Spider-Man fans and gamers rejoice! Finally, a straight up, down-and-dirty, rock-em' sock em' Spider-man game has become available for the DS and this time it gets the thumbs up from this reviewer. As a fan of the comic book and defender of all things cheesy, Spider-man gets a fantastic makeover in this comic book (literally) game on the DS.
Now I said it before, of all the superheroes out there, Spider-man seems to get the best games. Some have been so-so, but still light years ahead of the competition. Well this time Activision released Ultimate Spider-man on darn near every system and it is doing well by the reviewers. Basing itself in the Ultimate Spider-man universe, the game comes at you in comic book style frames as the story unfolds. Peter Parker, having already been given his powers, roams the city in 2-D action, rescuing people and taking on bad guys. The levels are varied enough so that repeat play is a must.
The big addition to the game is that you spend half the time playing as Venom, Spider-man's most harried rival. Playing as Venom brings the game in a whole other direction since he has more decidedly evil ways in dealing with the opponents that he faces. The fact that you are forced to play as both characters makes the experience better-rounded and there are even points in the game where you make choices that send you one direction or the other.
The basic game controls are easy enough to pick up and in no time you will be putting out fires and carrying people to safety, not to mention knocking people on their duffs as you dole out two-fisted justice on the mean streets of New York.
The touch screen that the DS is most popular for is used in a stable more even handed way, even though it clearly is more fun playing as venom when using it. The touch screen dynamic is just more effectively used with his tentacle grabs and attacks.
Even though the game is quality play, the sad fact is the audio is not sufficient enough for the level of action that is delivered. Special effect noises seem thin and not beefy enough for all that heavy action that's clipping by at 60 FPS.
But when all is said and done, Ultimate Spider-man has enough surprises and innovative gameplay to warrant a purchase. The comic book quality graphics and spot on story telling are the icing on an already fun to play, easy to control game.
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Spider-Man has seen a huge boost in popularity since its recent big screen appearances and movie success often immediately drives game production. Unfortunately many developers try to sell the license more then the game, leaving much to be desired. Spider-man has avoided this to date with surprisingly strong showings in the last two releases. The latest Spider-man game, Ultimate Spider-man however is following a different formula then its predecessors, shifting the focus from the movies to comic books.
Ultimate Spider-man has a totally new feel from the previous releases, closely tracking to the poplar comic book series of the same name. Activision was able to bring the comic books to life, paying close attention to story lines, bringing in many familiar heroes and enemies, and allowing both Spider-man and Venom to be playable. The whole game looks like it came out of a comic book from the graphics, to the audio, to the presentation. It definitely takes the essence of the series and accurately recreates it.
The odd thing is the strengths and weaknesses of the last Spider-man games seemed to be switched in this one. You would think that they would take what works and change what didn't quite meet expectations. Probably the most obvious example of this is the story-line and web slinging through the city. In Ultimate Spider-man, unlike the recent Spider-man games, the story line is fantastic bringing in many plot lines and even different perspectives, but the web slinging through the city just isn't the same. It's not bad, but that smooth lighter then air feel isn't there anymore. The rest of the gameplay is of a similar quality, which isn't revolutionary but the rest of the experience overwhelms it.
Basically, Spider-man fans are going to get plenty from this as it brings you right into the Ultimate Spider-man universe. The graphics are solid and set the right tone, the story line will keep you playing to the end, and the gameplay will keep your Spidey sense tingling.