Review: Spider-Man 2

So you’re picking through old games at the local shop, or you’re clicking through the bargain pages of a web site.  Either way, you come across Spider-Man 2 (the version discussed here is the version for the X-Box and PS2; I know the PC version is completely different, as are the hand-helds, and I’ve no idea about the GameCube version), and you’re pondering picking it up.  Sure, you can go off reviews written when the game was new—but what was cool as freshly-minted spoons then may be trifling better than dung now.  So how’s one to know?  That’s what I’m here for.

Game Play
When you start up the game for the first time, you’re treated to a hosted introduction to Spidey’s abilities.  It is, of course, none other than Bruce “One Chin to Rule Them All” Campbell who guides you through wall-crawling, sprinting, web-slinging, and all the rest.  The tutorial is easy to get through (and can be skipped for those returning), and rather entertaining.  I find that, whenever I start over, I’ll sometimes go through the tutorial just for the humor of it.

After the tutorial, you get eased into the game proper.  Here’s where you might run into a snag or two, if you’re coming into this game for the first time.  Compared to today’s games, the game play can be seen as somewhat simplistic.  The why of it I’ll get to just a bit later.  You have two sets of missions—those you just happen across (random crimes that appear around the city), and citizens screaming for your help and pointing you at some citizens in distress or scoundrels in need of a good thrashing.  The missions themselves are largely repetitive, and there’s no real mix-and-match at work like you see in Ultimate Spider-Man (the game produced after Spidey 2).  Even at the time, this was considered a downer, so as you’re staring at it and pondering to purchase it (whether “it” is the actual, physical product or the picture on the screen), keep that in mind.

As for combat, it’s fairly intuitive.  Different buttons for different initial attacks (one for punching/kicking, one for webbing, and one for grappling), shuffle them for combos; it’s nothing you’ve not seen before or since.  Here, however, developer Treyarch rather over-complicated the mental processes behind it.  You don’t really need to know more than two to four combos.  I’m a really shoddy player, I admit, and I can get by with two or three.  That’s not even going into the Spider Reflexes-specific combos.  That said, the many combos each look fantastic, and definitely inspire a feeling of Spider-Man’s natural inclination to bounce around like a heavily caffeinated flea—but you’ll likely rarely see them.

Speaking of, Spider Reflexes is a Bullet Time-esque set-up where everything but you slows down.  Well, actually, you do slow down a good bit, but nowhere near as much as everything else.  Aside from the aforementioned combos specific to this mode, you do extra damage, and the also aforementioned speed differential lets you, quite literally, dodge bullets—as well as bottles, fists, tentacles, and other fun things.

There’s also an interesting, if watered-down, leveling system in place.  As you complete missions (whether story missions or random ones), you earn “Hero Points”.  You can also get them from collecting tokens, earning achievements, and such.  Hero Points serve two purposes: One, they let you buy things in the “Spidey Store”, upgrades for your webbed wonder.  More attacks, faster web-swinging, random air tricks (to help replenish your Style Meter, which itself we’ll get to momentarily), and such.  Secondly, as the game is divided up into “chapters” which each having one to three requirements to unlock the next chapter, you earn Hero Points because, typically, one of the requirements is having earned a certain amount.  They don’t count any Hero Points earned previous to the chapter, but save for the very last, each required number of Points is reasonable enough.  Half the time you can meet the requirement without thinking about it.

Another interesting game play mechanic is the “Style Meter”, a bar that lets you access the aforementioned Spider Reflexes.  You refill this meter by doing things that are “stylish”; avoiding attacks, avoiding smacking into buildings as you swing through the city, doing little tricks in the air as you swing around, that sort of thing.  Basically, think of what is pretty “cool” for Spidey to do in general, and in the game it will probably help refill the meter.

