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Spider-Man: Friend or Foe

For: DS   Also on: PSP

A friend in need is a friend indeed

Product: Spider-Man: Friend or Foe | Developer: Behaviour Interactive | Publisher: Activision Blizzard | Format: DS | Genre: Action, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
Spider-Man: Friend or Foe DS, thumbnail 1
Before Spider-Man was the spandex-suited loner Toby McGuire has portrayed him as for the past five years, people of a certain age always pictured Spidey with his Amazing Friends in the early '80s cartoon.

Back then, Spidey was always accompanied by his mates Iceman and Firestar, along with various other chums like Captain America and the Black Knight who'd drop in to help the web-slinger out when some bad guy needed taking down. In fact, it was hard to imagine Spidey managing to do anything very heroic without a bit of help.

We mention this because, in many ways, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe has more in common with the old TV show than the Hollywood movies. Even if this is 'Official Movie Merchandise', as clearly pointed out to you when you start the game.

It's a description that can be a little hard to swallow when you get the gist of the storyline in the first few cut-scenes. Spidey is attacked by Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Sandman and Venom (all of whom shouldn't be around by the end of Spider-Man 3). Despite some help from New Goblin, everyone, except Spidey, gets kidnapped by strange creatures who teleport them away.

Spider-Man is saved by Nick Fury who then sends him across the world to defeat the mysterious baddies. It's an interesting plot but other than a reference to the meteor that brought Venom to Earth, controlling the bad guys in the game, it doesn't tie in with the narrative from the movies in the slightest.

The contrived story does however serve an important purpose. You see, the game is all about teaming up with allies and enemies alike to defeat the greater evil: the meteor-controlled creatures driven by a mysterious shadowy figure.

You start out with one of Nick Fury's team, Black Cat, as your sidekick, but she's soon replaced by a wide variety of characters from the Marvel universe; all of whom have their own set of moves and special abilities.

You can switch control between Spider-Man and his current sidekick with a quick tap of the right shoulder button, as you fight your way through the streets of New York, Tokyo and Paris. Being able to play as Marvel characters, such as Iron Fist (never before controllable in any game), is fun but would be better with a broader range of moves.

As it is, each character is very two dimensional, with just a couple of special moves to beat down enemies bolstered by some basic kicks and punches. Spider-Man himself has had his abilities reigned in, too. He may be able to do a bit of swinging between buildings but, since your sidekicks have to be able to follow you, the buildings are low and close together, thereby making Spidey's signature move defunct. The character control for most of the game is academic anyway, as much of the gameplay is little more than a series of straightforward beat-'em-up scenarios.

However, a few nicely implemented elements prevent the game from straying too close to what could have been repetitive and dull play. Most obvious is the wireless co-op, which is excellent. Playing with a friend with each of you controlling either Spidey or his sidekick is great fun and helps to move battles along much quicker than with an AI partner. (You'll both need a copy of the game, though, as there's no gamesharing play offered.)

There are also some fun mini-games thrown in. Early on, Black Cat has to pick locks so you can get into buildings and save hostages in New York. You utilise the touchscreen, carefully lifting bars into place, listening for the tinkling sound that indicates where the bar must be dropped into. This sort of inclusion works well and breaks up the gameplay when things are starting to get samey.

Beating the bosses and then converting them to your cause by making them your sidekick is another nice twist we don't remember seeing before and brings a new sense of satisfaction to getting the better of the bad guy.

Presentation-wise, the graphics are a little blocky but this can be forgiven as the fully 3D environments and free roaming cities are big and give a genuine sense of exploration. Cut-scenes chop and change between full motion movie-like sequences with excellent voice acting to comic-style talking head boxes. But although there's good voice acting in the cut-scenes don't expect any in-game, which affects some of the atmosphere.

There are several Spider-Man games available for the DS and Friend or Foe certainly isn't the best of them. Indeed, if it's a single-player experience you're after, we'd recommend Spider-Man 3 over this. However, if you're looking for a superhero co-op experience, Friend or Foe is an outstanding choice. Because, let's face it, who doesn't enjoy the support of their amazing friends�
Spider-Man: Friend or Foe
Reviewer photo
Kirsten Kearney | 25 October 2007
Comprising some interesting twists on gameplay, Friend or Foe provides great co-op play but making your way through the game on your own isn't anywhere near as much fun
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