Reviewed: October 4, 2007
Released: October 2, 2007
The end of the world is upon us and Spider-Man canít save the day by himself. Meteors have fallen from outer space and the evil Mysterio is starting to take control of the symbiotic forms that were hitching a ride on those rocks and is using them to brainwash all of Spideyís foes to do his bidding. With an group of super-villains backed by an endless army of holographic symbiotes, our favorite web-slinger has his work cut out for him in Spider-Man: Friend or Foe.
The game starts out with Spider-Man on an average night minding his own business and then all of a sudden he is attacked by all of his notorious counterparts. After Spider-Man settles them down and takes control of the situation, everyone is ambushed by 30 smaller Venom-looking creatures. When these creatures begin to grab everyone they all vanish in a burst of light. Just before they get to Spider-Man, he is teleported to SHIELDís flagship commanded by Nick Fury. Here you are informed of what has been happening all over the world and what your mission will be: Find the fallen meteor shards, then de-program and recruit your enemies to help you along your quest
So now it is time for Spider-Man to call upon some of the last people he would ever think to ask for to help him: Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Scorpion, Rhino, Lizard, Venom, and many more.
Friend or Foe is definitely a game that will play better with a partner than playing solo. Now donít get me wrong, this game totally works playing by yourself but is infinitely more fun with a buddy playing along side of you. The reason I say this is because this is a button mashing game. After the first couple of sublevels the commands, attacks, and combos just start to flow naturally.
But even playing alone I was amazed by how well the computer actually fights and interacts with your own fighting style. They grab bigger phantoms and hold them while you give punishing blows for submission damage. The computer also isnít afraid to jump right into a big group of phantoms and get you out of a bind either. This certainly helps out the younger gamers this game is obviously targeted towards.
The game plays so smoothly despite the button mashing thanks to unique attacks and combos for each player depending on the foe you have chosen. This is best seen and enjoyed when you perform your hero strike, a special combo attack that you initiate by pushing up on the D-pad. You can find Hero Strike tokens hidden in the levels or you can purchase one back on the command ship between missions. The Hero Strike starts out with a cool cinematic that is customized based on the two characters performing the move, followed by a devastating blow, the equivalent of a smart bomb, which takes care of anybody in the immediate area including sub-bosses.
Spider-Man is always a part of whatever dynamic duo you choose to match together for each mission, so itís in your best interest to max his stats and web abilities quickly, even at the expense of player two. While Spider-Man is always a part of each mission, you arenít forced to play him in single player mode. A simple tap of the triangle button switches you over to the other character, but this wont hurt you in helping gain tokens because they are all pooled together when itís time to go shopping.
Along way through each level you will uncover green (invincibility) and red (extra damage) crystals. You can store up to three each and trigger them by tapping left or right on the D-pad. Using them together makes for a few powerful moments of serious beat down action. You can also purchase up to five health refills, but only on Furyís ship between missions. On regular mode you will find you will seldom or never have to purchase one. You can increase Spider-Manís health meter by collecting red orbs throughout the level or with a certain web upgrade. Many sidekicks have their own regeneration system. And if you do die, it only costs you some of your gold hero tokens to spawn back into the level.
Now lets talk about why you want to buy this game: THE SIDEKICKS. This time the designers really dug into the Marvel universe and came up with all (or at least most) of your favorite villains and possibly a few surprises. First, you can't visit Egypt without the Sandman, and what would Transylvania be without everyoneís favorite vampire slayer, Blade. Throw in Ironfist, Prowler, Black Cat, Lizard, Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Venom, Rhino, and even a few levels with Spider-Man in his black suit and you have a large and diverse cast of characters. Sadly, for some reason Silver Sable didnít make the cast for the PS2 version.
It really doesnít matter who you play with in any given level. There arenít any puzzles that require a certain character to solve and no two characters perform any better than any other two, ongoing upgrades not withstanding. Being able to swap out characters mid-level would have been a great addition to the game, adding some tactics and strategy. I thought this was some missed potential in the game. I found myself playing with the most recently unlocked character on the next mission if for no other reason than to watch the custom animation sequence for the Hero Strike, then I would revert to whatever character(s) I had boosted their stats the highest, which was Lizard and eventually Venom.
Some of the frustrating parts of this game are some of the blind spots; there are way too many and it gets really frustrating. I found out later after playing (from others who played the game) that it cost me a chance to accumulate more tokens and DNA canisters to help upgrade my characters. Also a bit frustrating are the camera angles. Now the camera angles are a big part of why there are so many blind spots but they have there own problems as well. The camera doesnít move with you that much and makes it really hard to navigate. This can cause you to fall off a bridge easily and cost you some tokens making it harder to upgrade your characters.
The graphics in this game really caught my attention, but not in the way you would think it would. First off, this game has a comic book design, it has a softer feel compared to Spider-Man: Ultimate Alliance, and this really fits this style of game. Character design and animation is also fluid and fits with the comic book stylings.
Second, the background scenes are unbelievable!! You have four sublevels in each main chapter and every one of them has all kinds of different turns and twists. There is nothing repetitive about any of them. This is a huge plus for this game because even though you donít ever really notice or pay attention to things like that but they can change the whole aura of the game, and these backgrounds really add to this game.
This has to be the best game I have reviewed dealing with sound. Each level has appropriate background music that really fits what is happening in the level. You have the creepy organ music during the Transylvania, upbeat music on the tropical island stage, and the music becomes energetic during fighting sequences.
The voice acting is some of the best ever and this is certainly the best Spidey performance to date. Tobey has some serious competition in this area. The voice really fits with the original animated series on Fox with the nerdy jokes and fun banter with whatever partner he has taken along. What makes it better is even though you are fighting with the enemies, Spider-Man will say something like, ďI love being a superhero!!Ē and a villain (mostly Doc Ock) will question it and be shocked. There is also an ongoing and quite humorous situation involving Nick, Spidey, and the shipís computer. Every villain is perfectly voiced and delivers a stunning performance for all their major dialogue and even the filler banter during gameplay.
Friend or Foe is a great ride but only for about 8-12 hours. This game was way too easy for adults and even kids will breeze through the entire game in a few days of casual gaming. The levels do seem endless but in a good way. There are so many hidden passages and doors that really encourage you to explore each level thoroughly rather than just rush through them. One sign of a good game is that when I wasnít playing Friend or Foe I was thinking about playing it.
The phantoms donít just stand there waiting to take a beating like in most games. They will attack you but they are still a little too easy to fend off and destroy, even for the targeted age group. The sub bosses are also too easy once you find out their pattern and with an abundance of Hero Strikes, they usually are a single-tap defeat. The worst part of the game is the final boss. For a game ending boss this guy had to be the easiest ever, and I do mean ever. The game was over and I was sitting there thinking, ďThat was it?!?! He is coming back for a second round any minute!!!Ē He didnít and I felt just slightly cheated for all my time and effort leading up to that moment.
Once you get through the game you can go back through and play everything again and keep your unlocked characters, and continue to upgrade their various stats and special attacks. This is a nice feature that can make the game play a lot better with a buddy but it still doesnít make this game worth $40. I would say that it would be a great buy for about $30 or less.
Spider-Man; Friend or Foe was a great fit for me and what I look for in a game. I loved every second spent playing this game except for the final boss. I loved the backgrounds, character unlocks, voices, story line, and upgrade possibilities. Now the repetitive button mashing was a little bit of a problem and makes me wonder if this game would be any better on the Wii.
This is certainly a different game than any other Spider-Man game out there. And after you finish the game you will find it opens a possibility of a second game in which die hard fans can really get excited for.