Review by asherdeus

"I don't put a hyphen in Spiderman. I just don't."

Don't confuse this version of Spiderman 2 with the console versions of which were so lavishly praised last summer. While the two games share the same name and star the same web-slinging, crime-fighting hero that we all know and love, they're on opposite ends of the spectrum. While the summer release of Spiderman 2 was an open-ended game with endless opportunities to solve crime, this PSP romp is nothing more than a generic beat-em-up that you'll be done with in four hours.

If you've seen Spiderman 2, you know the main plot already. Doc Ock is running amuck in New York, stealing tritium and kidnapping the attractive Mary Jane, which genuinely annoys our hero. Since the movie was only a few hours long, Activision took some creative liberties and added in some additional villains from the Spiderman universe like Rhino and Shocker to help Doc Ock with his master plan. To save the world from an impending doom, Spiderman must overcome all of these foes.

While this was the main plot of the movie, much of the movie also focused on Peter Parker's own internal struggles, such as dealing with love and feeling responsible for his grandfather's death. This made the movie so much more interesting, and while the console versions dealt with this, the PSP version completely ignores them, making the game feel empty and and soulless. As a big fan of both of the movies, I was a little bothered by the fact that I didn't feel any connection to the characters. While this might have been fine in a GameBoy version of the game, the PSP is just as powerful as the PS2 version, so these quick, sloppy mistakes like these can no longer be blamed on a lack of hardware power.

You'll spend a majority of the game fighting off generic looking thugs, which inevitably will lead to a boss confrontation. After you overcome these cretins, you'll defeat the boss and they'll spill their guts to you and tell you where the next foe is hiding. Then you'll do the same all again, only in a different location. Some of your fights will take place in movie locations, such as on the speeding train or in the bank, but many more take place in warehouses or construction sites that weren't featured in the movie. While the areas aren't very unique, sometimes you'll have to utilize strategy to finish them. During a slightly-less-than-epic battle with Rhino and Shocker, I had to lure Rhino to smash some pillars in the environment in order to be able to attack Shocker. Not really all that unique, but it broke some of the monotony.

The actual fighting engine in the game is alright, but again, it doesn't compare to the console versions. You can do a couple of different punch/kick combinations, but most of the time you can get away with just mashing the kick or punch button since the opponent AI is a little crappy. Tying them up in web is pretty fun since they can't move at all and it also helps take the pressure off when you're fighting groups of foes. Spiderman also has some weak dodging abilities which are supposed to help since the camera blows (his Spider-sense tingles and that's when you're supposed to jump), but they're hit or miss.

Occasionally you'll get the opportunity to zip around in the city, and while these missions might have been awesome, they instead blew. Your time outdoors is spent chasing people and it sucks because the camera was incredibly unhelpful during these missions. To make matters worse, in order to manipulate the camera you have to use the D-Pad, which means you have to stop moving so you can see. If you stop moving, you'll lose sight of your enemy and he'll fly away and you'll have to start all over again at the very beginning. It's fortunate that most levels in this game are only five minutes long or else my annoyance level would have been much higher.

Speaking of length, Spiderman 2 should last you about five hours. I didn't really rush either; I took my time beating up as many thugs as possible and unlocked almost all of Spiderman's abilities. You earn points from how fast it takes you to beat levels, how much health you have left, and some other stats, which can be used to unlock new abilities. Purchasing web skills lets you shoot nets of webs at villains and eventually you can cocoon them. You can also purchase punch and kick combos and health upgrades as well. The only non-gameplay upgrades are some production stills and the like, but these are only interesting if you wanted to watch the special features on the Spiderman 2 DVD, and if you wanted to do that, well, you probably already did.

In terms of graphics, Spiderman 2 only disappoints a little bit. The character models in the cutscenes look embarrassingly poor, with Mary Jane not even looking like Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire looking fat. On the bright side of things, the in-game model for Spiderman looks absolutely wonderful and is very nicely animated, probably at the expense of all of the thugs that look exactly the same. The bosses aren't too bad looking either. The game doesn't feature any of the movie music as far as I can tell and none of the actors lend their voices to the game.

At the end of the day, this is really the only beat-em-up on the PSP, so if you're really looking for that type of game you're going to have to settle for this. Spiderman 2 is unfortunately half the game it could have been. While it could have been an awesome game that enhanced a wonderful franchise, it instead stands out as a rough spot. If you really want to play it, wait for it to go down in price. It truly isn't worth full price.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 04/21/05, Updated 10/11/05


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