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Spider-Man: The Movie
Review By:  J. Michael Neal
Developer:  Neversoft
Publisher:  Activision
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Adventure
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  7-25-02

One would think that with Activisionís previous success with Spiderman titles, a vastly improved set of hardware to work with, an incredibly popular license to draw inspiration from, and a stellar movie on their side Treyarch could somehow manage a half-decent showing with Spiderman The Movie. Itís a shame that they werenít up to the task, as this game stumbles at almost every turn. Lackluster graphics, bland character models, recycled animation, convoluted controls, a schizophrenic camera; these are just a few of the technical problems STM has holding it back. I havenít even gotten to the less glaring flaws. Sure, every now and then you may come across a genuinely fun level or a particularly humorous one-liner, but these moments are fleeting and few and hardly worth the time investment to discover. All-in-all Spiderman the Movie is vying for Most Disappointing Release of the Year.

Iíd hate to give the impression that this game is all bad. Itís really not. It has a few things working in its favor. For one the number of combos and attacks Spidie can learn is rather impressive. Aerial combat is a blast, though painfully under-used. The two stealth-based missions in the game are also entertaining, requiring players to utilize all of Spidieís newfound maneuvers, like the updated zip-line or the yo-yo. The game even boasts a few hidden secrets that might be worth searching for, like production material from the movie and best of all the ability to play the game as the Green Goblin, complete with his own storyline. The dialogue contributed to the game by Toby Maguire and William Dafoe is just as excellent as you would expect, while Bruce Campbellís guided steals the show. His dialogue in this game alone warrants at least a rental for any fan of the B-movie god.

Well, now that we have the gameís good traits aside, how about itís bad ones? The graphics are highly disappointing; they could easily be reproduced on a Dreamcast. The controls are a nightmare; be prepared to spend hours getting use to the many buttons you have to press to do the simplest task like pull off a back flip or hang upside down. While youíre at it try to get use to the camera, which seems to have a knack for facing in whatever direction thatíll get you killed. Getting killed is also rather easy since Spiderman lacks any sort of standard blocking ability and the gameís mindless enemies like to swarm, so get use to being pounded from all sides with little defense. Another thing to get use to is being bored to death by run-of-the-mill mission objectives and level designs, because for every epic aerial battle Spiderman has to face thereís a totally lame warehouse or sewer level packed with mindless thugs that could have been culled from any beat-Ďum-up of yore.

By far, the most shocking thing about this game is the fact that Spiderman the Movie actually shares very little in common with the Spiderman film. First of all the Spiderman in this game is almost a foil of the one in the movie. This Spiderman is the cocky, brash, trash-talking web-head weíve all come to know and love from the comic books and animated series, while the filmís Spiderman is a quiet, unsure hero whoís being pulled in opposite directions by his loyalties and his emotions. While this difference between the two isnít necessarily a bad one, it certainly does help to divide the feel of the game from the feel of the film. The gameís story shares very little in common with the movie as well. Although the beginnings and endings are similar, the game deviates from the movieís storyline after the first few missions, choosing to branch off into a subplot involving the Shocker and Vulture robbing a bank. Again, this isnít necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but it further alienates players who seek a somewhat faithful recreation of the movie from this game.

Itís sad to see something with so much potential come up so short. It almost seemed like something that couldnít have been bad. All the pieces are in place; they just don't seem to come together. And to think of all those who will be disappointed by this failure: the fans of the comic book looking for an interactive version of their childhood icon, fans of the Playstation title who seek a new and improved version for their shiny new consoles, and the millions of people who fell in love with the movie. Activision has a lot of disenfranchised people on their hands with this release, and it may only take the digital magic of Neversoft to put Spiderman back on his feet after this blow.


  • Good voice acting, especially Bruce Capmbell who steals the show.
  • Aerial combat is a total blast.
  • Playing as the Green Goblin is actually more fun than playing as Spider-Man.


  • Everything else in the game.


Unless you have money to burn avoid this game; it will leave you with the sort of empty, unsatisfied feeling you get after trying to kill hunger pains with a Twinkie.

Overall Score: 3.5

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