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Spider-Man 2
game: Spider-Man 2
four star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
date posted: 12:00 AM Mon Jul 19th, 2004
last revision: 12:00 AM Mon Jul 19th, 2004

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By Eric Qualls

This is the best superhero game ever. No question about it. The whole point behind a superhero game is to make you really feel like a hero, and this game does that and more. You really feel like you are Spider-Man and you really feel like you are in Manhattan and when you save the day you really feel like a hero. Spider-Man 2 is simply an excellent game that makes a great companion to the movie.

The story loosely follows the movie, but there are a lot of other things going on as well. In addition to the main storyline that sees you chasing after Doc Ock, you also will face Rhino, Mysterio, and Shocker. Black Cat has a pretty big role as well, but she plays nice. Something that I really enjoyed was that the main storyline doesn't ever really spoil anything in the movie. You know going in that you are fighting Doc Ock, and you know from the trailers that run a thousand times a day on TV that a large focus of the movie is on Peter struggling to balance his everyday life and his life as Spider-Man. The game lets you do all of the same things and go to the same locations as in the movie, such as taking Aunt May to the bank or rushing to see MJ's play, but it leaves most of the storytelling and the details as to why you have to go to the bank and why it is important to get to the play to the movie and lets you just concentrate on the gameplay.

Oh, and what fantastic gameplay it is! The main focus of the gameplay is on swinging around Manhattan. You have full control and the freedom to go from street level all the way to the top of the Empire State Building, but you can also swing and jump and climb pretty much anywhere else you want. Swinging through town is simply a joy. You can control where your webs stick, how fast you swing, and how high you jump all with easy to learn commands and once you learn what you are doing the game looks like poetry in motion. Swinging through a back alley, flinging yourself through the air at the top of your swing to a rooftop, and then jumping from rooftop to rooftop before diving down towards the street to start swinging again is incredibly fun. It also looks very impressive when you can put together a long string of smooth swings and jumps. Most of the game takes place out in the city rather than indoors which is a welcome change from previous Spider-Man games where you were stuck inside most of the time.

In addition to all of the jumping around and flying through the air, Spider-Man 2 also features a lot of combat. While you are roaming the rooftops, people will call for help and you have to save them. The missions consist of stopping muggers, helping the police, chasing after cars and things like that, but there is a severe lack of variety to these missions that becomes pretty annoying after you have stopped your tenth armored car from getting robbed that day. The actual combat can only be described as button mashing goodness, but it really is a lot of fun and is rather satisfying. You can punch and kick your enemies and also use your Spidey Sense to help you dodge bullets and other attacks. This is all well and good, but the real fun comes when you start using your webs on the enemies. Swinging an enemy around and smacking them into their friends , or walls , is great fun, and I don't know anything more satisfying than tying defeated enemies to lampposts when you are finally done playing with them.

Scattered throughout the city are tokens, shops, and gang hideouts that you have to find. As you defeat enemies you earn hero points that you can spend at a number of different shops around town that give you new combos and moves. There are a ton of upgrades you can buy that go a long ways towards keeping the combat fresh. For obsessive people that like to complete their games 100%, Spider-Man 2 has a ton of hidden stuff to find. There are skyscraper tokens, buoy tokens, and secret tokens hidden all over that all together number in the hundreds. There are races all over the place too that require you to pass through rings in the fastest time possible. There are hundreds of these things too. On top of all that, there are a large number of gang hideouts that you have to find and then beat up all of the bad guys. Because of the sheer size of the city, it is pretty tough to find everything, but swinging around is so fun that even if it takes weeks to find every last token you can bet that it was a fun experience.

Graphically, Spider-Man 2 looks great no matter what system you are playing it on. The city is beautifully rendered and the game moves at a consistent frame rate even when there are a ton of enemies around. Spider-Man, Black Cat, and other major characters look stunning, but the models for the pedestrians are pretty ragged looking. The Xbox version looks better thanks to an overall smoother look and sharper textures, but the PS2 version is no slouch.

The sound in Spider-Man 2 is also pretty impressive. Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina, and Kirsten Dunst provided the voice work for their characters and they sound very good. Lesser characters don't sound as good, but it doesn't hurt the game at all. One complaint I have is the lack of music. Once in a while the music track will pick up as you are swinging through town, but most of the game is played with no music at all. This isn't really good or bad, just different.

I have had the pleasure of playing both the PS2 and Xbox versions of Spider-Man 2, and it has been rather tough to choose one to recommend. When you first start the game it loads for a little bit and then you jump directly into the game from wherever you saved last. On the PS2 this load time is about a minute while on the Xbox it takes all of fifteen seconds to jump into a game. It would seem the Xbox is at an advantage here, but for other load times, such as when a cinema sequence plays or when you change from Spidey to Peter, the PS2 version is faster. Also, the PS2 version saves and loads from the memory card noticeably faster than the Xbox loads and saves to the hard drive. The only other aspect that is different between the two versions is the controls, and here is where there is a definite favorite. Pretty much every button on each controller is used during gameplay, and the Dual Shock has a better button layout than the Controller S. The PS2 version also seems more responsive than the Xbox version and I find it easier to get around with maximum style on the PS2 than on the Xbox because the controls are just that little bit tighter. So, my conclusion is that if you want nice graphics and a little quicker load time when you boot up the game, go with the Xbox version. If you don't care about graphics, the PS2 version offers a smoother experience when swinging around the city thanks to tighter controls. Personally, I'm going to stick with the PS2 version.

Overall, Spider-Man 2 is a fantastic game no matter what platform you play it on. There is no game out right now that does a better job of making you feel like a superhero than Spider-Man 2. You can go wherever and do whatever you want and it is fun to just swing around and look at stuff. The story is only about ten hours long, but there are a ton of tokens and hidden stuff to find and that should add several more hours to the experience. Also, I can honestly say that for the near future at least, I'm probably going to play Spider-Man 2 for twenty minutes a day just to swing around Manhattan. It is that fun. If you are a Spider-Man fan, this game is a must buy. I recommend that everyone at least give Spider-Man 2 a rental, but it is good enough and has enough to offer after you have beaten it that I think it is going to be worth a purchase to most people.