Superheroes. Secretly everybody wants to be one. In the old days you had to put a bed sheet around your neck and charge your best friends while today you can save entire cities from perdition with nothing more than a controller and a bag of potato chips. This is also the case in Ultimate Spiderman; the battlefield is called New York and you are Peter Parker, a geek with superpowers.
One of the aspects of the game the developers really stress on is the fact that they tried to implement the comic book experience into the game, in which they succeeded quite successfully: cut-scenes are shown in a ‘moving-comic-book-kind-of-way’ and you will also have little comics jump in during the game, showing some important events that are occurring at that time. Graphics are quite OK, although I must mention some flaws: cut-scenes are sometimes rather unpolished and the in-game draw distance is quite small. It is true that you have a spectacular view over the whole city, standing on top of the largest buildings but then you will also notice that the places shown in full detail are limited to the immediate surroundings and that everything from there on quickly fades into your basic cartoon style. But this isn’t really annoying and it’s a way to prevent pop-ups. The animations of your own character and those of the NPC’s are rather smooth and realistic, with the occasional exception off course.
What makes or breaks a game however is the gameplay. The very first thing I have to say is that there is a hell of a lot to do in this game. As a superhero you do not only finish the storyline but are obliged to assist people in need of help while you also have to compete in numerous race events. ‘Helping people’ is nicely done; you have to tap the L2 and R2 buttons regularly to keep a pointer in the green zone to get heavy objects like burning cars or plasma televisions off those unfortunate sods. People suffering from headaches, clinging onto a hundred feet high balcony or lying tied up next to their armoured vehicle are put out of their misery by a simple tap on the O-button. All accompanied by the sometimes very hilarious commentary of mister Peter Parker himself. To advance in the game you will have to complete a number of these events to unlock the next story mission.
Yet, this does not feel as linear gameplay at all because in the first place you have the choice what and what not to do while free roaming in this gigantic city but also because you experience the story from different points of view. Yes, it will not only be swinging on spider webs this time, you’ll also have to play with Venom, an unfortunate character that has put on a suit that constantly eats his life energy. This is very inconvenient as it forces you on a regular basis to promote an unfortunate bystander to lunch. But I can assure you though; eating people has never been so much fun. And I should know. To find people to save or eat, you must off course travel the city. This you can do by foot (very slow and very dull) or by swinging from one lamp post to the other (very fast and very cool). Thanks to the very intuitive and easy to use controls you’ll be swinging from Queens to Manhattan in no time while breaking every track record in every race. It gives you the false feeling that this game is quite easy, which it in fact is not, the difficulty level is higher than you would suspect. In some boss-fights you have only a few seconds to make the right decision and it’s a shame that if you waste those, it’s a constant trial and error. Which at some point can be quite frustrating… This however, should not be a reason to take a rain check on this game.
Ultimate Spiderman is a very enjoyable title. The developers have clearly put a lot of effort into this game, which is a rare thing with titles based on comic books or movies. Besides the storyline, the random events and the races, there are lots and lots of stuff to collect which you can use to unlock artwork and even other characters. This makes Ultimate Spiderman a title to keep you busy for quite a long time