Spider-Man 2 & Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade
Mon, 10 October 2005
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Spider-Man 2 was, and still is, a fantastic movie. This PSP game is more or less based on the film and does a reasonable job of capturing the fun and excitement of taking control of the web-slinger. If it hadn't been such a short experience I would have called it one of the better launch games for the system. As it is, there's just not enough here to keep most gamers playing for more than a week (at most). Even so, it is plenty of fun while it lasts and certainly well worth a look for Spidey lovers.
Unlike the free roaming style of the last Spidey game on home consoles, this PSP game is more restrictively structured. You still do get to feel quite "Spidery" much of the time though, thanks to being able to stick to walls and ceilings, swing about all over the joint and shoot enemies with web fluid. If you are a Spider-man fan, like me, you will certainly enjoy the action. One cool bonus is that there are a bunch of classic Spidey villains included in the game, not just Doc Ock. The Vulture, Mysterio and Rhino are a few of the baddies included and battling them all, while mostly a bit too easy, is pretty cool.
The most impressive thing about this game would have to be the cut scenes between levels. They are extremely well rendered and quite stunning at times. That doesn't help make the game more fun of course, but it does help set the mood. The in-game graphics quality varies somewhat, from merely okay to very good, but all up the looks are pretty sweet. The sound is all nicely done also, with fitting music and many of the actors from the films doing the voice work. The controls are responsive and mostly work really well, after the first level or two when you get used to them. Or you can play the training sections and learn the controls that way. All good. The big downfall control wise is the way you can't move your character and rotate the "camera" at the same time. That can be frustrating every so often and is something that really should not have been in a finished game.
The gameplay consists of about equal doses of indoor and outdoor levels. In the outdoor sections you're mostly required to swing from rooftop to rooftop whilst chasing some dastardly villain. For the indoor portions you engage in some fisticuffs with a bunch of nameless thugs whilst...chasing some dastardly villain.
|I'll let you make your own joke about sticky white fluid here |
So, yeah, this is a pretty straightforward game, but it is still fun and it actually has a bit of an old-school vibe to it that I found highly appealing. And there are a couple of moments that shake things up just a bit, such as the level where you have to disarm a series of bombs by timing button presses in a manner similar to all those rhythm games. These kinds of things are nothing mind blowing, but do add a touch of welcome variety to the proceedings.
Another nice little touch is how you can smash up most of the game's environments and can also pick up many objects and use them as weapons. Again this reminded me of some old-school beat-'em-ups like Double Dragon and Final Fight.
Being a big Spider-Man fan definitely helps make this game more likeable, as it captures the atmosphere of Spidey well and caters strongly to those familiar with the movies and comics. I really would love to recommend it more, as I had an excellent time playing it. But the fact is the game ends way too quickly and (though you can unlock some movies and artwork) there is very little incentive to play through it more than once. I'm not sure if you can rent PSP titles, but if you can that would be the best way to go with Spider-Man 2.
6.5 out of 11
Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade
Speaking of old school (just call me the segue king) here's a basic hack 'n' slash job straight from the Diablo and Gauntlet mould. Untold Legends reminds me very much of Champions: Return to Arms too. You know the deal; pick a character, grab some weapons and armour, collect some gold and roam the land getting in adventures. What kind of adventures? Ones that require you to kill shit of course.
Thousands of creatures of all sorts of shape and size are placed in your path and don't go expecting to make any negotiations here, just hack away until they're all dead. Then you talk to another townsperson and get your next mission, at which point you go and kill everything all over again. Every so often you can level your character up and make them stronger, faster, better with magic and so forth. You use those skills to kill things a bit more quickly. There's really no variety at all and basically Untold Legends is fairly dull, but it isn't a complete dud.
For one thing, it looks nice. Games of this ilk tend to look fairly alike to me and this one is no exception, but what it does it does well. It all looks very crisp and the action is usually easy to see, even when there's a whole bunch of critters attacking at once. Some of the creatures in the game are really cool to look at too. I think Lord of the Rings fans would probably get a kick out of some of these buggers. On the downside for the presentation, the framerate is unsteady when there's a lot happening, so expect to see some shaking going on, and the music is a bit too cheesy.
Another thing Untold Legends has in its favour is that this kind of game is well suited to a portable format. You whip it out (the game/PSP that is) on a train trip, or while waiting for your pie to cook (yeah, I'm just making stuff up now) and play it in relatively short bursts. You are always improving your character's statistics little bits at a time, collecting better weapons and armour. In small doses it remains fairly entertaining. There's not a whole to think about, so if you get distracted by the world around you it shouldn't matter too much and you can just continue to mash the buttons. Played that way, it is actually reasonably good fun. Slicing up monsters can have a mildly cathartic quality to it too.
|It would be quicker to send out an army, they never seem to think of that. |
So, if you dig hack 'n' slash games, here's another one. This is the first and, thus far, only game of its type for PSP and I guess that means it wins by default. But it is also a fairly good one. I haven't tried out the multi-player side of the game, but I'd assume that, with up to 4 people playing together, that would be the best way to play it. So, if you have some like-minded mates, Untold Legends would probably be even better. As far as I am concerned this one is nothing special, but it does its thing well enough.
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Untold Legends isn't the most exciting PSP game around, but it is amusing in small doses and could last you ages. Hack 'n' slash fans will probably love it.