Ultimate Spider-Man: Total Mayhem Review

Ultimate Spider-Man: Total Mayhem (v3.2.8) (Android/iOS)
Players: 1
Genre: [Superhero] Action
Developer: Gameloft
Marketplace/Apple Store Price: $4.99
Release Date: September 1, 2010

Game played on HTC Thunderbolt running Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread)

Parent Talk: Spider-Man is arguably the most child-friendly superhero. The comics are loved by millions; the movies are revered, and the universe’s merchandise can be found everywhere. Total Mayhem adds to it as one of the web-head’s many videogames.

Review Basis: Completed the story on Normal; acquired most of the art gallery pieces; unlocked the Black Suit.

The subtitle Ultimate Spider-Man: Total Mayhem carries is no exaggeration. Several foes of the web slinger were inmates of the Triskelion, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s maximum security, superhuman prison. That is, until a freak incident blows the place wide-open, letting Sandman, Rhino, Electro, Venom, Doctor Octopus (Doc Ock) and Green Goblin loose. It’s up to Peter Parker to return these adversaries to their cells, and stop a sinister plot brewing in Manhattan.

The Great:

All Spider-Man, none of the gimmicks. Forget pizza delivery, hearing Tobey Macguire and Kirsten Dunst, and space-time continuum nonsense. Ultimate Spider-Man: Total Mayhem highlights everything that makes our red and blue friend special. Incredible agility, mesmerizing hand-and-foot combat, web-slinging, wall crawling, boss butt-kicking…Gameloft captures it all and then some. This Android/iOS game proves that you don’t need powerful electronics to be sucked in to the Spider-Man universe.

The Good:

+ Combos galore. Spider-Man is equipped with 20 different ways to beat down his foes. A fast kick (think Street Fighter’s Chun Li], a flurry of punches, playing web rodeo…it’s all executed with three distinct touch inputs. Repetition of these skills is inevitable, but overwhelming one crowd of baddies after another with Parker’s arsenal is a treat for beat’em-up enthusiasts.

+ Visuals. Total Mayhem isn’t really cel-shaded, but still plays like a comic book come to life. Of course this mobile game isn’t decorated with intricate detail, but Spidey’s Manhattan under siege, along with well-animated battle, makes Gameloft’s efforts among the best I’ve seen on a smartphone. I can only imagine the benefit of iPhone’s retina display.

+ Voice acting. Spider-Man voice acting is well-known as a mix of seriousness and cheese, but mostly cheese. Total Mayhem doesn’t disappoint. Some of Parker’s lines are groan-inducing, but that’s just his personality. The bosses impressively sound their part too, but I could’ve done without the dozens of tied-up Manhattan citizens’ cries. Hearing “Help!” every few seconds isn’t the most effective way to motivate a rescue.

+ Bosses. Per the villain list provided earlier, clearly Total Mayhem doesn’t squelch on the boss encounters. No Spider-Man game ever really has, and the six unique battles our hero must win here are memorable and provide just the right challenge. You can’t merely mash the punch and web attack inputs to achieve victory. Sandman, all the way to Green Goblin, must each be exposed according to their individual weaknesses. It’s fun.

+ Replay incentive. Total Mayhem does its best to convince you not to leave by rewarding the fully-functional black suit, Ultimate difficulty, and a number of other extras. A Boss Rush mode, picture gallery (photos can be snapped during boss fights), and art gallery are additionally available for the player’s pleasure. Plus, it’s highly unlikely to find all the hidden art in one playthrough, so by all means return for that.

+ Audio package. The level themes won’t necessarily come to mind away from the game, but fit the experience well. The sound effects also fittingly emphasize Spidey’s hand and foot blows, in addition to his other abilities.

The So-So:

+-  Spider-sense. A Spider-Man videogame is obligated to provide the hero’s trademark ability to detect a looming threat. Total Mayhem is no exception, but here it’s unfortunately not always helpful. Usually it does a fine job of preventing a sucker punch, or other sneak attack of sorts. However, too often the animation that Spider-sense sends Peter into doesn’t clear an enemy’s size, or what’s meant to be avoided altogether. It results in unfair damage, but thankfully is easily overcome.

The Bad:

–  No Manhattan playground. This is purely a personal nitpick, not a legitimate knock. It’s asking a lot for a mobile Spider-Man game to open Manhattan for random web-slinging. Still, I think Total Mayhem teases the possibility a little too much with the aerial travel that you actually do in this adventure. It’s perfectly forgivable, but who doesn’t want it?

–  ‘Upgrading’. In each stage, green and red orbs can be collected to replenish health and upgrade Spidey’s battle attributes respectively. In light of the latter, I could never discern the fruits of pouring thousands of orbs into Parker’s strength, defense and special categories. I’m sure they were there, as I can’t imagine the game would waste your time, but what did my investments return?

The Ugly:

Battling Rhino. Defeating Spider-Man’s Juggernaut was the toughest thing for me to do. He wasn’t difficult per se, just a little cheap. I couldn’t figure out why his charge attacks connected with me despite visibly jumping high enough to clear Pointy Nose’s hulking frame. I retried the skirmish about six or seven times before finally discovering the path to Rhino’s demise, but even the revelation didn’t make victory easy to come by.

The Lowdown:

Spider-Man videogames usually, and understandably, generate more skepticism than hype. Young gamers that don’t know any better and unquenchable fans of the franchise are happy to support just about every release. Yet no one can deny that Peter Parker has struggled to star in a masterful game. Well, I’m confident that Ultimate Spider-Man: Total Mayhem doesn’t bear that stigma. I believe that finally, and on the Android/iOS platforms of all things, we have a Spidey game to be proud of. Well-done Gameloft.

Average Score Scale: 9 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 9.5/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: Simply a fantastic game, and one of the universe’s best.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: If you insist on enjoying open-Manhattan web-slinging.