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Spider-Man: The Movie

Review By:  Christopher Coey

Developer:  Treyarch
Publisher:  Activision
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Action
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  6-10-02

Spider-Man is my childhood super hero. Heís the one I had on my bedsheets, and on my underwear (anyone else remember Under-Roos?) Out of my extensive comic-book collection, the majority are Spider-Man comics. I have been waiting for a good Spider-Man movie since I first saw the Electric Company on Saturday mornings. In other words: I know the character. I know what a good Spider-Man story, movie, comic, or game should have. There is a "feel" that should accompany anything surrounding the web-slinger. This game has it.

Anything you might want to be included, any move that you might want to be able to do is probably there, at least somewhat. The missions, and levels are straight from the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man. You almost get the feeling of being a hero. Which is exactly what the developers hope for. During one of the missions, Mary Jane is has been kidnapped. When you track her down, the Goblin has her high atop a suspension bridge and a large fire is moving towards her. Meanwhile, the Goblin is attacking you. You have to stall the Goblin long enough to grab MJ and swing her down to safety before the fire reaches her, then go after the Goblin for your revenge. Itís a great level.

Let me get this out of the way right now. This game is pretty short. There are really not that many levels in total, and the game doesnít take that long to complete. But what Iíve realized lately, especially when I finished this game, is that at least for this generation of games, most of the great games are simply going to be short. The basic reason for this is money. Games these days cost a lot to develop. Not to mention time. Even if a game has a solid, developed engine, the level designs still require a lot of time and effort to build. A developer can extend a gameís length by making a lot of repeat levels, which have the same basic structure and format (but even these take more time and money than one would imagine.) But do we, as gamers, really want that? I think most of us would prefer variety of gameplay, and quality levels. Take the Metal Gear series. Stellar, varied level design wrapped in an amazing game engine, which combine into one of the greatest games of all time. But the games are short. Actually, a lot of comparisons can be made between, say, MGS2 and Spider-Man. Even down to a number of "stealth" missions that almost make one believe that itís Solid Snake under that mask.

So let me recap: Iíve talked about the civilian rescue missions, and the stealth missions. Anyone familiar with the previous Spider-Man games for the Playstation (PSone versions by Neversoft, and the sequel by Vicarious Visions)

will no doubt have played missions like these. But the real ace-in-the-hole for this particular incarnation of Spider-Man is the new Aerial Combat. Taking place high above the streets of New York City (complete with landmarks), as long as you can suspend your disbelief and not worry about what (or what not) your webs are actually attaching to, Iíll bet youíve never seen or played anything quite like it. There are a lot of tricks and types of gameplay to master in this game, but this is probably the most challenging, and coolest. Swing-kick an enemy as you fly by on a web, or freefall hundreds of feet to land on top of an enemy and engage them hand-to-hand. Not to mention web attacks.

The sound design is adequate (hey, it canít ALL be perfect), and the music is very well done. Especially the techno intro and gameís Ďmissionsí music. But I have to give major accolades to the vocals. The vocal talents are straight from the movie: Toby Maguire and William Dafoe. And even though, at times, they can get a little repetitive, I never got tired of Spidyís quips and repartee. It just shows how much the developers cared about the game and the characters to have Peter Parkerís wit shine through on top of all the great action in the game.

An added bonus, which was one of my favorite additions to the game, is that Bruce Campbell (from Evil Dead, Army of Darkness fame) provides the voice of the Ďtourguideí who walks you through the training missions. Complete with the sarcasm and macho humor heís famous for. Not to mention Dwight Schultz from The A-Team, and Star Trek series, great casting.

Graphically, this is one of the best games on any console system to date. I compared the PS2 graphics to the GameCube's graphics side-by-side, and the GameCube took the award. Activision did a great job tweaking the game to the specific systems, and it says a lot about the power of the GameCube that even the X-Box version doesnít appear noticeably different. But apart from the differences between the next-gen consoles, the graphics themselves are very impressive. The detail of the textures is astounding. If you place the camera in the right position, you can actually see Spider-Manís abs flex as he wall-crawls around a building. The fully 3D environments contain no pop-up or fogging, the sight distances seem unlimited. And the animated cut-scenes between the levels are a dream. The all too common camera problems that arise with most 3D games these days seem to have been addressed; I personally never really noticed the camera, which means that there werenít any glaring problems. It was mostly in a good position, except that it doesnít reset fast enough for me when you change direction. But you are at least given the ability to control camera angles and directions yourself. The use of transparent sections of walls and ceilings are well used to allow the player to see whatever is needed to be seen.

The story of the game basically follows that of the movie. However, few gamers would have been satisfied with a one-villain game. So, Activision has added a few familiar faces. Unfortunately, the added villains (Shocker, Vulture, and my favorite The Scorpion) donít really fit into the story. A couple more levels (even some repeat level design) and one or two added animations could have tied it all together somehow. Instead, the game follows the plot of the movie as far as Spidy getting and learning to use his powers, and fighting the Goblin. The other villains are thrown in on top of that story, but not tied into it. That is just a limitation inherent in making a movie tie-in as opposed to an original story. The added levels are still great to play, and the villains are excellent, they just donít fit into the overall story very well.

Highs:

  • Incredible graphics
  • Great, varied gameplay
  • Cool music
  • Perfect "feel" for what a Spider-Man game should be

Lows:

  • Awkward and complex control scheme
  • Wallcrawling or aerial, difficult to change direction and camera angles
  • Many people will find it too short

Final Verdict:

From the Ďthwipí or your webline, to the crack of a thugs jaw as you pull of any of the 28 different hand-to-hand combos, this game is fun start to finish. The only game I can compare this version of Spider-Man with would be Metal Gear Solid 2 for the PS2, and it holds itís own in any category one might wish to compare. Although short on gameplay, the levels are so well done that youíll want to keep playing them multiple times. However, this gameís replay value does extend further than that. While replaying the levels, you can attempt to increase your score, or the difficulty level to unlock hidden videos, costume, and the occasional mini-game (including Spidyís web-slinging Ďbowling for thugs.í) All this with graphics that are so kick-as, youíll have to see them to fully understand. Play this game.

Overall Score: 9.0

Additional Images:

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