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Spider-Man: Battle for New York

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Torus Games
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Platformer

Graphics & Sound:

Spider-Man is back, this time in an adventure exclusive to the DS and GBA. Based on Marvelís controversial ďUltimateĒ line of comics, Spider-Man: Battle for New York is a side-scrolling brawler that pits Spider-Man against one of his greatest enemies, the Green Goblin. Spider-Manís latest is one of the better superhero games to hit the DS, though that isnít saying much.

I was really impressed with Battle for New Yorkís graphics. The game uses cel-shading coupled with a really neat pseudo 3D levels that twist and turn with the action. It is a hard effect to describe and one you really need to see in motion to understand, but it is something Iíd like to see more of on the DS.

Since the game is based on the ďUltimateĒ comics, all of the in-game art falls in line with that style. After seeing how much the in-game visuals conform to the comics, I was surprised to see that the story sequences use a completely different style. While it isnít a major issue, the shift is noticeable and slightly annoying, if only because I am a big fan of the ďUltimateĒ style. The style used in the story sequences looks cheap and is reminiscent of the Spider-Man coloring books you can buy at the dollar store.

Unappealing art aside, the story sequences are impressive, if only because they are fully voiced. While I donít like how he looks, Spider-Man at least sounds good.


Gameplay:

Spider-Man: Battle for New York is a loose retelling of the first few issues of ďUltimate Spider-ManĒ. After witnessing the spider bite that changed Peterís life forever, Norman Osborn decides to take an experimental serum himself, transforming him into the Hulk-like Green Goblin.

Battle for New York follows the same pacing as the recent Ultimate Spider-Man. You play as both Spider-Man and the Green Goblin in a side-scrolling brawler. Each character plays differently. The Green Goblin can throw fireballs and throw enemies around like rag dolls, while Spider-Man has his quick reflexes, acrobatics and webs. As you progress through the game, each characterís attributes can be upgraded. Both can also learn new moves that can be accessed via the touch screen.

Gameplay alternates between the two characters, all leading up to one finale. Levels are straightforward and donít break the mold as far as other brawlers are concerned. Spider-Manís levels tend to be a little more varied, if only because of his larger move set. Level goals usually involve rescuing people, though youíll have to use all sorts of web swinging and wall crawling to get to people in time. The Green Goblinís levels are basic and consist mainly of going from point A to point B and damaging as much stuff as possible along the way. Other Marvel characters, including Captain America and Silver Sable, make appearances in each characterís scenarios as well.

Battle for New York isnít a terrible game -- it is just very plain. It sticks to what other Spider-Man games have done on the handhelds and makes few attempts to fix any problems present in those versions. It is also incredibly short and offers little in the way of replay value.


Difficulty:

Balance proves to be the gameís greatest foe. Green Goblin is stronger than everyone else, making his levels a cake walk. Spider-Manís levels, on the other hand, are tough. Spider-Man doesnít do as much damage and takes a lot of damage. The difference isnít noticeable when fighting random street thugs, but during boss fights he is usually at a big disadvantage. Most bosses can lay out Spider-Man in a few punches while Spider-Manís punches are as effective as a BB gun on a tank. As if this wasnít bad enough, the hit detection is really bad, so some attacks donít even register.

Spider-Manís levels are made harder by the presence of a timer. Every person you need to rescue has a small circle above their head that indicates how long they can survive. If you canít get to them in time, the level ends. The timer goes down really quick and will lead to some frustrating situations.


Game Mechanics:

Battle for New York is your standard brawler. Most of your time is spent punching and kicking your way through groups of enemies. Depending on which character you are playing as, you can pull off moves like web lines, fireballs and grabbing things to throw. Additionally, each character has four special moves that are accessed by pressing one of four icons on the touch screen.

At certain points in the game, the touch screen is used for specific uses, like rubbing the screen to push columns or tapping green circles to disarm enemies. The functions donít fit the gameplay style and feel like they were added just to justify a DS version of the game.

Spider-Man: Battle for New York is a good start, but the lack of balance makes the game feel like it was rushed out of the door to make the holiday rush. The tacked-on touch screen elements do little to help its cause. Hardcore Spider-Man fans will probably be able to overlook the gameís flaws, though others probably wonít.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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