Saturday, 6 September 2008

Spider-Man : Friend or Foe Review (PC)

Thought I would post this here, it's a review I wrote over at rllmukforum last November:

I thought I'd jot down a few thoughts on this new title by Activision as it seems to have garnered a lot of (in my humble opinion) unfair negative criticism. A good example of this is in the latest issue of ONM, in the release dates section. They say (paraphrased, because I've left it downstairs and can't be bothered to go and get it) "We've not mentioned it before, and with good reason because it's rubbish."

Well, I'm here to tell you that it's not.

Okay, so it's no Halo 3, Bioshock, FIFA 08, Super Mario Galaxy, etc. But it is a fun little game, very much on a par with Lego Star Wars. In fact that's pretty much the template for the game and if Lego hadn't lost the Spider-Man licence to Mega Blocks a few years back then this might have been put out by Traveller's Tales. So it's a fairly simple game. Lots of combat, some very simple puzzles, boss fights, cool cut scenes, a fair smattering of unlockables, etc.

I'll talk about the things that bother me about this game first. Top of this list is that when playing, one of the two characters HAS to be Spider-Man. Okay, so his name is on the cover so you'd kind of expect that, but you can't even go back and re-play the level as, for instance, Blade or Iron Fist instead of Spidey. It would have been really nice to have had a "Free Play" mode similar to what is offered in Lego Star Wars. If you're playing in 2-player co-op (the way it was meant to be played, IMHO, just like Lego Star Wars) then someone always has to be Spidey, which could lead to arguments. At least if you are playing solo you can switch between characters so could just pick your fave as the AI backup and switch once the game gets going, but still...

Second on the list of niggles is the character list. There are some excellent choices in there (IRON FIST!!!) but I just wish it was larger, more on a par with... you guessed it... Lego Star Wars! Like I said, what is there is great, but I just wanted more!

It's also a relatively short game. If you die, you quickly re-spawn, unless you are in a boss fight, in which case if both characters die then you have to start the fight over, so it's not going to take you too long to complete.

On to the positives...

This is a brilliant game to play with kids, especially if they are Spidey fans. I'll admit it, I bought this primarily to play in 2 player co-op mode with my son, and we have had loads of fun with it. We've completed the story mode and unlocked all the characters, but we're now going back to re-play levels where we didn't collect all the items so we can tick off everything and upgrade all the characters to their maximum levels.

Combat is very simple, which is no bad thing if you're playing with a kid as your partner. But it does look really good and some of the moves the characters pull off had me and my son smiling and cheering.

The story line is fun, especially if you are into Spider-Man and know some of the background to the characters in the game. The storyline sets up a sequel nicely and I'm really hoping we get one, especially if it tackles some of the niggles mentioned above.

There is also a one-on-one 2-player mode where you can use any of the unlocked characters (and there is no requirement for one character to be Spider-Man like in the story mode) which works well. It plays very similarly to Power-Stone, which I think is a pretty good recommendation. Again, if there is a sequel I'd love to see this expanded to 4-player mode with free-for-all and team fights, etc.

Graphics are good. They're not going to win awards, but the art style is fun and consistent. All the characters are easily identifiable and it's just plain great to see some of the lesser known characters (Iron Fist, for example) represented in a game.

The game's also relatively cheap. I picked it up for £15 on PC and I saw the PS2 version in Game on Friday for £20.

Bottom line... Highly recommended, particularly if you have kids to play the game with and/or you liked Lego Star Wars.

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