In a tried-and-true comic book videogame setup, Spider-Man: Total Mayhem kicks off when most of the important super villains from Spidey’s world are sprung from imprisonment and set free in New York. Naturally, it falls to our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to put them all back in their place.
This latest piece of highly polished software to be released by Gameloft is an action beat ‘˜em up with a lot going for it. First of all it’s got that Marvel license, and it’s a great fun to see all of the famous super villains making trouble for our costumed hero. And, unlike some licensed games, the Spider-Man theme isn’t just tacked on– it’s used in a meaningful way.
In this game you can do just about everything that makes Spider-Man the hero he is. You’ll be swinging between buildings, shooting globs of web at henchmen, and climbing buildings in every level. Also in line with Gameloft’s other high-budget titles, the gameplay is exceptionally well varied from level to level. It’s like you’re moving from one big set piece to another as you make your way through the game.
Run, Spidey, run!
The cornerstone of Spider-Man: Total Mayhem is its amazingly fluid fighting system. You’ll easily string together combos in the double digits just by tapping a few buttons. Sure, you can do this just by standing there and mashing, but it’s way cooler try out different button combinations with D-pad inputs to see what will happen. Before long you’ll be pounding a guy’s face, dashing over to pummel his friend, then webbing his chest and helicoptering him into a group of enemies. It ends up looking like an expertly choreographed ballet of violence, and it’s very fun to take part in. Many items in the environments are destructable as well, and you get rewarded for going berserk on them.
The most common rewards are orbs that float out of enemies or items you’ve given a beating. At any time, you can pause the game to spend these orbs to upgrade your strength, defense, or special move. You’ll also find tons of pieces of comic book art hidden throughout the levels, which are viewable from the menu screen. They’re gorgeous drawings fitted to the iPhone’s screen, so you can take a screenshot and use them for wallpapers if you want.
The levels are large, detailed, and very well constructed. The New York depicted in the game is as colorful as its comic book inspiration, and it’s filled to the brim with danger. Fires rage out of windows and boxes tumble down the sides of buildings as you scale the walls. Giant fan blades turn and floor panels become electrified in conveniently orchestrated patterns as you make your way across them. You can’t move the camera, but there’s no need: it always provides a good view of what’s going on.
The game’s storyline, told primarily in cutscenes between levels, puts you up against the super villains one by one as you figure out how they escaped. It’s not the most gripping of stories, and the acting is sub-par, but it keeps the action moving. Our only other complaint is that we had more trouble beating Rhino, the boss of the second level, than we did fighting any other villain. But that’s a fluke in the otherwise smooth difficulty curve of the game. These minor deficiencies are overshadowed by the enormous amount of variety and fun on offer in the rest of the game.
We haven’t even touched on the unlockable trophies or your ability to snap photos of the bosses as you fight them, or the web meter that enables your super move when it fills to capacity. This is a deep game with an incredibly fluid and fun fighting mechanic, that offers something new and different around every corner. It has plenty for everyone, whether you’re a fan of the web-slinger, or beat ‘˜em ups, or gaming in general. Our point is this: download Spider-Man: Total Mayhem if you have the money to spare. Nuff said.