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  1. Ace Gunman

    OP Ace Gunman ~••Lucky҉Shot••~
    Former Staff

    Apr 17, 2003
    Well, it's finally here, the game i've been waiting for since e3....Ultimate Spider-Man! You may have noticed comic book movies and games are plentiful these days. But while comic book games are getting better and better, they weren't always so great *Cough*Superman 64*Cough*.

    The last Spidey game, Spider-Man 2: The Movie was praised for it's open-ended and expansive city (Ala: Grand Theft Auto), and amazing web-swinging mechanics. Because of these features people over-looked the bad in the game, and we saw reviews that gave the game 8.5s, and so on.

    The fact of the matter was though, that's all that Spidey 2: The Movie (Game) had to offer. It's bosses were terrible, it's story was a watered-down version of the movie (And the movie had soul, while the game did not), the human NPCs characters looked freakishly deformed (Including some main character NPCs), the voice acting was gawd awful, and although the crimes to stop around the city were entertaining at first...the quickly lose that quality.

    Overall, besides the web-swinging, expansive New York, and some pretty good combat...the game wasn't all that great.

    Fast forward to now, and it's the next level of Spider-Man gaming. Ultimate Spider-Man, is amazing, spectacular, and quite frankly...the ultimate Spidey game. So, let's get into it:

    STORY: What can I say about the story? Hmmm...well, it's directly tied into the Ultimate Spider-Man comics. Which is unlike most superhero games which are in their own self-contained little world. This might be a drawback to some people, but in this isn't. Why you ask? Because Brian Michael Bendis, the writer who has written all 80+ issues of Ultimate Spider-Man has written every single line of dialogue, and the story itself. Not just that, but Mark Bagley, the artist behind all 80+ issues...designed the intial character concepts for the game. To any Ultimate Spidey fan, this is a dream come true.

    For those that don't know, Ultimate Spider-Man is a re-invisioned version of Spidey for a new generation. One without the 50 years of continuity baggage. But don't worry, it, along with the rest of the Ultimate series, isn't a replacement for the past, merely it's own self contained series/universe/reality/etc. Now, the story takes place a short time after the extremely popular "Venom" story-arc (Issues 33 - 38). It follows the mystery of what happened to Eddie Brock and the black suit. Not just that, but it also paralels Peter living his life at the same time. So we get interesting moments where Peter and Eddie are close to eachother, but never even know it.

    The story itself plays exactly like a Bendis written Ultimate Spider-Man comic, and not like a video game. Which is actually awesome. Although it's not overly long (Very few US-made games are), it still has one of the largest casts of villains, supporting, and guest character assortments...of any Spidey game.

    GAMEPLAY: First, let's get this out Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter is a skinny 15 (Almost 16) year old kid, going to highschool, and living a double life as a superhero. And the game reflects that. Instead of having the largest choice of Spidey moves ever (Ala: Spider-Man 2: The Movie game) you have a much more simplified and energetic fighting system. You bounce of walls, enemies, and so on like an inexperienced teenaged superhero with spider powers would. The web swinging has also been ever so-slightly simplifed as well. After all, he's only been doing this for 4 months in the game, so he's not going to be pulling off triple-sow-cows in the air [​IMG].

    The simplified combat is actually a blast. But now it's time to talk about a different set of moves...Venom's. Yes, that's right. In this game Venom isn't just a main character, he's a playable character. Ultimate Venom is a bit different from his normal Marvel Comics counterpart however...Ultimate Venom doesn't swing on spider-like webs, and he's even more of a vicious uncontrollable monster now, than he was in the original comics.

    Venom's combat is more about brute force, while Spidey's i about agility. Venom tosses cars, breaks peoples backs in half, and jumps insanely high. In actuality his system is alot like that of Hulk, in Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. Which is also a good thing. However, the suit is constantly eating at Eddie's life force, so you have to re-charge. To do this you get people. Not litteraly of course. Although it sounds like a task it's actually quite satisfying. If your health starts to dwindle you just walk down a sidewalk, extend your tendrils, and absorb the nearest person into your suit (Then spit them out).

    As I said earlier, the game paralels Spidey, and Venom's adventure. So you play more-or-less half of the game with either character (Switching back and fourth as it progresses) You have no control over such switching, as it's part of the story. But when you beat the game you get full ability to use whoever you like.

    The game takes all the best parts out of Spider-Man 2: The Movie, Spider-Man 1: The Movie, and Spider-Man for PlayStation/Dreamcast (Which was probably the best Spidey game, before now). Unfortunately, it also takes Spider-Man 2:TM's biggest flaw...repetitive crimes throughout the city. While the story is superb, these little crimes (Muggings, car jackings, gang wars, and so on) arn't very diverse. Oddly enough though, they seem to have improved how they were handled in this game, and although I don't know why...they're actually not as repetitive as in Spidey 2: TM.

    Besides story missions, as well as random event missions that happen throughout the city...there are also 2 other kinds of gameplay modes. A racing mode where you try and beat the set time, as well as your own best records (The rankings are NONE, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Ultimate). And a combat tour mode where you go through a specific (Different each combat tour) part of the city, fighting relatively tough little gangs (Who each have their own mini-bosses). Since there's alot of different parts of New York, there's also quite a few different gangs to fight. Each with there own style.

    For this game they also added a new feature...during story missions you'll often have to save someone. Maybe they'll be pinned under a burning car, or trapped by electrical wires. While some may find these tasks in the middle of a chase with Rhino (For example) tedious, I feel it adds to the feeling of being Spider-Man. Because if Spidey was in a fight, and saw someone in trouble...he WOULD save them. Also, if you were to not save even a single one of these people, you have to start the mission over. Because Spidey can not let a person die on his watch.

