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Spider-Man - PC - Review


Posted by: jkdmedia

Review Rating 7.0 Good
Your Score

When I was in elementary school (many, many years ago), there was a kid who spoke of his comic book collection. One Saturday he showed me. No, I wasn’t allowed to touch it – he only touched each copy once, carefully read it and then placed it in a clear plastic sleeve, sealed it and stored it away with the rest. “They are going to be worth something some day,” he proudly said. It seems his parents had gotten him a subscription to the original Spider-man comic books, and he had the first 200. But from that moment on, I was one of Spidey’s fans.

Remember the old television theme song?

“Spider-man, Spider-man,
He can do anything a spider can...”

Activision (along with Neversoft, Treyarch and Gray Matter) have incorporated a slightly updated version of that theme into the introduction of Spider-man, billed as a super hero action-adventure game. The game is, essentially, a third-person RPG featuring plenty of bad guys to fight.

Players take on the persona of the web-slinger, zipping through the skyline of New York in pursuit of …

Let’s backtrack a moment. Peter Parker (also known as Spider-man) is attending a press conference by Dr. Otto Octavius (you may know him better as Dr. Octopus), who is about to unveil an incredible breakthrough in technology, when suddenly who should appear at the conference but another Spider-man, who makes off with the machine. Obviously it was a bogus Spider-man, and Eddie Brock – Parker’s journalistic rival – witnessed the theft. It is enough to awaken the symbiotic alien inside Brock who transforms the erstwhile reporter into Venom.

Cut to a laboratory where Octavius releases some sort of gas that shrouds the streets of New York, leaving the skyline the only place to operate. That’s just fine with our superhero. The game actually opens with Spidey receiving a visit from Felicia Hardy in her slinky Black Cat costume. There is a bank robbery going down, hostages have been taken and it’s up to Spider-man to save the day.

That’s when the game takes off. Other superheroes (like DareDevil and The Torch) make appearances, all in the role of pushing Spidey along. Spider-man co-creator Stan Lee narrates the story with a cyber twinkle in his eye. This is supposed to be fun stuff and Lee gives it that feel.

The vocal characterizations are light and entertaining. Venom, who momentarily teams with Spider-man, goes into lap-dog mode when Spidey suggests visiting the Bugle to look up some files. Venom, jumping up and down, tongue wagging, wants to know if they can “surf the Net.”

The audio track does have a few flaws, most notably some breakup as the game progresses.

The controls are rather complicated, but can be reconfigured to make it easier on game players. And the game has several modes of play, including a kids’ mode, which keeps everything very simple.

Where this game scores is in the visual department. The animation is well done. The environmental graphics have a tendency to look similar, whether it’s the tunnels under New York, the floors of the multi-story bank or the Bugle. There are obstacles to jump over, walls to climb and ceilings to cling to. Fortunately, if Spidey is on the ceiling, and in the right spots, the ceiling goes opaque. It certainly is a joy to crawl along the ceiling until you are directly over a pair of thugs, then drop down and clobber ‘em using “fists of fury” and martial arts-style kicks.

This game could have used a ‘look’ command so the web-head could peer around poles. They can cause visual obstruction. Spider-man is also not set up for a player who only has a few minutes to spare. You have to complete levels to get to the save area. This can be time consuming. And the game segues between levels with cutscene after cutscene.

The game does have a few arcade-style elements – you can find power-ups and other goodies scattered throughout the game. Don’t understand the purpose of collecting comic book covers, other than to add them to the gallery for later viewing, but they are there nonetheless.

The long and short of it is this: if you are a Spider-man fan, you will enjoy this program. If you aren’t, you will probably enjoy the camp elements of the program, the tongue-in-cheek dialogue and the superhero animation and graphics.

Install: Easy
Spider-man only seeks a minimum of 200 megs of hard-drive space, and a maximum of 500 megs. It installs quickly.

Gameplay: 7
The control elements take some reconfiguring before they are comfortable, but an in-game, anytime save function would have been nice. The game is filled with numerous cutscenes that slow progress through the levels.

Graphics: 8
The animation is very good. The Web-crawler moves well going up walls and across ceilings. The character seems a little stiff and jerky when peering around, but the supporting cast is well rendered.

Sound: 6.5
There were some problems in the later portions of the game with audio breakup, but these were seldom. This program is scripted with a very tongue-in-cheek flair.

Difficulty: 7
This game features the standard three difficulty levels, plus a Kid mode, which will allow younger players to advance easily through the levels.

Concept: 7
Spidey has been available on other platforms, so the superhero thing with this particular character has been done.

Multiplayer: N/A

Overall: 7
If personal bias had been heeded, this score would have been higher. However, in looking at the game, there are some snags in the webbing that keep the score down. But to vent a little personal bias, this is a well-animated and entertaining game.

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