Of course, the crux of the game is the web-swinging, saved for the last entry in our little discussion about the game play.  In every polygonal Spider-Man game previous, Spidey shot webbing straight above him into the air.  Though that led to humorous philosophical musings on what, exactly, he was attaching his webbing to as he crossed the city, Treyarch completely revamped the mechanics.  Now, you attach your webs to buildings, trees—you know, things that actually make sense.  As you complete chapters, you can increase his swinging speed.  It’s not too noticeable on your first play-through (though the feel of the first level is insanely different, and insanely slower, than the last), but if you start over and go through the story again, you feel about as fast as a snail in molasses in January.

I’m going to do something different, here.  Normally I’d incorporate the discussion about glitches into the other sections, but—there are a lot, here, especially if you’re buying this used.  First, a disclaimer: I’ve played this, new, on a PS2 I bought new and kept in pristine condition (I’m talking I babied the thing and took better care of it than many people do their pets).  The glitches I came across were few and hardly game-breaking.  I’ve also played this, used, on an X-Box I bought used, and the glitches were frequent and irksome.  They’re what prompted me to make a section solely devoted to glitches.  It’s also likely, however, that some issues were due not necessarily to the fact that the game and console both were used as much as that the game was ported.  It was coded initially for PS2 hardware, and tweaked later for the X-Box.  That surely caused some issues, but not all.

The most frequent glitch come across is a steep frame-rate drop.  Normally after a non-story mission, particularly a random mission, there will be a drop in frame-rate, but that drop varies.  Sometimes it’s only a small drop, but sometimes it’s a very large one.  Worse is when it doesn’t wait until after the mission to kick in—when you’re still smacking thugs’ heads like castanets.  It becomes harder to control Spidey when you drop to single-digits in the frame-rate department.  I’ve found it fixed itself when swinging away—not just leaving the immediate vicinity, but actually swinging away, with the height seeming to be irrelevant.  Playing it new on the babied PS2, I hardly ever came across it, and when I did it was rarely too steep.  Playing it used on the used X-Box, I came across it frequently.  After keeping track a few times, I came away with an estimate of forty to fifty percent of non-story fights ending with that frame-rate drop when played on the used console, contrasting the ten to twenty percent on the babied console.

The next most commonly-occurring glitch is one named after what one usually mutters, “I could have sworn I hit the [expletive deleted] Swing button.” To illustrate, imagine swinging along, let’s say through Midtown, you jump off of a web-line to soar through the air, and you’re flying past a building.  You press the Swing button, and—nothing.  So you either splat into the pavement, or try to recover through the use of the web-zip, or hurriedly and wildly fiddle with the movement-stick and Swing button, only to careen into a wall.  Either way, if you don’t become a Spider-Splat, your “rhythm” is thrown completely off as you frantically try to recover.  As before, this is one I hardly ever ran into on the new-game-and-well-kept-PS2 set-up, but frequently ran into on the used-game-and-used-X-Box set-up.

For this next one, I hope you will first indulge me in what at first glance will seem to be a digression, but I assure you it is not.  Spider-Man, as a character, has to be the hardest character to code for, pretty much ever.  Think about it—his method of travel has no precedent, for one thing.  Nearly every other game character travels freely in two, or three dimensions, with the only real difference being the number of dimensions involved.  From back in the Super Mario Bros. days to now, there is a general freedom of movement.  You push the direction, and your avatar goes in that direction; left, right, forward, backward, up, down.  More or less simple, and with more precedent than you can shake a stick at.  This was true for Spidey specifically up through the first movie-based Spider-Man game.  Starting with this game, though—he uses fixed anchor-points and basically revolves around them, but that’s not all.  The web-line (as you know if you play for any real length of time) can also get caught up on things like corners, street lamps, those bloody fire escapes, and so on; as such that requires a shift in physics to handle that.

