Scene, Sunday, May 20, 2007

Genetic mutations can be a real pain.

First you get some cool spider powers, but then some weird alien gunk messes everything up.

Activision’s “Spider-Man 3” follows the basic storyline of the new movie starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. The web-slinger must content with new villains Sandman and Venom. He must also deal with complications that arise after an encounter with alien gunk provides him with a new black costume. Donning the black suit gives Spidey extra power and endurances, but it also starts affecting his behavior in unpleasant ways.

The T-rated game is available on most gaming systems, but I tested it on Nintendo’s Wii, giving the motion-sensitive controls a workout. These proved fun and effective, especially when slinging webs with a satisfying flick on the wrist. Although the attacks are pretty simple at first — punching, kicking, shooting web blobs — they become more complex and interesting with upgrades.

The missions unfold in a massive reproduction of New York City’s concrete canyons. Spidey can roam freely, crawling up the sides of buildings and swinging from skyscrapers. Graphics for the Wii aren’t spectacular, but they are good enough to make the experience of two-fisted web-swinging quite enjoyable.

The expansive re-creation of the city is key to taking the action beyond the scope of the movie. In fact, completing the main storyline leaves half the potential missions unfinished. The city is besieged by rival gangs whose misdeeds generate plenty of extra missions, usually along the lines of rescuing hostages, dealing with bombs, saving children and beating up hoodlums. Completing each of these tasks wins turf back from the criminal element. Spider-Man’s goal is to wipe the gangs from the city map one section at a time.

In the Wii version of the game, as well as that for the PlayStation 2, players can also tangle with a number of genetically altered baddies, including the vampire Morbius and Shriek.

The original actors provided the voices for the characters. They’re OK, but the real highlight is the snarky commentary by Bruce Campbell. Aside from that, the comments and taunts quickly get repetitive.

Overall, “Spider-Man 3” doesn’t break any new ground, but it does deliver fun.

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