Spider-Man was conceived as an awkward teen to appeal to an awkward teen readership, but he’s grown to become one of the most successful and best-loved super heroes of all time.
Spider-Man video games (and indeed super hero video games in general) used to be similarly awkward, clunky affairs. Ultimate Spider-Man: Total Mayhem shows just how much they’ve grown.
Abandoning the open world adventures of Spidey’s recent console excursions, Ultimate Spider-Man: Total Mayhem zooms in on the web slinger’s core abilities and builds a tightly-knit action game around them.
Web of intrigue
Spidey is a crime fighter who doesn’t have Superman-levels of strength and durability, so he has to rely on his speed, agility, and sixth sense to stay away from harm. That translates here into a fluid, fast-paced, combo-heavy brawler where you can dodge bullets with a timed button press.
Attacking groups of goons is a simple matter of hammering a virtual 'attack' button to unleash a flurry of attacks. Hitting the 'jump' button while you’re laying into them will knock your enemy into the air, setting them up for a number of possible attacks.
Finally, pressing the 'web' button in the middle of an attack will initiate any number of contextual attacks, from pinning the enemy’s arms with sticky stuff to swinging them around like a shot-put.
The combat is undoubtedly the star of the show here, and it quite rightly occupies the majority of your time. However, Spider-Man’s also known for his unique means of locomotion, and that’s where Ultimate Spider-Man: Total Mayhem stumbles a little.
A fighter, not a jumper
Swinging from lamppost to lamppost with his webs is a fun, if limited, experience, and the occasional wall-climbing excursion is a pleasant enough diversion (although lacking the fluid grace of his other moves). But some ill-advised platforming sections take a bit of the shine off the game.
Having to jump between platforms and leap between narrow wires is a clunky experience. The virtual stick is fine for navigating a fight, but it lacks the fine-tuned sensitivity to direct pin-point jumping.
Still, the majority of your time with Spidey will be spent bashing heads and engaging the seven gruelling boss characters, which is all portrayed with a wonderfully vibrant 3D engine. It truly manages to do justice to the 2D artwork that inspired the game.
Indeed, the game as a whole does brilliant justice to the Spidey character. With a heavy focus on slick combat, sparingly seasoned with brief platforming sections, Ultimate Spider-Man: Total Mayhem is the finest action game on Android.