Ultimate Spider-Man Review

When Activision released Spider-Man 2 for the PC the reviews were pretty harsh. In comparison to the console version it fell short in many aspects. Ultimate Spider-Man attempts to correct some of the mistakes, but this is one game that can still make many more improvements. However, the art, design, and animation in Ultimate Spider-Man are excellent. Unfortunately the gameplay, storyline, and controls are not.

Spider-Man races through town.
As you start to take in Ultimate Spider-Man you immediately realize a few things: the Peter Parker character is a young teenager and the quests are really repetitive. When you get a little further into the game you’ll marvel (pun intended) at the artwork and animation in the cut scenes. After fighting a few of the bosses you’ll yell and scream about the controls. Nearing the end of the storyline you’ll realize the game was extremely linear. Then finally at the end you’ll resign yourself to playing as Spider-Man and swinging around the city for long periods of time seeing how long you go without touching the ground. Either that or you wander over to the dark side and spend hours consuming small children as Venom…

It should be noted, especially for those not in-tune with Marvel’s “Ultimate” series of comic books, that this Peter Parker is strikingly different than the Peter Parker of the movies or the old comic books. The “Ultimate” lines of comic books by Marvel are basically a tuned-up version of Marvel’s old superheroes. All the characteristics of the old superhero are there but everything has been changed to reflect the 21st century. In Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter Parker is a young teenager going to high school, dealing with bullies, math tests, the internet, and awkward moments with the opposite sex. All throughout the game we are reminded of this “re-tuning” when Spider-Man talks to himself or we go to a cutscene. If you find yourself getting into the younger teenage characters in video games then this should be right up your alley. However, if you’re like me, and a little tired of the 15 year old crowd, you may find yourself wishing there was a mute command or fast forward button for Peter during the game.

The storyline itself is very short and the missions are repetitive. As Spider-Man all the main missions that reveal your enemies and advance the storyline follow the same pattern: you learn about the boss, you chase the boss, and then you fight the boss in a small quarantined area. At the beginning of the game the player is filled in on the back story, but it’s really not that impressive. The origins of Venom are confusing. The cure for cancer doesn’t translate easy into a suit – it’s never really explained. You learn that Spidey’s friend Eddie Brock has gotten hold of the suit shortly after Spider-Man realizes it’s slowly making him more evil with each passing day. You may find, as I did, that none of this really holds your attention though. You may also find that some of the bosses during the game don’t seem to match their typical comic book persona. For example, the Green Goblin is known to fly around on a glider and wear an evil looking mask. In Ultimate Spider-Man, the Goblin seems more dragon-like and uses fireballs and instead of small bombs.

Gameplay basically involves roaming the city and taking random challenges that come in two forms: timed races and combat runs. Your first experience with these types of challenges will come early in the game as Peter Parker when you are challenged to a race by your fellow superhero, The Torch from Fantastic Four. There are also random acts of crime to stop and innocent citizens to save. These 3 types of gameplay are basically ‘fluff’ though, the storyline is advanced only through the main quests. You might find yourself wondering why you even bother with these extra activities. Additionally, exploring the city itself will only reveal “unlockables”. You might think these “unlockables” would be something really cool or change the game around, but they aren’t. The unlockables are basically design sketches and rough drafts that depict the game’s characters and panels. Hardly exciting enough to justify spending much time exploring. Honestly, the only thing that you should remember as a player when you think about the extra activities is that the more races you complete the faster your swing speed will become.