Spider-Man 3 PlayStation 3
Published by: Activision
Developed by: Treyarch
Release Date: Out Now
There was a time when a game based on a movie was expected to strictly adhere to the events that occurred during the movie. These days everyone expects more. It's no longer good enough to play through the movie storyline. Gamers want to see things they didn't see in the movie and events that were skimmed over in the movie fleshed out with a lot more detail. In short gamers want a game that offers originality and depth and a storyline that ties in with the movie but doesn't simply regurgitate the events of the movie. This is something developers Treyarch have taken to heart as Spider-Man 3 includes 10 different storylines including the movie plot. In theory at least then, Spider-Man 3 should be a game that Spider-Man fans will definitely get excited about.
Although Spider-Man 3 is meant to tie-in with the movie, it's good to see that the game is a non-linear experience and doesn't force you to simply stick to the movie events. You'll get to web-sling around New York City choosing from the many missions on offer. For Spider-Man fans getting to travel around the city in such a fashion is one of the game's high points and it's been handled rather well. New York City is impressively large and there's plenty of scope for exploration. Scattered around the city are some rather large mission icons and crossing these will trigger a mission. Some of these missions have nothing to do with the main game plot threads and you don't have to do them if you don't want to which is certainly good to see.
Spider-Man games have always contained a generous amount of combat and Spider-Man 3 is no exception. Unfortunately the combat has changed a great deal from previous Spider-Man games and what's on offer here seems dated. The enemies you'll come across in the game are usually pretty easy to defeat and don't seem capable of putting up a real challenge. The boss fights are more challenging and require you to make use of evasive manoeuvres and counter attacks. The enemy AI still isn't brilliant here though. The combat for the most part simply feels like basic button-bashing. Most of the missions you'll play aren't that interesting and they do become repetitive which of course does nothing to mask the fact that the combat isn't that great.
One of the new elements in Spider-Man 3 will remind you of the Shenmue and God of War games. There are points in the game when you'll have to press a specific button as its icon appears on the screen. These are moments when Spider-Man has to perform some kind of elaborate manoeuvres and he'll do them providing you press the right button at the right time. These sequences work fairly well but the problem is that you get no notification when they are going to begin like you did in the Shenmue games. You'll simply think you're getting a normal cutscene only to realise, usually too late, that you should have been ready to press a button. There's no harm done as if you fail to do one of these sequences correctly, you'll simply have to repeat it again. However, it all feels rather clumsy and these sequences could have been implemented in a much better way.
Spider-Man 3 is a real mixed bag in terms of its graphical quality. New York City for the most part looks quite good. There's a nice sense of scale here with some of the buildings being absolutely huge. You really do get the feeling you're climbing huge structures. The character models, with the exception of Spider-Man and a few other lead characters, look very strange and to be honest quite ghoulish. In fact the majority of the character models are about average PlayStation 2 quality. There are some frame rate issues but they aren't anything problematic. The camera can be a little nauseating and disorientating at times when you're scaling the walls of the buildings as it tends to snap around rather aggressively. The camera can also be annoying during battles as you have to spend too much time manipulating it to get an ideal view.
The first thing we noticed about Spider-Man 3, unfortunately, was that the game wasn't subtitled and there was no option to enable subtitles. At first we were hugely disappointed, and to a certain degree surprised, that such a major game would not include subtitles. Looking back at previous Spider-Man titles though, and indeed previous games from Treyarch, we should not have been. The previous offerings from Treyarch have often neglected to include subtitles and in our opinion have been totally unsuitable for deaf gamers. Whilst we wouldn't go as far as to say Spider-Man 3 is completely unsuitable for deaf gamers, it would be fair to say that deaf gamers are missing out on quite a lot as none of the game's dialogue is subtitled. Brief text tutorial messages are shown and your objectives are shown in text so the game is playable. Missions you can do are shown as giant icons that you'll have to move Spider-Man over. Directional indicators show you where you need to go and enemies have health bars so you'll always know how much effort is required to finish them off. It's just extremely disappointing that deaf gamers will miss out on all of the dialogue.
Fans of the Spider-Man movies, and indeed of the previous Spider-Man games, will have been expecting Spider-Man 3 to have undergone some major improvements especially as the series has moved on to the next generation of consoles. Yes this PlayStation 3 version of Spider-Man 3 looks better than any of the previous Spider-Man titles but you could argue it doesn't looks as good as it should and, graphics aside, there's not a lot that's been improved here. The combat is actually very basic and having played God of War II recently it feels out of date. Still there's plenty here for Spider-Man fans to appreciate with a wealth of enemies in the game and the non-linear nature of the game which allows you to take only the missions you want to take is an improvement on previous titles. It's just a shame that none of the game's dialogue is subtitled.
Whilst Spider-Man 3 will doubtlessly please fans of the web-slinging superhero it's fair to say the game could have been much better in a variety of ways. The combat is dull and having no subtitles doesn't help matters.