Where Spider-Man 3 starts to lose its way is in combat. The basic combat engine doesn't feel markedly different from earlier games, as it focuses on button-mashing combos that upgrade over time and give you some unique special moves. The main problem stems from the game's overreliance on Spider-Man's bullet-time equivalent. By holding down the left bumper on the Xbox 360, or the L1 button on the PlayStation 3, Spidey goes into a slowed state that lets him automatically dodge incoming attacks. In combat against basic thugs, you only need to use this every once in a while, though when you do use it, you can clear an entire room in just a few seconds because the grunt enemies are so inept at fighting back. But against most bosses, you have to keep this button held down at all times to get much done. Some bosses can be whaled on sans the bullet time, but a few of the later bosses pretty much require it, making those fights a plodding chore. It gets even worse when the game tries to change things up on you. One of the more tedious, protracted boss fights pits you against a giant version of the Lizard, where you first have to toss him into a series of power generators using a clumsy spinning maneuver before you even get down to the dull business of beating him up.
Spider-Man 3's camera system is an even bigger problem. The camera doesn't know how to snap behind you if you have to run around in a circle to avoid enemy attacks, so you constantly have to readjust it. If you happen to readjust it in a tightly enclosed area, the camera freaks out and you lose all perspective of where you are or where the enemy went. It gets even worse during some of the missions that require you to swing around the city. There are multiple missions where you have to swing to a specific area in a certain amount of time, but getting the camera to line up so you have a clear shot of where you next need to swing is an exercise in futility. You'll end up failing far too many missions because of this. And if you're in a situation where you're crawling along a wall or ceiling, make sure you're not easily nauseated. The quick snaps of the camera and constant "Am I up or down?" perspective shifts make these parts vomit inducing.
Despite the fact that Spider-Man 3 is on the Xbox 360 and PS3, the game doesn't look like it's built for this generation of consoles. The city features the most detail, though it also has a few issues with texture popping. Most everything else looks slightly haggard in one way or another. The Spider-Man character model looks great, but all the other people look bug-eyed and mildly deformed. Some of the combat moves look neat, but the animations are jerky and stilted, as if transition animations are missing. You'll also encounter a lot of weird physics glitches as you play, especially during combat. Enemies will get hung up on walls or invisible pieces of the environment, objects don't break properly, and even Spidey sometimes gets stuck in or clips through walls or set pieces. The frame rate doesn't quite hold up, either. Neither version's frame rate is good, exactly, though the PS3 version is a bit chunkier. On the flipside, the PS3 version's character models look a bit smoother and less aliased than the 360's, so it's a matter of give and take.
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.
The game's audio is mostly predictable, though it's decent enough for what the game requires. The biggest draw here is the involvement of the film's cast. Kirsten Dunst is nowhere to be found, but Tobey Maguire, James Franco, Thomas Hayden Church, Topher Grace, and J.K. Simmons all make appearances. Simmons seems to be the only one that's enthusiastic about reprising his role as J. Jonah Jameson. Maguire gives an OK, but generally, sleepy performance as Spider-Man/Peter Parker, and the remaining cast all seem like they'd rather be somewhere else. Bruce Campbell shows up yet again to play the narrator, though he generally comes across as superfluous and out of place. Sound effects and music are both solid, though once again, swinging through the city seems oddly silent. You get some nice whooshes of wind as you swing about, but the soundtrack either cuts out entirely or stays very quiet and understated as you swing. At least the music is good during fights.
In the end, Spider-Man 3 has its moments. Swinging through New York is as fun as it's ever been, and some of the new contextual action sequences are pretty cool. But for everything Spider-Man 3 does well, it does something else poorly. The camera and presentation issues, as well as the clumsy combat, all conspire to drag the experience down significantly. Spider-Man 3 isn't without merit, but unless you're one of those diehard Spider-Man fans that can't get enough of the swinging superhero, there's probably not enough to Spider-Man 3 to make it worth your time.