Ultimate Spider-Man Preview
By Kurt Knudsen

After the disappointment of the previous PC Spider-Man title, PC gamers can rejoice in the fact that Ultimate Spider-Man will be a direct port of the Xbox version. Aside from appearing on Microsoft’s console and the PC, Ultimate Spider-Man will also receive a release on the PS2, GameCube, GBA, and DS. GamersHell duly took the Xbox and PS2 versions for a test drive, and both have the same feel as the previous title.

The playable levels were interesting and should prove challenging. Some of the levels were difficult because of the skill required, which would of course be developed over the course of the game. Using the same engine technology as Spider-Man 2, Ultimate Spider-Man’s environments are once again impressive, with huge buildings and a fairly large city. During the course of the game you’ll hit a few loading points, but they only take a matter of seconds and don’t interfere with the gameplay.

Graphically, Ultimate Spider-Man is spectacular. Spidey has received a makeover since his last outing and looks suitably incredible. Developers Treyarch used cel-shading techniques to make Spider-Man look as though he just stepped straight off the comic book page. Although the buildings look a little plain, the gameplay keeps you on the run with little time to rest, the fast-paced action cleverly drawing attention away from the lack of detail.

Gameplay-wise, there are specific missions as well as opportunities for free-roaming play. When free roaming, you can scale buildings and look for trouble, or just swing around and practice your moves. Different missions allow you to play as different characters. The characters available within the preview build were Spider-Man, Peter Parker, and Venom. It’s quite a different experience playing as Venom than when playing as Spidey, especially since Venom is somewhat like The Incredible Hulk on steroids. Venom jumps extremely high, whips people around instead of saving them, eats bystanders for energy, and smashes anything he sees.

Dedicated PC players should not be swayed by the transitional console control method, as both the Xbox and PS2 versions were quite simple to grasp and easy to manipulate. Indeed, this player spent more time with Ultimate Spider-Man on the Xbox and PS2 than with virtually any other console game. PC and Marvel enthusiasts may well find themselves investing considerable time with Ultimate Spider-Man as its gameplay flows naturally, there’s no delay between button press and on-screen reaction, and the camera always follows the action perfectly. In short, worrying control issues are not a problem.

This (p)reviewer is definitely looking forward to the emergence of Ultimate Spider-Man; as it stands the game certainly has all the ingredients to be a surefire hit. With the inclusion of Venom, gamers finally get the chance to play on the other side of the Spider-Man universe. After the previous Spider-Man port to the PC, gamers may well have exhibited skepticism when this title was first announced, yet after playing the Xbox iteration and hearing that it will be a direct port, it turns out PC gamers have nothing to worry about. Look for a full GamersHell review of Ultimate Spider-Man when it hits retail shelves in the coming weeks.