Friday, March 18, 2005

Web-headed happiness

Things I Love about the Spider-Man 2 Game for PlayStation2 (in no particular order):

* Jumping off the top of the Empire State Building, free-falling until the closest buildings are low enough to shoot a web at, and then swinging out over Fifth Avenue.

* Approaching a citizen in distress and hearing Tobey Maguire's voice say, "Hi, my name is Spider-Man, and I'll be your superhero today."

* Bruce Campbell as the game's narrator/ tutorial voice. Helpful, yet sardonic.

* Knowing it's possible to stick a web to the bottom of a helicopter and hitch a ride out to Liberty Island (and I shall, oh yes, I shall).

* The unexpectedly poignant videogame moment when I went to the financial district and saw a big vacant lot with a dozen big spotlights pointing straight up, at the site of the World Trade Center towers.

* To buy upgrades for Spidey's web-slinging and combat powers, you walk into what is pretty obviously the Midtown Brooks Brothers. And all the little virtual people go about their business as if it's completely normal. Heh heh.

* Hot dog carts dotted around the island, including one in Battery Park. (Game designers missed an opportunity to make them do something, but that's okay.)

* They named the neighborhood with the fictional Daily Bugle building "Flat Iron."

* Random New Yorkers shout out to Spidey as he swings through the city. About a quarter of them say something obnoxious.

* The digital Guggenheim confirms my long-standing suspicion that the thing is right at home in a comic-book world. I fervently wish that at some point in the game, it's revealed that there's some arch-villain's secret base in there. (The game's been out most of a year, and I well know there isn't, but a guy can dream.)

* And finally, here's a game with the expansive open-endedness of the Grand Theft Auto games (which I also dearly love, don't get me wrong), but without the misanthropy and nihilism.

* Swingin' on a series of webs, you can get from Harlem to SoHo in, like, five minutes.