Spider-Man: Friend or Foe Exclusive Hands-On - Arcade Brawling with Movie Characters

We take an exclusive trip around the globe with Spidey and friends as they stomp out evil in Activision's upcoming brawler.


Spider-Man: Friend or Foe is the upcoming action game from Activision starring Marvel Comic's iconic webslinging hero. Though he had a bit of a rough run earlier this year in Spider-Man 3, Activision and Next Level games are cooking up an adventure that is shaping up to be a return to the hero's roots. Next Level is mixing a number of familiar gameplay elements into a package that offers some breezy fun. We had the chance to log in some time with a work-in-progress version of the Xbox 360 game and were pleased by what we saw. The version of the game we played let us pair Spidey up with Iron Fist, Venom, Green Goblin, and Sandman in levels spread out through Tokyo, Nepal, and Transylvania. We were also able to try out a level of the game's versus mode, which lets you duke it out against enemies. We hope the final game delivers on the sample's promise.

Spider-Man's back to fight crime, and now he's rolling with some new friends.
Spider-Man's back to fight crime, and now he's rolling with some new friends.

The game's story is very much in the comic vein, with a bucketload of coincidental happenings taking place in rapid succession in the game's opening cinematic that leads to Spidey teaming up with a number of notable foes. Those who've been keeping up on the webslinger's movie exploits should recognize the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Venom, and Sandman, as well as New Goblin, Harry Osborn. The threat that forces everyone to bond quickly is an outer space menace that comes in meteor form, crashing to Earth in several different spots and causing all sorts of trouble including but not limited to mind control, hordes of enemies attacking locals, and other nefarious stuff you'll discover. Your unlikely superteam is tapped by Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. to help out with the burgeoning problem, and thus a game is born. If it all sounds a little absurd, that's fine. The game seems to be in on the joke and takes a tongue-in-cheek approach that's a good fit for the action.

The game's structure is pretty straightforward and should feel comfortable for vets. Nick Fury's S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier serves as your hub and features a pad that will teleport you to the various locales you'll visit in the game. Each locale will be made up of several areas for you to explore and clear. Before you head out for a mission you'll have the option to do some preparation and swap out buddies or spend "tech tokens" you'll earn over the course of the game to upgrade the characters. Spidey, being the star of the game, gets a few more upgrade options that let you beef up his various web abilities. Once you're set, you'll hop on a pad and pop down to an area with your sidekick and get to kicking butt. The levels we tried out revolved around either boss fights or exploration and butt kicking. The levels play out in old-school brawler fashion and require you to clear an area of enemies before moving on. In some cases you'll need to do some basic puzzle-solving and hit switches. For the intrepid player there are hidden areas and collectibles to be found as well, which will unlock bonus content and playable areas in versus mode. While you'll start out controlling Spidey, you'll be able to switch to your partner on the fly by pressing Y.

The action showcases a heavy comic influence.
The action showcases a heavy comic influence.

Combat in the game is breezy fun, offering a simple three-button system that lets you punch, kick, and grab. Though it's basic, the setup lets you string together flashy combos and work with your partner. Besides your dynamic duo's basic punches and kicks, you'll be able to perform charged moves as well as unique special attacks. On top of all that, you'll collect temporary power-ups you can use on the fly in battle. The collectibles are mapped to the D pad and include mega damage, invincibility, and a slick team attack that calls up a flashy cinematic that results in all onscreen enemies getting wiped "smart bomb" style. Overall the game has a nice feel to it that mixes Midway's Shaolin Monks, Konami's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade games, and Activision's own Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Though we'd like to see a deeper combo and character upgrade system, what's here is fun, so we can't hate on the simplicity too much.

The visuals in the game are clean and move smoothly. The game's art style is simple and obviously comic inspired. As a result you'll find stylized locales with modest detail and bright color palettes. A smattering of animated elements, such as moving platforms, weather effects, and neon signs, keep the backgrounds from being too static. Spidey and the gang look good and have a near-superdeformed look that's reminiscent of the Superhero Squad toys. The game sticks pretty close to look of the movie characters for Spidey, Venom, Sandman, Doc Ock, Green Goblin, and New Goblin. The other characters, such as Iron Fist, are done in a very similar style. Their animation does a good job of giving them some unique flavor. Venom is slow but runs with a hefty authority, while Iron Fist is lithe and wiry. The enemies we faced were a good deal more generic, but it's pretty much what you'd expect from mobs in a brawler.

