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Game Profile


Spider-Man 3

Stage 1 : First Impressions
by Chris Clement (2007-05-23)

Stage 1: Impressions

Stage 2: Analysis

Stage 3: Evaluation

What makes Spider-Man so darned popular? Is it the fact that he's really a pimple-faced science geek with problems just like the average Joe? Is it the the clever wisecracks as he webs thugs to street lights? Nay, say I! While those are all part of Spidey's appeal, it's the bad guys that really bring us back again and again. Venom, the Lizard, Doc Ock, and Goblins galore, they are the ying to Spider-Man's yang. Welcome to Spider-Man 3, chock full of villain-y delight.

True believers are once again drawn into Stan Lee's exciting, web-headed world. The story picks up after the events of the Spider-Man 2 film, and Peter Parker has never been so at ease. He won the girl and New York finally loves him. Naturally, the writers have to screw all that up for the story to be interesting. Enter the villians.

Although Spidey spends the majority of his early game time hounding city gangs, chasing enormous lizards, and saving innocent bystanders, the main story line of the movie does raise its head from time to time. We are treated to a brief appearance by Mary Jane Watson before Spidey goes caveman on MJ by throwing her on his shoulder and swinging her home. Appearances by the New Goblin and the Lizard highlight the first act of the game, as does the emergence of the tar-like symbiote that enables Spidey to don the ultra-cool black suit and inflict some major damage on evil-doers.

Spidey suddenly realized that having an extra helping of hot and spicy enchiladas may have not been a good idea.

Unfortunately, nothing in the game screams "not done yet" like the graphics. They are just not good. Although Spidey looks fine from the third-person viewpoint, the scenery and animations around him do not. The characters are wooden and boxy. The textures are bland and suffer from flicker when moving and actually disappear when viewed from far distances. This game would not pass for "easy on the eyes" in the last generation of consoles, much less in the current one.

The soundtrack and audio are not poor, but they do not stand out either. The game features most of the actors from the movie, but the voices sound amateurish at times. Of course, this may have more to do with the cheesy lines they read.

Spider-Man 3 receives narration from the wonderfully sarcastic Bruce Campbell, who is once again along to provide guidance. Campbell's instructions include the basic uses of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk for attacking and dodging, as well as more complicated maneuvers as the game progresses. Dodging is simple and responsive with a simple shake of the Nunchuk, but attacking is wonderful exercise for those in need of wrist aerobics. Simple attacks are executed by moving the Wii Remote back and forth sideways, but the responsiveness is lacking.

This is bad for Spidey as it leads to some poundings by minor minions that should otherwise be no match for a superhero. More complex maneuvers include Web Yank for disarming and pulling an enemy closer (zip a line to the target and yank the Wii Remote back), Web Zip for speedy building climbing (double trigger button combo), and my personal favorite: Web Rodeo (twirl Wii Remote around like a lasso), which slings the bad guy around in a circle inflicting damage to his no-good, bad-guy friends in the process. More hero upgrades become available as Spidey gains experience.

When Spidey isn't being a super-hero, he also serves as New York's fashion police.

Now we come to the real reason true believers buy Spider-Man games: web-slinging. Either controller can shoot a web line with a flick of the wrist. The analog stick on the Nunchuk gives additional control over the direction of Spidey's swing. The game doesn't allow Spider-Man's webbing to stick to thin air as has been the case in previous games. This translates into a more realistic approach to web-slinging while still adhering to its physics-defying comic book roots. Sometimes that balance can be exciting. Other times it can be downright frustrating. Spider-Man will often bump into buildings or simply fall to the ground after a poorly executed maneuver. This would be expected for a lesser being, but it lacks the fluid-like grace that we have come to know from our lovable web-head.

The Nunchuk and Wii Remote are also used in mini-games that seem to have been inspired by Sony's God of War. The tasks can be as minuscule as pulling the back doors off of a delivery truck with drumming motions or as dangerous as chunking huge bombs into the river using more rodeo antics. Peter Parker's first encounter with the New Goblin is essentially a kick-Harry-off-his-glider mini-game where the controller movements are suppose to represent Parker's dodging of blows from Harry's electrified sword. Most of the mini-games are not very challenging. Putting a half-effort into the motions instructed on the screen usually yields the same results as more frantic exertions.

The menu system of the game is simple and understandable, for the most part. The hero upgrade menu makes sense as long as one does not try to figure out the web-like upgrade progression diagram. Save games are available at any time. Difficulty settings range from "Side-kick" to "Hero" to "Super-Hero". I recommend setting the game on "Side-kick" or "Hero" early in the game until the Hero Upgrade annoyances work themselves out (more on that in Stage 2).

The game has flaws. I don't need to be past Stage 1 to see that. It seems obvious that much of the work put into the development of Spider-Man 3 either did not make it into the game or, more likely, wasn't done at all. But does Spider-Man 3 still capture enough of the web-slinging magic to earn its stay in this true believer's library? We'll see in Stage 2!

Stage 2: Analysis >

Stage 1: Impressions

Stage 2: Analysis

Stage 3: Evaluation