Spider-Man 2 for PlayStation Portable (PSP) from Activision has a plot loosely based on the Spider-Man 2 movie that was released last summer. You play the part of Spider-Man and have to save the city of New York and Mary Jane Watson from Doctor Octopus, an evil scientist with four mechanical arms. If you have not seen the movie yet, then I recommend it, since it is an enjoyable two hours of action movie entertainment. Spider-Man 2 for PSP will also remind you a lot of last year’s home console and handheld Spider-Man 2 video game releases, but if you have played any of them you may want to avoid this game.
Spider-Man 2 for PSP’s graphics, sound effects and music are good but the controls and gameplay are not the greatest and the storyline seems stale to me. I have to admit that I already played Spider-Man 2 for Xbox, N-Gage, and Nintendo DS over the past year and maybe that is part of the problem. But, Activision seems to be milking the Spider-Man 2 license for all it is worth and creating another game based on the same storyline and concept. This seems kind of cheap to me. After playing the game for only a few minutes I felt a huge sense of déjà vu, plus the PSP version of Spider-Man 2 is nowhere near as good as the home console versions. If you haven’t played any of the Spider-Man 2 games, then I recommend spending your money on one of the home console versions instead of any of the handheld versions if you have a GameCube, PlayStation 2 or Xbox. The home console versions are also more affordable now, since they have been out for a year and you should be able to get a better game for probably half the price of Spider-Man 2 for PSP.
The first thing that you will notice that is missing on the PSP version of Spider-Man 2 compared to the home console versions is the free-roaming environment that lets you swing all around the city of New York fighting crime as you go. Spider-Man 2 for PSP might be in 3D like the home console games, but it has taken a step backwards in the freedom department. Instead of moving around the city freely you will be limited to only certain areas and your web will shoot straight up into the sky attaching itself to clouds, birds or maybe a Goodyear blimp is my guess. The web swinging physics and fun is gone in this version and now that I have had a taste of web swinging in the Xbox version of Spider-Man 2 I don’t want to go back. One of the best parts of the home console versions was climbing to the top of the Empire State Building and dropping off plunging towards the ground and then swinging to safety 50 feet from disaster. All of this fun is gone in this version of the game. Now don’t get me wrong, Spider-Man 2 for PSP isn’t a horrible game, but after playing the Xbox version I expected something similar on the PSP.
Maybe I expected too much and I will admit that Spider-Man 2 for PSP is probably the best portable game based on the Spider-Man 2 movie. The 3D graphics look really good and make the Nintendo DS and especially the N-Gage and Game Boy Advance versions of the game look kind of ugly. The PSP’s graphics also give the home console versions a run for their money. Looking at Spider-Man 2 on PSP isn’t painful from a graphics standpoint. But, (you knew there had to be a “but”) the camera angles leave a lot to be desired. There will be many times where you get turned around and confused because the camera doesn’t follow behind you like you would like. This is especially a problem when you are in close quarters like a ventilation shaft or small room. You will also have a more than expected hard time keeping track of your enemies in the levels where you have to swing through the city after them. There is a camera locking option that is available if you press the left shoulder button which helps, but doesn’t solve the problem. So, expect pretty graphics with some minor jaggies, very high quality cut-scene movies, and a decent frame rate throughout the game, but bad camera angles on a semi-regular basis and somewhat lengthy load-times hurt the overall Spider-Man 2 for PSP experience.
The bad camera angle problem leads me into the controls in the game. They are decent, but there will also be times when you get turned around and pressing up is down and down is up and vice versa. You might be pushing up and then all of a sudden the camera switches and you need to be pushing down to continue going in the same direction. This is a problem, but you will get use to it after a little while. The other problem I had with the controls was during web swinging. After playing the Xbox version of Spider-Man 2 I know what is possible in a Spider-Man game and the PSP version leaves a lot to be desired. I never felt in control of Spider-Man when he was swinging through the air like I did in the Xbox version. The other controlling options for punching, kicking, jumping, and shooting webs work well and you shouldn’t have a problem with them. The last issue I have with the controls is the use of the digital pad to adjust the camera angle. In theory this should work, but when you are trying to fight or swing around it is pretty much impossible to take your hand off the analog stick to adjust the camera angle with the digital pad. I know the developers had no other option since the PSP doesn’t have dual analogs sticks, but the camera adjustment mapped to the digital pad isn’t very helpful.
The Spider-Man soundtrack and sound effects are good and what you would expect in a Spider-Man game based on the movie. Expect to hear orchestra style dramatic music and some rock style music also. All of the music fits well with the game and sounds similar to what your will hear in the Spider-Man 2 movie. The sound effects are also well done and you will hear the sound of punches and kicks making contact with thugs and villains, such as, Mysterio, Rhino, Vulture, and Shocker. You will also hear webbing being shot and sticking to enemies and items and objects breaking as you smash them during fights. The game also has the voices of Tobey McGuire, Alfred Molina, and Kirsten Dunst from the motion picture and they add to the authenticity of the game. The pre-rendered cut-scenes look really good and sound good also, since they have all the actors from the movie doing the voices for their respective characters.
Spider-Man 2 for PSP’s game modes are kind of limited and you should only expect a single-player game option, ability to replay any of the levels you have completed in single-player mode, and a training mode. That is all there is to do and after you beat the 19 story levels and 7 training levels there isn’t much else. You can go back and try to beat your high scores in the levels you have completed or replay the whole game in a different difficulty level (Easy, Normal, Hard), but that is about it. So, the replay value of Spider-Man 2 for PSP is very limited. If it had the free roaming environment like the home consoles then you would probably pop it in just to swing around the city, but without this option there isn’t much else to do after you have beaten the game.
Spider-Man 2 for PSP is the best handheld game based on the Spider-Man 2 movie from last year, but if you own a GameCube, PlayStation 2 or Xbox I recommend getting the Spider-Man 2 game for them instead. The bad camera angles and lack of a free roaming environment really hurt the quality of Spider-Man 2 for PSP. If you have played any of the home console versions of Spider-Man 2 and enjoyed swinging around the city of New York then you will be very disappointed when you play the PSP version and realize you can no longer do that. The voice-acting, sound effects, soundtrack and cut-scenes are good, but they can’t save a game that has taken a step backwards in the gameplay department, has a year old storyline, and has really no replay value after you beat it. I would like to recommend Spider-Man 2 for PlayStation Portable but it is hard, since there is a better Spider-Man 2 game to be played if you have one of the current generation home consoles.
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