The audio is pretty standard with incidental fight music kicking in and fading out based on the onscreen enemies. When you're in between mobs and just exploring, you'll get some ambient music tossed in for good measure. Sound effects are pretty standard so far and cover the basic punch, kick, and explosion bases. The key element in the game's audio is turning out to be the character voices. Spidey and company speak up often during a fight. As you'd expect, the webslinger is the standout with puns and quips aplenty. The rest of the gang don't really come packing the choice zingers Spider-Man has, but amid the straightforward talk, everyone throws out a quip or two.

Each of your teammates will have a unique special attack, like Venom's symbiote spikes.
Each of your teammates will have a unique special attack, like Venom's symbiote spikes.

Based on what we played, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe is shaping up to be a simple, fun, arcadelike game. The levels we played were a good amount of fun and set up in decent chunks. There's always the danger of repetition overload in these kinds of brawlers but, as we saw with Marvel Ultimate Alliance, if you pack in enough cool stuff it doesn't matter too much. The game's younger slant and lack of online co-op could be a stumbling block for some, but if Next Level packs enough fun in here, it's something to look past. If you're hungering for a brawler or are a fan of Spidey and his rogues gallery, you'll do well to keep an eye out for Spider-Man: Friend or Foe when it ships this fall for the Xbox 360, PSP, DS, Wii, PS2, and PC.

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Avatar image for Xarcand

this game is getting quite a bit of hate, spiderman 2 was the best so far i would have to say.. but im over spiderman games, this one needs a graphic update PS2 look on my 360? nah, they should at least try for the comic book look and make the heavy shadows, if you have seen comic pics of the newer comics you will know what im talkin about

Avatar image for cocomacoco

looks like a PS2 game of 2002, i'm definitely buying it for my PS2, is cheaper and it doesn't have graphics for waste my 360 lifetime on that.

Avatar image for Nawras

I downloaded the demo and it was a lotta fun!

Avatar image for gashoe13

Hello? Has anyone written anything for the past week?

Avatar image for gashoe13

I think this might get an ok score. They were praising the game, in fact.

Avatar image for own1xon

looks like a playstation 1 game wtf? Final fantasy 9 has better detail than his pos.

Avatar image for pete_merlin

doesnt look good

Avatar image for jayers228

Any game that has Venom in it is AWESOME!!!!

Avatar image for The5biggies

092093- I agree, peresonally I think theyre great graphics considering im a PS2 person and camt afford a 360

Avatar image for matheusclifton

poor graphics, button bashin controls, linier levels, crap story line, wow i cnt wait for this game

Avatar image for ET3B

This looks good for the DS........ oh wait that wasnt DS video... Another crappy spiderman game what a surprise.

Avatar image for crazysanta

I played the last spiderman game and im not getting this one

Avatar image for bamaman92

The only part of this that sounds good to me is the fact that you can play as the villians and the story was okay. Still playing as villians doesn't seem like something that would last long as far as being fun goes. In other words I think that this game looks like nothing to be going after and rather something to stay away from. Unless this game gets better I think it will suck.

Avatar image for The5biggies

Well, I liked the cartoonish graphics amd it looks really fun, ill try to rent this one (I wanna play as Green Goblin for a change! lol)

Avatar image for rl_41

umm.. why are the graphics so primitive? The concept is cool, albeit unusual, but it could make for a fun game. As long as they get those graphics past N64 standards

Avatar image for RorshachV

the graphics are on par with a saturn game

Avatar image for kazraycrawley

looks like another marvel ultimate alliance

Avatar image for GorillazFan67

Maybe the graphics are the kind of thing that have to be seen while in motion to be judged? Higher quality motion then the video? Maybe? Uh... Maybe the same can be said for the character designs, as everyone not wearing a mask looks awful.

