He's Behind You!
Spider-man games on the home consoles once set the mark for how a good Super-hero video game should play. Now Spider-man appears for the first time on iPhone, but can Gameloft manage to pull off the same trick?
It’s certainly been a long wait for a Spider-man game on the iPhone considering how popular the character is, but from the movie-like intro video to the first cut scene it’s obvious that a lot of work has gone into this game. The story starts with our webbed wonder facing another normal day of crime-fighting but soon evolves into a huge event which encompasses many of the top Spidey villains and supporting characters like Venom, Sandman, Green Goblin and SHIELD.
Voice acting is, for once, something to talk about. They’ve got Spidey’s voice just right and the other characters sound just as you’d expect. Normally iPhone games get no speech at all or something that often feels pretty amateur but with Ultimate Spider-man you could be forgiven for thinking that you’re listening to the cartoon.
Graphically, Gameloft are no stranger to 3D games but this has to be their best effort yet. Feeling a little like their recent Hero of Sparta II , Spider-Man’s visuals are some of the best we’ve seen. Seeing this running on an iPhone 4’s Retina screen is even more impressive. There are hardly ever any slowdowns or screen-tearing during gameplay on a 3GS and the way that the cut scenes fluidly fade into gameplay shows what can be done when enough time and effort is put into a game.
But, as my uncle Ben used to say, with great graphics comes a great responsibility for a game to be playable. I’m pleased to say that Ultimate Spider-man triumphs here too. The combat is simple but effective; punching an enemy sends you into a series of flying fist combos, web lets you swing the enemy round or, if you’re in the air, jump towards them and release a kicking combo followed by a series of bullet style web bursts. Press Jump twice and you can swing on any nearby points marked in green, though this is mostly to get across gaps in specific areas.
There are 2 extra methods for knocking out the bad guys. An avoid/counter attack button appears when enemies go for an attack, pressing this slows down the action and Spider-Man will automatically avoid their blows, allowing you to counter-attack. Finally, a bar at the top slowly fills automatically and glows when it’s full. Once pressed, this lets you pull off a special attack which does a lot of damage to those around you. The bar is used up by web attacks and counter attacks though, which adds some strategic thinking to the mix, but after a while it’s obvious that counter attacking and web attacks are far more useful in most situations.
While the action can get a little repetitive at times (something you could say about pretty much any action brawler) it never feels old and with a great range of enemies, exciting sub-games and some impressive boss battles there is always something new to look forward to. It never gets too frustrating either. Early on there’s a difficult boss battle, for instance, which may take you several attempts, but a bit of strategy and finding the right technique makes you feel like you’ve earned the win.
Once you’ve finished the main story mode, which should take you a while, you can go back and replay any level, trying to pick up all the artwork dotted around the game worlds and improving your score to get a better trophy. For gamers interested in collecting there are plenty of opportunities here and Spidey-fans will delight in some of the great art which you can view from the Extras menu.
Ultimate Spider-Man: Total Mayhem ticks all the boxes then binds them together in a big web of gaming goodness. If you’re a Spider-man fan or are just looking for a great iPhone action adventure then pick this up now.
- Sound: 9
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 8
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