Spiderman is called to action once again in Spiderman: Friend or Foe, but this time he has to partner up the most unlikely of allies. Players can choose to team up with a variety of villains and set out to stop an alien invasion force from taking over the world. Can our web slinging savior put aside his differences with his foes to complete the task at hand?
Well, as good as the concept of this game sounds, the only tingling sensations that Spiderman: Friend or Foe will give you are those of boredom and repetition. Spiderman FF is a preschool version of the Marvel Ultimate Alliance formula. Linear gameplay, basic attack functions, and an overall lack of difficulty will convince most players to swing right past this adventure. On the other wrist, young Spidey fans may leap at the chance to team up a plethora of tried and true villains of the Marvel universe.
Right off the bat, anyone can see that this game was made for younger players – say under the age of 10. We have seen in recent times the appeal of simple games to a broad gaming audience, such as Lego Star Wars; but the real question is if that same charm and humor that fused with an established franchise could carry over in the Spiderman world.
The tale of Friend or Foe begins when an unknown alien force attacks Spidey and the villains of New York, which ends up in all the bad guys being captured and transported to who knows where. Spiderman is brought aboard S.H.I.E.L.D., the mobile air ship of an anti-terrorist organization headed up by Nick Fury. After figuring out that a series of meteorites that collided with the planet is responsible for the appearance of the alien force, known as the Phantoms, it is up to Spidey to foil the invasion, and in turn, save the world. And if that task wasn’t enough, along the way you will encounter those captured villains, who may be grateful enough to aid you in combat.
At this point in the game, players are left to roam the bridge of the ship which contains access to levels, friend (or foe) selection, and a character/item upgrade station. While the partner selection is limited at the beginning, there is a full roster of characters available to tag along with Mr. Parker. After you choose your sidekick, players then select a level to tackle; there being a total of 6 countries each with 4 chapters.
And then boredom sets in.
The main objective of every level is this: run on a linear path to an area of baddies, kill them, a door or bridge opens to the next area, repeat. The selection of enemies is very limited – countable on one hand – and every battle ends the same: an easy victory. The AI offers a lot to be desired. Usually foes will just stand around and chuck projectiles at you, or just walk right into your flailing fists and whirling kicks.
Combat is flat and you can easily blow through the game without ever dying once. Spiderman has the ability to jump, punch, and throw, with a few more upgrades that really end up being insignificant additions. Spidey can use his web line to grab and toss baddies, shoot web globules at foes, or create web-based traps. While it attempts to offer variety at brawling, it’s faster to dispose of your combatants by just punching them to death. As long as you mash the x button, you will pass this game with ease.
When you kill enemies or break crates, you will get tokens which can be spent to upgrade your heroes’ damage, health, toughness, or to buy items; although players will find that this option is rendered pointless by the simplistic gameplay.
There are items that temporarily boost your damage capabilities or make you invincible. Occasionally you will grab an icon which lets you team up with your comrade to basically wipe the screen clear of any opposition. The only advantage of using this team combo is the fact that it gives you a break from straining your fingers in this button-mash fest.
Boss battles come in the form of villains such as Doc. Oc, The Green Goblin, and many more. Once you have freed them from their mind controlled states, they are accessible to use as partners in the game. There is about a 20 second enjoyment period when you use a villain for the first time because that’s all it takes to explore their limited move sets. It really doesn’t matter though since the different characters function all the same and don’t possess individual skills needed to bypass obstacles in the levels.
There is the option for two players to control the hero/villain duo, with the ability to jump in at any time. You can also play vs. mode by unlocking arenas found throughout the game – an option that most players will probably overlook.
Friend or Foe was designed with a goofier, more adolescent look. There is quality voice work for every character and cut scenes that inspire the occasional chuckle. The cartoon atmosphere is appropriate for this kind of game, but there is lots of room for improvement. Levels are the same boring, cliché settings we have seen before; such as military compounds, rooftops, tropical settings, etc. Generic battle music pops up when you encounter enemies, while travelling from one fight spot to another is virtually silent.
A game like this had potential to be more than just button masher for the kids. Perhaps Next Level Games wanted to add more puzzle elements or a variety of enemy encounters, but somewhere down the line it was decided to stick to the basics and play it safe. The only hope is that some young kids will get some level of joy out of a game that is barely a game at all. The only saving grace for this beat’em up is the fact that it has the Spiderman license attached to it. For some, that may be enough to warrant attention.
Gameplay: 3, Graphics/Sound: 6.5, Innovation: 1, Mojo: 3 Final: 4 / 10