Avatar image for Intrakitt

They need to quit messing around and actually make a GOODSpiderman game.

Avatar image for urperyani

this game will definietly gain A 4.0 out of 10 on gamespot, another faliure after Spider man 3

Avatar image for tekmojo

looks like a coloring book, ah well...pass

Avatar image for comboz

It looks like it's a PS2 launch title!

Avatar image for Dark_Dude701

Looks like star wars areas. Too much bright colours.

Avatar image for zero-G1080

graphics look like a wii game but then again graphics arent everything

Avatar image for Unknown_Legend

Too much blue, too much blue!

Avatar image for andrei_10

I love spider-man!

Avatar image for gashoe13

Venom's Symbiote spikes look amazingly awesome!

Avatar image for NyGin07

these graphics are horrible

Avatar image for masterchief463

I don't really know what to think about it. If i read it good then this is your standard beating up. Could be fun could be not . We will see ;)

Avatar image for 092093

gatsbythepig- "Looks like blocky graphics." LoL, I find it funny that is considered blocky graphics now...... Anyways looks like a great, old school, co-op, beat 'em up. I'll definitely love this and so will some of my friends if they come over.

Avatar image for gatsbythepig

Looks like blocky graphics.

Avatar image for pbking13

Looks pretty sweet but you never know with licensed games.

Avatar image for playstation_wii

I like the cartoon/comic feel! :D

Avatar image for Sev_0

O.K. now it's getting ridiculous, why is it that everyone insists on juding games before they come out. I mean almost all wii games looked like this when they started coming out, everyone said they were crap and then guess what they won the console war for nintendo. My point: don't judge games on just graphics, when the game actually sucks, THEN COMPLAIN

Avatar image for kajtrooper

I can't wait to get this for the PS2. I'm a huge Spider-Man fan :)

Avatar image for jiffysniffy

looks like a game that stays true to the cartoon series.. i'd love to play it / buy it but it doesn't look like its on anything but the 360!

Avatar image for Shinedown220

No PS3 version. Lame.

Avatar image for Shinedown220

The graphics look like last gen or Wii.

Avatar image for shady_825

This game sounds TERRIBLE.

Avatar image for Adam_the_Nerd

Sounds cool but; considering a game like this won't have much replayability or length, I must ask, will they still charge $60-70, probably. Which is too bad, because it sounds fun, but not enough to buy it.,

Avatar image for deactivated-5c417b73d1ba4

Looks like just a button-masher. One of those games that dangles between 6.0 and 7.0. Lots of games that are on half a dozen different platforms usually means none of the versions are much fun.

Avatar image for J_G_Pliskin

Hmmmm??? no PS3....I wonder why.................?

Avatar image for Coldman1

I Got a bad feeling this is going to turn out like Dragonball Z Sagas which was down right awful!

Avatar image for Thrall-3-20

Ew... this game looks grose.

Avatar image for Augm3ntal

omg.. I had to check the system like 10x's .. i know gameplay before graphics but come on ... this must be what its like to own a wii..

Avatar image for sirpyke29

Man for a 360 game this almost looks like a wii pic. Never know though this might, in some possible way, maybe, turn out to be a good game

Avatar image for matty_sen

i beet u cnt free roam and why dos spidy need help he can kick ass all by him self

Avatar image for matty_sen

the reson blue dragon isnt like a kids game is because is grahics are based on anime and this is based on vivid kid grahics and comic bock grahices on top of that blue dragon isnt a kids game from no fear of death,some strong lang,and gore these are things in kid games that are not aloud and i dnt thing meany 6 yr olds like entire shkire :P

Avatar image for wargraymon

spider-man is a solo street vigalinte from new york, why would he be jeting around the world with his worst enemies using s.h.i.e.l.d. as a base of opperations trying to save the world? that' s what the avengers and s.h.i.e.l.d are for. plus those who actually read spider-man know he is not a comedian, he uses his quips to throw his enemies off guard. it shows from playing ult alliance that the writters don't know how to write for him. even writters from marvel claim you have to know him and who he is in order to write good dialogue for him.