SPIDER-MAN: THE MOVIE
All you true believers out there had better believe this: You've been spoiled rotten. With two stellar titles on the PlayStation in his name, no superhero has been showcased in video games as well as Spider-Man. But with great power comes great responsibility, and high expectations, too - expectations that Activision's new game featuring the famed web-slinger would be the best Spidey game yet.
And there's no question that it is. "Spider-Man: The Movie" is an incredible spectacle; it outdoes its predecessors in presentation and depth but it also carries some of those other games' flaws.
Unlike previous Spider-Man games that were strongly influenced by the original comic, this Spider-Man adapts the look and story of the feature film starring Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe. The game isn't completely faithful to the film's plot. It strays enough to include a number of different story lines featuring other Spidey foes such as Shocker, Vulture and Scorpion before reaching the climactic showdown with the Green Goblin. Both Maguire and Dafoe reprise their roles from the film, and while Dafoe's Goblin is effectively menacing, Maguire's somnolent delivery makes our hero's trademark wisecracks fall flat much of the time.
But what Spidey lacks in charisma, though, he makes up for with ample butt-kicking, web-slinging skills. In the hands of game developer Treyarch, Spidey truly does whatever a spider can, and then some. All of Spidey's powers are here, including all the classic comic-book powers - among them "spider-sense" - and the best of his powers from previous games, such as the devastating web dome Spidey forms around himself to deflect attacks and then shatters, sending shrapnel flying at his enemies.
But where the game truly shines is when it shows Spidey doing what he does best - swinging past New York's awesome skyline, with the skyscrapers rendered here in incredible detail. Previous Spider-Man games centered around ground battles. and this version's 22 levels were wisely reconfigured with a nice balance of ground and aerial combat. All of the game's aerial battles are absolutely thrilling; it's when Spidey touches ground that the game's flaws surface. While Spidey has an expanded arsenal of hand-to-hand combat maneuvers, they do little good against some of the tougher villains. As a result, Spidey has to stick and move to stay alive, and when he does the camera has a hard time tracking the action.
Admittedly, following the acrobatics is not easy, and a feature that lets your camera lock on to your closest foe fixes some of the problem by keeping your enemies in front of you. But the roving camera makes handling Spidey a mess when he is crawling around hidden corners and on ceilings. This sometimes makes "Spider-Man" a frustrating challenge, even at the easier difficulty settings.
Still, the game's look, variety of missions and extras - such as a tutorial mode that features a number of challenging mini-games - will be enough for fans to overlook the game's quirks in control and game play. It's not a perfect experience, but unless you're bitten by a radioactive spider anytime soon, this game is the closest you'll get to knowing what it's be like to be Spider-Man.
- "Spider-Man: The Movie" for PlayStation2, GameCube and Xbox. Also available for PC and Game Boy Advance (not reviewed here). By Activision. Available now. Price $50. All ages appropriate.
SPIDEY CODE CHEATS:
"Spider-Man" features a number of codes that can be triggered in the game's cheats menu. Here are some of the better ones:
Master code: ARACHNID
Unlimited webbing: ORGANICWEBBING
All fighting combos: KOALA
Unlock all levels: IMIARMAS
Play as Mary Jane: GIRLNEXTDOOR
Play as The Shocker: HERMANSCHULTZ
Play as Neo from "The Matrix": FREAKOUT
Matrix-style attacks: DODGETHIS
Big head and feet for Spider-Man: GOESTOYOURHEAD
First person view: UNDERTHEMASK
PLAY AS THE GREEN GOBLIN
Here, you play as Harry Osburn (son of the Green Goblin, Norman Osburn) who, clad in his father's costume, sets out on a mission to clear the family name.
1) Begin game in hero or super-hero difficulty.
2) Enter the first level, then quit to the main menu.
3) Unlock all levels by entering IMIARMAS in the cheats menu
4) Go to the conclusion level in Level Warp.
5) Once the movie finishes, go to the main menu and enter the Secret Store. Turn on the Green Goblin.
6) Go back to the main menu and start a new game to play as the Green Goblin.