Spider-Man 2 Review

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Developer: Vicarious Visions Publisher: Activision
Release Date: March 24, 2005 Also On: None

What better to go along with your brand new PlayStation Portable than a copy of Activision’s Spider-Man 2. You already own the Spider-Man 2 film on Sony’s UMD format. Why not buy the handheld version to complete your Spider-Man experience? The question is though if it’s worth your hard-earned dollars. Find out below.

Spider-Man 2 for the PSP is a game based on summer 2004’s biggest blockbuster film from Columbia Pictures. The game, based off of a game based off of a movie, stars Spider-Man, Doc Ock, and other classic Marvel villains. This, along with the thugs and electrocuting robots, will be your challenge in protecting Manhattan.

I haven’t played the console versions, but from what I have read, this version is a compressed console version (more like the original than Spider-Man 2), without the free-roaming city. The levels are not free-roaming by any stretch. Far from it in fact; they all have a set direction for Spider-Man to follow, in a small quarters, with relatively long load times.

You do, thankfully, have some open-levels. Unfortunately, most of them are chase missions, where because of the controls you will find it difficult to keep up. The game forces you to use the analog nub, which feels woefully insufficient when compared to the PlayStation 2 analog stick. It gets the job done, sure, but the camera boggles out of place, leaving you a target for attacks with no warning, other than your Spidey Sense.

Anyway, I applaud Vicarious Visions for including at least some open-city levels for us to play. I understand that they probably pushed the hardware to its limits in the few free-roaming missions they gave us, which is why I guess we will have to take what we were given. Returning to the franchise is the “ceiling swing”, where Spider-Man magically shoots web into the sky vertically, grabbing hold of air to swing him through New York’s skyline. It wouldn’t have worked any other way on the PSP, so a thanks to the developers is appropriate for using this technique.

In one level, you will chase Doc Ock, who is destroying billboards. Your goal is to use your webbing to prevent the billboards from collapsing onto the pedestrians below. This is all fine and dandy, until you save the billboard from destruction, then have to chase Doc Ock. I lost him a number of times, making me restart the whole level over. The game’s length is artificially extended by this all the time. A three hour game turns into a five hour affair.

Speaking of Doc Ock, he’s one of the many villains that you will fight, as Spider-Man, in this game. Others include Mysterio, Shocker, Rhino, and Vulture. You’ll have to use a number of different abilities to overcome their strengths, and expose their weaknesses. Many of times this will include shooting web at them, or in Rhino’s case, letting him run into walls (good thing he has a thick skull).

One thing that I liked was the store at the end of each level. You could purchase new moves, and upgrades, including, strength, jump, health, web recovery, web capacity, etc. These upgrades have three consecutive level upgrades available, each more pricey than the one before it. Also available is unlockable content.

If this is Sony’s idea of the PlayStation 2 “in your hands”, they just lowered the standards of PS2 gaming substantially. In many aspects, this game, coupled with the other launch titles, proves the PSP may not be up to the hardware quality that we were led to believe. With some blocky textures, low-detailed character models, and slow-down, this game will remind you more of Dreamcast hardware than PlaySation 2. That is not to say Spider-Man 2 isn’t a good game, and it also doesn’t mean the graphics are a complete let-down. The videos between action sequences are a sight to behold on a handheld. On its merits, you will find this experience joyful. Just don’t expect a console version.

Graphics: 6.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 6.9
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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