Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: Action Games
Developer - Vicarious Visions
Publisher - Activision
Wiimote and Nunchuck Compatible
Having already had the chance to review the PS3 version of Spider-Man 3, I was very interested to see how the game would be developed for Nintendo's Wii. To control Spidey with the wiimote and nunchuk really had me interested as the innovation might really make this a game worth playing. Well I have finally had some time to sit down and get some serious playtime in with the Wii version and although the Wii specific ability to web-sling was quite well done, there are other areas that really hamper this game from becoming the gem that it could have been.
As I played through the Wii version I could not help but be quite disappointed in the visuals of this game. Now there is no doubt that the Wii does not have the graphics horsepower that the PS3 or 360 has, but the machine is no slouch. However this game does not do anything that really shows the Wii can provide quality visuals when programming right. Bottomline this game is not pretty.
New York City is quite large; there is no denying that, however the visual representation of such is quite poor. The streets are very deserted, the textures used are quite muddy and the rest of the environments (e.g. trees, grass, sky, etc.) do not have any next-generation quality to them. Something that really caught me off guard was how textures would just disappear right in front of me. It was really evident as I was high up in the city, the buildings would all of a sudden just look like nondescript shapes as they lost all their textures, therefore losing all their definition. Trust me, once you see this in motion you will wonder what the heck happened to this game. I attribute part of the texture management to maintaining a solid framerate but the framerate itself really slowed down often during the game, which in itself is a whole other issue. Clipping and collision detection also reared its ugly head many times. I was somewhat stunned how punches would not seem to connect or how people would go through what was supposed to be a solid wall.
As for the character models, Spidey is quite well drawn and as the way with the PS3 review, I really appreciated watching Spidey move about, especially in the black suit. As for the rest of the character models, they are somewhat standard. And I discovered that at times they even seemed, for the lack of a better word, unfinished as part of their model was missing (e.g. face) or that they looked to be holding something but that something was not there.
Overall the visuals seemed incomplete in many ways. People may attribute this to the development cycle of the game and having to be released when the big screen movie was released. Other people may put blame on the power of the Wii. Whatever the reason though I just did not enjoy the visuals and hope that any future Spider-Man games on the Wii don't follow suit.
Unlike the graphics, the audio was better, however it was quite a mixed bag overall. As would be expected, most of the actors from the movie lent their voice talent to the game (sans Kirsten Dunst). This adds a little more authenticity to the game. Where the voice acting falters though is in other characters. Enemies seem to repeat the same saying over and over again and I got quite tired of hearing the same thing. Secondly, a lot of the voice acting overall, including the majority of the enemies, just seemed flat. Finally, any NPC's that you deal with are also quite boring and just don't add to the overall atmosphere of the game.
As for the rest of the sound effects, they are not bad. From the crunch of a punch, the whack of a kick to the zap of a web, all is relatively well represented. And the music isn't that bad either, as it seems quite appropriate for each level you play. The only thing bad worth noting about the music is that it would cut out now and then for no reason at all.
I noted a distinct difference in the storyline of the PS3 and Wii version that I had the chance to play. The game does tie-in to the big screen blockbuster but there are also new storyline bits that are thrown in for good measure. The game mixes the modern day film version with some old classic bits from the past, such as Kraven and Lizard. But as I found with the PS3 version, the storylines don't seem to mix too well. This was so evident that if you are looking for a deep story telling experience the varying stories actually convolute the whole attempt and you cannot really gain any attachment to the characters and what is unfolding in front of you. This is too bad as the movie it tries to tie in manages to tell about four different stories and does so quite well.
As I noted in my introduction, I was very interested to see how Spider-Man's controls would be adapted to the Wii's control scheme. I would have to say that on the most part I very much enjoyed what they did with the controls as they are very specific to the wiimote and the nunchuk. You hold the Z button down and flick forward to send a web shooting from Spidey's left hand while you hold the B trigger and flick the wiimote to send a web from Spidey's right hand. You can also control Spidey in mid-flight by flicking either controller in a one direction and he will turn sharply in that direction. As you venture through the game, and you learn to master deeper controls, you will have Spidey making aerobatic moves with ease. I found that my time with the wiimote and nunchuk had a slight learning curve but once I learned how to move about I really enjoyed web-slinging through the city using these new found controls.
As with the PS3 version, there are various side missions that one can do in the game. And again, just as similar, you are not forced to do the side missions in order to progress through the whole game. Should you decide to just barrel through the main story you are looking at about an 8-10 hour gaming experience. However, should you tackle the side missions that are offered you will most likely double that gaming time. Overall, all the missions are fun for awhile, but as you progress through they become some repetitive. There is only so many times that I want thwart a kidnapping or stop a bomb from going off.
The battle system in the Wii version has been somewhat changed when considering the experience I had when playing the PS3 version. The famed web-slinger starts out the game with basic fighting abilities. As various missions are completed Spidey earns experience points that are used to upgrade his skills that will improve his repertoire of fighting moves. As you gain more experience, and apply it to getting better moves, you will be able to do such things as use web lassos and pull off bigger combos. However, I must warn you that you can only earn points and upgrade your skills while you fight in Spidey's regular red suit.
This brings me to another interesting point, the use of the Spider-Man's black suit. Unlike the PS3 version of this game, you acquire the suit early on and it can be used anytime after you get it. All it takes is a simple press of the D-Pad to the left and you switch suits. This suit enhances many qualities of good old Spidey including making him quicker, stronger and more agile. Although the use of the black suit sounds somewhat advantageous there are some drawbacks. The first is that you cannot gain experience points to level up regular Spidey as the black suit already has enhanced powers thus you are not rewarded for using it. Second, you can only wear this suit for a short period as the symbiote tries to take over your body. As this happens your screen starts to go black and you have to play a mini-game that is wiimote and nunchuk centric to take the suit off. Should you fail you pass out and you will start over from your last check point. Overall the leveling up aspect and the dichotomy of choosing red over black in terms of suits makes for a more interesting spin and adds to the playability of the Wii version of the game.
Despite the positive, and new, aspects of leveling Spidey up and using the black suit at any given time, there are some glaring faults that really hamper this game. The first is the camera. My PS3 review of Spider-Man 3 discusses camera issues. However, where the problem is somewhat compounded in the Wii version is how you adjust it. To do so you use the tilt function in the nunchuk. You have to hold the C button down and tilt the nunchuk left or right. I found that I was mixing up camera adjustment and moves all the time and the camera itself was just not quick enough to adjust. The second major issue is the combat using the wiimote. To throw punches you shake left and right in sequence. What I found was that the responsiveness was quite slow and that after making so many gestures the on-screen action was quite behind if not responsive at all. These two areas are quite important given how much time you spend in battle. It made for my combat experience to become really tiresome as I went deeper into the game, and even though there are some great new additions to the gameplay, these two glaring issues really negated the fun factor for me.
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