Publisher: Activision Inc.
Developer: Gray Matter
N Amer - 04/16/2002
Spider-Man: The Movie Review
Toby Maguire as Spider-Man may have been a questionable decision for the feature film, the greatest mumbler of all time hardly seems suited to play the part of the infamous web slinger, but what’re you gonna do? This game rocks and that is all that really matters. Toby Maguire aside, this is a pony of an event that is worthy of the highest recognition. I haven’t seen the movie yet, all I have to go on is the video game, but I can say without a doubt that this title is of extraordinary quality. Its not unlike the previous games really, for all intents and purposes this is a logical sequel, but it innovates enough to be original in its own right. Spider-Man: The Movie was released across nearly every platform currently on the market, so regardless of the type of hardware you own there is a good chance you will be able to play this game. That is, unless you are a Mac user or all your time is spent in the post-apocalyptic world of the arcades. It’s just a genuinely cool experience; Gray Matter did an excellent job of emulating what it might be like to be Spider-Man.
Playing this game on the default mode of 640-480 resolution with low detail settings is doable even on lower-end processors. The game plays great for the most part, even with a 500+mhz processor and a GeForce caliber videocard you’ll rarely see any stuttering or slowdown. Cranking up the resolution to 1024-768 with high details simply puts the console counterparts to shame, every individual line of Spidey’s costume can be seen and draw distances stretch as far as the eye can see. Character models are busting at the seams with polygonal-perfection, animation is smooth and realistic – in short, Spider-Man has never looked this good before. Explosions are intense and powerful with lots of destructible items. The various indoor and outdoor environments are teeming with atmospheric detail, with steady frame rates even in the many instances when things get busy on-screen. The CG cut scenes do a good job of translating movie scenes into a 3D rendered universe and Toby Maguire looks spookily realistic.
Voice acting is particularly good with Toby Maguire revising his respective role as Spider-Man. William Dafoe plays the part of the Green Goblin and does an excellent job of incorporating a sinister, over-the-top-type ambiance to the character. The rest of the cast is played by professional voice-actors and they represent the various characters found in the game very well, but it’s a little disappointing that Toby and William were the only people from the actual film to provide voice-overs.
As you fight foes you’ll be treated to quips and witty retorts between Spider-Man and the legion of baddies in the Marvel universe. Swinging through the air high above towering buildings while laying the smack down on your opponents is perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the game, more so then any previous Spider-Man title in fact. Spider-Man will slam into buildings nearly losing his balance if you are unable to successfully negotiate sharp turns, while this is almost purely an aesthetic addition it does a nice job of giving the game a sense of urgency and consequence.
Bruce Campbell will play the part of narrator in this game (sorry Stan Lee fans) and he incorporates an off-the-wall sense of humor and useful advice into his many commentaries. He will guide you through the tutorial if you opt to freshen up your spider-skills before beginning the actual game, his off-beat jokes and remarks sound somewhat diminished at times however since the developers had to do a bit of splicing in Bruce Campbell’s lines where he refers to specific buttons you have to press. For example in the Xbox version he’ll say to hold the R-Trigger to web-swing, but in the PC version there is no ‘R-trigger’ so that word has to be replaced with ‘The web-swing button’. Its not a huge thing but it can offset the overall ambiance of the game at times since it sounds so obviously out of place.
Fans of the previous Spider-Man games will be glad to know that the gameplay mechanics of this title have been tweaked and refined almost the point of perfection. Camera issues are nowhere near as prevalent as they used to be, you’ll have a large arsenal of fighting combos at your disposal, the level design is very intuitive and easy to navigate, and unless your playing this game with a mouse/keyboard combination the control is spot on. I wouldn’t recommend attempting to play this game with a mouse and keyboard simply because its nearly impossible to adequately control Spider-Man using the awkward control layout. Instead, I suggest a 10 (or more) button game pad, preferably with triggers and an analog stick.
