Spider-Man makes his debut on the Nintendo Gamecube with a pleasing performance. Published by Activision and developed by Treyarch, Spider-Man: The Movie can be considered the best super-hero videogame yet, which in the end doesn’t say much.
Go Beyond the Movie
Bitten by a genetically engineered spider, high school student Peter Parker is suddenly empowered with supernatural abilities, including Spider-Sense, web-slinging and wall crawling. Assume the role of Parker as he adapts to his new powers and becomes Spider-Man. But Beware — the city’s villains won’t be pleased to see a new hero on the scene.
Birth of a New Hero
Orphaned at a young age, Peter Parker lives in Queens, New York with his beloved Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Peter leads the life of a goodhearted, yet solitary, teenager making his way through high school.
On a school trip to a research institute, Peter Parker’s class is given a demonstration of genetic research conducted on spiders. Peter is bitten by one of the genetically altered spiders. The next morning, Peter discovers that suddenly his vision is perfect and his previously scrawny body has become more muscular — he now has incredible strength, and his hands mysteriously adhere like glue to anything.
Peter gradually teaches himself to gain better control of his powers. Initially, he uses his ESP-like “Spider-Sense” and superhuman strength, speed and agility to make money in order to impress the lovely Mary Jane. However it is only through the tragic death of his uncle that Peter learns that “with great power comes great responsibility.” It is these words that transform Peter Parker from a teenager with extraordinary powers into the amazing Spider-Man, a super-hero out to protect the city from a never-ending supply of perils.
Meanwhile, in a lab at OsCorp, Spider-Man’s ultimate nemesis is about to be born. Are you up to the challenge?
Clearly done with movie influence, which results in a very nice package. We are treated to an opening video that shows Peter Parker getting bitten by the ‘infamous’ spider and then continues to show Spider-Man in action against his nemesis the Green Goblin. We are then asked to Press Start and taken straight into the menu. The menu consists of the following: Continue, Start, Load/Save, Options (Audio, Controller, and Camera Options), Specials (Credits, Cheats, Training, Secret Store, and Level Warp), and Gallery (Movie Viewer and Production Art). It may seem like a lot but, unfortunately, everything is rather short lived–more on that later.
In-game we have Spider-Man’s health and web meters, which are the main HUD icons we will see on screen. By pausing the game you have access to Audio Options, Restart Level, Options, Combat Controls and Exit to Menu. The FMV sequences help move the story along nicely and the loading times are very short. Overall the movie license is used well and allows for solid game presentation.
Component output is used for all consoles to allow for the greatest visual quality, you will not get the same results for lower quality output. The graphics are smooth and crisp, the textures appear to be sharp as well. The main character models are satisfactorily detailed, as you’d expect, but then the sways of generic thugs aren’t, which, sadly, you’d also expect. The lip-synching is perfect, as is fairly standard for a game that has no translation stages to go through. Most of the animations are done well and make old Spidey seem true to life.
The levels are impressive, especially the ones set outdoor. The city is gorgeous, either by day or night. The extremely detailed city scapes are composed of skyscrapers, billboards, streaming traffic, glowing lights, twisted reflections, and much, much more. Everything is truly brought to life. The indoor levels are just as good, but obviously aren’t as eye catching as the exterior experience. Certain indoor lighting effects are also a little questionable, but otherwise everything is fine. The sensation of swinging gracefully through cities may be considered the price of admission alone.
The FMV sequences are extremely well done and help move the story along nicely. Of course the Gamecube is capable of much more than what Spider-Man: The Movie achieves, as is clearly shown through other, more flagship titles, but Spider-Man is quite a feat on its own.
The main theme song is great and you’ll most likely be humming it to yourself for days but, other than that, the remaining in-game music is less than inspiring. You won’t even recognize the fact there is music when playing the game. The sound details when playing are done very well, you will hear people on the sidewalk say “Look, It’s Spider-Man” as you whizz by, or hear Spidey and his enemies trade lines with one another. It helps add to the game’s realism.
The voice acting is perfect. Toby Maguire and Willem DeFoe reprise their film roles in their respective parts, and to good effect, while the God-of-B-movies, Bruce Campbell, serves as a notably funny narrator. The game sound is fairly well done throughout and includes the use of Dolby Digital, too.
Unfortunately, the bulk of the game has some seriously hindering problems. The camera angles are very annoying, especially for the indoor levels; I have many gripes with it. For example, if you use the right thumbstick to move the camera around then Spider-Man will turn the ‘other’ way. The camera also places itself at randomly bad positions, which can sometimes play a significantly annoying role while trying to locate Spidey’s enemies. The problem is less apparent outdoors, but still can be a problem for certain gameplay elements such as the camera lock. This is the main problem that crops up repeatedly throughout Spider-Man: The Movie. The camera lag really hurts the game but it’s still very enjoyable, especially the outdoor levels.
Sadly, Spider-Man: The Movie is a short-lived entertainment experience. With the main game taking anywhere from just 3-6 hours to complete, it’s bound to leave the Spider-Man fan somewhat disappointed and wanting more. The Xbox version features an bonus villain and extra levels, but their addition doesn’t lend much more to the game in terms of value. Luckily, you can unlock the Green Goblin and play as him with some changes in the story, which will easily add on a few more hours. Then there are bonuses to unlock, but most of these are easily unlockable just by playing the game your first time through. There are also many in-game secrets available for your personal use. The training mode included in the game could be as long as the main game; it seems there’s a lot to learn in Spider-Man, and I found all of it rather unnecessary. The game may not be gushing with bonuses and extras to keep you coming back for more…but it still just about manages to get the job done.
Since I am reviewing all three versions of Spider-Man: The Movie, and have played them all thoroughly, I can give you the most honest and faithful comparison.
Graphically, the Xbox version emerges as the best choice, but perhaps not be such a wide margin as people may believe. Mygamer has visually compared the three versions against one another, and they all run with the same output (component). As I note in the first line of this paragraph, the graphical difference isn’t as much as everyone thinks. All three versions look great, but none of them truly tap the possible potential of their hardware and therefore emerge almost identical. Yes, you heard right, there is only a slight difference between each version. So yes, you may notice the difference from PS2 to Xbox but, trust me, it shouldn’t be a deciding factor when fingering the merchandise.
Overall, each version is very similar, with the Xbox having an inclusive bonus villain and extra levels. You decide which is best, I am only here to review games, not sell them to you.