More relevant, you have wall-crawling.  I believe he’s the only video game character at all to do such a thing, which is actually insane from a coding point of view.  It throws the concept of gravity right out the window, since generally coding for Spidey involves shifting the gravity of the game as it affects him.  (It’s actually much more convoluted than that, but you get the idea.) Think about what that means—every other game character in the history of anything ever (as far as I know, anyway) that doesn’t fly or swim only travels across the ground, or only on “special” areas (like ladders, only certain climbable walls, et cetera; and the “ground” can also mean the ceiling, for all the shift in game coding it doesn’t usually involve).  Spidey can cling to anything, at all.  That’s his claim to fame, really.

That leads to the next glitch, which, even with the above said, is still weird.  Treyarch mostly did away with the cheese of some magical/technological “surface that Spidey can’t crawl onto”.  Yet there is one thing he can’t crawl on.  On some roofs around the city, there will be a slightly raised area, about the height of Spidey himself, give or take.  As far as I’m aware, the only surface in the game Spidey can’t crawl onto (aside from trees, which is perfectly fine) is the lining for that raised area.  It actually comes up more often than one may think, as you’ll be flying through the air and holding the Grab button, only to smack into this lining.  If you were holding the Jump button before and accidentally take any pressure off of it as you’re sliding down that lining, you’ll wall jump off of it, potentially screwing up a race or the like.  This is one I’ve run into with more or less equal frequency, as it isn’t really dependent on the hardware or software as much as the player’s input.

The next one involves less of a set-up.  True of nearly any three-dimensional game, the game world only physically “exists” near the player.  What generally happens is there will be a “fog” in the distance (mainly, these days, in M.M.O.s), or the game world will be drawn slightly, and usually unnoticeably, different.  Further, there will be no physics coding involved.  After all, you can’t (in this game’s case) swing from or crawl along a building you aren’t anywhere near, right?  So there’s no point in wasting clock cycles on physics that will be irrelevant.  However, if you swing fast enough, you can actually beat the draw.  This means you’ll see buildings suddenly shrink in size as you approach them, usually only in sections (when you’re far away, they’re drawn larger to make them more noticeable and believable), and occasionally you’ll fly right into a building.  You can actually be going faster than the game itself can keep up with.  This is another one I’ve encountered more in the used-and-used set-up than the new-and-babied set-up.

The next one—you’re swinging through the air and jump off of your web-line to sail through the air and latch onto the side of a building intending to crawl upward, so you do just that, holding forward/up (which are the same control—forward on the stick).  You land on the wall—and start crawling downward.  After careful testing there really isn’t much to say about it, unfortunately.  What’s worse is when you latch onto the the edge of the roof and haul yourself up—only to turn right around and jump back off.  There’s no known reason for this, but because the controls were slightly altered in the next game, Ultimate Spider-Man, to be less camera-centered (“up” means up from the camera’s perspective, “forward” means away from the camera, et cetera) and there wasn’t that glitch in that game, it leads one to believe it may be a glitch in the way the movement is handled relative to the camera.  Irritatingly, there’s no known solution for it.

A few times, to test ideas, I would do just the above while holding down the Center Camera button, as it was noticed that as Spidey turned to dive off again the camera immediately swung around behind him.  Even while pressing the button and releasing up/forward as Spidey climbed onto the roof, the camera still swung around.  Which means it actually faced Spider-Man.  Often, mashing the Center Camera button meant the camera would swing around to face him, start to swing back, then swing around to face him again.  Weird as heck, let me tell you, and almost inexplicable.  I’ve personally seen this one a lot on the new-and-babied set-up, and, thus, seen it frustratingly often on the used-and-used set-up.  The number of times it didn’t happen is actually less than the number of times it did.

The last one is arguably the most annoying—the game just freezes.  One gets into the habit of saving the game after anything of import happens—you complete a difficult race, you stumble across a token, or whatever else.  Now, I’ve only had this happen as I was tying enemies to lamp posts or stop lights, but considering I do that to every enemy I possibly can, it comes up.  Frequently.  If you’ve just gotten a few tokens and barely gotten out of a boss fight with your hide, only to forget to save and end up in a scuffle with street thugs that you try to tie to lamp posts, and the game suddenly freezes—you might be tempted to see how far into your television your controller will go.  I’ve encountered this one now and then on the new-and-babied set-up, and more frequently than I’d like to think about on the used-and-used set-up.

