Review: Ultimate Spider-Man
October 15, 2006
Treyarch / All Platforms / Teen
In recent years comic book artists have been reviving old and beloved comic characters with a modern style. A prime example of this revitalization is the Ultimate Spider-Man series, which introduces a sharp artistic style, modern issues, and a variety of characters normally found in other stories. Now that Ultimate Spidy universe is being converted to game form with, of course, Ultimate Spider-Man.
The story of Peter Parker is the same as it has always been. He is bit by a radioactive spider and given various spider powers like web slinging, wall crawling, and an ever-tingling Spidy sense. What will be new here to many spider-fans is the story of Venom. Venom was Peter’s friend, Eddie Brock, before he became involved with an experimental weapon suit his father, as well as Peter’s father, helped design. Eventually the suit consumes him and he becomes the super-strong, super-aggressive Venom. This story is distinctly different from the mainstream Venom, and is straight from the Ultimate Spider-Man comic books. All of the story comes straight from the Ultimate comic books and provides a fresh look at Spidy as well as a large bunch of cameos including the Fantastic 4’s Johnny Storm, and X-Men’s Wolverine.
The ultimate story, as well as the various catchphrases Spidy will blurt while swinging around, helps to develop the character more. It allows gamers to see Peter Parker’s cocky side as he taunts his assorted rivals and nemeses. The re-imagined villains are will also be of interest to fans. For instance Rhino is no longer a huge guy in a tight, gray suit. He is now a huge, gray, cyborg. Also, the Green Goblin has been changed to resemble another large, buff, and green Marvel character with various spiky protrusions.
Gameplay wise Ultimate Spider-Man plays very similarly to the Spider-Man 2 game. The basis is an open-ended approach where players can either play through the story missions, do the side quests, or just swing around Manhattan. The Venom portions are generally repetitive beat-em-up sessions. The twist is that Venom must constantly suck energy from opponents. This twist finishes the job the redundancy started and pigeon holes the power of Venom into the occasional, cramped, diversion. There are some new moves for our hero, such as stringing criminals up on light posts, plus some various collect-a-thon side quests but this is basically Spider-Man 2 with a new story and a funky graphical style.
Not that this is a bad thing. The newness the graphical style lends will be of interest to the Spider-Man fans. But there is a tradeoff. There is a distracting amount of graphical pop-up in the cityscape and when players get up on the taller buildings the view isn’t exactly pretty.
One of the other problems is that a certain amount of the side quests must be completed for the story to advance. Seeing how these consist mostly of boring races, saving civilians or stopping the same bozo bank robber over and over this isn’t exactly the best way to extend the gameplay.
Essentially, this is the Spider-Man game for the more hardcore Spider-fans. The comic book style and story twists are meant to be best enjoyed by the devoted fans. For everyone else this will be just another swing around the more brightly colored city with our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
By Zack Rovinsky