Videogames-To-Flix #38

VIDEOGAMES-TO-FLIX is a JoBlo.com column showcasing reviews of videogame translations of Hollywood films (or games soon-to-become Hollywood movies). With both industries getting closer and closer, and videogames, in general, getting so much more popular, you knew it was just a matter of time before we hit that stuff!



Developer: Treyarch
Publisher: Activision
Systems: XBOX 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PSP, Wii, GBA, DS, & PC


Are you a fan of Spiderman the comic book? Are you a fan of the SPIDER-MAN movies? Well then, Activision has a great product for you. SPIDER-MAN 3 is their latest franchise game that arrived in time with the movie of the same name. In the movie, Spider-Man fights Venom, Sandman, and Green Goblin, all while dealing with his new alien suit. In the game, you get the same fights and a huge virtual representation of New York City to swing through.

The game was released on every console on the planet: XBOX 360, PlayStation 2, 3, and Portable, Wii, GBA, DS, and PC. Apparently the N-Gage wasn't high profile enough. For the sake of this review, the XBOX 360 version was played.


In gameplay, SPIDER-MAN 3 does a host of things right but more things wrong. The combination of the two quality levels make playing this an exercise in frustration. You really want to enjoy the experience because of the potential that the Spider-Man license brings. Unfortunately, you'll find yourself ready to throw down the controller because of gameplay failures.

The most glaring problem with this game is the camera. Integrating a 3D camera into video games is not a new feature. In fact, this element dates back at least two generations. Yet, when playing SPIDER-MAN 3 you'll swear that the game designers had never implemented a camera before. Whenever you're in a cramped situation (like fighting in a small warehouse) the camera becomes a major hindrance. It has a tendency to jump about the room as well as get stuck in awkward positions. This is a problem because a majority of your small warehouse situations are crucial boss battles. When you need good control the most, you get crap instead. This is a detriment to the game and likely the biggest reason you'll want to quit playing altogether. On the upside, the camera works much better when Spidey is slinging around town. While this feature isn't 100% perfect, it works well enough that the sense of speed is noticeable. You'll still have difficulty centering the camera in hand-to-fist combat, but the larger game space will provide you with the freedom to run away. It is almost as if they spent a ton of time perfecting the most basic function of locomotion and ignored the fighting engine.

Climbing in SPIDER-MAN 3 takes some time to get used to, but once you have a handle on it you'll enjoy the experience. This doesn't rival the perfectly executed climbing element of CRACKDOWN; however, it does fit with the climbing aesthetics of the Spider-Man comics. Once again, problems with camera control hinder this gameplay feature. Better work on the camera would have made climbing a major asset.

The final gameplay feature worth trashing is the combat system. SPIDER-MAN 3 lacks a lock-on system. Any gamer worth their salt knows that the biggest issue holding back sandbox games is a well designed combat system. Early titles like GTA III struggled with a worthwhile system and it wasn't until someone developed a good lock-on system that sandbox games really excelled. Because SPIDER-MAN 3 did not include a lock-on system you'll be stuck hoping you hit the correct enemy; you'll end up missing Kraven and hitting some silly Lizard Man flunky instead. The lack of lock-on is a noticeable omission and something you'd expect from a game three or four years ago. Gameplay: 6.1/10


Much like the gameplay, the graphics of SPIDER-MAN 3 are of varying quality. The character models for Spidey and the villains are realistic and well designed. Spidey looks great in his classic red uniform and just as good in black. There won't be any confusion as to who you are or who you are fighting.

Too bad the amount of time spent on hero and villain design wasn't spent on all of the backgrounds and peripheral characters. The NPCs on the streets are repeated more than Nazis in a World War II game. The vehicles on the street are repeated even more frequently. And all of the other graphical elements are duplicated just as many times. Instead of feeling like we're a superhero in a realistic New York City, you'll feel like you're traversing someone's cut and paste project. Just like the gameplay, the graphics in SPIDER-MAN 3 deserved another two or three months of development. More time would have allowed animators and artists to really give some depth to look of this game. Conversely, the map of New York City is phenomenally rendered to scale despite the excessive duplication. So, from a geographical perspective you feel like you are in New York City, just not so much in the graphical department. This is yet another reason why this game will give you mixed emotions.

SPIDER-MAN 3 looks like a game designed for multiple systems of varying qualities. That is always a shame when you're playing it on your XBOX 360 or PlayStation 3 and makes you wonder why you should bother at all. Until the PlayStation 2 is retired it seems multi-platform games are not going to graduate to the big leagues. Graphics: 6.6/10


Anyone who reads my reviews knows that I demand movie games have the real cast involved in the games. Nine times out of ten, stand-in voice overs are unlistenable and ruin the game. Unfortunately, even the real cast members can butcher a license. Such is the case with SPIDER-MAN 3.

Tobey Maguire returns to provide Spidey with a voice-over and nothing could sound less sincere. Maguire is about as flat as the state of Kansas and must have had his paycheck sitting under the microphone. His lazy voice-over singlehandedly kills the storytelling and ruins the experience. Why bother letting the dude record if he's not going to add anything? Someone should have stepped up the plate and told him to either act or get out of the booth. Another major problem with the audio is the repetitive dialogue. Some of the boss battles are set up so that you have to spend a chunk of time doing the same motion repetitively. While this is common in video games, I don't need to hear Maguire (or the boss I'm fighting) repeat the same sentence thirty to forty times. This is just lazy audio design. Finally, the music and sound effects are decent but nothing stood out to heal the damage of the voice-overs. Quite a shame, because if Activision was willing to pay the actors they should have held them accountable. Sound: 6.1/10


SPIDER-MAN 3 is the poster child for crap games based on good licenses. Basically, this game is GTA III, CRACKDOWN, and SUPERMAN RETURNS rolled into one. It takes places in the midst of NYC and spends a lot of effort encouraging vertical gameplay. Nothing is new here and some of the gameplay is flat out broken. The camera is buggy and the boss battles don't seem to have been thoroughly tested. Fighting is even worse because there is no lock-on system to speak of. When fighting, often you'll get stuck behind a tree or building because of a crappy combat system. The background graphics are low grade, the music is repetitive and boring, and the voice-over work is unenthusiastic. The only real positives here are the license, the representation of NYC, and the limited amount of load screens. If you have some extra money and really need a licensed game, please, please look elsewhere. Either that or try out CRACKDOWN, SAINT'S ROW, or even Wii SPORTS. Overall: 6.2/10


SPIDER-MAN 3 currently has the biggest weekend of all time (passing AQUAMAN) and has earned nearly $1 billion worldwide. Expect a sequel. A new Spider-Man game was announced at E3, SPIDER-MAN: FRIEND OR FOE. It will also make tons of money and probably get crappy reviews like SPIDER-MAN 3. Oh well, at least MARVEL: ULTIMATE ALLIANCE is a good franchise.





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