Spider-man: Friend or Foe

Seems people just can’t get enough of the two-legged arachnid at the moment. In conjunction with the release of Spiderman 3 on DVD, a new video game has emerged from Activision’s pantry in the form of Spiderman: Friend or Foe. Despite the timing, this title is about as far removed from the movie franchise as you could imagine and instead delves deep into its comic-book roots.

Friend or Foe is stylish and slick in the graphics department. The characters are represented in an almost Manga-esque fashion so you can expect huge eyes and disproportioned heads. But the overall cartoonish effect works well once you get used to the fact that the Green Goblin looks like Halo’s Master Chief on acid - and that Venom’s mouth takes up pretty much the whole screen.

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Fans of Spiderman will be glad to hear that there is a huge cast in Friend or Foe. Apart from your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman, the game features Black Cat, Doc Ock, Nick Fury, Rhino and many more. It even includes individuals such as Iron Fist and that Vampire-slaying chap named Blade who many will already know. But the real plus is that you get to control these villains and use them to help Spidey in his quest.

Story-wise I got lost a little bit. It seems that the asteroid that crash-landed on Earth in the third movie carrying that little black symbiote Venom has fallen into the wrong hands. An evil mastermind has discovered that the alien rock has attributes of its own and has started using it to control some of the greatest Super-Villains of all time. Just to rack up the body count, the evil mastermind seems to also have an endless of army of holographic soliders as well. They are somehow connected to the asteroid but I must have been trying to find a corn-chip down the side of my sofa at the time they explained it.

Truth be told though, the storyline is really just a gloss for what is essentially seven hours of beating things up. Each level consists of a mixture of jumping platforms, web-slinging and button mashing fighting until you meet a boss at the end. After you manage to defeat them you free them of their mind-controlled ways and they team up with you to seek revenge on the evil genius puppet-master. It may seem repetitive and in a lot of ways it is. But luckily the game takes place all over the globe so you can expect some serious scenery changes. You’ll be webbing up exotic locales such as Tokyo and Transylvania in the blink of an eye. Plus the ever-growing roster of characters helps save the deja-vu sensation of the gameplay as well.

Personally it sounded like a recipe for one of the coolest games imaginable. You as Spidey teaming up with the likes of Venom and Silver Sable to wreck havoc in Nepal! But the controls and lack of variation tend to bring the game down a notch or two. When you are playing as Spiderman, the AI will take control of your team-mate villain and vice-versa at any point in the gameplay. Luckily the AI is good and you can expect plenty of backup without your buddy falling off ledges every two minutes. But you’ll find that playing as a villain (or any character other than Spidey) seems to be limited due to the lack of different moves they possess. I agree that Spiderman is the main character but he must have nearly twice the number of combos and attacks than the others. To have added a few more for each would have made a huge difference and offered more replay value. Unfortunately this even affects the multiplayer modes as whoever isn’t Spidey will find themselves doing the same things over and over while their red and blue clad team-mate rips some mad-sh*t up all over the screen.

Control wise the game is fairly simple, even for a Wii game. Many will be glad to hear that the main controls are via the nun-chuck control stick and basic buttons. The motion controls are used for the fancy secondary movements such as throwing and web-slinging.

For example you may grab an enemy by holding down the B button and then physically “fling” your foe across the room with the flick of your nun-chuck controller. The end result is pretty satisfying but I think I might prefer to play this game without the spastic actions. The animations in the game make your combos and aerial attacks look brilliant though despite how stupid you look in your living-room. Plus there is a huge array of team attacks depending on which characters are present on the screen to use as well.

The cartoonish visuals aside, it is fairly obvious that this game has been partly developed for a younger audience of web-heads. Friend or Foe is pretty short-winded in terms of gameplay length and it seems almost impossible to lose. If you happen to run out of health by either getting pummeled by baddies or happen to slip off a ledge you simply lose a few tokens (which are used to purchase upgrades). After completing the game in around five and a bit hours there didn’t appear to be any lives as such. But to be honest I found it a refreshing change of pace. To be able to play the game whilst on the phone and cutting my toe-nails at the same-time was far removed from my sleep-deprived obsessive Halo 3 evenings trying to get past a mother funking check-point!

Spiderman: Friend or Foe is fun - but only in a short burst. Heaps of playable characters, some witty dialogue and great voice acting will make this game a definite rental for Spidey fans. However, the lack of depth in some of the content and the fact that the game is so easy your arthritic grandparent could finish it may stop some from buying it. Probably best suited to families with kids as the multiplayer modes (both versus and a team-building friendly co-operative mode) will offer a lot more enjoyment.

Those with an unhealthy fetish for that sexy minx Black Cat (myself included) might want to grab this game too - even if she does look like a twelve-year-old girl with white-hair in this version.

"You won’t believe who’s on your side this time around."
- Spider-Man: Friend or Foe
Follow Own it? Rating: G   Difficulty: Easy   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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