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Spider-Man 3 Review

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Genuinely exciting superhero gaming.

★★★★

While Spandex-clad crimefighters have always been the bread and butter of video gaming, until recently most heroes were simply shoehorned into generic brawlers, blasters and platformers. Developers casually toyed with Marvel and DC licenses but never allowing players to really feel like their inky heroes. Happily, all that changed with 2004’s Spider-Man 2, where a beautifully realised virtual Manhattan was Spidey’s sprawling playground, giving gamers full control over his signature moves and delirious web slinging. And with the release of Sam Raimi’s new flick comes another chance to slip into the web-head’s taut pants, in a gripping adventure that deftly polishes the earlier game’s rough edges.

This time, the most obvious change is the interactive cinematics that punctuate your swinging and capture the film’s most thrilling sequences; when Peter Parker first encounters the New Goblin, for example, and the action cuts to a lightning-paced in-game film, players are challenged to hit buttons in time with an on-screen indicator – à la God Of War – letting you steer the cutscene and play an active role in the game’s most visually striking moments.

Even better, the expansive digital city is almost three times bigger than before, giving players more scope for exploration and even allowing you to chase The Lizard through Manhattan’s subterranean sewers. The random challenges you encounter while wall-crawling have also been tweaked, the last instalment’s tedious pizza-delivery minigames replaced by violent gang battles that allow players to stray from the movie plot and pummel NYC’s lowlife. And when it comes to battering the bad guys Spidey’s new black outfit adds depth to the traditional fisticuffs, providing a huge range of dark moves to master that are more brutal than the webmaster’s normal attacks and skilfully convey the rage that comes from wearing his shadowy suit.

If there’s any criticism here it’s that Spider-Man 3 is overly familiar, an incremental evolution of the franchise rather than a revolutionary new approach. But for the chance to feel like the super-powered guardian of a buzzing city, this is essential.

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