Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (Xbox 360)

I downloaded and played through the Spider-Man: Friend or Foe demo on the Xbox 360, and the title has promise. It's kind of a mish-mash of brawler and super lightweight Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.

The demo has co-op, and Venom and the Green Goblin are co-playable with Spidey, so you get to try out how they play differently, and tag out as you like.

The combat is super basic, but engaging enough.

On the usability side, the camera is fixed and problematic. I found my self jumping off of a building unintentionally because the camera didn't switch, the level design wasn't intuitive, and the game transition didn't happen to show me where I needed to go.

The game AI isn't bad during combat, but during exploration, my AI squad partner (Venom at the time) jumped off a building a couple of times. Flying partners probably don't have that same problem.

Also on the basic usability side, while I like using the left and right bumpers to cycle through Spidey's powers, it should not stop when I get to the "top" or "bottom" of the available powers -- it should cycle to the next power (interestingly this is regular gripe of mine for a lot of Activision super hero games, MUA and X-Men Legends included).

But I wonder if the biggest problem is the hodge-podge treatment of the license. The intro plays almost exactly like the intro of next year's animated series. The Green Goblin, New Goblin, and Spider-Man's own costume are from the films. Venom and some of the tie-togethers (Nick Fury, Iron Fist, etc.) seem pretty comic-friendly. So, what is it? Is it going to draw in fans of all of those mediums, or disenfranchise each?

And while Spider-Man's voice work is very good, Venom's felt a little off. But I'm biased.

Guess we'll see. I'll be renting this first when it comes out, to see how much more polished it is than the demo -- entertaining as it is.

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