Friday, July 7, 2017

Review #417: Ultimate Spider-man(Playstation 2)

The King of Swing. Web swing.
 Free from the constraints of movie tie-in-nes, Treyarch were free to use their creative muscle and thus decided to bring the then popular Ultimate Spider-man comic to the world of videogames. Featuring a teenager Peter Parker, the Ultimate universe offered new takes on popular and not-so-popular characters, and this game was set to involve a new and canon plot featuring Venom... but eventually the Ultimate Comics dealt with it in another, more half-assed way.

 The story focuses on Ultimate Peter and Ultimate Eddie Brock, tied together by the experimental organism their fathers left behind after their death. Said organism turns Ultimate Eddie into Ultimate Venom, who is hell-bent on killing Ultimate Peter, but it won't be that easy since other parties want Ultimate Venom for themselves. The story is pretty good all things considered, and is told through beautiful cutscenes that do a fantastic job of emulating a comic book, truly a thing of beauty. The entire game is under a slick coat of cell-shaded paint, aiding further in selling you this out-of-the-comic world.
 While it follows in the footsteps of Spider-man 2 in offering an open world New York for Spidey to swing-in, a lot has been reworked in the game's favor. Swinging feels better than ever thanks to the tweaks the system has received. Holding R2 makes Spider-man stick his web on a building, and will continue to hold on to it until you let go, you can then press Square, to boost, X to jump and gain altitude or triangle to climb your web. It works really well and you'll be swinging through the buildings in no time. Combat has seen the most changes, there's no more evade button, and the Web-head gets back his Kick button, so now you can punch and kick. L2 is used to throw web at enemies, although your options are now more limited as to what you can do to a webbed enemy and no longer can you use his body to hit other baddies. And now you must web fallen enemies unless you want them to get back up again.

 Upgrades now work a little differently too. Spidey's repertoire of moves has been dialed back, but to be honest, it doesn't really matter, I mean, did you ever go for the fancy stuff in Spider-man 2? No, you didn't. So now there're three types of upgrades: Health, Swinging speed and number of attacks. The first is increased by doing Combat Tours, side-missions in which you must defeat various foes. Swinging speed is increased by defeating the Human Torch in a race, which is done by clearing race side-missions and the latter is enhanced by progressing through the story. I kinda miss getting to buy the upgrades, and finishing all combat tours for your health upgrades can be rather tedious.
 Something that may irk some players is that they gated story progression behind busywork yet again. Every story missions requires a certain amount of races and combat tours to be cleared, a certain amount of Tokens(Collectibles hidden throughout the city) and 'City Events'(Random 'quests' that pop up every now and then in which you must defeat enemies, save citizens, etc). I knew that there were unlockable costumes and that they pretty much required you to do a ton of those, so I had all the requirements for every story mission cleared before I decided to begin playing the first story missions, but I can't help but notice how irritating these chores are. And let's be honest, without all that fat the game could pretty much be over in 3 hours. All in all, while I can't say that this bothered me, I know that it's bound to an

 Know what? Every now and then you'll get to play as Ultimate Venom too! He can't swing with his webs, but he can pull off massive jumps, or use his tentacles for a boost of speed. Venom is constantly losing health, but he can feast off enemies... or civilians. Ultimate Venom sections are very short, but they're relatively decent and offer a nice break from the main meat(and fat) of the game. Clearing the game allows you to switch to Venom at any point.
 While the combat may not be as good as it was before, and while I still find a few design choices questionable, the swinging is all kinds of amazing. You can lose yourself just traversing through the city, just for fun! The story and presentation are both fantastic, it's an interesting tale and it feels very in-tune with the source material. Regardless, I still believe that this is a better game than Spider-man 2. It's not perfect, it doesn't do everything better than Spider-man 2, heck, some things are worse, but as a whole, it's a better game.
 8.0 out of 10

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