When was the last time a console (or any platform for that
matter) featured a decent super-hero game? Seriously, beyond the
spin-off Capcom fighters the X-Men and Marvel comic characters
have never enjoyed a good game. After so many attempts at
creating a good super hero game, you would think that at least a
couple of them would be OK at best, right? Wrong. Just about
every mainstream comic game in the past has been a flub, from
the Atari 2600 to todayís current generation systems. Though
certainly not horrible by any means, previous Marvel character
games have been nothing but duds that do little to show off a
Neversoftís latest entry into gaming, though, has basically
done a 180-degree turn on that fact. Instead of just taking a
famous Marvel license and slapping it onto a tired genre *coughAcclaimcough*,
Spider-Man combines classic arcade gameplay with a
cinematic-quality feel that will leave Spidey fans with a great
sense of satisfaction. While plagued by a few control problems
and story irks, Spider-Man still ends up as the greatest super
hero title ever released and the most exciting action romp youíll
come upon this year.
Early in itís development cycle, I always questioned
Neversoftís ability to truly create a good world for our
favorite web-head to live in. I mean, how exactly would the guys
behind the legendary Tony Hawkís Pro Skater be able to convey
a realistic tone of web slinging through the city-tops of New
York City? A question that Neversoft answered not with words,
but rather in the game itself. Actually utilizing the Pro Skater
engine (which is now officially the most versatile engine in
existence considering it spanned three different genres of
games), Spider-Manís world is so full of imagination and
character that youíll be checking your wrists ever now and
then to check for supplied webbing. Spider-Manís distance view
is outstanding, letting you peer over buildings and look out
hundreds of feet ahead without distortion in graphic quality or
Spider-Manís gameplay hails back to old platform action
titles that were heavy on action and little on anything having
to do with intellect. Spidey closely follows that same pattern,
but ironically the game leaves behind any of that standardís
flaws and honestly never really gets old. Playing consists of
line swinging, wall crawling and beating up bad guys at its
simplest form. Though the puzzles are few and far between, they
all carry the same Spider-Man theme and will never make you ask,
"What is that doing in this game?"
Sadly, the gameplay itself tends to expose Spider-Manís two
largest flaws: character control and camera perspective. First,
Spider-Man really never handles quite well. His jumping is too
erratic, button precision seems to be off, and the webshots
themselves do not have an auto-lock, which means youíll be
doing a lot of time wasting web goo on the walls rather than the
baddies themselves. My second gripe is the camera never really
feels tight or snug. I'll give Neversoft credit in the fact that
(most of the time) it will give the best look and view for the
web head, but often Spideyís too quick for the camera to
follow fast enough. (Play one of Venomís chase scenes and youíll
understand). Itís not the point at which Spider-Man is
unplayable, but some parts in the game tend to be extremely
frustrating on account of this.
Spider-Manís story follows the life of Peter Parker,
journalist for the Daily Bugle and better known as our favorite
web-slinger. Spider-Manís plot takes place at a science expo
where Dr. Otto Octavious is showing off his most recent
scientific technology when out of the blue Spider-Man appears
and runs off with it! Oddly, Peter Parker himself is in the
crowd that night, so it couldnít have been the real
Spider-Man, right? This is just a snippet of Spider-Manís
engaging story that will have you crossing paths with some of
Spider-Manís most classic villains and friends.
The only weak link to the otherwise fantastic tale is how
Neversoft guided it. Donít get me wrong, Spider-Manís story
is classic as itís strait out of a comic itself, but the
latter half of the game seemed a little rushed in the light that
so many characters were introduced in such a short time span
without much development of them in the process. As a result the
game tends to be rather short in length, since it took me only a
little under two days to beat the game on both the Normal and
Hard difficulty levels. Sure, the extra incentives of gathering
hidden costumes and comic covers are nice, but they donít
replace a good solid adventure in the end.
On the other end of the spectrum is Spider-Manís
presentation and that, my friends, does not slip up. Spider-Manís
graphics are without a doubt the best ever in a super-hero game.
Everything from the textures of NYC to Spidey himself make a
believable world for Spider-Man to swing around in, with the
frame rate always keeping at a respectable pace no matter how
heavy the action gets on screen. Like I said before the draw
distance is outstanding for a PlayStation game, always making
Spider-Man an ease to play and a pleasure to watch as well. The
best looking Marvel game in existence, no ifs and buts about it.
Luckily Spider-Man shines through in the aural area as well.
Narrated by Stan "The Man" Lee, co-creator of the
Amazing Spider-Man comic series, Spider-Man gives off a feeling
of polish that even most of todayís PC and Dreamcast titles
canít match. The classic web swipt! sound is here, and
the usual kick and punch noises are represented as well.
Background music is a mix of techno and rock which blends
surprisingly well with Spider-Manís gameplay and never acts as
a nuisance to your play.
But the real stars of the audio are without a doubt the voice
acting and dialogue. Whether it is Spider-Man, Rhino, or
Mysterio, just about every major character has voice acting on
par with todayís movies. Venomís remarks are humorous and
witty, as Carnageís voice is sickingly eerie but comical on
the other hand. Added with the gameís perfect CG cinemas and
itís like a digital version of a Spider-Man episode unfolding
in front of you. I truly commend Neversoft for not leaving this
vital, important part of the Spidey universe out on the doorstep
behind everything else. Hearing this game is nearly as good as
even watching it Ė Spider-Manís sound is that damn good.
So is Spider-Manís first PlayStation take a good one? For
the most part, yes. Some confusing camera problems and control
frustrations may bog it down, but Neversoftís charm positively
gleams through with their Spidey effort. Even I, a huge
Spider-Man fan, am hard pressed to find a truly large quandary
with the game, which shows a testament to its quality.
Spider-Man faithful or not, do yourself a favor and give
Spider-Man a few swings Ė I guarantee you wonít regret it.
Highs: Incredible presentation
and production values. Classic gameplay that never gets old;
delightful character representation that will entertain the
Lows: Annoying and frustrating
camera; controls are a bit too loose; questionable length.
Final Verdict: While a few rough
spots stop it from grabbing truly greatness, the positives far
outweigh the negatives. Spider-Man fans rejoice: the king of
super-heroes is back.