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ups: Great graphics; excellent sound; lots of Spidey powers; lots of boss battles; cameo by Bruce Campbell.
downs: Indoor levels make camera tricky; some minor control frustration at different moments.

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Spider-Man: The Movie Review (PC)
game: Spider-Man: The Movie
four star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: Activision
date posted: 09:10 AM Wed May 29th, 2002
last revision: 05:46 AM Wed Nov 30th, 2005

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by Eric Qualls

Spider-Mania is upon us in full force. Unless you have some mystical powers, there is no way you could have missed the massive marketing campaign for not only the movie, but the video game as well. To say that the movie and the game based upon it were highly anticipated would be a major understatement. The movie has more than delivered on fans\' expectations of Spidey\'s first appearance on the silver screen, but does the game manage to make as big of a splash on the PC? Yes it does. It\'s a thoroughly enjoyable experience, but it isn\'t flawless.

As you probably already know, Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider and is mutated into the superhero we know as Spider-Man. He fights crime, beats up bad guys such as the Green Goblin, Vulture, and Scorpion and saves Mary Jane time and again. Calling this game Spider-Man: The Movie was based more on marketing than the fact that the game follows the movie. They both share a similar look and a few similar moments, but the game introduces a couple of different bosses and takes a few side trips before its conclusion. I appreciate the fact that the developers left the storytelling to the movie and focused instead on giving players the closest experience they are going to get to actually being Spider-Man.

Besides the catchy theme song, what is the first thing you think of when you hear \"Spider-Man\"? Swinging from building to building, crawling on anything and everything, and using his webbing to take on the bad guys are what I think of. Luckily for all of the Spider-Man fans out there, Spider-Man: The Movie has all of the trademark abilities and more. Over the last couple of years, Activision has released two Spider-Man games that were fun and all, but seemed like Spidey-Light. You were severely limited in what you could do, due in large part to the hardware-- and this hurt the game. In this new game, everything seems perfect. The sheer amount of area you can cover when swinging through the city is phenomenal. You can literally go as low as fifty feet above street level all the way up to the top of the highest skyscraper that is a thousand feet higher. For the first time in a Spider-Man game, there is aerial combat. You also have the ability to shoot a web at a nearby wall or ceiling or building and zip-line over to it. You can create protective domes made of webbing or power up your punches by putting webbing on your fists. You can shoot webs at bad guys and drag them to you for some up close and personal butt kicking. On top of all that, you can climb on anything you want. The ability list is as complete as it ever has been in any Spider-Man game.

All of these abilities are put to use in two different types of levels: outdoor and indoor. Swinging around the city is perfectly executed. You really feel like you are Spider-Man as you zip from building to building or climb up the walls. Occasionally, there are airborne enemies to fight, but the camera lock-on ensures that you never lose track of your prey. The indoor levels are a mixed bag. The first indoor level is a warehouse filled with thugs, and even at this early point in the game it is pretty obvious that the outdoor stuff is a lot more fun. You constantly have to baby-sit the camera as you twist through the corridors, and it becomes rather annoying. More often than not, you\'ll miss an enemy or doorway simply because the camera is in the wrong position. Also, unless you pick your way around the levels pretty carefully, Spidey will start climbing on walls or tables simply because he got too close to them. When you are purposely climbing up the walls and start climbing on the ceiling, the controls reverse so you\'ll start going back down the wall. Aggravating, to say the least. There is also some sense of stealth offered in these indoor levels because when you enter the shadows, you become invisible to the guards. This is indicated by the Spidey icon in the upper right corner of the screen turning dark. A lot of the time, you have to position and reposition yourself within the shadows in order to be fully hidden. Again, this detracts from the otherwise fast pace of the game. When fighting thugs, there are several combo attacks you can find in addition to your web attacks, but it becomes a bit repetitive. Luckily, there really aren\'t all that many enemies and the awesome boss battles happen pretty frequently. The indoor levels are fun once you adapt to the finicky game engine, but the outdoor levels are definitely more fun.

Worth mentioning in a separate paragraph, because of its coolness, is the Training Mode. As you have probably heard, Bruce Campbell provides the voice of your trainer and he is absolutely hilarious. The training missions themselves are quite useful as well. These include web swinging, fighting, and a special bowling minigame among others. The missions are really helpful and make the game a lot easier and more satisfying to play. Bruce is already an exceptionally cool man, but with his help in the training mode, you too can be cool in no time at all.

Controlling Spider-Man is easy if you have a good gamepad. There are a lot of commands to keep track of, and some things require quite a bit of precision, so using the keyboard and mouse setup is rather tricky. I know I\'m beating a dead horse here, but unless you\'re playing a FPS or strategy game, get a good controller. It\'ll save a lot of headaches.

Graphics and sound are both extremely well done in this game. The outdoor levels are huge and as detailed as building sides and rooftops can be. You can see cars driving on the streets below, but you can\'t get down far enough to interact with them. The first level is during the day and looks great, but later levels that take place during the night simply look amazing. One major problem in the outdoor levels is that if there are too many enemies or too many things going on, the game gets choppy and grinds to a halt for a few seconds. This only happened once during the indoor missions, fighting a huge boss in an enormous room with many missiles flying around, so the framerate is only a problem outside. The indoor levels are nicely detailed as well. The first indoor level is a warehouse filled with destructive tables and chairs and other things that you can actually throw at your enemies. All of the indoor levels are similarly detailed and look good. The character designs are extremely well done, for the most part. Main characters like Spider-Man/Peter Parker and Green Goblin/Norman Osborn are very detailed and look, dare I say, realistic. The other bosses, Scorpion and Vulture, are also very detailed. Mary Jane doesn\'t look as good as everyone else for some reason, though. The low level bad guys are typically plain faced to signify their unimportance. The music and sound effects are good, and the voice acting is superb. Tobey Maguire and Willem Defoe provide the voice work for their respective characters and sound especially good.

Overall, Spider-Man: The Movie is a really enjoyable game. Beautiful graphics, superb voice work and sound, and satisfying game play are the highlights. There are some frame rate issues during the outdoor missions, but usually the game runs fine. I would have to say that nothing is better than swinging around the huge city, coming and going as you please. Combat can become repetitive, but the boss battles are superb and there really aren\'t that many toadies to beat up anyway. All of the combo moves and web abilities are well done and fun to use. Whether you have seen the movie or not, Spider-Man is definitely worth playing.