If you’ve seen the movie Spider-Man 2, you know what to expect.  If not, here’s a quick recap: Two years after he got his powers, Peter is starting to come unglued, since he’s trying to balance a “normal” life with being a superhero.  It comes to a point where he ponders giving up the costume and devoting himself to having a real life.  Meanwhile, a scientist’s experiment gets all mucked up, as is the way of scientists in movies, and he ends up with four apparently semi-sentient tentacles permanently attached to his spine.  Fast forward, things happen, people in his life get kidnapped, and he ends up struggling to balance the two lives—Spider-Man versus Peter Parker.

The game does follow the movie’s plot more or less.  If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll remember Peter’s constant whini—er, constant pondering aloud about whether he should give up the union suit.  In the game, it’s more just pondering.  Also, in the game, his reason for the pondering is the appearance of a young woman calling herself Black Cat, who seems to have, if not “powers” of the level of Spidey, at least abilities that mark her as above-human.  She is carefree where Spidey is sanguine.  She laughs at life, where Spidey broods.  She also tells him to stop being so serious, to not worry about the “normal” concerns because, well—because he isn’t normal.

I honestly think the game handled that quandary a heck of a lot better than the movie.  He spent time agonizing over whether he should give up the suit, but doesn’t do nearly half the whining that the character does in the movie.  He thinks things out, examining his emotions as well as the facts, and comes away with a certain conclusion.

Aside from that, you have the “A” plot line of Doctor Otto Octavius trying to perfect an invention for fusion.  Along the way things go haywire, he gets the tentacles attached to him, and he does rather villainous acts to get money, to make another fusion machine that’s bigger and purportedly better than the first time around.  Of course, you have to put on your pajamas and go stop him, as a bigger machine means a bigger threat.

A few key scenes, though, I didn’t think were handled all that well.  For instance, where he has to stop the runaway El Train.  In the movie, he had to strain and shoot a million webs, nearly popping a vein on his forehead in the process.  In the game, he shoots two webs onto the train, then kind of track-surfs behind it.  By itself, it worked well enough, but the movie’s version of that scene was infinitely better.  On the other hand, that scene where he loses his mask wasn’t in the game (seriously—how many people need to see his mask-less face?), so there’s a plus.

Sprinkled throughout (mainly as Parker’s mental musings, given as you race around to a timer) are tid-bits of his relationships with Harry Osborn and Mary Jane Watson.  He’s drifting apart from them, and isn’t sure what to do about it.  The normal, expected stuff, here.  Handled pretty well, considering, but still nothing too attention-grabbing.

Here’s what might be the deal-breaker for you.  Graphically, Spidey himself is fantastic.  He moves similarly to his movie counterpart, with even more agility.  At least—he does when he’s in the costume.  You can control him when he’s in the Daily Bugle for missions, but he moves awkwardly, and when you slow him to a walk he looks like he’s a geriatric (not to insult any geriatric readers out there, but you know what I mean).  When you slow him to a walk as Spider-Man, he walks confidently, back straight.  Looking good.  They really went to town on the Spider-Man model, and it shows.  Playing with the camera a little bit, you can actually see that, like in the movie, the webbing on the costume is raised a little.  That is definitely attention to detail.

And the webbing—just spectacular, given the graphical limitations of the PS2 (while the X-Box might not have had similar limitations, remember that the game was developed for the PS2 and ported to the X-Box).  I imagine that, like you can hear about in a commentary for the first movie, getting the webbing to look even half-decent would have been a challenge.  Enough glistening to make visual sense without being a distraction.  Also, though you hardly ever see it, where the webbing attaches to a building, there’s a little “splatter” around the connection point.  Granted, when you hook a web line to a building’s corner, sometimes half of that “splat” mark is just hanging in mid-air, but since you hardly see them in the first place and they don’t happen often anyway, it’s not a huge detraction by any stretch.

