certain way, but once you discover your range of fighting, they because a breeze to beat. The bosses, however, each seem to be conquered in some God of War-like way, using the environment to overcome the enemy and button combos — or in this case, motion combos — to lay the final blow. It certainly makes the game more interesting than simply whaling on a giant beast to whittle away at its health.
Even for a licensed game, the graphics in Spider-man 3 are sub-par. Many of the cut scenes' framerates were noticeably not up to snuff. Also, the environments — which were quite impressive in the last iteration — are entirely too bland, and buildings are constantly loading in the background. While it has more to do with the style than graphical prowess, the game was extremely depressing to play. The sky was usually bleak, cloudy, and grey, and at one point in the game, all of Central Park's trees were bare and lifeless. It's just another way in which this title is a step down from the last iteration.
Most of the movie actors made an appearance on the games, and they did a good job on the voice acting — especially J.K. Simmons' superb role as the hilarious J. Jonah Jameson. It was also a joy to hear Bruce Campbell returning as the narrator because he brings a sense of character to the game that other narrators simply couldn't do. However, one thing that bugged me was the lack of music in much of the game. You hear it when you're fighting or on a chase, but when you're leisurely swinging through the city, the game lacks music, which makes the city seem empty.
In Spider-man 3, you can purchase a lot of unlockable moves with experience points that you earn by completing missions. You also have a slew of races to participate in, pictures to take with your new camera, gangs to control, and after you finish the game, you can go on a collection party to unlock the black suit. Overall, it's a short title, but it has a lot to keep you busy after the main storyline is over.
Unfortunately, the biggest drawback of the game is that it's so buggy. There were too many instances to count that made me think they didn't test this game enough. At times NPCs would get stuck in the ground or disappear completely. Sometimes when you wanted to thwip Spidey's web while in the air, he would do a seizure type move and just twitch back and forth. And the craziest thing that happened was at one point when I meant to web onto a wall, but the character froze in the wall-crawling position. I could still jump and thwip, but after a while it just went back to normal. It seems like they just tried to rush this one out the door and didn't catch some of the most obvious glitches.
All in all, Spider-man 3 for the Wii just seems like a huge step back from what was achieved in Spider-man 2. While it is definitely a good rental, it is just not worth the purchase because some of the controls aren't as precise as you would hope, and there are more bugs on this disc than an ant farm. For a more fulfilling web-slinging experience, go out and buy Spider-man 2 instead, available on the PS2, Xbox, and PC.
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