. “Spider-Man. Spider-Man. Does whatever a Spider can”
Now Ultimate Spider-Man isn’t normally the type of game you would associate with the PC gaming wise. You can tell by playing the game that it was originally developed for consoles then ported over to the PC almost as an afterthought. But that’s not to say that this is a bad game, just don’t expect a PC type game with high end PC graphics but the graphics the game does sport makes this one heck of a visual treat. The game style, to anyone familiar to previous Spider-Man games, is the same sort of stuff. Swing thru the city, beat up bad guys, rescue strangers, take photos and write articles at the Daily Bugle, etc. (I made the last one up). In fact the majority, heck all of the game is swinging about and beating people up but that’s what Spider-Man does so in that sense it fulfils what the game should be. One major thing though is this, you can play the game using the mouse and keyboard, but don’t. You need a dual stick joy pad really to play this game. Using the mouse and keyboard will make you throw this game in a draw very quickly without one.
“With great power..”
The storyline in the game involves Spidey, Venom and a whole host of Marvel characters ranging from the familiar like Wolverine, to some of the lesser-known characters such as Boomerang and Shocker. I could spoil the game by revealing the storyline but suffice to say it involves the origin of Venom in the Ultimate Universe and not the Venom story we know from old comic books and the cartoon shows from the 80’s. The storyline really helps the game as it drives it along as an interactive comic book, which is the way this game should be. Hang realism and to be honest I’m glad they did, as I want to play a comic book hero and feel as if I’m in a comic book, not a real life New York.
Movement in this game has been criticised by a lot of people, mainly because of the web slinging techniques, as they are different in this game to previous Spidey games. I actually prefer the web slinging in this game, as it seems to give a real sense of learning how to adjust to the flow of your movements and not to be able to stop on a dime and change directions. It adds an almost “organic” feel to the process of travelling around the city and not just a “hit button, shoot web, rinse and repeat” feel. You have your usual swing, climb web while swinging, slight speed boost at the apex of your swing and you have a web zip line. The zip line is actually useful and mastering it is essential at times for some of the races you end up in chasing down bosses. You, of course, get to play Spidey, but at times you switch to playing Venom, which means the controls change slightly. Instead of web slinging, Venom can jump great distances and instead of a zip line, he hurls out a tendril that drags you horizontally across the screen. Plus, instead of a kick button, you have a tendril attack. This hits enemies from a distance and while not as strong as the punch, it is useful for fighting enemies from a distance. Shame Venom doesn’t web sling but it does give the game a different feel while moving around the city. Also Venom can regain health by “feeding” on people, you get more health back from feeding on innocents but at a pinch you can regain a little amount of health back from enemies.
“It rides up in the crotch a little”
Now a comic book game should have comic book graphics and thankfully this game uses them better than a lot of comic book based games. Colours are bright; the city is drawn as how it is drawn in the comic books. The use of cell-shaded animation is outstanding giving a great feel to Spider-Man and Venom, which helps in the keep the reader immersed in the story of this title. Also the characters have an anime feel to them which I like. There are some graphical problems though, such as draw distance, textures fading in on buildings at times, but to me it adds the sense of how comic books are drawn. You don’t see every detail of buildings in the backgrounds of comic book panels so I can forgive it. Cut scenes are drawn as if they are actual comic panels and switch between panels almost like the e-comics you can read on the Internet, which yet again I like. (Can you tell I’m a comic book fan yet? Hmm maybe I ought to drop more subtle hints.)
Sound in this game is lacking though. The voice acting in the cut scenes are great and the voices actually seem to fit the characters themselves. (Kudos to the voice casting person for this.) Web sounds are good but Spidey's lines in game are so often repeated they annoy you quite quickly. I must admit that is the main gripe I have with the game.
Ok, so the main game is basically swinging, fighting, beating bosses, etc, but there is another part of the game. There are mini missions where you have to race from point A to point B while moving thru markers. You go on combat tours where you have to beat up members of a particular gang on a set route. You also to have rescue a certain amount of people and stop robberies to be able to advance the storyline. These get harder as you proceed in the game and to increase the race difficulty, you have to race the Human Torch in harder races to unlock them.
“Forgot to refill my web shooters!”
After you finish the game you get to choose to play as either Venom or Spidey. Spidey’s side of the game is carrying on with the city goals from the main game, where Venom's is basically beating up as much as possible to get yourself a high score. But as both characters there are badges to collect. Hidden thru the city are badges that unlock comic book art, characters, costumes etc. This adds a sense of GTA to the game but not as well as GTA does it.
Now as you can tell, I like this game. It’s great to be able to pick up a game at times and just play for a short stretch and not really have to worry about remembering what dialogue you were involved in when you saved. I like this, as at times a nice short gaming session is what the doc called for. If you like Spidey you will like this game. If you like “serious” PC games, then steer clear.