Everything else in the city, though—not so good.  The city is massively freaking huge, but most buildings look alike.  I mean, you have the landmarks, from the “real” landmarks of the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, to more setting-related ones like Mary Jane’s apartment, Harry’s house, and Peter’s apartment.  You have those, and they are interesting, unique but fitting (that said, only Peter’s apartment and a few around his have actual balconies; the rest of the apartments in his building have only two-dimensional balcony graphics applied to the building model).  Every other building is about as unique as a blade of grass.

On the other hand, when you’re crawling along a building, you can see a rather startling amount of detail in the graphic overlays.  Of course, most of the time you’re seeing the buildings from a distance, and when you’re crawling up the side of one you won’t always have time to notice and think about it.  That’s not too huge a concern, however, since you’re obviously meant to enjoy the feel of swinging around rather than gawking at each and every building like a tourist, but it still might be a sticky point.

As for the city as a whole, there really isn’t much diversity.  You only know you’re crossing, say, from the Flatiron District into the Theater District because the words pop up on the screen.  There’s really not much visual distinction unless, again, you actually look at each building closely.  The main differences in parts of the city is the size of the buildings.  In, for example, Midtown and the Financial District, you have skyscrapers tall enough to brush the clouds.  In Harlem, you have buildings with only a handful of stories.  There’s only one theater to be found, which is, conveniently, the one Mary Jane’s troupe plays at.  There’s also only one church, though nothing in the game strictly relates to it beyond a couple of the races, and a token or two.

Then there are the pedestrians.  There are five to seven different models of pedestrian, and none of them look all that interesting, even when when the clothing is a mix-and-match deal in an attempt to make them more interesting.  Even for the time, this was rather surprising.  What’s worse is that no one’s mouths don’t move when they talk.  Most of the time, the camera isn’t close enough, or in the right position, for you to notice.  But when it is—it’s incredibly noticeable, and, to me, jarring.  The comparable simplicity of the models is driven home on close-ups of Mary Jane when you complete her race-like missions (you race across the city like a lunatic to a spot where Peter had previously agreed to meet her).  She’ll turn her head first as Peter approaches, and the first time I saw that I gaped, wondering why it looked like she twisted her neck like a snake twists its body without any apparent injury.  It’s—bad.

As for the villains, they’re done pretty well.  Doc Ock moves similarly enough to the movies, using his tentacles with an accompanying, and believable, swaying motion.  Mysterio makes an appearance, though he really doesn’t actually move very much (you’ll understand when you play through the story), but he looks—well, it’s difficult to explain without completely giving him away and going on a long-winded digression, but he looks good for what he represents.

After the pedestrians and key characters, you have—you guessed it—random enemies.  Like the pedestrians, there is a very small number of varying models.  “Punk chick”, “skater dude with sunglasses”, “tall guy”, and a few others.  A noticeable and mildly humorous glitch is when a “tall guy” gets into a car, you actually see the top of his head poke through the roof.  That aside, the differences between the character models is actually pretty good, aided by a few varying palette swaps (different colors for clothing, basically) between individuals of the same model.

Aurally speaking, the game’s not terrible.  The music is forgettable, an orchestral score that goes absolutely nowhere.  The voice acting, well—most of the actors from the movie reprise their roles, but most of them sound a little—stiff, I suppose.  The biggest disappointments were the characters of Aunt May and J. Jonah Jameson.  For a reason I have no knowledge of, the actors of the film counterparts didn’t lend their voices to the game.  J.J. sounds—like he’s trying too hard, in my opinion.  He’s trying to be the actor from the movies (J.K. Simmons, for those playing along at home), but it just doesn’t quite click.  Along a similar vein, the actress for Aunt May—terrible.  Simply terrible.  I got so tired of her voice, I would have pleaded with Doc Ock to keep her, if the game would have let me.  She sounds like a doddering octogenarian about to take a bad spill and break her hip.  Nothing, at all, like the stunning and fantastic Rosemary Harris from the movies.

