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July 2, 2007
Spider-man 3 - PS3 Review
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Spider-man looks absolutely brilliant.
There's no doubt that for Sony the Spider-man franchise is big business. The first movie took a whopping $US821 million worldwide, and the second a further $US783 million. The third movie has been less well received critically, but don't tell the movie-going public that with a stunning $US883 million around the world to date. With Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst now household names, and Sony loving the series so much they even used the movie titles font on the front of the PS3 (did you realise that folks?), there was no doubt that there would be a game tie-in, and yet again Activision, and developers Treyarch, have put together this title.

The Spider-man 3 movie Peter Parker has finally managed to strike a balance between his devotion to M.J. and his duties as a superhero. But there is a storm brewing on the horizon. When his suit suddenly changes, turning jet-black and enhancing his powers, it transforms Peter as well, bringing out the dark, vengeful side of his personality that he is struggling to control. Under the influence of the suit, Peter becomes overconfident and starts to neglect the people who care for him most. Forced to choose between the seductive power of the new suit and the compassionate hero he used to be, Peter must overcome his personal demons as two of the most-feared villains yet, Sandman and Venom, gather unparalleled power and a thirst for retribution to threaten Peter and everyone he loves.

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Getting ready to slam the enemy down!
This game deviates from the movie in that it doesn't just follow that storyline, but that is only one of ten in this game. As well as the nine new storylines the developers have included plenty of enemies not seen in the movie including enemies such as Lizard and Scorpion. We must applaud Activision for expanding well beyond the scope of the movie for this game.

The first thing that really hits you about this game is the wonderful recreation of New York. It's easy to be awe inspired by the size of the city which is approximately 2.5 times the size of that in Spiderman 2. Most importantly there are no load times as you swing your way through the city (obviously the 2.5GB stored on the Hard Drive helps here - thank goodness for the PS3's 60GB drive!). The streets also have a few pedestrians and plenty of cars for you to avoid as well.

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Just sitting around on a street pole.
There are three main game modes in Spider-man 3. The first are the 40+ missions which directly relate to the story. Through these you'll encounter numerous enemies, have to stop bombs and other obstacles, and enter fights with the many bosses in the game. The second game mode is taking on the gangs around the streets to rid them of crime. By pressing the R3 button you can enter the Spidey Sense mode. While in this mode everything in the city appears black and white, except enemies who are red allowing you to target them. The third mode are the bonuses, be it racing around the city to beat certain times, or skydiving off the tallest buildings to glide through as many hoops as possible.

While this game has its problems (we'll get to them very soon) that's not to say it isn't enjoyable. In fact just swinging around the city, completing the various challenges and taking on the street gangs and thugs could keep you entertained for a long time. The main missions though are a bit disappointing. Many are quite generic and some of the battle are simply too repetitive for their own good. Combat in the game can be quite a button-mashing affair, but if you take your time to learn the moves you'll soon come to realise just how deep this game can be. The game has an evade maneuver which allows you to slow down time for a moment or two, and should you choose reverse the attack back onto the enemies. The only problem I have with this is the games over-reliance on using this technique.

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Texturing can be a bit bland.
Sadly as you get further into the game it becomes apparent that there aren't going to be too many new features or things to discover and it becomes more of a test of patience then an enjoyable title. Starting with swinging around the buildings it is near impossible to effectively land on top of a moving car - in fact it can be quite a challenge even when they're near still. I wish Spidey could shoot a web out to hit the car and pull himself towards it.

Certainly the most annoying aspect of this game are the boss fights. For some reason Treyarch seem to think that 'epic boss fights' must translate to 'insanely difficult boss fights'. The difficulty of some of these fights just goes beyond ridiculous and you'll need a tonne of patience to finish them.

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Battle out in the city streets.
One final niggle - why didn't we get the Collector's Edition of the game either as the only product on the market here or, at the very least, at the same time as the regular version. Apparently the Collector's Edition is hardly worth the extra time and effort and money - seems like double dipping to me.

Visually this game is quite impressive. New York looks the part with some glorious buildings to scale and swing between, and the way the camera zooms out to create the map is very nice indeed. Spider-man looks wonderful and is apparently made up of 55,000 polygons - a definite bump up from the 5,000 on the previous titles on last-gen systems (read: PS2). Indeed no matter how close you zoom into Spider-man he looks fantastic. The cut-scenes are also adequate, but it's quite obvious when some character models haven't been given the same lick of paint as others.

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The dark/evil/ego-driven Spider-man.
Having said all that there are issues with the game. Animation on Spiderman is impressive with some slick moves however the way collisions with buildings and other objects in the game world are detected and handled that should be better. Sometimes he realistically reacts to the buildings, at other times it just looks wrong. The texturing is quite bland in places and the enemies are quite generic, but that's not the worst of it. The cameras are less then serviceable, especially when Spider-man is running around on the ground and fighting enemies. Very annoying. There are also collision detection issues. At one point Spider-man got trapped in a room, but there was no way out, another time he fell through the floor of a chapel - I needed to quit the game to get back in. This shouldn't happen. Finally the frame rate - while serviceable does chug on occasion.

Audio in Spider-man 3 is pretty impressive. Bruce Campbell provides the voiceover for the narrator which is sadly underused, but when he is talking it's usually pretty good - especially at the start of the game when you're getting used to things still. Other actors lending their voice to the game include Toby Maguire (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), James Franco (Harry Osborn/New Goblin), Topher Grace (Eddie Brock/Venom), Thomas Haden Church (Flint Marco/Sandman) and J.K. Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson). Sadly Kirsten Dunst didn't lend her voice to the game however Mary Janes' voice has been provided by Kari Wahlgren who does an admirable job.

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Destroy the car to stop enemies.
So let's look at this. The graphics: not perfect, but good enough. The audio: not perfect, but good enough. The gameplay: not perfect, but good enough. The value: not perfect, but good enough (actually that one should say - where is the Collector's Edition?). Get the drift yet? That's right there is nothing in Spider-man 3 that is horrendously bad, but then again it's not something which you will use as a 'showpiece' for your shiny new system either. One for the hardcore Spider-man fans.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSSpider-man looks amazing, the city is vast but enemies quite bland and occasional collision problems with city buildings.
SOUNDDecent speech, music from the movies, but lack of city ambience.
GAMEPLAYFlying around the city is great, beating up gangs is great, the main game leaves something to be desired.
VALUEThere's a lot in this game, the main story, fighting crime and bonuses.
OVERALLSpider-man 3 isn't a great game, but its nice to see some efforts have been mode to expand on the movie. Adequate graphics and sound. Spider-man fans will enjoy this game.

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