Now Spider-Man Needs Rescuing

Spider-Man fights off Sandman, but the latest game is a losing battle.
Spider-Man fights off Sandman, but the latest game is a losing battle. (Activision)
Friday, May 25, 2007

Activision-owned developer Treyarch's fifth Spider-Man game offers a slightly better experience on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 than the latest film. Vicarious Visions, which created the other versions of the game, has had less luck with the Wii and PlayStation 2 titles.

The Spider-Man 3 games feature washed-out Manhattan locales that aren't much of a leap from current-generation Spider-Man 2 games. Aside from Spider-Man, the male characters have an expressionless, zombie appearance. Random people on the street look even stranger. The characters don't sound much better, thanks to a mopey performance by Tobey Maguire and lackluster dialogue from James Franco, Thomas Haden Church and Topher Grace. Only J.K. Simmons breathes life into his virtual part.

The Xbox 360 and PS3 games, though bad compared with other recent releases on those platforms, are far better-looking than the horrendous Wii and PS2 versions. With 10 missions that integrate film villains Sandman and Venom with such comic book characters as Scorpion, Lizard and Kingpin, the Xbox 360 and PS3 games spin a larger web of stories than the shorter Wii and PS2 versions. Spider-Man 3 has an open-world aspect that allows players to swing from skyscraper to street lamp and take in the rather ho-hum sights. New this time around are underground levels, including the subway and sewers.

All versions are plagued by a camera perspective that often hinders gameplay, especially during fast-paced fighting. The Wii's motion-sensor controllers work for swinging and shooting web lines, but the combat controls are a complete mess. All the games have a rushed feel. The developers should have spent more time fine-tuning gameplay and investing in true next-gen visuals (and at least made the PS2 game look better).

As is, Spider-Man 3 makes it fun to swing around New York City for a while -- especially if you find the black Spider-Man suit, which increases your abilities -- but it lacks must-have polish. You'll probably have more fun playing Spider-Man 2. Warning: The Collector's Edition versions of the Xbox 360, PS3 and PS2 games, which offer only bonus DVD content and a collectible card, certainly don't warrant the extra cost.

-- John Gaudiosi

Spider-Man 3 Teen; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 ($60); Wii ($50); PlayStation 2 ($40) Activision/Treyarch and Vicarious Visions


© 2007 The Washington Post Company