GameCore is CBSNews.com's gaming column written by William Vitka.
I've always wanted to be Venom in the Spider-Man games. Really, I just want to prowl around and eat people. To heck with saving accident-prone citizens and fighting crime; I want chaos.
A huge part of the draw in playing Ultimate Spider-Man for me was the promise of wreaking havoc as Eddie Brock's psychopathic better (worse) half.
Venom is big and mean. He can absorb citizens to gain energy. Though he cannot swing from building to building, he has a Hulk-style jump that propels him a hundred feet in the air. And, of course, he can whip people to death with his tentacles.
Goody two-shoes Peter Parker is fun too; he's quite adept at pummeling bad guys. There are a few combos he can string together. Wall flips, different attacks and tying people up with webbing is always a plus — especially when he swings them around afterward and chucks them off a high building. Spider-Man can also perform some nice, though limited, acrobatic feats.
For a while.
Then the game starts to drag. The fighting system is a bit on the simplistic side. Venom and Spider-Man's combos are not anything approaching complex. The required racing and chasing gets old quickly. It's the pacing of the game that harms it.
To advance the story, you have to run around the city completing mindless races and combat tests. Then there's a boss. Or Spider-Man and Venom clash. It doesn't sound too bad until you play the game, though.
Your adrenaline is going; you're enjoying the freedom of the city and the speed of your web slinging action. You find Rhino. You beat him, but good, and you enjoyed it.
You race. You race around the city and jump through hoops. Maybe you complete a side mission consisting of "Hit Some Guys Until They Fall Down."
Then you're Venom. Then you have to chase Electro. Then you have to beat up Electro.
Then you have to race, beat up guys, etc, etc.
The interstitial pieces between story missions are so far removed from the story, and repetitive to boot, that the game suffers tremendously.
To make matters worse, the game can be beaten in less than 5 hours. There just isn't a lot here in the way of gameplay variety, and what is here gets repeated until you just don't feel like playing anymore. Which is a terrible shame considering just how wonderful the game looks.
Spider-Man is beautiful. The animation is top-notch. The production values are supreme and the character's voices are well done, especially Peter Parker's. It's definitely one of the best looking comic-to-game titles out there.
It has that fantastic panel and page feel, but that feel isn't worth $50. Rent it or wait for the price to drop before you put on your web-shooters.
Ultimate Spider-Man is rated "T" for teen and is available for Xbox, PS2, GameCube and PC.
By William Vitka
Copyright 2005 CBS. All rights reserved.