» Spider-Man 3 (PC)


One hundred seventeen million dollars… I don’t care what you anyone says, that’s a lot of money, especially in a single day. Can you imagine getting paid 1354 bucks a second for twenty-four hours? I know I can’t, but some lucky bastard did, proving that Spider-Man 3 was a phenomenal success at the movies. Obviously, if somebody has a good thing going, everyone will want to try and cash in however they can, ranging from toys to video games. And it’s that latter product that concerns Gaming Heaven most. For the large majority of gamers, the creation of games based on movies is usually a bad thing, given that they rarely turn out good. Remember that abomination called Enter the Matrix? Well, Activision thinks it can avoid such a blunder with a digital version of Spider-Man 3, which has already been released on every platform imaginable, from PC to Xbox 360. To me, this was already a bad sign but I kept my spirits high, remembering that Treyarch was the developer handled with this mammoth task.

Spidey Power
I don’t think there are many people on this planet who haven’t heard about Peter Parker and his troubled life as a superhero but then again, I’ve been wrong before so I’ll give a brief overview of what Spider-Man is all about. The main character, Peter Parker, is a science whiz kid, living in the suburbs of New York and enjoying a normal life until one day; he gets bitten by radioactive spider during a science demonstration. As a result, Spider-Man is born, allowing Peter Parker to stick to walls, shoot webs and have incredible strength. But unlike many comic book heroes, Spidey isn’t actually loved at all by the city of New York and instead is considered a nuisance (at least, that’s how it originally was), even though he only uses his powers to help.

The main story of the game, as you can surely guess, follows the same plot as the movie, but Treyarch knew this wouldn’t be enough and thankfully, gave many parallel side missions with famous villains from the comic books too, keeping the spider within all of us contempt. Overall, that’s forty-two different missions, without counting the extra challenges like skydiving and such spread out throughout the city. But will you actually want to finish these numerous missions? Well, the answer might surprise you…

With great power comes… horrible frames
Now while my PC isn’t a supercomputer by any means, I do consider it pretty decent, given that I have an overclocked Core 2 Duo E4300, 2 GB of system memory and a 7900 GT under the hood. But even this just barely makes the minimum system requirements, which in my opinion is just unforgivable. The graphics card must have at least 256 MB of RAM and be Shader Model 3.0 complaint, the CPU at least a 2.8 GHz Pentium IV (or AMD equivalent) and the system needs to have at least 1024 MB system memory on XP (and a whopping 1536 MB on Vista). If your jaw is hanging in shock from these numbers, don’t worry, you aren’t alone because I was as dumbfounded as you are.

But the worst is that even though my system is technically good enough for Spider-Man 3, once booted, boy oh boy was I in for a shock. With a measly resolution of 1024x768 and most of the graphical settings set on minimum, my frames were pathetically low, barely breaking the teens. In fact, the only way to make the game playable was by turning down everything, including the resolution to the lowest settings possible. But now, the game looked worse than the first Spider-Man game on PS2, so what’s the point? Oh, and I almost forgot, the game stutters like mad! I have no clue why but the textures and geometry aren’t streamed efficiently, resulting in a lot of stop and go, which as many can imagine, got on my nerves real fast. My fear of major cross-platforming wasn’t unfounded after all, seeing as the result is the worst PC port in existence.

Graphically unimpressive
Since a real supercomputer is required to run this game smoothly, I was expecting the graphics to be decent with everything set on maximum but sadly, this wasn’t the case at all. New York looks dull somehow, even though all of it has been painstakingly recreated and tons of lighting effects have been implemented. Maybe it’s because of the way the Big Apple feels empty and benign, seeing as all the citizens walking around look the same and that the stream of cars never seem to be moving, always stuck at traffic lights. It just feels hollow, which is never a good thing, given that a game is supposed to immerse you into a world, not make you feel numb. In addition, the buildings you’ll explore throughout New York usually look terrible, with blocky architecture and repetitive textures, again ruining most of the immersion factor.

Thankfully, all is not lost, especially when concerning Spidey’s character model and animations, which look superb. One can tell that a lot of time was invested in making the web-slinger look as realistic as possible, but regrettably, the same wasn’t done for most of the other characters throughout the game. While they don’t look bad per say, they are missing that same level of polish. Even though the game has some technically impressive effects such as volumetric fog, dynamic shadowing and such, I was far from impressed, particularly on the PC version of the game.

