After beating the first Spider-Man game, I put Spider-Man back in the PlayStation to enjoy Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro, and unfortunately this is one of those weird times in gaming where the sequel is not as good or better than the original. This may be due to the fact that Neversoft wasn’t in control of this title. Instead, Vicarious Visions took over the development duties, and it shows. While they brought some better ideas and design to the game, they took away what I enjoyed most from the first title. Now I’m either saying this to huge fans of the first game, or to people have may have picked up the first game at my behest. This game is quite different and while it is fun it isn’t a joyous romp through New York with our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. It is a nail biting, non-directional warzone through the city, so buyer beware.
When the story starts out it gives you a nice re-cap of the last game’s story which is a nice touch since comic books always do that, whether in narration or just a long paragraph on the title page. Then it cuts to Electro doing what he does best: stealing. Spider-Man gets there and begins to trail the escape vehicle which is when the Shocker comes in to play. Luckily, Spider-Man uses one of his trusty Spider-Trackers to make sure he knows where Electro is going while he tidies up with Shocker. Through the entire story Spider-Man is always following the stolen cases that Electro keeps amassing. The player discovers that the plan is to put together a Bio-Nexus Device that will amplify Electro’s power exponentially. Lucky for New York he cannot figure out how to complete it, so he must cast one final caper, kidnapping Dr. Watts (get it?) from a science fair. Thankfully our very own Peter Parker is there to foil everyone’s evil intentions.
Vicarious Visions was smart enough to keep the control scheme from the first game, which I was thankful for seeing as I played both titles back to back. Square and Circle are still attack; Triangle is web shooting; and R2 is web swinging. In case you had forgotten all of these Beast is nice enough to show up and remind you in a lengthy tutorial. Just to warn you, this tutorial cannot be skipped so you have to go through remedial controls all over again. Stan Lee is back, which makes me smile once again. You just cannot go wrong with that man narrating a Marvel licensed game.
Since a new developer took over the reins for the sequel there are some noticeable differences, both good and bad. Let us begin with the bad first. What I enjoyed the most about the first title was almost stripped away from the second. Spider-Man is mostly a brawler in the comic books. Yes he thinks of some creative way to capture the Sinister Six, but for the most part he catches them with his fists. In the sequel there is punching, but everything seems to be linked to a timed mission (which I hate) or a chase mission, which just aren’t any fun; they’re even less fun in an old game. This mechanic switch between the sequels really made me lose some of my enjoyment. I hate having to replay a certain area over and over because time runs out or because I lost who I was tailing. The graphics though are much better than its predecessor. Spider-Man actually has the black webbing on his costume this time – hooray for detail! I also like the fact that Vicarious used all the rogues that weren’t in the first game, so there is no rehash with the boss battles, you get a whole new crop of criminals to brain.
I did enjoy this title, but definitely not as much as the first one. Neversoft was just on a roll at the turn of the century and Spider-Man on the PlayStation is proof of that. Vicarious Visions had some large shoes to fill, and they tried vainly. The new mechanics that they tacked onto boss fights and just while wandering around New York are a chore and most of the time make you go back to the checkpoint over and over. If you are a fan of Spider-Man and just want to play one of his games, there are far better out there. However, if you are like me and have a sick obsession of playing and beating them all in order, then by all means grab a copy of this title. Comic book fans will enjoy finally seeing Sandman and Hammerhead digitized for them to pummel with Peter Parker’s fists. So while this may not be the best Spider-Man game out there, Shattered Dimensions probably holds that title, it isn’t one that needs to be snubbed. If you like timed missions on an antiquated system then by all means go for this title!