Beat ’em ups are one of the obvious choices of genres that would seemingly benefit from using the Xperia Play’s pad and buttons, but can Spider-Man: Total Mayhem harness the new controls to give the game a new lease of life on the PlayStation Certified platform?
Well, to answer as someone who played through this game upon its original release on iPhone, with this version you are able to actually concentrate on the game and completely forget about the controls, not something that could be honestly said about the touchscreen incarnation, as good as it was.
You see, Spider-Man was a really good game on iOS, as Gameloft really did nail the controls. The problem, as always is the fact that you are always going to have times where the virtual controls let you down, and the issue of having your fingers covering a portion of the screen is insurmountable.
So, in essence, Spider-Man changes from a ‘decent attempt at a beat ’em up despite the format’ to ‘a really rather good beat ’em up’.
In the game, you take control of Spidey who has to face off against all his regular foes as they have been mysteriously broken out of Shield custody. A third person, fixed perspective brawler, the game offers up some excellent combo and dodge based action, with many different ways to take out your enemies. You can mash the square button to produce a simple combo, but you can press another button to punch them in the air where you can jump up and combo them again while they are helpless. You also have a web button that at its basic level shoots out spider goo to capture and freeze enemies for a few seconds, but can be used to produce some great attacks if used in conjunction with jumping and other attacks.
On many occasions you will find yourself surrounded by enemies, and it is here where your ‘spider sense’ kicks in. Tapping the button just as the prompt appears will make Spidey perform an evasive maneuver, such as rolling out the way of a hammer blow or shooting his web at missiles in mid-air. There are pick ups laying everywhere that allows you to purchase upgrades for the webbed wonder, such as more combos, strength and defence, giving the game a little more depth. There are plenty of combos to master, and the game feels suitably manic as Spidey swings between enemies, dodging and fighting. The cool thing is that you never feel like you are not in full control of things no matter how much is going on.
There are some decent platform elements that break up the fighting, and these also work well, particularly when you are swinging over the city and sliding down power lines. A few optional routes through the levels also help to add a touch of variety to the game.
The boss fights are great and are set just on the right side of frustration. Most will take you a few tries, but never to the point where you might give up. A whole host of art work is hidden throughout the adventure, and you can take photos during boss fights and view them later, an excellent feature. Another great addition is a boss rush mode which will prove a favourite for many, and the ability to see your awards for each stage is a nice touch. Full integration with Gameloft Live rounds out the package to give the overall feel of a console title. All these little extras are an easy way to add value to a title; other mobile developers should take note.
It isn’t all perfect, as there are a couple of occasions where the game uses quick time events, and these require the use of the touchscreen. It can be awkward having to reach for the touchscreen in the middle of a boss fight, but once you know its coming it is easier to prepare for.
Overall though, this is an excellent fighting game that feels right at home on the Play. Plenty of variety and a load of unlockable extras mean you will get your moneys worth from this impressive package.