Tobey Maguire & Co.
The first thing you’ll notice about the voice acting in Spider-Man 3 is that all the real actors from the movie have lent their talent to help immerse the player. That means that Bruce Campbell, Tobey Maguire and J.K. Simmons are going to fill your speakers, adding a level of credibility rarely seen in a movie game. And add to that an excellent musical score and the aural aspect almost looks like a success, that is, until you suddenly realize that New York is eerily quiet…

Where is the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple? Where are the car horns, the sound of people living their daily lives and gasping in awe as Spider-Man leaps off a twenty-story building, landing right in front of them? Sadly, all of this is non-existent, which is a real bummer because it completely ruins the gamers’ immersion, again.

The worst part of it all…
So the graphics aren’t superb and the audio department, unfortunately, isn’t much better. But who cares as long as the gameplay is decent, right? While in theory this is correct, I’m sure you’ve already guessed that this isn’t the case with Spider-Man 3. On paper, everything looked great because the player has total freedom over his actions, choosing what missions he wants to play and in what order he’d like to complete them. Add to that a vast amount of combat skills and combos and one couldn’t help but be excited by what Treyarch had promised… if you owned a controller. Truth be told, most PC users will use a keyboard and mouse and that will render the game totally unplayable. It just feels so boring and cumbersome that I won’t be surprised if many people uninstall the game within their first few minutes of playtime, that’s how tedious and frustrating it was.

But let’s say you’re lucky enough to own a controller, does the game get any better? My answer is a definitive yes, but with a couple of slight reservations. I used Microsoft’s Xbox 360 controller and was pleased to see that all the buttons were correctly mapped out without me having to do anything at all, which is good because I’m really lazy. Immediately, controlling Spider-Man feels less unwieldy, especially since controlling the rather abysmal camera is easily done with the second analog stick. However, for some strange reason, Treyarch’s game wasn’t always sure whether I was playing with a controller or the keyboard and mouse. Confused? Let me explain. There are certain segments of the game that, like in Resident Evil 4 or Tomb Raider Legend, require you to input specific moves when they quickly flash on-screen. So for example, as you run down a corridor, a special sequence will start, telling you to press the A button, which you do. The following two buttons are the B and A buttons, which you can easily do because you know exactly which buttons there are on your Xbox 360 controller. Then, for the fun of it, suddenly the game tells you to input the middle mouse button on your controller, which of course, doesn’t exist and results in Spidey dying. And as if this frustrating death isn’t enough, suddenly the correct Xbox button will display on-screen, as if the game is mocking you which I didn’t find very funny at all to be honest.

But even worse than the messed up controller and keyboard commands is that fact that Spidey 3 isn’t that enjoyable, seeing as swinging is too awkward and the combat summarizes itself as mindless button-mashing (or key-mashing if you use a keyboard). Add to that some very repetitive missions (either kill lots of baddies and free the hostages or disarm bombs) and you’ll quickly tire of Spider-Man 3, even if you’re a hardcore fan of the franchise. Sadly, Spidey falls flat on his face with this one.

I really wanted to like this game because I’m a fan of Spider-Man, but with this latest incarnation on PC, I can’t help but be greatly disappointed. Nothing stood out, which is quite rare because even the worst of games at least get graphics or the something else right, but not so with Spider-Man 3. Even for the most ardent fans out there, I cannot recommend this game. There are far too many problems to warrant a purchase, at least on the PC platform. However, if you’re lucky enough to own a PS3 and Xbox 360, then Activision’s game might be worth considering but for the PC, flee this game like the plague.

Swinging around town is great for the first few minutes, but very quickly the tedium of the game sets in.
Even if you own a NASA supercomputer, you’ll still find the game lacking graphically.
Famous actors are a big plus. Almost no ambient sound effects are a big minus.
42 missions and tons of extra challenges mean there is plenty to do, if you can live with the broken gameplay.
I love Spidey and am a big fan of third person action games, but none of the magic of the movie or comic books makes its way into this title.
(not an average)
Buggy, unpolished and boring aren’t the adjectives you hope to hear about a game. Sadly, these are the only ones that fit Spider-Man 3 on PC.

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