Scheduled release date:
May 4, 2007

Perhaps you may have noticed- superheroes are in these days. For both the film and game industry, titles based on the fantastic fantasy characters from the likes of Marvel and DC Comics are almost guaranteed sellers. The only problem is that a game–>movie or movie–>game conversion rarely works out well, which is a major stumbling block for avid gamers who usually have better options sitting on the shelf. However, recent installments in the Spider-Man series – both movie and game – have been surprisingly good, and given the prospect of new hardware on the PS3 and 360, we have high hopes for Spider-Man 3 . Developer Treyarch and publisher Activision seem to be brewing up a winner, and probably just in time for the feature film release.

It's all going to start with Spidey's environment, which is going to be the bustling, tightly compact city of Manhattan…or perhaps, a city based on Manhattan. But in addition to the typical skyscrapers and giant office buildings, Treyarch will give us cause to go underground with the addition of over 20 miles of tunnels and sewers. Now, we all know what you're thinking: Spider-Man? Below ground? What sense does that make? Well, watch a movie with a sewer chase, and then you'll see what kind of opportunities this presents for the gamer; you just gotta keep your mind open! Furthermore, those huge buildings won't be simple cut-and-paste jobs. No, they should appear very real, as you'll be able to wander inside them and check things out, much like you could in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City . As an upgrade over GTA III, we could explore more interiors, and it seems Spider-Man 3 is going the same route.

So the atmosphere should be both pretty and more interactive than ever before, which means we arrive the next item on the list- new features in the gameplay. As expected, you'll be able to swing and climb to your heart's content, but one of the major additions to this new Spidey title is something called "cinteractive" fight sequences. The movie will feature plenty of sweet battle scenes, and the game will allow you to relive some of them in a very unique and open-ended style. By executing timed button presses (perhaps like the Context Sensitive Attacks in God of War ), you'll fight your way through epic contests, with success dictated by your reaction and dexterity. And even if you fail, it won't necessarily mean Game Over because the game will present you with branching storylines. Sweet idea, yes?

But don't worry about the cinteractive feature taking over the gameplay; it will be implemented wisely yet sparingly, much like similar techniques found in Shenmue and Resident Evil 4 . Therefore, just because it's a cool addition to the gameplay, that doesn't mean you'll be missing out on Spider-Man's fast and acrobatic melee abilities, which will be back and better than ever. After all, there's no reason to leave a tried and true combat mechanic behind, especially with all the inherent potential this particular superhero possesses. We just hope that the control remains solid and accessible; what with "cinteraction" and all, things could easily get a bit muddled. But hey, they've got time to deal with that nasty possibility.

We drew a comparison to GTA before, and we're about to do it again. Fans of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will remember the "gangland" side missions, which forced you to take over and defend certain parts of the city. This idea is on display in Spider-Man 3 , where certain parts of the town are "owned" by gangs and you're gonna have to lay down the law. Now, you can always shirk your duties and fritter away your life swinging around in circles, but there's a penalty for that this time around: if you ignore the problems, the Daily Bugle will publish some less-than-glowing stories about you! So if you just do your job, you'll see more headlines like, "Spider-Man Saves The Day Again!"

So that's the new stuff, but what about the return of spider sense? Well, even that has a new look, as activating this cool feature in the new Spidey game will cause the screen to switch from vibrantly colored backdrops to a stark black and white display. During this time, you can spot enemies as red dots on the screen, thereby allowing you to home in on your foes with limited interference from your surroundings. And while the suit has returned as well – of course – Spider-Man's sleek new black suit lets you shoot into a Rage mode where you can land super-devastating combos and a variety of attacks. You won't always have access to this suit, though, so don't think you can just tear around the city as the black bad-ass. You'll also need to meet one of three requirements for "rage:" string together multiple combos, take a bunch of damage, or throttle one of the analog sticks.

We'll be faced with ten storylines, all of which will (hopefully) be significantly different from one another. Just imagine how vastly altered and branching storylines will enhance the replay score for this game… Okay, so I whooped the Hobgoblin's ass in that cinteractive battle, but what happens if I fell off the hoverboard and survived? What happens then? To top it all off, given the inclusion of subterranean and interior environments, Spider-Man's new black suit complete with rage mode, and the papers keeping an eye on your every move, Spider-Man 3 is shaping up quite nicely. We always like to see new things and it's an added bonus when they expand on the old things, so this one might just have it all.

Be prepared to swing into action once again on May 4.

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