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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Treyarch

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

September 22, 2005

 

 

- Great presentation
- Stripped down controls make webslinging easier
- Embraces the Marvel Universe

 

 

- Itís over pretty quick with little in the way of replay value
- Environments, although appropriately vast, just feel empty of interesting things to do

 

 

Review: Prototype (360)

Review: Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (360)

Review: The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (XB)

Review: Spider-Man 2 (XB)

 

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Ultimate Spider-Man

Score: 6.7 / 10

 

If thereís one thing I will stand-up and applaud about Ultimate Spider-Man, itís that it embraces the Marvel Universe like no other Marvel licensed game before it.  In the first twenty-minutes of play you race Johnny Storm (a.k.a. the Human Torch) playing as Spider-Man, then fight Wolverine playing as Venom.  I spent the next hour or so looking for familiar landmarks like the Avengers mansion, Dr. Strangeís place, and Four Freedomís Plaza.  (Has anyone else wondered why so many superheroes operate out of the Big Apple?)  Itís like Treyarch puts the player right into the comic book New York.

 

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Part of the reason Ultimate Spider-Man draws the player in so well is the extremely slick style and art direction, which features a cel-shaded look and cutscenes that

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play out like comic book panels.  It never breaks from this, even in the menus.

 

But Iím webslinging ahead of myself.

 

The story that begins Ultimate Spider-Man shows the father of Peter Parker and Eddie Brock working on a cure for cancer.  The result is the black goo that changes Eddie into the powerful Venom,

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Spider-Manís arch nemesis.  The plot and story, as short as it is, rolls out from there and the player alternates between Spider-Man and Venom (as dictated by the story).

 

Story and side missions are chosen much like any other wide-open action game released in the last few years Ė hit a checkpoint to activate the next mission.  Mission icons are spread out over the environment and ďrandomĒ crimes spring up throughout.  So, like the Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction or GTA: San Andreas or Spider-Man 2 the gameplay is mostly open-ended.  However, the story is over pretty quick.  Six or seven hours about does it, which only leaves the side missions.  They donít amount to anything more than complicated than checkpoint races and/or beating up waves of thugs. (There are also multiple icons scattered throughout to unlock extras in the main menu.)  In short, itís a little on the boring side Ė itís only the aesthetics that will keep you playing.

 

Ultimate Spider-Man also features a stripped-down control from Spider-Man 2, which I really liked.  Spidey still has a ton of moves available (each nicely animated) but itís less complicated Ė even though you play as two different characters.  Swinging through the city has never been easier and incapacitating foes is still fun, though repetitive. (While playing as Venom you can actually gobble up thugs to drain their life form and replenish his health.)

 

Ultimate Spider-Man doesnít falter in the audio department.  Itís a deftly executed mix of music, sound effects, and above average voice-acting fits the action perfectly.

 

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If you havenít played the Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction the downsides Ė short story, not much fun stuff to do Ė will only seem minor.  But in comparison to Ultimate Destruction, which is chock-full of objects to destroy, projectiles to throw and robots to mow down, Ultimate Spider-Man feels empty.  Thereís not a whole lot to do.  This feeling is heightened as you trek across the city to get to a mission or checkpoint.  Instead of enjoying the chance to litter skyscrapers with webbing youíll wish there was a ďJump to MissionĒ option.

 

Still, if youíre a fan of the web-head, Ultimate Spider-Man should be right up your alley because although it does the comic book source justice, it just doesnít offer enough for the casual action game fan to make it a must-have title.

 

- Omni

(October 17, 2005)

 

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