April 2, 2007 - The reaction to Activision and Treyarch's Spider-Man 3 game trailer has been less than stellar. "It's Spider-Man 2 with better graphics," fanboys have screamed across the Internet, but after a day in the Activision offices and some hands-on time with the wall crawler, I can tell you, folks are selling this game short.
"You can see that we've really redone the city from the ground up," said Will Townsend, associate producer on Spider-Man 3 as he maneuvered Spider-Man around New York -- a New York that's 2.5 times bigger than it was Spider-Man 2. "It's been his office before, but now, it's his playground."
Grab your tights, everything you loved about Spider-Man 2 is back; sandbox gameplay, Bruce Campbell's biting wit, secret tokens, villains, the Daily Bugle... and the stuff you hated about Spider-Man 2 is gone.
"The repetition was something that we were criticized for in the past," Townsend said.
Lame-ass balloon-catching missions and a handful of other constantly repeating tasks? Gone. Spider-Man 3 is going to boast at least 21 city objectives that'll pop up as Spidey makes his way from point A to point B.
One main storyline running throughout the title? Nah, Activision is pouring ten threads (nine not from the movie) into the game and drawing in comic book rogues such as the Scorpion, the Lizard and a couple of other big names that I can't mention yet.
Incredibly generic citizens who wander the streets at all hours of the day and don't react to the epic battles that are being waged before them? They've been replaced. The amount of traffic and sidewalk-stomping New Yorkers will be dependent on the time of day, and if Spider-Man has to take the battle to the streets, expect the crowds to react.
Oh, and yeah, the graphics are better.
"He's awesome-looking," Townsend said with a grin as the Scorpion appeared on screen for the first time. "The villain has 40 bones in his tail alone."
The first thing worshipers at the Church of Parker will notice when they leap into the sky and whip a web is the ramped-up slinging animation. The web comes out with a fluid arc, slams into a wall and goes taut as Spider-Man puts his weight on it. It doesn't sound like much, but in comparison to the straight webs our hero's been throwing for years it's pretty impressive -- just like the new wall crawling Activision's added. Remember how particular Tobey Maguire is when he scaling walls in the movies-- y'know, he gets close the surface and uses his fingertips to stick as he moves? It's in here.
Of course, the biggest addition to this software is the symbiote: the black suit that Spidey rocks in the movie and the one that goes on to bond with Eddie Brock and create Venom (spoiler!). Townsend said the game's about 60 percent red PJs and 40 percent black attire; but it's not just about looks. When Spidey and the symbiote get together Peter swings faster, runs quicker, deals out more powerful attacks and gets access to a rage meter that can be uncorked to unleash super-powered attacks such as "Ultimate Puppet Master" -- Spider-Man jumps into the sky, webs up all the enemies below him, yanks the group into the air and then slams the gathering into the asphalt.
"Everything with black suit is a little bit stronger," Townsend said. "He's still Peter Parker. He's just more of a jerk-face."