Alongside the hotly anticipated film comes the video game adaptation of Spider-Man 3 for consoles. But be forewarned that not all versions offer the same gameplay experience. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, produced by longtime Spidey developer Treyarch, were essentially slightly upgraded versions of the previous Spider-Man movie games. The Wii and PlayStation 2 versions were put together by a different studio, Vicarious Visions, and are severely downgraded from the benchmark set by previous Spider-Man movie games. Sure, the Wii version throws in some new motion-sensing controls, and you still get to swing around inside a giant, open-ended version of New York City. But everything else about these iterations of Spider-Man 3 is ugly, clumsy, or utterly boring.
This is one adventure Spidey would love to swing his way out of.
Spider-Man 3 is a tie-in to the film, though it doesn't do a particularly good job of emulating the film's plot. Yes, you get bits and pieces of the key story arcs involving major villains like Venom and Sandman, as well as Spider-Man's groovy (and evil) new black suit. You'll also get some added story chunks involving Lizard, Kraven, and a bunch of random New York City gangs that are floating about the town, causing varying forms of mayhem. However, it's all kind of a mess. There's no real cohesion between all the different plotlines, and while this was also a problem in the PS3 and 360 versions, it's twice as bad here because the Wii and PS2 versions are much shorter. So much of the story and character development are skipped over and so much of what's happening is flat-out boring that it's impossible to care about what's going on.
Spider-Man 3 on the Wii and PS2 uses the same core concept of Grand Theft Auto-meets-Spider-Man that the last few Spidey games have used. As you swing around the open-ended city of New York, you can opt to head toward specific story missions or to tackle random crimes that pop up from time to time. Previous Spider-Man games forced you to embark on side missions and solve random crimes to progress the story, but Spider-Man 3 is far less strict about this, and the story progresses more naturally. Still, the side ventures have their merit as a distraction from the main single-player game. Progressing through the main story is merely a roughly eight-hour endeavor, but tackling all the bonus material could easily double that number.
Good luck trying to work up the inspiration to play through all that stuff, though. As much content as there is to sift through, the thoroughly lackluster gameplay throws up a brick wall in front of any desire to experience it. The biggest culprit is the combat. The Wii and PS2 versions of Spider-Man 3 use a mechanically similar combo system to the one found in the PS3 and 360 versions, but the key difference is that you don't earn new moves automatically. Instead, you have to upgrade using experience points you gain from completing missions. The moves you earn aren't nearly as cool as the ones found in the PS3 and 360 versions, either. You get a few nifty moves here and there, but mostly you get upgrades to the existing combo trees that are rather flat, overall. Because most enemies don't put up a great fight, you'll find yourself using the same dull combat moves again and again, until you're too bored to put up with it.
The other key gameplay difference between these versions and the PS3 and 360 versions is the black suit. In the 360 and PS3 games, the symbiote suit is acquired late in the game and isn't much more than a costume change with one added move. Here, there's a much more elaborate relationship between Spider-Man and the new suit. When you put it on and start fighting with it, you'll find you do more damage more quickly. At the same time, as you do more damage, a meter starts to fill up at the bottom of the screen. This meter depicts how the suit is beginning to take over and feed off you. If you leave it on for too long, you're hosed, so you'll have to take it off after a bit; but to do so, you have to engage in a button-pressing minigame that gets longer each time you use the suit. Enemies are kind enough to stay away while you do this, but even with that courtesy, having to monitor that meter and deal with increasingly long bouts of rhythmic button pressing makes the suit more of a hassle to use than it needs to be.
Combat isn't exactly fun in either the PS2 or Wii versions of the game, but the Wii version is extra awful thanks to the control scheme.