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.
In addition to set missions there are random crimes. These appear on your radar as yellow blobs. Intervening merely improves your crime fighting rating in the area.
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 donít 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. Itís 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. Itís a shame that the rest of the game didnít 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.