How does Peter Parker perform on PSP?
So here we have the first of what will no doubt be zillions of comic book movie tie-ins for Sony's shiny new handheld. The good news: it's fun to play and nice to look at, and does a fine job of showing off what the PSP can do. The bad news: it's all over in the time it would take you to nip down Blockbusters, rent a copy of the movie and watch it. Skipping the credits.
Which means, even if you knock a tenner off the RRP of £34.99, you're still looking at paying more than ten pounds an hour for your entertainment - and while Spider-Man 2 is a fairly decent game, it's not worth that kind of money.
Unlike the console games, the PSP version of Spider-Man 2 isn't set in a free roaming city - instead there's a linear mission structure, with 19 levels to play through. The game kicks off with you swinging through a forest of skyscrapers, attempting to shoot down a helicopter as you go.
It looks great - our hero moves fluidly and is superbly detailed, and there's a real feeling of freedom as you soar between the buildings. The controls are less complex than on the console games, so all you have to do is hold down R and use the analog stick to steer Spidey in the right direction, which makes for simple but satisfying fun.
At least, for as long as it lasts - because just as you're really starting to enjoy yourself, it's all over. We completed the first level in just a few minutes on our first attempt - and we've now got it down to under 60 seconds.
And the pattern continues as you progress through the game. In the second level, you're charged with spinning a web to secure a cop car, rescuing a pair of hostages and taking care of a bunch of thugs - but it's all over in less than three minutes. Boo.
Swing when you're winning
As the game progresses you do come across tougher missions that require more than one attempt, but hardly ever more than three or four - even the final boss battle only took us about five goes, and we're rubbish.
That's playing with the difficulty level set to Normal, mind, and Hard does of course offer more of a challenge - but it doesn't add any more to the levels other than making your enemies a bit tougher to beat.
Which is a real shame, because otherwise there's plenty of variation here. One minute you're hunting out a sprinkler valve to stop a building exploding, the next you're diffusing a series of rooftop bombs or fighting one of Doc Oc's allies such as Rhino, Shocker or Mysterio.
In our favourite mission, you're racing along the top of a speeding train, dispatching wave after wave of thugs as you go. Although it's a very simple side-scrolling level it's fun to forget the webslinging for a while and just weigh in with your fists, and the amount of detail on the skyscrapers rushing past is highly impressive. But, once again, it's all over far too quickly.
Experienced handheld developer Vicarous Visions has clearly attempted to add a bit of replay value to the game by adding a simplistic character upgrade system. You earn hero points for stylish combat (by using different button combinations to pull off uppercuts, dive kicks and the like), finishing the level quickly, finding secrets and completing your mission with health and web power left over.
You can then use the hero points to buy all manner of goodies - everything from new combo moves, web attacks and jumping abilities to storyboards and production art. It does add another layer to the game, since you'll be tempted to stay and finish off enemies as stylishly as possible rather than just run off and carry on with your mission, as it's often possible to do.
There are lots of other neat touches in Spider-Man 2 which add up to a very well presented game. There's loads of stuff in the environments to pick up and chuck at enemies or just smash for a few extra hero points, the music is nicely dramatic, and the FMVs feature the voices of your actual movie stars. They're well rendered, too, apart from the lip synching, which is just as bad as it is in the console versions.
But that's about it - there are no items to collect other than health and web power-ups and the occasional keycard, no multiplayer mode, and very little replay value. Sure, you might come back from more if you're after buying everything in the store, finding all the secrets and trying out the various difficulty modes, but even then you're not looking at more than a few extra hours of the same gameplay.
The price is wrong
We can't deny that we enjoyed Spider-Man 2, and there is something to be said for a game which isn't impossibly hard and doesn't take 40+ hours to complete just for the sake of it. But if we'd handed over thirty pounds of our hard earned cash (hard earned in that we usually have to play games like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in exchange for it), we'd be very disappointed.
So if you're massively rich and can afford to throw ten pound notes around with wild abandon, or perhaps if you're looking to please a small child who loves Spidey but is completely rubbish at games, Spider-Man 2 PSP might be it. Otherwise, save your cash.