When I reviewed the first Spider-Man game back in 2002, I concluded that it was the perfect example of Summer fluff. It was action-packed, full of explosive effects, and easily forgotten immediately after it was put back on the shelf. Spider-Man was the type of game that could have been something incredible, had somebody been ambitious enough to go beyond the general cookie cutter action formula.
Although I was disappointed with the first Spider-Man, I still looked forward to the sequel, hoping that the two years would give them time to develop a game worthy enough for Peter Parker. Not only did Treyarch finally deliver a solid Spider-Man game, but they made one of the most ambitious movie ports to come out in a long, long time. Spider-Man 2 isn’t perfect, but it atones for just about every major problem I had with the original, and manages to be one of the most enjoyable games so far this year.
While the first game seemed intent on keeping you indoors, Spider-Man 2 opens up the entire Manhattan Island for you to explore. Seeing the success of games like Grand Theft Auto III and True Crime, Treyarch has opted for a more open-ended feel for this sequel. No longer are you tethered to a linear mission, when to finish the chapters is up to you. Although you are given a few tasks to complete in each chapter, most of the time you are in charge of when and how you want to go about finishing them. If you wanted to, you can spend the entire day busting random crime on the street or just exploring the skyscrapers above it all.
Patrolling the city for crime is a fun and exciting way to learn what Spidey can do, where everything is, and earn the all-important hero points (which can be used to buy extra abilities, tricks, and special items). But it’s these random crimes where the shine of the game starts to dull. For some odd reason, there are only six kinds of crimes in Manhattan. I’m not sure if the more interesting stuff happens in other areas of New York City, but there seems to be a general lack of diversity from the criminals in this game.
In one of the scenarios you have to find, and snag a group of criminals who are in the middle of a shoot out with the police. There is also one where the criminals have hijacked an armored car, tied up the drivers, and are in the process of stealing all the money. There’s one where you have to stop a high-speed police chase by landing on the hood of the car and punching the window until he gets out. There are also a few non-violent missions, which involve you rescuing a man who is about to fall off a tall building, rescuing people from a sinking boat, as well as simply rushing an injured civilian to the nearest hospital.
None of these missions are especially hard, and some can be fun once or twice … but Spider-Man 2 requires you to play them over and over. In most of the chapters one of the tasks you must accomplish is to earn a certain amount of hero points, which means that you will need to thwart these six crimes until you have enough points to move on. These crimes are generally short, and most will only take you a couple of minutes each to complete, but another six types of crimes would have gone a long way to keep the game from becoming so repetitive so quickly.
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