With this release for PSP, Activision has a version of Spider-Man 2 for pretty much every platform. PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, DS, GBA… even the cumbersome N-Gage has a port. There’s only so much milk a cow can make, one might say…
Milking issues aside, what we have here is an action title, designed specifically around the PSP’s possibilities. The free-roaming world from the console versions has been scrapped and instead we get a linear storyline, consisting of about 20 levels, each one taking about 10 minutes to complete. For those of you who have done the math: that’s not a lot, indeed. If you count replays (if you die, you have to start the level all over again) and cutscenes, I’d say it takes 4 hours to complete the game. After your first play-through, you get some artwork and stuff, but nothing very special, to be honest. And I don’t think that anyone -aside from the true Spider-Man aficionados- will bother to finish the game twice. For a game that costs about 45€ (50$/30£), that’s abysmal value for money.
This is a shame, since the actual game is pretty good. The controls are spot-on and the game offers a lot of variety. You’ll fight in the obligate warehouse, but you’ll also swing through New York City, chasing a helicopter and even fight thugs on top of a train -in true side-scrolling fashion-. The fighting is very solid, as Spidey has a shitload of moves, each one wonderfully animated. The game isn’t hard at all, but sometimes the sheer number of enemies can provide quite a challenge. It’s also pretty cool that you can literally use the entire level to show off your tricks. You can crawl on walls, hang from the ceiling, webswing away from danger… this is 3D-gameplay in the true sense of the word.
The camera isn’t the best we’ve seen. It can be adjusted manually by using the D-pad, but this is quite annoying, since you then have to let go of the analog stick. Aside from that, Spider-Man 2 definitely ranks amongst the better-looking titles on the platform. Characters and levels are wonderfully modelled, but (as mentioned earlier) the animations of Spidey himself, thugs and bosses are exceptionally well done.
Although the game follows the storyline of the motion picture, developer Vicarious Visions took some liberties and added some of the classic supervillains from the comics, such as The Shocker, Mysterio and Vulture amongst others. Those bossfights are a lot of fun, as each foe requires a specific strategy before he can be beaten. The final battle with Doc Ock is a fitting, climactic end to the game.
Also worth a mentioning is the great voice acting, done by the actual movie cast. That means lines from Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst (yummy!), Alfred Molina among others. It’s a bit of a bummer that there isn’t any actual movie footage in the game, but the CGI cutscenes are more than adequate. Aside from Peter Parker (who looks like he’s put on some weight), all of the CGI characters look exactly like their real-life counterparts.
Making closing comments on Spider-Man 2 for PSP is kind of a mixed bag. On the one hand we have the game’s exellent presentation and pretty good gameplay, but on the other hand we have its incredibly short lifespan. If the game were a mid-priced title (say around 25€), it’d be worth a shot, but at its current price point, it just doesn’t offer enough to justify that price tag. Don’t buy it, but do rent it if you have the chance!