Movie tie-ins have quite a bad reputation, deservedly so. In this world of mass merchandising and brand loyalty, anything that promotes an IP and can make a couple of quid is churned out, often with disastrous consequences. Very few move tie-ins have ever worked and it was the E.T. game that nearly destroyed the console industry when it was in its infancy. Spider-man 3 almost manages to buck that trend.
The game puts you in the shoes, or should I say lycra costume, of the web slinging hero Spider Man. The game is an action adventure/sandbox game, offering over 40 missions and various other activities like racing and sky diving. Rather than focusing solely on the events of the film, the game uses the vast archive of spidey comics to introduce some additional enemies.
The main focus of the game is combat. There are two attack buttons and special moves are triggered by using the RB button and a face button. Spidey starts off with a few attacks and as the adventure unfolds many extra attacks are unlocked. Despite this plethora of moves combat is a button mashing affair. Combat generally works as follows; Mash the buttons, use the spidey sense when the relevant symbol appears, mash buttons, use a special ability, rinse, repeat.
The game has an interactive cinematic feature. Basically this is a cut scene where prompts pop up on the screen. If you don't push the button quick enough spidey dies and you start the scene again. These scenes can vary from bouncing through underground tunnels dodging trains to special grapples against bosses. It's good to see a developer trying something a little different, though unfortunately this mechanic died many years ago and, with the exception of boss fights, can often seem like a pointless interruption.
Obviously web slinging is an important part of the game, fortunately the developers have done an excellent job of incorporating this. Spidey swings through the cityscape at lighting speed, changing directions smoothly and easily. In fact this is the greatest achievement of the game and the most fun. It's a shame that the rest of the game didn't receive as much attention otherwise we would have had an amazing title on our hands. The game resembles a sandbox games in many ways (think GTA or crackdown) except that it feels very bland and not at all interactive. Whereas with games like Crackdown you could spend hours playing at either ground level or atop buildings in S-M3 you will get bored at ground level after about 15 seconds.
Character development is dull and uninspired. You get no control over how your character develops at all. Instead when you complete a mission you get given a new ability. As the game progresses even though you gain many more abilities you don't feel any more powerful than when you first started. This is a massive shame because so many other games out there have done a much better job, especially Crackdown.
Each boss provides a completely different combat experience. Although the basic mechanic is still button mash, dodge, special move. After a certain amount of damage is dished out there is the possibility of an interactive cinematic. This does give the game a unique feel and stops it from being repetitive but it is very hit or miss. The new goblin fight starts as a cinematic where you are prompted to dodge and retaliate. Once this cinematic ends you can either fight the goblin in the air, dodging his attacks in a spectacular fashion, or repeatedly hit the x button. Due to a massive oversight by the developers the goblin cannot dodge or recover from these attacks so it's possible to kill him with a 100 hit combo. In contrast to this the sandman fight is very enjoyable, sure, it's still button mash, dodge, special move but if you get him into certain locations at certain times you trigger cinematics that involve putting his head against a moving train or other similar sadistic attacks.
Graphically the game is quite nice though not amazing. The main character is quite detailed, but there is definitely no wow factor. The games cut scenes are hit and miss with some showing a higher level of detail but some looking like they are being displayed by an Xbox.
Bruce Campbell returns as the voice of the narrator, it's just a shame that he isn't involved more. His witty remarks and general sarcasm really add to the game, the problem is past the tutorial you don't hear much of him at all. The game could do with a lot more voice acting as a whole.
In all the game just feels like a lazy effort, it doesn't feel like a next-gen title and it is clear that it is a movie tie-in. I think much more could be achieved if the developers spent time making a game that wasn't based directly on the film.
Despite all the criticisms I have made the game is quite playable. It will offer most gamers a distraction for a weekend. If you are looking for a more enjoyable super hero experience then I would definitely recommend Crackdown as it is superior in every way, plus after the HALO 3 beta finishes you'll be able to get a 2nd hand copy very cheap.