Most of Spidey’s quips and retorts were mildly humorous, though if you’ve read the comics, his comments in the game pale in comparison.  Humorous, but not quite—I don’t know—antagonistic enough, I suppose.  Certainly not examples of a razor-sharp wit.  On the one hand, certain ones were actually rather funny (like the nearly meta-humor comment of, “Sorry, but my sympathy meter is totally out”), while on the other hand other quips were downright abysmal.  On the whole, Tobey Maguire seemed a bit lackluster, to me.  Not terrible by any stretch, but without as much of a dynamic quality as his performance in the movies.

The rest of the cast, as mentioned before, did an alright job.  Surprisingly enough, to me it was only Alfred Molina, reprising his role as Doc Ock, that really stood out.  He really seemed to put extra effort into his role.  Kirsten Dunst seemed to be phoning in her performance of Mary Jane, while James Franco as Harry seemed like he wasn’t quite sure what he was doing.

Aside from all of that, the sound effects really sound top-notch.  The Foley team must have put their best efforts into this one.  (For the curious, a “Foley” team is a group of people who make the sound effects for a movie, television show, or game.  Everything from punches landing to steps are usually done by them.  According to Merriam Webster, the term comes from Jack Foley, and early sound technician.) My favorite is still the sound of the webs being shot out.  Somewhere between a “thwip” and a “ffffssst”.  Sounds—right.  Like it fits.

The story will last you a good little bit of time; if you try to breeze through it (which wouldn’t be that difficult), you’ll probably make it in six hours, give or take.  After that, you’re given the city as your playground.  The question, obviously, is just what there would be to do in that playground.  You have races to complete (there are two times to get—the basic time, and the more difficult “Mega Time”), tokens of varying types to find, and achievements to earn.

Of course, you also have random missions you can do as many times as you want—but probably soon, you’ll grow tired of that infernal kid and his or her stupid balloon.  And the “witty” quips of the men in the robo-armor-things made me grit my teeth.  I’ve gotten to where I pretty much avoid the missions you have to officially start, and only go for the crimes you randomly come across sporadically.

The tokens are broken down into four categories: Secret Tokens, which can be hidden in odd and rather difficult places, Skyscraper Tokens, which are strewn about the taller buildings of the city, Buoy Tokens, which over over the buoys that line the perimeter of Manhattan and Roosevelt Island, and Hideout Tokens, which are hidden in around half of the random-enemy hideouts about the city.  Unless you use a guide, you’ll have the devil’s own time trying to find all of the tokens—which could be right up your alley.  There are seventy-five Secret Tokens, a hundred and fifty Skyscraper Tokens, thirty-seven Hideout Tokens, and a hundred and thirty Buoy Tokens.  That adds up to three hundred and ninety-two tokens to collect.

As for the races, there are a hundred and fifty strewn around the city, in four levels of difficulty: Easy, Medium, Hard, and Insane.  Aside from the difficulty levels affecting your completion times, they also affect what you do in each race.  In most of them, you have to physically pass through large, blue circles.  The harder the difficulty, the smaller the circle.  On top of that, you may have to perform certain actions, such as swinging three hundred and sixty degrees around a point, or speed-crawl, or wall-run, or many other things.  The harder the difficulty, the more maneuvers you have to do, and the harder it’ll be to do them exactly where the game wants you to.  Double the difficulty if you’re going for the “Mega Time”, as you need to do everything even quicker.

