Saturday, September 19, 2009

Spider-man: Friend or Foe (360) Review

We just got finished talking about some of the overlooked games in the 360's catalog. We're going to save a retro review til tomorrow as today we're going to look at one of the many games in the 360's library. This game, too, was overlooked, but perhaps for the better. It's Spider-man: Friend or Foe.

Friend or foe? More like Play or No?

Activision appears to not be phased by how Spider-man 3 was torn to shreds by reviewers. Critical success aside, the Spider-man franchise still sells, and that's the rationale that the series has turned into unfortunately. With that notion in mind, Spider-man swings onto multiple platforms with his latest video game installment, Spider-man: Friend or Foe. This title was developed by Next Level Games. You might know them as the development house behind the superb Mario Strikers series. ...Maybe they should stick to soccer.

Ah... it's a lovely night for a battle.

Everyone's favorite webhead, Spider-man, is swinging nonchalantly through the city streets of New York City when he's suddenly attacked by not one-- not two-- not three-- but for supervillains all in succession in the forms of Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Venom, and the Sandman. He's saved by the New Goblin, but the victory is cut short as a horde of symbiote invaders known as the Phantoms surround Spidey and friends (er... foes). One by one Spidey's enemies vanish, and the webhead himself is transported aboard a flying citadel owned by none other than Nick Fury. To make a long story short, these Phantoms have the highest activity where five meteor shards fell. It's up to Spidey to go to these locations around the world, exterminate the Phantom menace, and destroy the meteor shards.

Spider-man: Friend or Foe is essentially a beat-em-up at its most basic. You beat down a bunch of Phantoms? Great. Now the door blocking your progress is open. Move on. Then beat down a bunch of Phantoms all over again to open another door. Oops. Spoke too soon. Now you can step on a switch to activate yet another bridge to cross. Don't worry about falling either-- there's invisible walls all over the place. Sure, you can still jump to your death, but you won't be walking off accidentally. This game is full of repetition, and unfortunately for Friend or Foe, most won't be having fun while doing it.

Spidey himself has three different web abilities-- web line, web shoot, and web stun. Web line grabs an enemy with his web to chuck elsewhere. Web shoot is like a web gun that shoots web bullets only without the gun. Finally, web stun can freeze foes in their tracks just enough to get a few hits in on a paralyzed enemy. Then there's also several crates, rocks, whatever, to chuck at enemies.

Take that, evil-doer!

Spidey isn't alone in his struggle, and as the name suggests you'll team up with many friends as well as foes along the way. You can either go it alone in one player and have the CPU be your partner, or you can choose to play cooperatively with a friend. Unfortunately, there is no Xbox Live capability with this game which is a letdown initially, but the game really isn't that interesting to warrant such a function. At anytime you can hold the Y button to switch between playing as Spidey and his partner of which there are fifteen ranging from Venom to the Scorpion. Teamwork will serve you well, but you can always take out your opposition alone. There's a special team-up move that you can perform by pressing up on the control pad. This move will eliminate all Phantoms on the screen in one blow. It's cool seeing how Spidey and whatever partner you have with you team up in one of fifteen different team-up animations. You'll receive new allies as you progress through the main mode. Some will join your side without a fight, but others will need some "friendly" persuasion. This is where the coolest part of the game-- the boss battles-- come in, but even then they really aren't anything to write home about unless you're doing your own review of this game... The boss battles aren't anything "wow" worthy as you'll often ask yourself why Green Goblin keeps giving you pumpkins which can be used against him. These battles are quite easy anyway as you have not but the life of Spidey to use but that of your partner as well.

I don't even want to know what he does
with all those arms when we're not looking.

The game's lack of difficulty doesn't end there either. It doesn't help that the enemy AI is pretty much brain-dead. You can easily run circles around them without much gaming experience. Also, there's NO way to get a game over. There's no credits, amount of lives-- nothing. You can keep dying as much as you want, and you'll just be transported to the place you lost your life with a loss of some of your points. That's all. Points can be spent on character upgrades such as more strength, health, or even new moves.

Littered throughout the levels (there's five worlds each with four levels) are special data helices. These unlock new content in the rewards menu, but considering that the levels are so incredibly linear and that the game practically tells you when there's a hidden room to explore, they're easily found. There's also secret rooms which unlock maps to battle a friend on in Versus Mode. However, this mode will probably be something only to keep kids with ADD busy, and few others.

"Game" and "hard" are not two words
that go together when discussing this game.

Spider-man: Friend or Foe isn't looking too good on the presentation-side. Sure, the voice work is good, and Spidey himself is voiced by Tidus and Ratchet, but his lines repeat so often that you'll be muting the television within hours. Yeah... "Spider-man, your bad guys are ready." Shut up. Graphically, this game does not pass as a 360 game. It could honestly run without problem on the original Xbox. The models are full of jaggies, and the levels are dull and lifeless. The cartoony art style was done much better on the excellent Ultimate Spider-man video game. Why does Friend or Foe look worse than a game from 2005 on a last-gen console?

Overall, Spider-man: Friend or Foe isn't a very intriguing game. If you're a parent looking for a family-friendly 360 game that isn't too challenging, you should at least give it a try. However, for the rest of us, there's so many better games, and so many better Spider-man titles from the past to play other than this one. You won't make any friends giving this game as a gift to an older Spider-man fan-- only foes.

[SuperPhillip Says: 4.75/10]

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