Spider-Man 2 Review

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Graphics: 8.0
Sound : 7.5
Gameplay : 6.0
Multiplayer : N/A
Overall : 7.0
Review by Jestin Jund
What can you do with three and a half hours? Experience an adorable moment holding your dog, sharing the love that only a dog owner and his pet can have. Dig through your neighbor’s trash, hoping to find an article of clothing to wear to confuse them the next time you see them. Have a “who is less competitive” competition. Beat Spider-Man 2 for the Playstation portable.

While the options above are all feasible, only one of them is extremely expensive. After negotiating the value of this game, I decided to plug in the numbers: For 23.809523809523809523809523809524 cents per minute, you too can enjoy the Government Issue, processed cheese version of console Spider-Man 2 games on your PSP. I'm not entirely sure if this is a compliment to Sony or a stab at the game, but you can in fact beat the entire game on one battery charge. Quality always prevails in the battle over quantity; unfortunately, Spider-Man 2 falls one web swing short on both accounts.

The game follows the familiar plot of its predecessors—the heroic web slinger meets “vicious nemesis” in a save-the-city scenario. Following in the footsteps of the console counter-parts, the PSP version of the game is based loosely around the film with a few added bad guys to make things interesting. Rather than porting the console versions, developers instead tried to take the game in a different direction by adding a few plot twists not found in the movie, but could easily follow suit with the comic. There is nothing groundbreaking here, however, and while I commend the effort of trying to spice things up a bit, in the area of story development, Shiny's development team lacks the luster that their name implies.

Spider-Man 2 is comprised of 20 short and concise interconnected levels. While each level is really only a few minutes long, there's actually a good bit of variety from one to the next. You'll go from rescuing hostages from the clutches of the maniacal Mysterio and his weird museum, to tailing Doc Ock across the NYC skyline, preventing him from causing calamity on the unsuspecting populace far below. Many of the levels are timed, which in addition to an already short story puts the game at a pace that is too fast for it's own good. Rather than creating a completely open environment, many of Spider-Man 2's levels consist of dungeon-crawl type warehouses or “box” filled rooms. These levels feel as though they were added for the sole purpose of pacing, and do nothing to further the overall quality of the game.

Combat and controls in Spider-Man 2 are simple, but work quite well. What separates this game from the lexicon of other action titles out there is the added RPG element. After completing tasks, collecting coins, and performing well on missions, you are rewarded by being able to purchase new moves to add to your arsenal. There is a bit of strategy involved in this task, because in addition to moves, you will be able to increase your maximum health allotment and other stats. In theory, this all sounds like a great idea, but after playing a few levels, the RPG element becomes rather shallow and unnecessary.

Graphics and presentation of the game are great to say the least. For those looking for a title to show off just what the PSP can do, Spider-Man 2 will not disappoint. Cut scenes, dialog, and animations are all very fluid and quite cinematic, cosmetically covering up the warehouse crawls and other failed gameplay aspects. As with almost any Sony title, the player will see a ton of jagged edges and geometry problems, but with the portable sized screen of the PSP, you're less likely to pay attention to aesthetics. Part of the reason the game's jagged edges are nearly unnoticeable is the high frame rate in which it runs. When slinging through the air, buildings will whiz by, explosions will decorate the sky, and the action remains stutter free.

Mitigating gameplay problems, the audio and sound effects accomplish the visceral environment of the movie quite well. Music in the game has a John Williams effect: it’s not music you would ever listen to outside of a game or movie, but it feels epic and appropriate for it's present purpose. The highlight of the audio is probably the game's ample use of authentic speech, including the voices of Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and Alfred Molina as Spider-Man, Mary Jane Watson, and Doctor Octopus, respectively. Sound effects are effective though often predictable; however, they generally capture the spirit of Spider-Man well.

Spider-Man 2 isn't a great game, but it's far from being poor and unworthy of your attention. It flexes the graphical muscle of the PSP quite well, and is entertaining for a short period of time. Shiny, having no ties to the production team of the console version of the game, has accomplished quite a feat. Unfortunately, I cannot give you back the 50 dollars you may have spent on this game, but I can give you the satisfaction that you may have had a good time spending an additional five minutes reading this article.