    Here's the kicker though...the bosses are actually challenging! AND they're incorperated into the outside city, and handeled extremely well indoors as well (Once again, all unlike Spider-Man 2: The Movie).

    The bottom line's awesome playing the hero, and just as awesome playing the villain. Oh, and don't worry, switching from Venom to Spidey and back (Many times) as the story progresses, isn't difficult at all. It's all handled naturally and smoothly.

    GRAPHICS: The graphics...hmm.....they're mind blowing! 3D inking technology (A different version of the popular cel-shading) captures the comic book feel perfectly. All the characters look exactly like their ultimate comic counterparts brought to life. This time, the NPCs and character models are ALL great. There is one tiny tiny flaw though...Peter Parker's cutscene model (Not Spidey's) is the weakest of the bunch. It looks more-or-less like his comic counterpart, but just like the Spidey game's Peters that preceded this one, he looks a Oh! I almost forgot to mention the comic paneling. It adds to the feeling of a comic become game immensly.

    SOUND: Not much to say about the sound, really. The voice acting is excellent. Brian Bendis helped hand pick the characters voices so they would match his vision of what they should sound like. So yes, the characters voices are spot-on. There isn't much variety music-wise though, which hurts the game a little, but not terribley. The effects are also great, from the fwiping of a web, to Venom hitting the ground after an awesome leap. This time around the NPCs even have great voices, and lines of dialogue (Thank you, Mr.Bendis! [​IMG]).

    Overall the sound is an extremely vast improvement over that of Spider-Man 2: TM's. While that game had terribly campy (AKA: gawd-awful) voice performances from all involved (Including the main characters who sounded very wooden). The sound and voice work in this one feels vibrant and alive, and quite hilarious.

    REWARDS: The rewards for playing this game are plentiful. Not as plentiful as some, but still. Not only do you get an amazing story experience that ties in perfectly to the Ultimate Spider-Man comic...but you also get a slew of extras. A rotating character model gallery (That even includes minor characters), a landmark gallery that shows some of the games unique locales (Baxter Building, Doctor Strange's House, Daily Bugle, ESU, etc), a small but neat concept art gallery, an Ult. Spidey comic cover gallery that covers the first 75 issues, and finally 5, count'em, FIVE, alternate Spidey costumes (6 if you include the default).

    There's also some unlockable difficulty modes (Or so i've heard). But wait, that's not all! After finishing the game you get the ability to keep playing through the city (No surprise there), and as I said earlier...the ability to switch between Spider-Man and Venom at will. Oh, and the game has a few neat guest appearances as well. [​IMG]

    DOWNFALLS: This game is amazingly fun, but it's not without it's small problems. So, let's get into them. First of all i'll tackle the slowdown...Ult. Spidey suffers extremely minor slowdown (Barely noticable). The slowdown only happens in the most extreme cases too. I'm talking if you had 3 helicopters, 7 hovering government agents, 5 civillians on the sidewalk, and 4 cars driving down the street...all while you're running on said street.

    But this isn't so much the games fault as it is a limitation of the hardware itself. Which won't be a problem, since all of the next-gen consoles are confirmed to be backwards-compatible with todays games. So if you were to play the PS2 version of this game on a PS3, there should be no slowdown at all.

    Next...the repetitive random event missions (As mentioned earlier). There's basically muggers, gang wars, people falling from a roof, someone who needs to be taken to the hospital, police/criminal shootouts, truck heists, police chases, road enraged drivers, and break-ins/robberies (Usually with a minor super-criminal). There's also variations and combinations of the above list. Now this sounds like a lot...and it is...but there could be more. The ones that are there are deffinitely improved over the original missions in Spidey 2: TM, but still.

    It also lacks Peter's supporting characters. We get Mary-Jane (Peter's teenaged girlfriend), and that's pretty much it. The thing is, Peter goes to the Bugle, and to his house about 50 times in the game. Yet we never see Aunt May, J. Jonah Jameson, or any of the other supporting cast members from the Bugle (Where Peter works part-time as the website designer/updater). Don't get me wrong, I loved the story. But hopefully next Ultimate Spidey we'll see some more friendly faces.

    Some people (You know who you are! [​IMG] ) might also complain about the length of the story. However, when looking at any past Spidey game, or any licensed property-type game (IE: Movie games)...they're never particularly long, but that doesn't make them any less enjoyable.

    You may have noticed me comparing Ultimate Spider-Man to the Spider-Man 2: Movie game alot, huh? Well, that is because I think people were overly soft on Spidey 2: TM (Including myself, before this game). Yes it introduced us to the awesome open ended web-swinging, and New York. But that's all it was good for. I also feel this game is being judged too harshly as well. Take IGNs review for example, they pretty much say the game is superb, the graphics are amazing, and so on, and then they gave it an 8.4 for no reason.

    So i'd like to say to you all...this game is close to the perfect Spidey game, it certainly has set the bar higher. It has miniscule flaws, barely even noticable ones. So Spider-Man 3: The Movie, and undoubtably an Ultimate Spider-Man 2 are on the way. I think those will perfect the Spidey game genre. Until then I give this game a 9.2. You don't need to be a fan of the comic (Like I am) to enjoy this game (It certainly adds to it though). Everything you need to know is told to you throughout this wonderful game.

    It's the best Spider-Man game yet, and a perfect adaption/addition to the Ultimate Spider-Man world. Nuff' said.

    SCORE: 9.2 (Out of 10)

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