The many levels in SPTM offer lots of diversity in the way of level design. Unlike in earlier games where most levels consisted of moving from one area to another in search for baddies to beat on, or the occasional run-away-chase-scene this game incorporates a new play-style in almost every level. The Metal Gear-esque stage of avoiding detection and compromising the enemies computer systems is of particular interest, in this level you’ll be able to hide in dark corners and if your sighted a barrage of mechanized robot killers will be unleashed en masse at which point finding a secure hiding spot is necessary to survive. Then of course there are the aerial combat sequences, which put you in the role of taking out various bad-guys while web-swinging through a skyscraper-laden Manhattan. The sheer amount of diversity in gameplay is worth the price of admission.
While the camera is very much improved over previous Spider-Man games, it can still cause some nagging annoyances here and there. Having to push the back-arrow key on the keyboard to align the perspective can be frustrating at times since high-speed chase scenes rarely give you more then a few seconds to react. In Gray Matters defense though the camera is very versatile in the sense that it does a good job of working with the many different atmospheres, it transitions nicely from underground sewage scenes to huge open-space warehouses.
Moving around in the game is very easy and the addition of the ‘Zip-Line’ maneuver even allows Spidey to move in vertical directions with ease. Crawling up a tall building is no longer time consuming since you can simply use the Zip-Line to speed yourself around. In close-quarter situations you’ll be glad that Gray Matter paid so much attention to detail in the gameplay department. However, the fun really gets an adrenaline boost in the wide-open outdoor sequences. Scaling buildings and swinging around is incredibly fun – free falling directly on top of a thug and taking him out before your feat even touch the ground is a good example of the intense action that you’ll find in this game.
Among Spidey’s many offensive attacks are the ability to wrap up enemies in spider-webbing, toss artillery based impact webbing, and of course the “Web-Dome” which allows you to shield yourself in webbing and then explode the shield on cue to deal damage to surrounding foes. You’ll also be able to collect Spider-Man symbols throughout the game that will unlock new close range combat combinations, the amount of variety in combat situations is straight up staggering.
You’ll want to visit the game’s levels even after winning the game since the more points you earn the more secret stuff you will be able to purchase in the games secret-store. Style-points can be accumulated by mixing up your strategy and tackling objectives in different ways, at the end of every level you’ll be scored on your actions in the game. There are tons of extras you can unlock to extend the game’s life span – genuinely cool stuff too. Among the unlockable goodies are new Spider-Man costumes like the Captain Universe and Spider-Man 2099 getups and even the ability to play as the Green Goblin! Expect to invest a minimum of 10 hours to get to the end credits of this game.
Spider-Man: The Movie is enjoyable from beginning to end with enough diversity peppered throughout the experience to keep the action fresh. Spider-Man is a rare exception in the movie-to-game category that truly delivers on purporting the excitement of its subject matter into an interactive digital form. In some ways the PC version is the port to own if you have a choice, the high-res character models are far better then those found within its console counterparts but it is lacking the bonus stages and head-to-head options of the Xbox version.
Swinging from building to building and jumping on the heads of enemies is incredibly satisfying and with the minor exception of the unresponsive camera the control is spot-on.
Spider-Man looks terrific in this game and the model renderings are matched only by the huge, sweeping, detailed surroundings. Frame-rate stays consistent throughout and animations are unbelievably realistic.
Music is very fitting and voice acting sounds awesome thanks to the contributions of Toby Maguire, William Defoe and the professional voice actors that lend their talents to the game. Bruce Campbell is possibly the best narrator to ever grace a video game, all in all Gray Matter did an excellent job in the sound department.
Getting through the game won’t prove to be too difficult but unlocking all the cheats in the game and learning every combo will take some serious time. The difficulty level can be set from easy to super-hero with the latter being excruciatingly daunting.
Spider-Man games have been released consistently ever since the Atari 2600 but this latest Spider-Man release is hands down the most original. SMTM is brimming with style and well executed modes of play.
Spider-Man: The Movie successfully purports the essence of the Spider-Man universe in fully rendered 3D form. The control takes some getting used to but overall the control dynamics are very intuitive. But be warned, a gamepad is a necessity to fully enjoy this title.
GameZone Review Detail
Spider-Man is back on no less then 5 different platforms, and with minimum system requirements of a 32 Meg T&L enabled video card you can bet he’s never looked better.
Reviewer: Carlos McElfish
Review Date: 05/03/2002