Another week, another great column
I've had Spidey 2 (on XBox) for a week, and I overall agree with your comments. The large-scale design of the game is brilliant... colorful, huge, and lively clock-work world, non-linear gameplay, and web-swinging, a gameplay mechanic which transorms New York City into the jungle-gym of the Gods. On the other hand, the small scale detailing disappoints, from the low-res textures to the throw-away mission design. I can enjoy this game in short, 30-minute bursts. Pop it in, beat some cons, deliver some pizze 42 blocks up-town, take an aerial tour of Harlem, and shut it down. Any more than that and it starts to drag.
That's one of the problems with being a game reviewer... you generally don't have time to take things slow. Some games just shouldn't be played in marathon sessions, and this is one. It's like being a wine-taster, but instead of swishing and sipping a small glass you must chug the whole damn bottle. And then
attempt to give a reasoned and nuanced opinion.
The source of Spidey 2's flaws is (probably) time and budget. Time, because the release date is non-negotiable in Hollywood licensed products like this. And budget because so much of the cost of the game is simply purchasing that license. That's the same set of problems that face every movie-licensed game (at least, the ones that are designed to be released on schedule with the film). I feel that Treyarch has built a great foundation for a game. The technology behind the clockwork world is impressive, the money-based levelling system is inspired and well implemented, and the web-swinging is Godly. What they needed was another 6 months or so to really polish things up, to cram the game with more creative and fun content
. It's all the little stuff that's missing- quirky side missions, really innovative uses of Spider-Man's powers, a more creative implementation of the Peter Parker alter-ego. A-list titles are
A-list because they receive that extra care... a few more coats of wax, and viewed from the lofty heights of Ninja Gaiden, GTA or Metal Gear: Solid, Spider-Man 2
is unimpressive. However, compared to other movie-licensed games it shines, the best of a sorry bunch (along with Chronicles of Riddick and LOTR: Return of the King).