While at a press event for Dr. Octavius (the sinister Dr. Octopus in disguise),
mild mannered Peter Parker (the web slinging Spider-man in disguise), along with
his reluctant co-worker Eddie Brock (the confusing Venom in disguise), witnesses
the theft of a very expensive piece of hardware owned by the ‘good’ doctor. Talk
about hidden agendas.
Which brings me to a question that’s haunted me for years. If you were a super-genius who could invent damn near anything, why on earth would you bother inventing a giant metal girdle with six metallic arms attached to it? Mind you, not one of these arms has an opposable thumb, so you know he’s not holding much. I guess he could scratch his back in those hard to reach places, and they may aid a ‘common’ criminal in the life of thievery, but a major villain with henchmen and everything? The arms just seem so…over-the-top.
Though that girdle would be great at the fair. You know, on one of those Skill
Cranes where you try to pluck a small stuffed animal from a, uh, pile of stuffed
animals. Muahaha! After I reach the purple teddy, it’s on to world domination!
Muahahh! Well, at least it’s not that pansy Green Goblin with his lame-ass pumpkin
What makes the theft at the press event mildly unusual for the wall-crawler
is that the perpetrator was wearing a Spider-Man costume and swinging on spider-webs.
Who could this be? Pssst. Can you say “Clone Wars?”
Other than this fiasco, it’s a pretty typical day for Spider-Man. Brought
to life in 3D from the developers at Neversoft, the Spider-Man game is
at once exciting and boring, brimming with moments of web-slinging fun but hampered
by monotonous gameplay.
Your adventure starts off with a tip about a bank robbery from Spidey’s good
friend and super-hero peer known as the Blackcat. This actually sets the tone
for the game. Many clues and other helpful information will find it’s way to
Spidey via the Blackcat, the Human Torch, Daredevil and other familiar Marvel
saviors of the New York metropolis.
Activision has done an excellent job designing our favorite arachnid, giving
him all the cool powers you remember. He can cling and scale darn near any surface:
walls, pillars, ceilings etc. This comes in handy, more than just about any
of his other abilities. If you ever find yourself falling (which you will find
happening a lot), just guide Spidey with the D-pad towards the closest wall
or surface to stick to it. Although how he sticks to anything through those
Underoos he’s wearing is a mystery to me.
Is he strong? Listen, bud, he’s got radioactive
blood! Statistically, Spidey can lift 10 tons. In the game he can lift desks,
chairs, tables and so on. These items, which do a good amount of damage, can
be hurled at you assailants or simply moved about to reveal useful items like
health or web-fluid cartridges, which are used to replenish Spiderman’s web-shooters.
The web-shooters and their fluid have always been a major concern for Spidey,
and he won’t be doing any swinging or trapping any baddies if he doesn’t have
a healthy supply of this viscous material. It was good of Activision to include
Speaking of the webbing, Spidey has a myriad of uses for the sticky substance.
He can spin a web to swing from one place to another, or tie an opponent up
and/or swing them around in a few directions. Spinning a web at some goon and
whipping them into a wall or over a ledge is pretty cool.
One of the most effective weapons in Spidey’s arsenal is his ability to spin spike-shaped webbing over his fists. This gives Spidey’s punches much more power, which you will really need later in the game. Punches, kicks and various grabs round out the wall-crawler’s offensive repertoire. You can grab a goon, crawl up on to his shoulders and punch him repeatedly in the back of the head.
And thanks to intuitive control, all of these moves are really easy to pull
off. No “quarter-circle-down-down-up-up” nonsense. That’s cool!
Part of the reason behind the simple controls is the fact that Spider-Man
is running on the Tony Hawk Pro
Skater engine. I’m glad to see this used again, though the graphics as a
whole are a bit bland. The colors aren’t very vibrant.
However, Spidey’s many costume changes are included. Comic geeks will remember
when Spidey became Captain Universe and donned the blue and white outfit of
this cosmic entity. Other Spidey duds include the black symbiote costume, Ben
Reilly, the Scarlet Spider, Spiderman 2099 and a few others. This is probably
one of the coolest true-to-comic book features in the game.
Unfortunately, enemies other than the supervillains plague Spider-Man.
The game’s problems stem from the uninteresting and unimaginative world you
must traverse. While the goons get progressively tougher, the gameplay never
really detours from basic ‘seek-the-door’ type gaming. You don’t even need to
worry yourself with the goons. You can just jump, swing or crawl around until
you find the door, vent or elevator to take you to the next part of this extremely
linear game. Then you must battle one of Spidey’s arch villains at the end of
each level. Very arcade-like…and somewhat dull.
If done correctly, sound can really enhance a gaming experience. Not that
you’d know that from this game, since the sound in Spider-Man stinks,
with some of the most repetitive voice acting I have heard in a long time. If
I accidentally walk over a health item, I don’t need Spidey constantly telling
me “I’m already at full health!” Sheesh! I didn’t know Spider-Man was
so anal-retentive. In the comic book, Spidey uses a lot of supposed witty dialogue
while battling evil. But whoever wrote the dialogue for this game wasn’t using
his Spider Sense.
As a saving grace, the game is narrated by the legendary great one himself,
Stan Lee. Excelsior to you, Activision! I wonder if Stan knows excelsior refers
to curved wood shavings used for shipping and packing?
For the most part, I have enjoyed playing Spider-Man, but not because
of the game or the adventure. I have enjoyed it because of how cool Spidey looks
swinging through the city and utilizing his multitude of abilities. Plus I used
to be a certifiable comic book nerd, so seeing Daredevil, the Human Torch, Carnage
and many other Marvel greats is a real treat. But taken purely as a game, this
one could use some radiation treatment.