Welcome to the final free-roaming Spider-man game on the Playstation 2, often derided as the worst on the console... it's not as bad as you've been led to believe. Shortcomings are in no short supply, but the brunt of the game works pretty well and is pretty fun.
Borrowing the plot from the movie of the same name as the over-arching story, the game fits in a few new subplots involving the Lizard, Kraven, Morbius and a very different version of Shriek. It's a rather poor retelling of an already bland plot, but it does do a few things, dare I say, better than the movie, not that that's very hard to do, all things considered. The game should last about 3 hours, more if you indulge in the two collectathons, one which unlocks nothings and another that lets you use the Black Suit with no penalty... although you unlock this by finishing the story, so what's it's basically useless.
As with every console Spider-man game since Spider-man 2, there're two main components to the game: Swinging and combat. Swinging has been changed again, and it feels more akin to Ultimate Spider-man, which should be a good thing, but feels heavier and slower. Web-zips won't bring you as far or as high, and it's hard to pinpoint why, but I think it has to do with the added weight, but swinging doesn't flow quite as well. To make up for the slowness, there's a pretty cool zoom-out effect when boosting through your swings, which looks kinda cool. It doesn't help that New York feels lifeless, maybe Ultimate Spider-man 2 spoiled me, but there's a glaring lack of color, even Spider-man 2 had vibrant billboards adding life to the world. It's still undeniably fun to swing around, but I also feel like it's the weakest swinging we've had so far.
On the other hand, combat's probably the best it's ever been. There're weak and strong attacks that can be comboed together, you can shoot web to divert foes, yank away their shields or throw them around. There're new, fun mechanics like vaulting over enemies and even attack them as you vault over them. The dodge button is back, and there's a new Adrenaline gauge that allows you to use devastating special moves. Spidey has regenerating health as well, up to a certain threshold, by avoiding damage for a while. That said, a few times, even though the targeting-reticule was over the enemy I wanted to attack, Spidey would shoot his web towards a different enemy, and it can get frustrating when trying to fight the more squirmy enemies that need to be distracted with webs to their eyes.
The Black suit is the biggest new addition, by tapping any direction on the control pad you can put on the black suit for added strength and extended health bar. That said, use it for too long and you die, so you need to take it off, by partaking in a QTE(Don't worry, enemies will ignore you while you grapple with it!), and then there's a Cooldown period before you can wear it again. Did I mention QTEs? The game is rife with them! I will grant it that they are relatively lenient so they are not as bad as they could be, but I hate QTEs with a passion, so I won't forgive it. Fighting enemies and clearing missions will earn you XP which you can then spend on new moves, more health, or more speed. I liked that, it makes doing side activities worth it, and it's always fun to unlock new moves this way.
Side Activities work a little bit different this time around. They are still the same ol' same ol' 'beat a bunch of baddies', 'take this victim to a hospoital' affair, and while the occasional side-mission will pop-up every now and then, you are now encouraged to 'talk to a contact' in order to enter a 3-side-mission burst, with loading screens between each one. Oh, loading screens, loading screens everywhere. Fulfilling a side-mission will force an entire-reload of the game, with you respawned somewhere nearby. Get used to loading screens. And, in the game's defense, this game is a bit more lenient with the 'gating story missions behind busywork' mindset that has plagues the series, only twice was I forced to do side-activities, albeit it amounted to about 6 of these 'contact' sub-missions, for a total of 18 side-activities. Much less than previous games!
Wrapping all up, it bears mentioning that the game felt quite... buggy. At least three times did I see the 'Mission Failed' pop-up, even though I had cleared the mission and the game counted it as clear. After one mission, Spider-man held om to the guitar I had just dropped off with its owner, and in one of those three 'Mission Failed' pop-ups, I got the cut-scene, got the reward and... got a black screen. Quitting the mission didn't help, retrying didn't help, loading a different save file didn't help, I actually had to restart the PS2. Fun times.
Flawed? Yes. Ugly? Hideous. But it's also pretty fun. I will concede that among free-roaming Spider-man games, this is the weakest one so far, but I had fun with it, and it got a lot of stuff right. With a little more polishing, it could've been the best one yet.
6.0 of 10