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Spider-Man Review

publisher: Activision
developer: Neversoft
genre: Action Adventure

P233, 64MB RAM, 400MB HDD, 8MB 3D accelerator
ESRB rating: E

release date: Sep 17, 01
» All About Spider-Man on ActionTrip

October 26, 2001
Branislav "Bane" Babovic

One of the main Marvel superheroes, the Spiderman has several times (unsuccessfully) been used in films and in TV series. This hero still continues to live in comics and computer games, and while we're waiting for the new Hollywood blockbuster, we can play this PS and Dreamcast console port. The sequel of this game should appear soon on PS2, and PC players will somehow have to cope with the pathetic controls and camera in this obsolete game.

The development of Spiderman has directly been supervised by Stan Lee-a, one of the comic book authors, so you can say that it is authentic. The plot is dynamic and interesting, but the game is too short to actually impress most of the players. Spiderman fans will certainly feel that they are a part of the Marvel's world of super-heroes and techno-criminals. The game follows Spiderman's fight against evil in New York through its 34 episodes, which culminate in his fight against the criminal mastermind who wants to destroy all the population of New York.

The story begins as Peter Parker, the Spiderman's alter-ego, attends a press-conference on which Dr. Octavius, after becoming a good guy, presents his new nuclear gadget. While he is showing his invention to the public, a fake Spiderman appears, and steals the device. Eddie Brock, Peter's colleague, managed to take a few shots of the fake Spiderman, but the fake destroyed his camera and ran away. This results in Brock going berserk and turning into the notorious Venom. Peter finds all this highly suspicious (especially the fact that New York is submerged into yellow fog, a preparation for alien Symbiots). Spiderman's task is to find out who is pulling the strings and prevent the criminals from wreaking havoc in New York. The game was conceived as a number of continuous episodes linked by cut-scenes, which should help in creating a plausible storyline and proper atmosphere. Now, the first problem here is that the "episodes" do not contain much more than jumping around and fighting, and very incoherent hints of a story that seems as though the authors simply wanted to make it full of super-heroes, in order to satisfy hungry fans, rather than those who would enjoy a good Marvel story. One of the first episodes goes to prove that: Spiderman has to get to the Daily Bugle, and save J.J. Jameson (no relation to Jenna Jameson, unfortunately) from the Scorpio who wants his vengeance for the cyber suit. This has nothing to do with the game plot; they just inserted that to make the game last a bit longer and to introduce a couple of heroes more. The cut-scenes are really poor, as if though they had been done three or four years ago. It would have been better if they did everything from the game-engine.

During the game, Spiderman will meet most of his old acquaintances: Venom, Scorpion, Lizard, Mysterio, Rhino, Carnage and some other surprise characters. Spiderman's old ally, the charming Black Cat also appears, giving you useful advice during missions. Black Cat is involved in the plot, but it would be a big spoiler saying how. Dare Devil, Human Torch and even Captain America made "guest appearances" in this game.

Spiderman is a third-person, platformer with action elements. Apart from a huge number of Super-villains, Spiderman will have to face bank-robbers, run away from police choppers, and fight alien Symbiotes in Daily Bugle's printing factory, New York sewage and in the subway. The view will change in some episodes, so that in certain episodes you get to look at Spiderman from one side, or even from up front.

One of the big gameplay issues is the automatic camera movement. It is frequently late (hey he is super-fast), or passes through walls, which can result in you losing sight of action, and hence, letting some measly villain beat you up unpunished.

Spiderman can pull all the tricks in the book: climb the walls, cast his net, shield himself, form a spider fist, even use magnesium to make flaming webs which are lethal for Symbiots. Even with all these superior accessories, our hero is left to the mercy of his poorly programmed auto-aim function, which will frequently confuse both you and the AI. This is one of the things where you can see the game is an obvious console port, as it may be playable on a joypad, but it is certainly not playable on a keyboard. One of the well-implemented Spiderman's abilities is his Spider-Sense, which warns him of imminent danger. It looks just like it did in the comic book, an orange warning sign will appear around Spider-Man's head whenever danger is near.

Solving puzzles is extremely simple, and mostly comes down to pressing buttons in a certain order, or putting the bomb into the bank safe where it can explode without hurting anyone. The only thing you will need for solving the puzzles in this game are good reflexes. Most missions are usually just a bunch of fist-fighting huge numbers of enemies which is really disappointing.

You will find old comic books and see them later from the main menu. Unfortunately, all you will get to see is thirty cover-pages of the most important episodes. Apart from the comic books, you can also gather a number of different Spiderman costumes and try them out on your character. This section of the menu also contains 3D models of all characters in the game and their short biographies, which will be interesting to all newbies to Spiderman's adventures.

The game engine is, believe it or not, a modified Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 engine, and it looks quite outdated. Besides the good character design, graphics are monotonous and repetitive, and poorly textured. The graphics make a statement, and the statement is: this is a consol port!


5.5   Okay

Mediocre game, interesting only for its characters, but...

Far behind modern standards, with poor controls and camera.



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