|Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (2007)
Available for: Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, PC
Leave it to Activision to release a “Spider-Man” movie tie-in when a new movie isn’t coming out in theaters. It seems like they’re going to milk that license for all it’s worth. Although it’s not so much a tie-in as it is an independent Spidey game using the likeness of the movie characters, the fact that it opens with the Columbia logo (not to mention featuring third-rate impressions of the actors’ voices) is pretty shady in its own right. Still, it’s certainly a property that is worth getting a ton of mileage out of, and while the previous movie games have been somewhat complicated (especially for the younger crowd), “Spider-Man: Friend or Foe” delivers a simple brawler with a comic sensibility and an enjoyable twist that, despite its shortcomings, is still mildly entertaining to play.
In the web-slinger’s latest adventure, Mysterio has placed mind control devices on his fellow supervillains in an attempt to speed up the recovery process of meteor fragments littered across the world. Once united, the meteor will provide the power Mysterio needs to fuel his army of holographic alien robots called PHANTOMS. But when S.H.I.E.L.D. operative Nick Fury gets word of the plan, he enlists the help of Spider-Man to track down the villains and free them of their mind control. Once freed, they then team up with Spidey on his mission. Unfortunately, the game does little to explain why the wall-crawler’s most famous villains are teaming up with him, other than the fact that they’re pissed at Mysterio for putting them in a trance. OK, I’ll buy it, as long as it means I get to control such classic baddies as Green Goblin, Doc Ock and Venom.
Designed like a classic brawler (read: button mash until your thumbs turn blue) with some basic RPG elements thrown in for good measure, “Friend or Foe” features a pretty simple set-up. You control one half of a two-man team, while the computer (or friend, who can join/leave the game at any time) controls the other. If playing alone, you can also switch between both characters simply by pressing the Y button (a godsend-of-an-addition if only because it makes the monotonous gameplay a little more exciting). Unfortunately, this option becomes a moot point when you find a particular character that you really enjoy playing with (for me, it was Green Goblin), though you should still try out each new recruit once.
Each level is broken down into four stages, with a boss fight capping the even stages almost every time; the exception being the addition of Marvel good guys (like Black Cat, Iron Fist and Blade), who join the cause as your friend, and not because they’ve been brainwashed. Every character plays differently and has unique advantages that lend to defeating future bosses more easily, but when all is said and done, it’s a basic three-button combo system of attack, grab and jump. Charged attacks also exist, but are completely unnecessary, while tag team special moves (which are activated by using Hero Strike tokens) are purely there to keep things interesting.So what keeps “Friend or Foe” from losing your interest within the first hour? Not a whole lot, to be completely honest. The difficulty level is ridiculously easy, the level environments are flat and uninspired, and the gameplay is about as mind-numbingly dull as most other superhero brawlers on the market. Still, if you can make it through the first hour without rolling your eyes at the juvenile comic book humor, you might as well stick it out for a couple more hours and finish the game.