Review by: Matthew Dujnic
Published: May 10, 2002
The film version of Spider-Man hit the theatres with record breaking box office numbers on its opening weekend. Indeed, its first-night gross was the biggest take of any movie to date. This is good news for the Spider-Man console game. It is positioned to ride that same wave, offering all of the thrills of the movie, packed into an interactive experience. Also, unlike some other movie-to-game licenses, this one has received some major support; it even features actors like Tobey McGuire and Willem Defoe reprising their roles from the summer blockbuster. With the GameCube lineup so starved for top tier titles, some solid action would be a very welcome addition to the system’s lineup, and that’s precisely what Treyarch and Activision hope to provide.
Set in modern-day New York City, Spider-Man tells the tale of Peter Parker, a young orphan who is granted super powers during his tender teenage years. On a school trip to the OsCorp research lab, he is bitten by one of the lab’s genetically altered spiders. The next day, he wakes up to find that his vision is perfect, his body has become muscular, and best of all, he can crawl on walls and ceilings. Many of us are familiar with the Spider-Man story and its obvious parallels to the tribulations of any teenager’s coming-of-age. Here, as in the movie, the opening covers Peter’s early adventures as a prizefighter and casual crime stopper. Only after his Uncle Ben is murdered does he learn that his call to be a hero is much more serious than he’d ever imagined. In vowing vengeance for his uncle’s death, Peter Parker becomes the true Spider-Man, and soon finds himself tangled up with some of the most dangerous criminals New York has to offer.
Bruce Campbell himself is on hand to help you out: As the narrator, he will provide you with tips in the early levels and will walk you through all parts of the extensive Training Mode. As a web-slinging super hero, there is certainly a lot of technique to be learned before you’re ready to take on the thugs that killed Uncle Ben. All action takes place from a third person point of view, with the camera constantly adapting its position depending on your movement. Bruce will guide you through wall climbing, web swinging and zipping, and basic combat. You have two control configurations to choose from, classic and enhanced. The enhanced setup is complex, but meant for more precise maneuvering. Bruce will speak accurately to whichever configuration you choose, so you’ll soon be ready for the main adventure.
There are two basic types of action in Spider-Man: fighting and swinging. Most of the game plays like a classic beat-em-up; Spider-Man has an array of punches and kicks at his disposal. Collecting “combo spider” icons will open up new fighting moves, so the hero’s attack list is always expanding as the adventure unfolds. In addition to his powers of pugilism, Spider-Man can also employ web fluid in a number of ways. It can be used to tie up his opponents, flip switches, shield him from attacks, and of course, swing from the rafters. Many thugs, even on the early levels, come packing heat, and the only way to stay alive is to outmaneuver their gunfire. To this end, you’ll make extensive use of the Web Zip, which allows you to shoot webbing at any wall, ceiling, or floor, and immediately “zip” to that location. Using this technique, you can bounce around rooms at high speeds. If your moves are fancy enough, the bad guys will even stop talking trash and start exclaiming “he’s too fast” and “where did he go?” Lastly, by hiding in shadows, you can usually escape detection altogether. In some later levels, you are severely outnumbered, and stealth becomes a necessary tactic and a welcome play variation.