Just your average everyday Spider.
As Peter Parker and Eddie Brock witness the theft of Octavian innovation by a thief shrouded in spidey-dreads, one wonders "Was that really some sort of evil-Spider-man, or was it just a cheap trick? Was it a ploy to draw the hapless witnesses in for the sake of some hidden motive, or is there really some awesome new Spider in town!?"
Speculate all you want. As you play the game the plot will unfold, and so will the identity of the faux Spider-man. But whether or not you are surprised to uncover some mysterious machinations towards the end of the game, you will definitely be disappointed to find that the real imposter is the game itself.
First of all, Spider-man fights like a pansy. As opposed to lightning quick, spider-style attacks, Spider-man's staple offensive moves are boring punching and kicking combos a la Final Fight. Sure these combos are as easy to pick up as a plate full of cake, pie and ice-cream, but once you've mastered them (it took me 2 whole seconds), there's not much left to learn.
Outside of his mundane combos, Spider-man can attack enemies with webbing and inanimate objects like desks and chairs, which he throws. You can't pull any chair or car combos (a car combo would have been an instant AAA+ in my book), and you definitely can't throw anything while jumping. You can't even jump while holding a chair, much less fire a hot, fast, LA-Z-Boy while backflipping out of harm's way. Still, the ability to kill a man with a sofa is always a plus.
The combos and furniture are supplemented by some weak webbing attacks. You can choose between shooting trap-webbing, which inundates your enemy in a slimy slew of webbing; impact webbing, which is basically just a hard hitting projectile weapon; or the web-shield, which uses a lot of webbing and isn't any fun. Talk about your poorly spun webs.
However, you can do this little number where you snag a guy with webbing and dash him against a wall or, even better, off the top of a building with a little tug and some spider-strength. Yay.
You also get these spikes made of webbing that Spider-man spins on his hands, making his combos more damaging. Wow. So for Spiderman to hit as hard as he should be able to in the first place you've gotta spend webbing?
The other thing that really limits Spidey's combat potential is the unruly camera. Spider-man is fast and agile, but the camera is slow and makes no effort to keep enemies in view, which usually results in Spider-man jumping around, getting totally confused because all he can see is himself, and then getting shot by a static bad guy, who he then has to walk over to and combo to death.
All this trash could definitely use a Hefty sack, and nothing says garbage management like a good targeting system. Unfortunately, there isn't one. Instead, you get these little red arrows at the edges of your screen that show you which directions your enemies are in. Not how close, or how big, or how dangerous, just kinda where. And this is supposed to be your spider sense. Not only is Spider-man's spider sense less than impressive, it's also less than generic. Even the lamest 3D games have targeting systems, but sorry ol' Spider Guy doesn't even get one of those.
Aside from comboing guys to death, there's a lot of running around to open doors that lead to other doors that lead to the next level which is also full of doors. Kinda tedious, no? Well, not only is Spider-man totally linear, it's also repetitive. It just seems so wrong to have Spider-man running down corridor after corridor looking for switches. It almost reminds me of, oh my God, another Tomb Raider game! Gasp!
Fortunately, in what are Spider-man's ultra-glossy shining moments, you do get to flip around and swing from building to building, with all the grace and freedom of your typical neighborhood spider. This is what most people want out of a Spider-man game.
Spider-man's web-swinging stages are huge, with all sorts of structures to swing to and crawl on. You can go anywhere your webs will take you without any fear of getting lost, as you've got your handy spider-compass! It would've been better if the compass could've been worked in with the spider-sense somehow, but even in its generic, bottom right hand of the screen, regular-ass-compass-that-you-see-in-every-game form, it's still really helpful.
Unlike the better PSX version (which was full of cool in-game cut-scenes), Spider-man on the N64 has to resort to comic-book style panels to relate its plot. While not as natural as in-game cut scenes, the comic-style presentation is a creative solution to those pesky N64 hardware problems. If only you could flip through the panels like comic-book pages as opposed to waiting for each one to load. Zzzz.
While Spider-man for the N64 has some of the snazzy spider's super skills down pat, it falls prey to some boring gameplay design. Spider-man is a rental for sure (love that web-swingin!!), but only the hardest core, Spidey-underoos wearin' nut should feel compelled to buy this game.