Spider-Man 2 ReviewCain Dornan
Spider-Man 2 for the Nintendo DS is almost entirely different from the same named game that appeared on consoles. Apart from a similar storyline that is loosely based on the Hollywood blockbuster movie of the same name, the DS version is essentially an entirely different game from its console brother. The ability to freely swing through the streets as the Spidey himself has been removed, and replaced with linear, side-scrolling title that places numerous restrictions on Spider-Mans abilities, limiting his movements to a relatively confined area. As a result, a large majority of the levels contained in Spider-Man 2 for the Nintendo DS feel overly small and linear, destroying a major attribute in which Spider-Man attains; pure freedom.
The game begins with Spidey undertaking his pizza delivery job. He soon encounters a building engulfed in roaring flames; the screams of victims trapped inside faintly being heard from outside. Dumping the pizzas, he decides to save the trapped victims, and so the game begins.
The levels consist of a small variety of objectives that must be achieved in order to complete the level. The truth is, the game is simply too repetitive. The objectives usually require you to rescue a specific number of hostages, kill all enemies or robots; flick a number of randomly located switches all the while avoiding harmful obstacles, which includes fire, electricity and water. For some sixteen levels, the same core objectives need to be completed with each new level unlocked. Gameplay is only varied when a boss battle is encountered. Boss battles usually consist of eliminating a health bar by inflicting damage, which is then randomly turned into a battle that requires you to destroy incoming missiles or objects before they come into contact with you. Luckily, the overall difficulty, which can sometimes become frustrating due to the various restrictions that are placed on your abilities, helps to increase the overall lifespan of the game if you can handle the repetitive missions.
Between missions non-moving images are shown, complete with text, which plays the major role in the storyline of the game. Although often overacted, the text does successfully tell the story from Peter Parkers point of view in the usual nerdy type of way that we have come to expect from the recent Spider-Man movies. The still images that are shown during this time offer impressive detail.
In order to perform Spideys day-to-day routines, a range of moves are at his disposal. Spider-Mans basic moves consist of swinging through their air using his web, zapping quickly to various points using his web and the ability to climb any wall or object. Spider-Mans fighting moves consist of a clunky punch and slow kick, which are a key contributor to the frequent frustration that is felt whilst playing the game. A variety of Special Moves are also on offer, with a number of these becoming unlockable extras that are achievable by completing the bonus missions and receiving a decent ranking upon doing so. Special Moves run on a Special Meter, which depletes when repetitive use of Special Moves is used. The Special Meter slowly regenerates and, like the health meter, is capable of being increased by locating and retrieving hidden icons throughout the levels.
Although Spidey has a pleasing number of moves on offer, controlling the man himself is a different matter. Spider-Man feels awfully clunky and often slow. Performing his basic fighting moves, the kick and punch, becomes such a hassle that it is likely you will want to destroy your DS simply due to the frustrating fighting system. Kicks and punches often go straight through an enemy without damaging them, and the recovery time after each kick or punch is substantial enough to allow enemies to land several damaging blows. Thankfully, the special moves are slightly more refined and offer less frustration than the basic punch and kick combo, however the fighting system as a whole remains to feel rushed and sloppy. A more solid, effective fighting system could have helped to forgive the overly repetitive gameplay.
The Nintendo DS touch screen is used to move through the menus, during boss battles and when selecting your Special Moves during gameplay. Considering that you will only use a small number of moves occasionally, it is unlikely that you will be using the touch screen often during gameplay in order to change your current Special Move. The DS screen is also used occasionally during boss battles: often you will be required to prevent objects, such as missiles or random pieces of junk, from hitting you by tapping the objects on screen, a simple gameplay feature that helps to vary the gameplay slightly.
Spider-Man 2 offers solid graphics that showcase some of the DS capabilities. Although the game doesnt push the system to the max, the relatively rare full-motion cutscenes and still images, which are used to present the storyline, offer firm detail. The in-game graphics also offer some impressive detail, however, they do not push the DS capabilities to the fullest. Character detail and animations, in particular Spider-Man, looks good.
Stage details offer impressive detail. Two stages in particular offer some impressive detail: a stage which requires you to enter a pyramid and battle mummies and a mission that involves infiltrating an abandoned warehouse offer fantastic detail and spectacular lighting effects. Considering that Spider-Man 2 for the Nintendo DS is presented in side-scrolling style, the depth of levels is fantastic. In missions that have Spidey swinging through the city, roads span off into the difference, offering a realistic depiction of distance. At other times, items that are displayed in the background are visually more impressive than the actual in-game characters themselves. This is particularly evident in the above mentioned Egyptian pyramid stage.
Spider-Man 2 is almost completely absent of voice acting, apart from the occasional, rather poorly produced in-game grunts and short one-liners. Spider-Man occasionally mutters quick, short lines such as I must hurry! or Bring it on!, although this rarely occurs. The screams from thugs being thrown from off the top of a large building are rather distorted, however it does add a nice additional effect.
Sound effects are also rather average. Landing a punch or kick is a simple thud. The spurt of the spider web, however, sounds rather realistic, however the quality of the sound is rather poor. The sound does not detract from the gameplay, and it does effectively work well with the game. However, considering the impressive technology that the Nintendo DS now offers, we were expecting some more advanced sound features than what was actually presented.
Spider-Man 2 for the Nintendo DS, if its numerous faults can be looked past, offers a solid experience that Spider-Man fans are likely to appreciated and enjoy. Those who arent Die-hard fans of the arachnid, however, will find it hard to find any gameplay life in the rather difficult, frustrating side-scrolling action title.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.