Monday, July 3, 2017

Review #413: Spider-man 2(Playstation 2)

 A fistful o' web.
 Treyarch's Spider-man 1 was a very poor attempt at emulating the great Playstation 1 games. Poor controls, poor camera and a few really poorly thought out stages. With another movie comes another tie-in game and Treyarch once again helmed the project, but this time they created a thing of beauty, but every rose has its thorns.

 As is to be expected the game follows the story from the second movie: Scientist Otto Octavius is a tragic victim of an accident that binds a 4-tentacled machine to his spine and loses his wife, and now he is angry and will stop at nothing to finish his experiment. They also added a few new plot threads following the exploits of Spidey's rogues such as Quentin Blake and Rhino. Divided into 16 chapters, albeit on the open-world city of New York, the game is somewhat short... but there's a lot of busywork involved if you wanna make it all the way to the end. That said, I think I prefer this world to the movie's, since we get to interact with more character from the world of Spider-man while still being a somewhat faithful retelling of the movie's plot.
 The game works entirely different from previous Spider-man games, not only thanks to the new open world structure! Combat has been redesigned: Square punches, triangle shoots web and circle is used to evade whenever you see the 'Spider-sense' signals over Spidey's head. Truth be told, the game is pretty much a button masher, and by today's standards, the combat looks a bit sloppy... but it works fine for the game that it is. Pressing triangle midway through your punches will create combos, like hammering to the ground an enemy with web. You can use your web to pull your enemies in any direction, and with upgrades, you can web more than one enemy at a time. Not to mention that there's a fair amount of air combos and it's very easy to pop enemies into the air by using web or combos, both which can be done while you yourself are in the air! It's a lot of freedom, and while you're mostly mashing, it's fun and fits the character. L1 can be tapped to enter Spider-Sense mode, in which your attacks do more damage and it's easier to do land hit as enemies are slow down. That said, later in the game enemies will start dodging your webs and punches, so you will have to rely on dodging and punching, so every single encounter turned into waiting for the enemy to attack, dodge then use the spinning bird kick(Thank's Chun Li!) on them, since it's unblockable and cover a wide-area. It's the best way to deal with baddies, sadly, since a lot of the almost free-form combat quickly turns obsolete.

 But where the game really shines is how they overhauled the Web-head's means of transportation. R2 will shoot web towards the nearest building(No buildings means no web, and short buildings mean short lines of web!) and allow Spidey to swing, and won't let go until you jump, press Jump or press circle near a building to stick onto it. You can even tap R2 quickly again to stick to two different buildings and use the web as a Spider-man slingshot! While Spider-man no longer sticks to surfaces automatically, the circle button allows for more comfortable swinging and can even be used in conjunction with the dash button to run alongside a building's wall! Traversing New York is a blast, and it only gets better as you get the hang of dashing, using charged jumps after a swing, learning to stick to a wall after running on it and buying swinging speed upgrades. There're a few kinks, like Spidey's dashes being somewhat uncontrollable, a camera that sometimes requires manual correction and how stick onto ceilings now shifts the camera with Spider-man, instead of allowing you to look down below as you moved around, but they are mostly nitpicks as movement works, mostly, like a well-oiled machine, and you can learn to get over its shortcomings.
 So, as far as gameplay goes, it sounds like a bonafide title, don't it? I mean, mini-missions like saving cops, rescuing balloons for helpless children, stopping joyrides and what not will give you something to do at any time you play the game, there're plenty of upgrades to buy, races around the city to challenge and even hidden tokens to find! Well, turns out that in order to make any progress in the story you have to forcefully partake in these activities and grind points. It gets very repetitive very fast. I will grant it that, even as repetitive as these random activities got, I still played four hours straight on my playthrough... but by the end of the game it gets downright ridiculous, requiring 50000 points to access the second to last level and another 50000 to access the final level. At least those are the bonus chapters. It's recommended that you save off finding tokens, challenging races and the Mary Jane missions for these final two chapters, as those are the activities that give the most points. Regardless, they turned such a fine, fun game into a chore. Padding at its finest, it seems that they were scared that the base game wouldn't have been enough... and how mistaken they were. It's sad, because I was having fun repeating these identical side-activities in order to buy every new upgrade, but once they force you to do it, it starts getting annoying.

 Spider-man 2 on home consoles is a classic, it redesigned Spider-man games for years to come, it turned into the gold standard upon which other Spider-man games would be judged and turned open-world roaming into a feature that would be sorely missed if not used. That said, I can't forgive how repetitive tasks get when you are forced to grind in order to progress. How repetitive the once fun combat gets when enemies start dodging everything you throw at them and must rely on the same repetitive strategies to defeat them. Regardless, it was a bold move for the franchise that paved the way for a brave new world of Spider-man games.
 7.5 out of 10

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