While the levels are linear, that doesn't mean that you can't go around and explore all of the hidden areas found in each area. Each of the levels holds several hidden DNA strands, each of which you should be able to find if you spend a few minutes looking around the corners and out of the way areas found in the stage. On top of the DNA strands, you will also run across a hidden keycard that will open up a secret door in the level. If you open up this hidden location and beat up all of the bad guys that populate it, then you will be rewarded with a brand new multiplayer level that you can play at any time (more on that mode later). Outside of those objects nothing else is hidden, but if you spend your time destroying all of the containers, rocks and other items found in the level you will collect a lot of upgrade orbs and a few gems that will greatly increase your chances of winning the tougher challenges.
Just like the level designs, the combat in Friend or Foe is extremely simple. Basically it works out where you have a standard attack button that you mash to defeat bad guys and rack up combos. If you hold the button down you will perform a much more devastating attack, which you can then use to start a large chain of attacks and ultimately take out a number of enemies with relative ease. Along with your standard attack button you also get a special move button, which, in the case of Spider-Man, equates to a type of web attack. At first you will only be able to use your webbing to trip villains and throw them at other characters, but eventually you will earn web bullets and an attack that ties your enemies up so that it's easier for you (or the second player) to attack them. Despite the relatively simple attacks, each of the characters is able to pull off some impressive combinations by using all of the buttons to string together these attacks.
It's also worth mentioning that you can upgrade your various attacks by using the upgrade orbs. Before you start a new level you can go to the upgrade machine in the central HUB and upgrade every aspect of your attacks, from how powerful the web bullets are to which combos you will be able to pull off. Assuming that you go through each level destroying the containers and rocks you should be able to completely level up your attacks about half way through the game, which means that for the second half of the game you will feel like a real superhero. Along with the special attacks you will be able to upgrade the amount of life you have, how tough you are, and how powerful your attacks are. You will also be able to upgrade each of the various friends and foes if you feel like it.
While the game has the makings to be a solid action game, there are a few issues that ultimately bring down the overall experience. The biggest problem I have with the game is that it's just too easy, you can go through the entire game (collecting more than 900 achievement points) in around four or five hours without even batting an eye. The way the game is set up is that when you run out of health you don't really lose a life or have to start over at the beginning of the level (or even a checkpoint), instead you simply reappear on the same screen ready to continue your fight. Outside of losing a few upgrade orbs, dying is never penalized in Friend or Foe. The logic behind this, from what I can tell, is that this is for kids who are looking for a fun action game and not a steep challenge. But part of me feel like Activision is selling the youth of today short, I remember playing some of the hardest games of all time as a ten year old kid and still having a wonderful time. We're talking about games like Contra and Ninja Gaiden, the kinds of titles that make you want to throw your control at the television set. I agree that there should be a balance when it comes to the difficulty, but I worry that Friend or Foe is so outrageously easy that some kids may feel like Activision is talking down to them.
Another problem I have is that the whole thing feels very repetitive. Granted, this complaint comes with the territory. Let's face it, Streets of Rage and Final Fight where two of the most repetitive games of all time and yet we still loved them. But I would argue that those games weren't competing against the likes of action likes Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4. What's more, most of those games were only a couple hours long, not four or five. To make matters worse, there's a real lack of variety when it comes to the enemies you face in each of the levels. While it's true that the various baddies "evolve" over the course of the game, they never actually feel very different. All this is especially troubling since this is a full priced Xbox 360 game, which means that you are spending the same amount of money on this that you would on any other game this season.
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