STAFF REVIEW of Spider-Man 2 (Xbox)

Tuesday, July 6, 2004.
by Sheeyt

Spider-Man 2 Box art When Activision released Spider-Man a few years ago it was a surprisingly decent title. Normally comic book hero\'s don\'t translate well to video game. However Treyarch did a commendable job with the original especially following along the story lines of the movie. Well now Spider-Man 2 is out in movie theaters and Activision also released Spider-Man 2, again developed by Treyarch. The game improves on many of the things that Treyarch did in the original and corrects some stuff that was left out of the original. Overall if you where someone that enjoyed the original game, then you should definately enjoy its sequel.

The first noticable thing about Spider-Man 2 is the fact that you aren\'t confined to just the top of buildings. Treyarch has recreated the entire island of Manhatten pretty impressively. You can walk the streets, swing from building to building, jump from roof top to roof top. The entire city is your playground. You can climb all the way to the top of the Empire State Building and oversee the entire city. It really is impressive.

Another huge improvement of the game is the webswinging. Treyarch has made it drastically more realistic this time around. Spidey actually has to have something to attach his web to now. No more can you just shot your web into the air and swing. Also the controls of the swinging are nice as well. Treyarch included two different modes for the swinging. One is easy mode, where its just basic web swinging, the other is advanced where its more user controlled. With the advanced web swinging you can dive off a building, shot your web out swing down a busy street, break from that current web, charge your jump launch yourself higher, push the left thumb stick to the left, push the R trigger and shot the web to the left. The web shooting is direction sensetive, if you want to shot your web to a building to your right you push to the right, if you want to shot to the left just push to the left. Its very fun, and at times can distract from the main goals at hand because its so fun. You can even have two webs attached at once. Say you are in between two buildings already attached to one web, you can shot another web to a building to your other side, without disconnecting from the other web. You then can give yourself a catapault type launch from the two webs. Similar to how Spider Man reached the bridge at the end of Spider Man the movie.

Now moving on from the web swinging. We get into the rest of the game. As well this time around Treyarch tried to make the game open ended. Unfortunately I would say it doesn\'t quite fit the open ended feel people have gotten to know from Grand Theft Auto. True you can go anywhere and do anything (well almost anything) but sometimes it feels more of a chore then anything. As you\'re swinging around or walking around which ever you prefer random citizens will ask for help, or a random crime may be committed. Unfortunately Treyarch didn\'t involve to many different scenrios so you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again. Whether its stopping an armored car robbery, helping the police in a shot out, reaching a man that is about to fall of a building, or getting an injured person to the hospital.

However when you do complete these tasks you are awarded hero points, which you can later use at stores to buy upgrades. Upgrades include increased speed in web swinging, more combat moves and some other various items.

The game is broken up into chapters. Most of the chapters involve just going here and talking to this person or making it somewhere in a certain amount of time. Sometimes you\'ll be confronted with situations that will require combat. However almost every single chapter will require you to earn a certain amount of hero points in order to proceed to the next chapter. This is where the open ended feel goes right out the window. You are forced to do these random boring tasks over and over again if you wish to proceed in the game. Unforunately it feels more like Treyarch was trying to stretch the game out then truely make it open ended. For those who wish to just barrel through and not bother exploring, collecting tokens, or doing the MJ/Bugle missions the game is insanely short.

Fortunetly there are some other things to do. Scattered throughout the city are different challanges, that mostly consist of racing through goals on your web. Aside from the main story there is alot of stuff that you can do involving just searching the city. There are lots of different tokens to collect. Secret tokens and sky scraper tokens are just a few. You can also do mission exclusive to Mary Jane, that pretty much just consist of meeting her somewhere before time runs out. Same with the Daily Bugle. Occassionally Robbie will give you assignments to do, that involve going to different places and taking pictures in a set period of time. You can also deliver pizza\'s if you want.

