Spider-Man - DC - Review
Yes, Dreamcast owners, that is your Spider-Sense tingling. Everyone’s favorite web-head has finished his port over to the Dreamcast, and is all set for web-slinging action and adventure in the new game from Activision and Neversoft. Spider-Man is a 3rd person arcade game, putting you in control of Peter Parker’s alter ego in a super-powered adventure through the Marvel universe version of New York City.
The storyline mimics that of a comic. In fact, each “chapter” begins with the cover of a faux comic book. A Spider-man look alike has robbed a bank and got the police hot on his tail. Spidey must stop the robbers, and ultimately discover what Dr. Octupus is plotting, while trying to clear his name. Meanwhile, Venom has kidnapped Mary Jane, and is threatening to kill her within 24 hrs: a Typical day for our favorite web-head, and plenty of great fodder for action. Plus, throw in a bunch of cameo appearances by the likes of Black Cat, Daredevil, and The Human Storm, and it is clear that the designers of this game were big fans of the Marvel Universe. Anyone who knows these characters will really enjoy the cut scenes.
Gameplay consists of guiding Spider-Man through the storyline. You run, jump, punch and kick, and control his signature web shooters. His web shooting ability allows you to swing from building to building in the outdoor scenarios, and in combat, can perform about a dozen different offensive and defensive moves. Though combat is made up of a lot of punching and kicking, there are great combo moves and creative ways to take the enemies using web-gloves, jump kicks, or even a “web-dome.” Of course, the Wall-Crawlers signature move is just that: wall crawling. You can climb on any wall or ceiling and drop in on the bad guys from above.
Unfortunately, this wall crawling leads to one of the games more frustrating qualities. I have no doubt that the camera control in this game went through extensive testing and redesign to try to come up with the most workable method, but that said, the camera control in Spider-Man can be pretty frustrating. When Spidey is standing there, the camera centers behind him, but as you move, the camera stays locked at that angle, even if you have turned around (and are now running toward the camera). Once you let off the directional pad the camera swings back behind you. This forces you from time to time, even in the midst of battle, to quickly release the pad, just to see a different direction. This can be a real pain. On top of that, it can be impossible to point Spidey the direction you want. Even the slightest tap on the pad and he turns about 60 degrees. I find myself getting frustrated as I try to just get my character pointing at a certain target, with constant over-corrections of the player and the camera. Add to this that I might be upside down on a wall or ceiling and it is easy to get really disoriented.
The levels are very linear, and the progressing story doesn’t allow for any variation. It’s the standard “die and restart” design, in which it is virtually guaranteed you will die or fail (for instance, a hostage gets killed) the first few times into a level. It is a matter of learning where the enemies are, where the traps are, where to jump, etc. This is disappointing, and I wish you had more choices on how to progress, but Spider-Man is at its root an arcade game, and doesn’t try to be much more.
The graphics for Spider-Man are, well, fine, but not particularly impressive. I am disappointed with how fuzzy things look, and the quality may suffer from its conversion from other platforms. I compare Spider-Man with other Dreamcast games, such as Crazy Taxi which seems like it is twice the resolution and looks really sharp on the same TV setup. Character animations are smooth and the animated cut scenes are enjoyable. The mouths on the characters do not move for dialogue which seems a little outdated. Obviously, this doesn’t affect gameplay, but this is the next generation of consoles, and we expect the little things. One big complaint is just how dark it is in this game. I played at night with all the lights out and still I couldn’t see in some of the sewer levels or interiors. Maybe the designers think this makes it a challenge, which it does, but frankly, it is no fun and unnecessary. On one particular area in the sewers, I had to jump from vertical pipe to vertical pipe with only a few blinking lights here and there. I would stick to the side of one of these pipes and let off on the gamepad; the camera would swing around in the dark and I had no orientation whatsoever. I was sideways or upside-down and the camera would swing around as I tried to get some point of reference. I almost just shut the game off. This was no fun, and I couldn’t tell a thing that was going on.
Considering my complaints, the game has room for improvement, but that said, it isn’t a bad game and you can have some fun with it, especially if you are a true Spidey fan. The variety in web-powers, and the authentic duplication of his abilities, as well as those of his super-powered enemies (look for battles with Scorpion, Hammerhead, Venom and many others), along with the classic comic book plot make for an enjoyable diversion.
The Spider powers are great and the fighting is fun. Lots to do, between swinging, crawling and fighting. The camera can be a pain! Also, plan on dying alot just figuring things out.
Average. Things are too dark for my taste.
Excellent voice acting. Fun music. Good sound effects.
Average difficulty and you can play in different modes.
Good use of the comic-book genre. Very true to the Spider-Man mythos.
A good game, but suffers a bit from a few frustrating aspects, most notably the camera and touchy controls. Spider-Man should make a few new fans, and keep his old ones.