Oct 5, 2007
With the ability to beat-and-greet many of the familiar faces orbiting the Marvel-verse, Spider-Man: Friend of Foe would have you believe that it's a punchy fan serenade that'll make a nation of gamers forget about the disappointment of the last Spider-Man game. Instead, it's a brawler of very little substance that, quite irresponsibly, squanders Spidey's great power (reference #1). It's really more of an insult to the people who love the little web slinger, and will only appeal gamers too young to realize the extent of which Spider-Man 3 sucked on toast.
Aliens have descended upon Earth with symbiotic goop to... oh, it doesn't matter. Just know that old grudges have been set aside, and you'll get to partner up and play as nearly 20 of your favorite Spider-Man characters from the hub of Nick Fury's Helicarrier. It plays very similar to Justice League Heroes but with more villains and far less dignity. Even though the Columbia Pictures' torch-bearing damsel opens the game, gone is the angst-ridden Peter Parker of the last three films. Spidey's filled with Saturday Morning 'tude with moves and cornball one-liners to match. Two heroes will battle swathes of, somewhere around three enemies per level in global environments such as Tokyo, Egypt, and why not, Transylvania.
From Black Cat and Green Goblin, to Venom and Doc Ock - each can be brought into battle with Spidey one at a time. Each character has an assortment of combos to deliver via the jump, attack and web/grapple buttons. There's also plenty of generic tokens and whatnot, to collect that build up your character's abilities as well as Spider-boy's own attributes. But outside of co-op, your partner tends to just get in the way, snagging your stuff and inadvertently blocking your attacks. Friend. Foe. Whatever. The only reason to waste your resources leveling up anyone but Spidey would only be out of sheer fanboy devotion.
Again, Spider-Man: FoF seems developed specifically with children in mind. The game is disturbingly dumbed-down at times, and the strikingly bland levels would feel right at at home in an early Crash Bandicoot title. And that's not to mention the lack of polish. The fixed camera tends to obscure you, and you can actually move completely out of frame. C'mon developers! With three dimensions comes camera customability (reference #2 - One more!) The game could've compensated with a decent targeting system, which it sadly doesn't.
For adult Spider-Man fans (We are many!) the game is downright obnoxious. It makes a remarkable team-up of comic book history feel like a fluffy pilot for Marvel Babies. After defeating every repetitive barrage of enemies, you'll be consistently graced, again and again, with an extremely obvious opening door animation, whose sole purpose appears to be so the characters can deliver a hackneyed "Here we go again" line of cringe-inducing dialogue. The only thing keeping Spidey from saying something as cliched as "I'm getting too old for this shit," is that he's voiced by an actor who sounds 11 years-old.
For the most part you're treated like an idiot, with blatantly obvious "rewards" and a combat system that'll work just as well if your tapping while looking away from the screen and enjoying a tasty beverage. If you need more proof of the game's simplicity, look no further than the whopping 12 Achievements. Beat a level - here, have 125 Achievement points, winner!
Spider-Man: Friend or Foe is both shallow and a waste of a good property. And it'll probably sell millions. Outside of being irritatingly youth-oriented, there's a fairly slick presentation and looks passably pretty on the 360. But unfortunately it follows the mediocre precedent set by last summer's Spider-Man 3 and throws one of the world's most cherished superheros into yet another glossy yawn fest. We'd like to remind Activision: With great success comes a modicum of responsibility. (Ta Daa!)