Alongside the hotly anticipated film comes the video game adaptation of Spider-Man 3. It's on a whole bunch of platforms, and not all versions of the game are the same. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions are essentially slight upgrades over 2004's Spider-Man 2, whereas the PlayStation 2 and Wii versions are massively scaled back and dumbed down to the point of being awful. The good news for PC owners is that the PC version happens to be a port of the 360/PS3 version. The bad news is that this port doesn't quite cut it. The control scheme is totally unplayable unless you have a good dual-analog gamepad, and a number of performance problems frequently get in the way of the action.
Swinging through NYC is as thrilling as ever.
Spider-Man 3 ties itself into the new Spidey film by including some of the key story arcs from the movie. You'll see Peter Parker get his black suit as well as run into villains like Sandman, New Goblin, and Venom. But much like Spider-Man 2, the roster of villains doesn't end there. Scorpion, Lizard, Kingpin, and others all pop up in spots. While it makes sense for the developers to extend the scope of the story beyond that of the film, trouble arises when you realize that the film's plot is practically glossed over. There are 10 individual storylines to play through, but none of them are paced well, nor do they ever build up or deliver enough of a story to pull it all together into one cohesive plot. It's almost like a hastily cobbled together Spider-Man mixtape. You get all the villains, and none of the story exposition. There's about as much character depth and story perspective here as is in the film's trailer.
If you played any of the recent movie-licensed Spidey games on consoles, you'll feel right at home with Spider-Man 3 from the get-go. Like the previous games, Spider-Man 3 presents you with an open-world version of New York City to swing around in to your heart's content. Swinging works much as it did in Spider-Man 2, letting you latch onto nearby buildings and launch quick webs to zip around as you please. Swinging through the city is easily the best aspect of the entire game. The city isn't gigantic, but there's enough familiar scenery around to make you want to explore, and that the city looks excellent is a big plus. Buildings are nicely detailed, the streets are jam-packed with cars and pedestrians, and the game uses some nice lighting effects to give the sky, as well as reflections of the sun off buildings, a rather pretty glow.
Of course, one required element to enjoy swinging, or really any other facet of Spider-Man 3, on the PC is a dual-analog gamepad. The default keyboard-and-mouse controls are just terrible, and trying to swing, fight, or manage the camera this way is simply futile. This game was designed with a gamepad in mind, and no amount of keyboard-and-mouse fiddling makes it work otherwise. However, if you've got a gamepad, you won't have a lick of trouble picking up the controls.
As you swing around, you'll find open mission icons scattered throughout the city. Fortunately, you don't have to go hunting for them, as there is a city map that lets you target any mission icon available to you. Though Spider-Man 3 doesn't change its formula much from previous games, the one big change for the better this time around is the game's structure. No longer are you forced to complete random side missions to get new story missions to unlock. The story missions and side missions are treated independently from one another, so you need only beat story missions to unlock more story missions. The story itself is a good 10 to 12 hours long, even if you never engage in any of the side missions, so you're not forced to sit through padded content that just makes the game longer. Side missions are still worth doing if you need a change of pace from the story, and there's still plenty of random crime floating about the city to take care of. The one bummer is that few of these random crimes or side missions deviate very far from the ones found in earlier Spider-Man games, and the few that do don't really fit terribly well. Even some of the new story missions seem weirdly out of place. For example, why is Spider-Man now an expert at disarming bombs?
As cool as some of Spider-Man's combat moves look, the fights are generally pretty lifeless, and the camera tends to make things frustrating.