Spidey action shoehorned onto the DS…nearlly
With great power comes great responsibility. That’s what Peter Parker’s uncle told him. The same can be said of great film licenses. Get it right and you will go down in history, get it wrong and you will fade away (Superman anyone?).
When Spiderman 2 came out on the GameCube and PlayStation 2, it was a true revelation. Not only was it a good super hero game (rare at the best of times), it was a superb game in it’s own right. With it’s vast open city that you could play in to your hearts content and it’s finely balanced controls it was an instant hit.
Now we have this years blockbuster movie Spiderman 3, boasting more baddies and more action than ever before. So it stands to reason we get a new game.
With the Nintendo DS not being the the most powerful machine on the planet, it is not surprising that Spiderman 3 has undergone a little transformation compared to the big 3D open landscapes available on the big consoles. Instead we are presented with a scrolling 2.5D web ’em up. This in it’s self is not a bad thing, it’s all about the gameplay isn’t it?
It all comes down to game play. Luckily Spiderman 3 does not disappoint.
Loosely following the plot of the film, the story is told with newspaper style images and a voice over. You are introduced to the basics via a tutorial. In fact the instructions just tell you to go through the tutorial to learn how to play! At this stage you will instantly see what Activision have done to make this stand out from the crowd. They have created a control system like no other.
Spiderman’s movement is controlled with either the D-Pad or the ABXY buttons (lefty friendly). Press up and you will jump and throw out a web. You can then swing from web to web by timing your presses. Once you are in the open city this is really quite exilerating, as you go higher and higher into the cityscape! Combat is quite different however. This is controlled with the touch screen. Swipe towards a bad guy to punch him, swipe up to knock him into the air, double tap to tie him in a web and so on.
As mentioned this is all done in a 2.5D style. Although you can only go left and right, the environment is all rendered in stunning 3D. As you swing through the city it all moves around you, giving you the feeling that you are really in a true 3D landscape. Spider man is animated beautifully. You don’t truly see how well until you are hundreds of feet in the air, somersaulting as you swing from web to web. The top screen is where the action happens, with the touch screen mainly showing you what actions your stylus has been making.
So far so good. However what makes a game is not unique control systems, or clever graphics. It all comes down to game play. Luckily Spiderman 3 does not disappoint. First of all I have a confession. I very nearlly gave up on the first level. I found the controls frustrating and quite frankly got bored. Once I had cleared it though that all changed.
You are left to wander around New York. What you do is up to you. To start with wandering around finding random wrong doers to beat up is fun. Only at this point did the controls really begin to make sense, instinctively swiping away performing massive combos with out even thinking.
Soon random fighting will not be enough. You will want to find a warp area to try one of the many missions. Luckily these warps are found all over the city, so a new mission is never that far away. These missions mostly consist of taking out a gang in a set time, rescuing people from danger and boss battles.
Activision took a risk with the controls on this and for the most part it has paid off. Often people seem to use the available technology of the DS just for the sake of it, but here it eventually makes sense and does add something to the game. The webslinging is awesome, swinging for building to building will get your pulse racing. The fighting is satisfying, especially after you begin to purchase more special moves.
If you can get past the first level, you will find a rewarding and enjoyable slice of movie action and just wait till you get Black Suit Spidey!
The Bad: First level may put you off.; Controls are very hard to get used to.