The combat is very similar to the original Spider-Man. One button does most of the attacking, you can also dodge when your spider sense warns you, and counter attack, there are air combos. You eventually purchase more lethel attacks that require button combinations to execute. Also some cool stuff with your web like webing bad guys to light polls. Also in the game is something they call \"spider reflexes\" which is similar to a bullet time type effect.

The story of the game follows the story of the movie. Of course Treyarch had to include some other villians along the way to lengthen the game out. You\'ll encounter villians such as Rhino, Mysterio, as well as the mysterious Blackcat, and the recycled Shocker. However these battles seem out of place and random, not to mention extremely easy. Sometimes it feels as if its just thrown together.

The visuals of the game are decent, but nothing to write home about. As mentioned before the most impressive thing about the game is the modelling of the city.

The spider-man character model looks good and is animated nicely, as is Dr. Oct. However some of the other characters like MJ, Harry, even Peter Parker look awkward and bland from the in game cut scenes. When Parker is not dressed as Spider-Man he looks almost like a hobbit, short and stocky. But as Spider-Man he\'s tall and slender. Maybe its just my eyes playing tricks on me, I don\'t know.

The FMV scenes are nice though. The models in those scenes look as they should. Doctor Octavious looks like Alfred Molina, Parker looks like Toby so on and so forth. The character models of the citizens are very repetative.

One other thing which is more of a pet peeve of mine would be the lack of lip movement for anyone. The in game cut scenes between MJ, Harry, Peter or who ever lack lip movement. When you are speaking to a pedestrian their lips also don\'t move. Sometimes when there are alot of people on the screen you wonder who exactly is talking to you.

The game does have some nice graphical touches. Namely when you are swinging around and you break from a web it will stay there and blow in the wind. Also Treyarch incorporated some ragdoll physics on the badguys. Sometimes after you\'ve disposed of a bad guy you can pummel their bodies for a while, or swing them around on your web.

The voice acting in the game is ok. Sometimes it feels like there is no emotion. Toby Mcguire in some spots seems like he is being forced to do it. There is no energy behind it, nothing. The best voice acting in the game would have to be Bruce Campbell. Treyarch brought Bruce back to do the narration again, which is a relief given such lack luster voice acting. He adds some good humor and an actual feel that someone was enjoying themself.

However not all the voice acting is bad. Alfred Molina does an absolutely excellent job of bringing to life Otto Octavious through the game. One of the big disappointments for the voice acting would be Treyarchs apparent inability to get the actor who plays Jameson (from the Daily Bugle) to lend his voice for the game. It\'s obvious from the moment you first talk to Jameson its not him, however the actor they did find does a nice job but it just doesn\'t seem like Jameson without that voice.

The voice of Mysterio is done well, and is rather funny. Some people may or may not notice different references Mysterio makes as he is taunting you. At one point he will say the phrase \"Clatoo Varata Nictoo\" if anyone is a Bruce Campbell fan they would know thats the phrase Ash is supposed to say in Army Of Darkness. One other funny line I noticed with Mysterio was, as he makes a threat to destroy the city he utters \"you have no chance, make your time.\" Which is from a popular internet flash movie known as \"All Your Base.\" Which originally came from a poorly translated Genesis game. These few things make the battle with Mysterio fun and entertaining.

Something I found strange about the game is the total lack of music. For most of the time as you are traveling around the city its silent as far as music goes. Of course you\'ll hear pedestrians give the occasional taunt or encouragement but for the most parts its quiet. Everyone once in awhile however music will kick in. But it seems like only whena chapter is about to climax.

Yet the lack of music isn\'t all that bad. Sometimes its nice to not have music blaring none stop. It also allows you to hear the woosh of the wind blow past you as you swing around. Also when you take a swan dive from a high building the sound of the wind barrelling past you really gives you the feel of falling from a tremendous height.

My suggestions first off would be to really give us an open ended game. Improve the graphics. I feel in this generation of consoles there is no reason lips shouldn\'t move when talking, heck even if they aren\'t in sync with the words just make them move.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.2 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.6 / 10


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