Amid all the hubbub revolving around the console versions of Spider-Man 3, the portable games based on the forthcoming flick are flying pretty low on the radar. We recently had the chance to spend some time with the Nintendo DS version of the game to see how developer Vicarious Visions shrinks the epic movie adventure into DS-sized chunks. The work-in-progress version of the game we played let us try out a sampling of levels taken from the two main parts of the adventure. One set of missions tied into the story, and others were simply part of the game's open city. The system works much like the one in the consoles, with you keeping the city free from crime while moving the story forward. In fact, you'll find Vicarious has crafted one big city in the DS game.
As far as control goes, the game takes a bold departure by putting all the combat onto the touch screen. You'll move Spidey with the D pad or DS face buttons. Combat requires you to slash the touch screen. Random motions yield various melee attacks, but if you're methodical, you can chain together some combos. Tapping the screen yields web attacks that can slow or temporarily bind enemies. Once you get the hang of it, you can be performing web rodeos and other intricate attacks like a champ. Defeating enemies yields hero points, which will net you more skills as Spidey increases in experience. Lastly, stringing together big combos will earn you more points when defeating enemies.
The visuals in the game are on par with the previous Spidey DS games from VV. Simple but clean 3D characters move on a 2D plane against polygonal backgrounds. An interesting new wrinkle to this approach is the height of the levels, which has been bumped up from the previous games. You'll now be able to ascend while swinging from your webs. The audio in the version we played was low-key. A smattering of sound samples and effects were in the mix, but nothing stood out too much. The music in the game was unobtrusive and seems to still be coming together.
Based on what we played, Spider-Man 3 is looking like a solid action game on the DS. The control scheme is interesting and accessible, albeit a little unconventional. It seems fine, though, once you get used to using the stylus for your actions and start to learn the various nuances of the combo system. Above and beyond the single-player game, Spider-Man 3 will feature multiplayer support for two players. Spider-Man 3 is slated to ship this May.