keskiviikko 17. heinäkuuta 2013

REVIEW - Spider-Man 3 | GBA | 2007

GENRE(S): Action / Platform
RELEASED: May 2, 2007
DEVELOPER(S): Vicarious Visions
PUBLISHER(S): Activision

Sam Raimi's Spider-Man series was never supposed to be a trilogy - actually, a fourth and fifth movie were planned. It sure seemed like a trilogy, though, 'cause with Spider-Man 3, Raimi went all in. As critics and many fans would put it, all in was way too much. Raimi tried to fit everything that fans had asked for into a mere 139 minutes of film; the result was an "incoherent mess" and as great as the group of three of the best villains in the franchise was on paper, it turned out a forgettable bunch of cameos with bad casting choices. Well, on the date of the movie's U.S. premiere, the first video game adaptations of the movie emerged - one of them surprisingly on the Game Boy Advance, which was nearing the end of its cycle.

The alien sand goblin

Dude, this is not what bros do!
Peter Parker's up for the fight of his life, and it's very personal. Escaped prisoner Flint Marko - the man ultimately responsible for the death of Peter's uncle - falls into a particle accelerator and morphs into a seemingly undefeatable sand mutant calling himself Sandman. Peter's best friend Harry Osborn has learned of the alter egos of both his father and Peter, and goes on a spider-hunt under the guise of the new Green Goblin. Finally, Peter's struggling with an alien symbiote that is heavily damaging his psyche and changing his personality. When he finally separates from the symbiote, the parasitic being finds a new host in Peter's very willing, embittered rival named Eddie Brock.

The movie Spider-Man 3 was a very conflicted experience for me. It lived on the professionalism of the actors, not its ideas. Topher Grace - a.k.a. Eric Forman from That 70's Show, now and forever - was a terrible choice to play Eddie Brock, who's usually depicted gruffy and muscular in the comics. Yeah, sure, he gained some mass for the movie, but whenever he started whining about how Peter Parker ruined his life, I was expecting Kurtwood Smith to suddenly rear his head around some corner and scaring him off with a funny "foot-up-your-ass" joke. His Venom form was mostly CGI, and this time, it didn't look nearly as abysmal as in the first movie. Venom's my favourite villain in the Spider-Man franchise, as I've well pointed out, and even the thought of Grace doing the mo-cap didn't ruin the glorious five minutes he actually spent on the screen as Venom. He's a good actor, I'll give him that. As for the rest of the movie - yeah, it's a bit of a mess, but one thing it doesn't lack is action. Basically I could go on and on overanalyzing the movie without an actual point, and still end up with the conclusion that it was a better movie than most folks give it credit for. Besides, it's still one of the highest-grossing movies ever, so you can't keep calling it a total failure. How fares the game? The movie might've been a mess, but especially considering they must've buffed this game up with even more cameos, that original cavalcade of villains alone could make it work, right?

You know what they say: Once you
go black, you can never go back.
Besides missing a few very important plot points along the way - Sandman's redemption is ignored and Mary Jane isn't even mentioned - and replacing these dramatic twists in the story with stuff that doesn't really belong, but should please any Marvel freak - like the appearances of Mad Bomber, Electro and Kingpin - Spider-Man 3 is a surprisingly faithful handheld video game adaptation of the movie, and what's even more surprising, a good one. Its worst problem is its on/off level design. The gauntlet levels are simply merciless; if you're in one of these God damn mazes and your goal is to find a certain set of key items (no extras included), you might very well make it to the end of the level only to find that you've missed one or two, and there is absolutely no way to go back. It's trial and error, all the way, and it can get really, really frustrating to start from scratch over and over until you get your track straight as an arrow. There's even a glitch in at least one of the levels - even if you complete the objective, it fails to check out, and you're left running around dumbfounded until you realize that the only way to proceed is to restart the level all the way from the beginning and hope that the completed objective registers that time around. Yeah, its ridden with technical errors and the level design still reeks from time to time - I never thought it could turn out such a common problem with these games - but the graphics and sound are basically quite good, and what we have here is a neat game with perhaps the most fluid controls out of all of the games included in the marathon thus far.

I'll soak your ass, mudslinger.
Spider-Man 3 is comprised of 15 two-part levels, many of which come to a climax in a boss fight against a small all-star group of Marvel villains, starting with the Green Goblin - the new one - and ending with none other than Venom. Sandman's one persistent bugger who harrasses you throughout the game and you'll have to face off with him a total of three times in various ways, while the Green Goblin acts as the first boss and is dealt with within the first 10-15 minutes. Venom doesn't even appear before the final levels. In that sense, the game is just like the movie - only in the game, you don't have to bear Brock's constant whining. The boss fights are surprisingly diverse and clever, even if the game itself very often feels very stale. Even if the level design isn't perfect or if the advanced controls keep pissing you off in gauntlet environments, the game is very fast-paced and the amount of objectives per level is very reasonable (it grows by the difficulty level; I'm playing on Normal).

The most important addition to gameplay is obvious to anyone who's watched the movie: Peter's new suit, which makes its first appearance in the early goings of the game, and is removed before the final levels, shifting the advantage from Peter to the final boss of the game. The black suit is automatically activated by the filling of a Rage Meter, which fills each time you break background items or successfully attack enemies, and deactivated if you get hit, just once. The black suit enables stronger combos, powerful attacks that aren't part of Peter's standard repertoire, and the destruction of certain types of obstacles. Also, the developers took note that since the black suit activates automatically, it could be instantly deactivated by an incoming enemy attack - as a kind of a reward, gaining the symbiote power-up also fills up your health meter to the max. It's the small things that matter... though it's not that small of a thing, I assure you. You're going to get your ass kicked in this game, sooner or later, and you'll be thankful for the existence of that suit.

Here we go!
What else? Beating each boss, including Venom, yields some reward - usually it's one extra tick for your maximum health, but sometimes they're upgrades you really have no use for. You'll do just fine with what you're given from the beginning, plus the black suit. Since they're automatic and don't have a toll of EXP to pay like in Spider-Man 2, they're completely harmless though. Just like this game.

It's definitely not a masterpiece, but one of the most entertaining games I've played on the Advance in a long, long time, and to my complete surprise, one of the best games in the marathon thus far - I shit you not. Too bad it went so unnoticed, for this is one Spider-Man game for the Game Boy Advance I think you should know.

+ (Flawed but) fluid controls
+ Good graphics and sound
+ The black suit rocks
+ A good cast of villains for a movie game, and surprisingly clever boss fights
+ Fast pace...

- ...Which we're extremely thankful for, since the levels are sometimes very boring and repetitive...
- ...And the gauntlets simply merciless
- Useless upgrades
- Misses out on key points of the plot, mostly on the characters' motives
- A few fatal glitches

< 8.0 >

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