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Spider-Man: Friend or Foe

Score: 74%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Platformer (3D)

Graphics & Sound:

In case you blinked this summer, there was a movie called Spider-Man 3. You may have caught one of the 1,000,000 commercials on TV. So, with the summer movie machine grinding to a halt, how do you keep up the "Spidey" frenzy? You create a game to pimp a brand new computer animated kid's show that will be coming to a TV channel near you. Spider-Man: Friend or Foe is a juvenile rendition of the very familiar Marvel game formula. I know this game has all of the key components of being a horrible, playable, marketing demo, but it comes out the other side being a solid game.

The game's younger target audience, coupled with the obvious marketing ploy to prepare the populous for the upcoming cartoon, means the game takes on a decidedly simplistic look. Easy on the eyes and not cluttered actually means that the system specs are not amazingly high. This game will play well and look good on many systems.

It wouldn't be Spider-Man without one-liners and sarcastic banter. And proper credit where it is due, I fully expected to hear the exact same dialogue repeated horribly over the entire game. I was happy that even when keeping the same characters on-screen, it didn't suffer from the normal repetition. The music is fast-paced and didn't yield in its repetition. This was masked by ever-constant action, and sounds of punching and flailing, but ever-present are the short, repetitious sounds of each level's music.


In Spider-Man: Friend or Foe you start off as, well obviously your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. From there, however, you have the ability to be many different characters. The whole premise is that Spider-Man's greatest enemies have been kidnapped by a new menace. Each of his enemies are being controlled by a force known as the Phantoms. They are holographic entities comprised of shards of the same meteorite that unleashed Venom. As you do battle against the Phantoms, you will encounter your enemies. After you defeat each one, you destroy the device that is controlling their mind. Unaware of their kidnapping and subsequent mind control, each one joins forces with you to take out the Phantoms in payback for being manipulated.

There are several ways that you can play by yourself and with friends. There is the Single Player Story Mode. But, at any time, a second player may join you in Co-op Mode. Mid-game or from the beginning, it doesnt matter; jump on any time and help out your friends. If you are a little less than in the mood to help your friends, feel free to go head to head in Versus Mode. By playing through the first person game, you will unlock new Versus Mode arenas.

This game should be rated CT for Carpel Tunnel. The repetitive button-mashing on the PC is sure to cause some kind of long-term damage. As is with most "Games for Windows" titles, you can hook up your XBOX 360 controllers and let your thumbs do the work. The combo system may be repetitive on the fingers, but there are some really interesting combos and attacks for a game directed at the younger audience.


Spider-Man: Friend or Foe is not designed to have elaborate and complex puzzles or over the top boss battles. It is a game on rails. Plug into the game, but disconnect from complex challenges. Each of the boss battles follow simple and consistent progression and combo use to defeat. I think by saying this it makes it sound bad, but on the contrary, there is a lot to be said about good consistency in a kid's game. Each boss battle also has a slight ramp up. There is the formula of three in MANY boss battles across the gaming universe. Here, it is to be no different. There will be three points, counting the initial battle in which they will step up their game and throw just a little bit more at you.

Game Mechanics:

Spider-Man: Friend or Foe also has a lot of the common elements that we have come to expect from the Marvel games library. There is a common "Base," which in this case is the S.H.I.E.L.D. floating headquarters. You will return here after every mission. Upgrade your abilities, as well as your teammates' abilities, at one of the stations on board. Every fallen enemy or broken barrel will release tech tokens. You use these as the currency to pay for your teams' upgrades. Unless you return to older missions to earn more tech tokens, you are going to have to choose one or two main teammates to accompany you. You can also check out your unlocked bonus material from home base. Every time you pick up a DNA canister, it contains extras goodies to look at later. The first thing you unlock, I believe, is the trailer for the upcoming cartoon I mentioned in the beginning. Despite the power-ups you earn defeating Phantoms, you also have a meter on-screen that tracks your combos. The more and different combos you use build up your character's combo level and allow you to use more unique combos. Why they don't just let you have them from go or consistently over all of the levels, I don't know. Each time you start a new level, you will have to again earn your moves.

Not to get stuck on the fact that it is a blatant marketing game to kids, the game is basic and solid. All of the gameplay elements are tight, work well and are easily understood. The game's focused story moves quickly with little gap in between the action. I was surprised at the writing and voiceover work as it was well done and really added to the game. I won't knock it. It is what it is, but as a game, it plays well enough and has an interesting appeal for being a game aimed at a younger audience. But it can't overcome the constant button-mashing, generic battles. Even with some good writing.

-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Minimum System Requirements:

3D hardware accelerator card required-100% DirectX 9.0c compliant 128 MB video card and drivers, Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Windows Vista, Pentium 1.6GHz or Athlon 1.6GHz or higher processor, 256 MB of RAM or 1GB of RAM for Windows Vista systems, 5 GB of uncompressed hard disk space (Plus 500 MB for swap file.), A 100% Windows XP/Vista-compatible computer system including: DirectX 9.0c (included), 100% DirectX 9.0c-compliant true 16-bit sound card and drivers 100% Windows XP/Vista-compatible mouse, keyboard, and drivers, 100% Windows XP/Vista-compatible 4X DVD-ROM drive or better (600K/sec sustained transfer rate) and drivers, 100% Windows XP/Vista-compatible gamepad (optional) (10 or more buttons and dual analog thumbsticks required)

Notice:This game contains technology intended to prevent copying that may conflict with some disc and virtual drives. Also, some 3D accelerator cards with the chipsets listed here may not be compatible with the 3D acceleration features utilized by Spider-Man: Friend or Foe. Please refer to your hardware manufacturer for 100% DirectX 9.0c compatibility.


Test System:

Windows XP Pro, 3.2 GHz P4HT CPU, 2 GB Ram, 512 PCIE 16 ATI X1600XT

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