Games owe Spidey a big thank you

Clearly, video game makers think there’s something appealing about “Spider-Man.” Two new games owe more to Spidey than Tobey Maguire does.

In “Bionic Commando,” you use a chain connected to your bionic arm as a grappling hook to swing from building to building — and from stalactite to stalactite — through a city and through vacuous caverns.

You do this to combat terrorists running amok on a futuristic, sci-fi Earth. The nasty government has given you one bionic arm (yes, the cheapskates funded only one bionic arm) and have asked you to single-handedly take out all these terrorists. No pressure, right?

All this swinging looks and feels a lot like Peter Parker’s superpower. Also like Spidey, you shoot your grappling wire into a bad guy’s chest, then you fish-yank the wire so that your feet land on his chest, then you kick him into tomorrow.

Or you can simply shoot terrorists in the face with a gun. It’s your choice, killer.

The first “Bionic Commando” came out in 1987 and offered the same grappling and gun methods. So “Bionic” has been Spider-Man-esque since its inception. But this “Commando” is even more like the masterpiece “Spider-Man 2,” since it’s a free-roaming, goal-oriented outing in a big city.

A moderate complaint: Eluding bad guys’ gunfire is somewhat lame. On every building top, and lurking around every corner, is a terrorist, shooting sniper rifles and machine guns at you. They always know precisely where you are. And they always have good aim. This swarm of lookalike sniper villains wears thin after a while.

Meanwhile, in “Infamous,” a nuclear explosion has left your city half blown up — somehow leaving you (a bike messenger) alive and capable of firing electric volts out of your fingertips at bad guys’ heads.

Most nemeses are former drug-dealing junkies who rob and kill weak people. You can save their victims, or you can be an antihero and let them die; it’s you choice, killer.

In “Infamous,” you don’t swing from webs or from grapple-hooks. But in a very Spidey way, you use supernatural strength to climb buildings and to jump from rooftop to rooftop.

In fact, the movements of “Infamous” seem most like 2007’s quite good “Crackdown,” a Spidey-inspired adventure in which the hero uses superpowers to climb buildings and hop across rooftops. In other words, “Infamous” plays like an homage to a game that was itself an homage to “Spider-Man 2.”

Coincidentally, “Infamous” leans on the same trick as “Bionic Commando.” Snipers and machine gun nests try to take you down, cowardly, from afar. This repetition becomes routine after a while.

So while “Infamous” and “Bionic Commando” are big, solid, cool and fun (for the most part), the caveat for each is that snipers can be fairly annoying. Not the worst problem in the world.

But how are you supposed to feel a sense of accomplishment in “Infamous” when you’re constantly dodging bullets from the false construct of an army of drug-addled snipers who always spot you a mile away and always aim bullets at you perfectly?

Aren’t drug addicts supposed to have bad reflexes?

(“Bionic Commando” retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3 — Plays fun enough. Looks very good. Challenging. Rated “M” for blood, gore, strong language and violence. Three and one-half stars out of four.)

(“Infamous” retails for $60 for PS 3 — Plays fun enough. Looks very good. Challenging. Rated “T” for blood, drug references, language, mild suggestive themes and violence. Three and one-half stars.)

What do you think? Tell me at delfman@reviewjournal.com, or post your reviews and rants at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

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