Then there are the three strings of side mission-slash-race-things.  Peter’s “day job” is for a pizza company, and the races there are delivering pizzas to people.  You have to slightly baby the pizzas, as the wrong aerial maneuvers means squished pizza pies.  As you progress through those, you have to deliver to more people, in odder places and farther apart from each other (the heck is a guy standing on the Chrysler Building for?).  Aside from that, you have the ones for Mary Jane.  Basically, sometime before you go to her door, Peter had apparently agreed to meet her somewhere, and Pete only just then remembered.  So you race across town to whatever spot.  Thirdly, you have missions for Robbie Robertson, J.J.’s right-hand man.  He’ll send you—last-minute, of course—across town to get insanely odd angles for photographs of a place, usually a landmark or other notable area.  In all three mission-slash-race-things, each one is more difficult and convoluted than the one before.

Lastly, you have achievements.  They’re awarded to you based on things you do, or milestones you pass.  For example, completing the pizza deliveries earns you the award Employee of the Month, and getting all of the Buoy Tokens gets you Drenched Explorer.  The achievements don’t do anything for you, really, but if you’re the sort who likes getting an achievement, you have a metric butt-ton (not your inferior Imperial butt-ton, mind you, but a metric butt-ton) to unlock.  Forty, by my count.  Around a quarter to a third you’ll get just by going through the story, but most of them you have to earn on your own nickel.

The main thing, though—the swinging itself.  I think the other things to do after the story is all fine and dandy, but the web swinging is simply fantastic.  If you get into it, I can easily imagine you spending a lot of your play-time just enjoying the swinging.  For me, that’s a large part of why I’ve logged hundreds of hours on the game.

Final Recommendation
So.  Almost seven years later, and you’re pondering picking this up.  Honestly, go for it.  If you’re not a die-hard Spider-Fan, I might not recommend it at full price (but where are you going to find it for full price over six years later, anyway?), but it’s still a definite purchase.  Here’s the thing—Ultimate Spider-Man was much prettier, sure.  And it had a a city that had a lot more diversity as well as being more full of general city-related “stuff”.  Spider-Man 3 has the black suit, which alters the way Spidey is perceived, as well as what attacks he has access to.

Those are fine and dandy—but this game, right here, offers you freedom.  It just plain feels so much more freeing, so much more intense, to swing above the street, missing cars by inches, then vaulting from your web-line to a wall, where you speed-crawl up it, vault over the roof, haul butt to the other side, leap off, spin a web, whip around a corner, blooming run along a wall…

Of course, there are a ton of glitches, especially in a used port on a used console—but the feeling of freedom surpasses them.  The rush of soaring through the air and pivoting downward to shoot a web-line and skim the cars—that outweighs even the numerous glitches.

That’s what I mean—yes, later games offer different (perhaps even better) examples of Spidey-style combat (and, admittedly, fewer glitches).  But this is the game that lets you feel the rush of swinging through the city.  That’s something the later games rather lack, and as such, this one is again definitely a purchase.

Game Play: GOOD
Swinging around is utterly fantastic, there are more combos to throw at enemies than you can shake a web at, but you won’t really need very much.  On the other hand, the many and intense glitches may frustrate even the most calm gamer.

Story: GOOD
The Black Cat’s addition to the story is wonderful, and Peter doesn’t angst all over the place as badly as in the movies. The story itself is rather cohesive and told mostly well.

Graphics: AVERAGE
Really pushed the PS2, here.  The insane attention to the smallest of details with the Spider-Man character model comes at the cost of everything else.  The city is rather drab from any real distance, the pedestrians and random enemies are boring and coming with too few separate character models.  The models for the key characters look like they were meant to not move at all.  Spidey, alone, would get a “good”.  Everything else would get a “bad”.  So, the average is, well, “average”.

Most voice acting was, at best, average.  The music is absolutely forgettable.  The sound-effects, however, were utterly fantastic.

Replayability: AVERAGE
After the story, you have a million tokens to collect and races to complete, plus a few side mission-like races—but that’s really it.  Unless you fall in love with just swinging around like a Spider-Man should, it might not be one that you play a lot of after the story.

Final: GOOD
On the whole, a good game that really pushed the PS2 in mostly good ways.  It could have been better in some ways, but for what it is, it’s a definite pick-up even if you’re only vaguely familiar with the character.


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