These camera troubles hold true with web-swinging too. Navigating the open-plan, free-roaming map of Manhattan is fun and intuitive as long as the camera isn't moved again, and the matter is made at least three times worse by the speed at which Spider-Man moves in the air. The fantastic animations and pure glee of zipping from rooftop to rooftop and down to the city floor is severely limited by the camera flicking and clipping off the environment.

It's odd though. Despite having more camera problems than the director of Hollyoaks, traversing the city still seems fun somehow. The viewpoint jumps about more than a three year old on a sugar high, but running along walls and vaulting into the sky is always a joy. When the camera settles down enough to let the animations be seen then there's evidence that a lot of love went into sculpting virtual Spider-Man's movements. Sprinting up walls, while ludicrous, has rarely looked as good.

Spin me a tale

Spider-Man 3 has multiple storylines to explore, a total of ten for the PC version and a lesser five for the Wii. At first this sounds like a good thing, that the game will involve exploring the city and coming back to certain landmarks to continue specific stories, ala GTA. It would after all, only make sense to go an check out the Police stations in the various districts to get news about local gangs, or to check out the beach to see what Sandman is doing.

Spider-Man 3 Web Wii-ving Spider-Man 3 Web Wii-ving
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That's not how it works. The setting is almost completely generic with only a handful of notable locations that can be located and learnt by eye. The Daily Bugle for example is fairly easy to find, as is the City Park, but all they tend to offer is simple photographing missions.

Other missions, such as actually stopping Super villains, tend to be introduced with a little less subtlety. Check the map, choose a mission described with the briefest of one-liners, head off towards the checkpoint. This is how almost all missions begin, which would be fine were it not that almost every mission involves chasing yet more checkpoints, pausing only to get caught in ultra-difficult combat.

That said, there is a plus side. The plentiful plotlines mean that, if a particular enemy is stumping you then there is always the option to head off and tackle another foe. If Venom is whooping your ass time and again then there is always The Lizard to doll a good kicking out to.

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Unfortunately, the game is punctuated by mini-games and on-rails sections that take much of the joy away from completing tasks. Massive red prompts leap onto screen, demanding millisecond precise button pushes that ruin the overall experience of the game.

Web Wii-ving

The Wii version of the Spider-Man 3 is an entirely different story. While the graphics don't look any better and the plotlines have been trimmed down a little, the new controls more than make up for it.

Web-swinging for example is taken care of with a button press and a flick of the wrist, similar to how Spider-Man actually does it. In the comics. The right hand controls the right and vice versa, with mid air steering managed with controller tilts or the control stick. It takes a moment or two to get used to throwing new lines every few seconds, but soon we were leaping from church steeples and vaulting off apartment blocks, waving our arms like loonies the whole time.

Spider-Man 3 Web Wii-ving Spider-Man 3 Web Wii-ving
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The graphics are also less of an issue than on the PC. The PC version of Spider-Man 3 looked outdated and bland, with no bump mapping and a pitiful view distance. That's still true on the under-powered Wii, but being further from the monitor makes a whole load of difference – especially when your arms are constantly waving in front of your face and you're actually having fun.

There are a few other additions to the gameplay, plus a few reductions, that make the Wii version much preferable overall to the PC version.

For one, swimming is impossible on the Wii. It sounds simple, but water makes a logical barrier in a game like this and one would naturally assume that the developers would use water to prevent players roaming too far on the island of Manhattan. This isn't true in the PC version, where swimming is possible to a degree. Instead, the developers had to introduce invisible walls to the game to stop the players exploring too much which send players flying backwards on collision, thus spoiling any involvement players were getting from the PC version.

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Also, in one incredibly clever move, the Wii version allows Spider-Man to ride on top of traffic. Again, it sounds simple, but when you've been frantically waving your arms around for an hour or two then the ability to effortlessly travel across the level can be a lifesaver. Jumping on top of a passing truck simply involves pressing 'A' when nearby.

Although the camera issues are completely solved on the Wii version of the game, thanks to the lack of mouse control, issues with combat arise to replace them. Although Spider-Man can upgrade his abilities by spending experience – an altogether much better method than arbitrarily upgraded skills in the PC game – the game's early stages are filled with boring, recycled combat moves. Shaking the Wii remote produces basic attacks, while shaking both produces a special move. Not exactly rocket science then.
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October 14 2021 | 15:04