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Spider-Man: Friend or Foe

 

Spider-Man: Friend or Foe

ESRB: Everyone 10+
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action Games
 
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Developer - Next Level Games
Publisher - Activision

Features:

Number of Players: 1-2
Co-op: 2
124 KB to Save Game
HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p

I first heard about Spider-Man: Friend or Foe back when Spider-Man 3 was released for the Xbox 360. There was a promotional page located on the back of the game which indicated Spider-Man: Friend or Foe would be a new twist to the legend. It was a teaser of sorts and I recall thinking to myself, "is this supposed to be another sequel and why are they doing another Spidey game so soon?" Well the suspense is over and Spider-Man: Friend or Foe is not a sequel to the Spider-Man 3 game, but rather it is a unique take on the franchise. Inspired by the Spider-Man movies and comic books; Spider-Man: Friend or Foe gives us a humorous twist to some of those big-screen moments and battles we have witnessed over the years. Developed for the Nintendo DS, PC, PS2, PSP, Xbox 360, and Wii (I am reviewing the Xbox 360 version); Spider-Man: Friend or Foe arrives with no big-screen movie attached to it. Will it be a welcome addition to the Spider-Man franchise or will Spider-Man: Friend or Foe become another in a long line of disappointing Spider-Man video games? Well only time will tell, however I have a hunch this one will be long forgotten by the time 2008 rolls around.

Graphics

As far as the visuals are concerned, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe for the Xbox 360 is solid. Granted you do not get Halo 3 or Gears of War type graphics; however the 'cartoonish' visuals are effective and look pretty slick. The games opening movie cut-scene is also very good and manages to captivate you from the beginning as you witness all your favourite Spidey villains right from the get go. The following visuals really stood out for me:

- Character models are rendered quite nicely as they are all easily recognizable;
- The movie cut-scenes are effectively presented and captivating; and
- The environments are decent and the lighting is not an issue.

The detail of the characters is very good and virtually identical to the popular Spider-Man cartoon movie some of you may have seen. All of Spidey's foes, who you can also use as your sidekick in the game, also look pretty impressive. Such enemies as Dr. Octopus, Venom, and Green Goblin are duplicates of their cartoon counterparts. My four year old daughter was easily able to recognize all the villains and loved the fact she could use them in the game to fight baddies.

Spider-Man: Friend or Foe for the Xbox 360 also features large environments featured with vibrant colour schemes and lots of breakable items. You truly get the sense you are in a comic book type environment and the developers did a decent job creating the right atmosphere. It can get repetitive at times but this concern is more of an issue with gameplay as opposed to the visuals.

My only other concern with the graphics would be the enemies themselves. Throughout the game you fight these robotic type creatures called phantoms and they vary in each locale you travel too. For instance the Phantoms in Japan look a little differently than the ones in Egypt. However, they all generally look and act the same with the exception that some are bigger than others. It can get repetitive and frankly boring after awhile. If you have to go back into a level to collect a something you missed earlier, it can become really monotonous. A little more variety in the enemy models would have been nice to say the least.

Sound

As with the visuals, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe for the Xbox 360 features audio which is fairly strong. Cranked up in 5.1 surround sound; Spider-Man: Friend or Foe delivers and effectively adds to the atmosphere. Although the soundtrack does not include any recognizable recording artists, the in-game missions feature music which is suitable for the locale. At the end of the day you won't be humming any of the tunes; however while playing the game I did notice the music was effective and suited the environment. I especially liked the fact, the music amps-up as the action becomes more intense, which
is something we typically see in action games. Overall, I am of the belief the music works well and suits the style of the game.

The actual sound effects in the game are also very good. For instance, the sound of slinging a box into an enemy with Spidey's web is very effective and makes a large crashing sound. The battle and fighting sounds are chaotic and this is a good thing. It's always enjoyable listening to the sounds of a spider like creature getting splattered or a phantom enemy getting body-slammed on the ground.

The voice acting is a bit of a mixed bag for me. For one, the voices are very clear and some of the in-game humour is funny, however there are no noticeable or big name voice actors and some of the voice acting can get, in my opinion, down right cheesy. Some of the sexual innuendo is funny and is very PG rated in the sense you won't have to cover your kid's ears like you would in a game such as Gears of War. Overall, the voice acting is good but not great.

Gameplay

Overall, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe for the Xbox 360 is very simple game and it won't take anyone much to complete. I garner that it can be done is in less than 10 hours by any level of gamer. For the more mature gamer like myself, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe is a little too simplistic and really didn't offer up much of a challenge. That being
said, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe may be a perfect fit for a younger audience. My four year old daughter was able to progress through the game with ease. The only exception would be some of the boss fights were a little too frustrating for her. On the other hand, the boss fights for myself were a cakewalk as it was just a matter of following a pattern and chipping away at the enemy until his health bar was depleted.

Keeping with the rather simplistic theme, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe's story revolves around a villain who trying to destroy the world. Playing as Spider-Man, you enlist both 'friends and foes' to fight this threat. While playing the game you control Spider-Man and the game's AI controls your sidekick. Side by side, you take on missions and battle a seemingly endless amount of enemies. The great aspect of the game is another player can join you at any time simply by pressing A on the second controller. I liked the fact I did not have to re-start a level just so my buddy could play with me. You can also switch from using Spider-Man to his sidekick by simply by pressing the 'Y' button. It's a great little feature and certainly breaks up some of the monotony in the game. As you progress through the game you unlock some of Spider-Man's famous villains by simply beating them. There is also some cheat codes available (simply check out our game-boyz cheat code section) where you can unlock Venom and the new Green Goblin right away.

The controls in the game are very simple and are easy to pick-up. Heck, if my four year old daughter can pick up the controls in a matter of moments you won't have a problem. Spider-Man: Friend or Foe consists of simple attacks, straight forward missions, and a simple levelling up scheme. There are essentially two primary ways to destroy an enemy. Melee combos and grapple attacks. It is not sophisticated by any stretch and you can likely get away button mashing on the 'B' button and make it through the entire game. This is likely my biggest complaint. The game has no difficulty settings and as a result, you are stuck with the default difficulty and game is a little too easy for anyone who has played video games for any extended period of time. Another area of concern is the fact there is no way to control the camera to get a better look at the action. It was very frustrating at times, especially when you are hunting for the DNA Helixes throughout each level.

What gives the game some replay value is collecting some of the in-game tokens, DNA Helixes and working away at levelling up Spidey and his sidekicks. Levelling up characters only requires the purchase of new abilities or upgraded characteristics. These purchases are made using tokens that are collected by defeating enemies or destroying objects in the environment. There is a limitless amount of tokens available and each level can be replayed as many times as necessary to level up all characters. My only concern with the levelling up is that it didn't seem to make a difference. I had Spidey maxed out at one point, and he was still destroying enemies the same just as he was when he was not levelled up. I really could not see much of a difference, so really what incentive is there to level up your characters?

There is no online multiplayer component to this game. So as far as replay value is concerned, there is not much there. If you buy the game, you will likely complete the game, get all the 12 Achievements and trade it in. This likely explains why the game is a little cheaper than your typical new release title.


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