Bulging from Lycra tighter than J Lo's sloggis, Spider-Man is back. After dusting the old cobwebs off Spider-man: The Movie, the wall climber returns, and this time he's not just a domestic, interior dwelling eight-legged freak, he now has an entire city to spin his sticky webs across.
In the previous game, Spidey wasn't able to get down and dirty on the street level, which was stupidly unrealistic (while the whole thing about a guy being half man and half spider is totally on the money...). Well say hello to the new improved Spider-Man, a free-roaming action adventure that puts you in the suit and lets you go anywhere and do exactly as you please. With this GTA-style freedom you're a sort of freelance superhero. You can spot trouble with your spider sense then swoop down and help out the needy on the streets of Manhattan. There are hundreds of mini tasks that you can complete at your leisure - which is becoming a bit of an Activision trait in line with THUG, True Crime and Mototrax. It's all about freedom.
Even at this early stage of development the graphics have been substantially sharpened, with the scenery being particularly impressive. The whole game plays from dusk till dawn in real-time, and the appearance of the sky and buildings change accordingly. For example as the sun starts to set on the city, the sky turns pink and the street lights become illuminated. It's nice to have a realistic transition from day to night as it's rare in PS2 games.
The animation of Spider-man is another area that's been reworked. The web slinging now feels more convincing, with webs only ever attaching to buildings (rather than the sky as before) giving rise to a new pendulum-style way of swinging through the city. You have to aim for opposite sides of the street to swing your way down them. with a little practice it's second nature and a lot more... um... realistic.
Unlike Spidey's previous outing on PS2, if he's hurtling towards the ground, he won't automatically unleash a web to save himself from becoming a tarmac pancake. Instead, the incredible fluidity of his movements will allow him to hit the ground running. If you've watched the Spider-Man movie (and seen a trailer for the second) the new in-game Spidey moves in exactly the same way: You swing, you spiral, you land you run - you can do anything a spider(man) can.
The only gripe is that if you lose your timing and lose your momentum forwards you could end up hanging around like a dead weight on a wire, completely prone to being twatted with a huge rolled up copy of the Daily Bugle. This can be particularly annoying when you're racing against the clock during some missions - the faster you go the more essential it is to time your 'thwips' correctly. Another problem was that sometimes the camera chooses despicable angles at the most inopportune moments. If you want to scale an on-coming building while swinging through the air, a tap of Circle will allow you to attach to it, rather than smash against it. But, once you've completed the manoeuvre, the camera zooms in so much, that you can't actually tell which direction you're facing.
With over a month to expel the technical glitches in time for the big release, PSM2 is relishing the prospect of getting to grips with the final polished article. The webbed-wonder 's second outing is looking great, and the chance to actually 'be' Spider-Man is too much of a mouth watering vision to ignore. Even arachnophobes are going to love it.
Spider-Man 2 is released on 9 July