Ultimate Spider-Man PS2 Review

Spider-Man 2 was a step (or should that be swing) forward for not only Spider-Man, but also superhero games in general. It was the first time that authentic web swinging had ever been featured in a Spidey game, meaning as you swung through the city your web actually attached to buildings rather than the sky. Though it may sound fairly trivial, this added much to the experience and made for a far more satisfying Spider-Man game.

Unsurprisingly Activision’s latest effort: Ultimate Spider-Man sees the return of this web swinging mechanic, albeit a more simplistic version, which oddly enough only allows you to shoot one line of web out at a time rather than the two in the previous game, this in turn results in a more limited system. It’s surprising that the developer didn’t do a repeat of Spider-Man 2 and offer you two types of web swinging, the standard version and the easier version. The web does still stick to buildings though, which is enough for us; yes we’re easily pleased!

An addition that is sure to please the fervent fans is the chance to play as the popular bad guy: Venom. With his gargantuan Hulk like leaps and brute strength, Venom is perfectly suited as a playable character and is an absolute joy to be in control of. Generally his missions are more explosive and brutal than his heroic counterpart, making for two slightly different play styles and at the same time appeasing the many Spider-Man 2 players who were apparently seeking more destruction.

The game follows the comics of the same name, which themselves are like a reimagining of the Spider-Man mythos and feature a teenage Peter Parker. The narrative is not only more exciting than any previous Spider-Man games but also looks the part, with comic book like panels that along with the stunningly pretty ink-shading (which is a form of cel-shading with a fancy name) grants it substantial style.

Sadly the story missions don’t offer much in the way of variety, so by and large you’ll be involved in lengthy, often exciting chases with bosses, who you’ll eventually come to duke it out with, along the way, you do on occasion encounter civilians in strife, who being the veritable hero that you are you must rescue from a deathly fate. However, somewhat unfortunately this is about as diverse as proceedings get.

In between missions you can and are often required to explore the sizeable city to discover hidden items and missions, though with few different objectives, this too can begin to feel a bit samey over time.

Other than this, the chase missions can, until you memorise the routes of your opponents be infuriating and the otherwise beautiful visuals are hampered by a poor draw distance and rare but horrendous framerate problems, both of which were much more impressive in the previous game.

The combat is disappointedly limited too as there are much fewer moves on offer than what there was in the previous game, this is simply inexcusable. Other than allowing you to use additional hits in your combos from certain points, Spidey is largely the same at the end of the game as what he is at the very beginning. Fighting is still fun, but it’s the boss battles that are the real saving grace as they happen to be some of the most memorable moments in the entire game.

Ultimate Spider-Man could have been so much better, but despite its problems it’s still quite possibly the finest Spider-Man game we’ve ever played, however we hope that the developers sort out the problems and craft something that better defines ultimate next time.