Web-slinger makes high-flying videogame

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

He climbs walls. He squirts webs from his hands. He senses evil before it arrives.

Yes, it's "Spider-Man: The Movie Game," brought to your TV by developer Treyarch and publisher Activision -- and it's as big a winner as the movie.

The game is available on all three major platforms. This screed will focus on the Xbox version, but the others vary mostly in the way the PlayStation 2 and Gamecube handle the various demands of spiderdom.

You probably already know the story; how Peter Parker is bitten by a mutant spider and suddenly realizes he has powers far beyond those of mortal man. Of course, he uses them for good, and that means it's him against, oh, 20,000 or so bad guys. Piece of cake.

There have been Spider-Man games before, and there have been games based on comic heroes. Spider-Man tops them all, in my humble opinion. It's a beautiful creation, with many loving touches, and it uses the Xbox's muscles to give you a game experience Superman and Batman can only dream about.

The game and the movie are joined at the hip, which means you get plenty of the movie plot in the game, and also have the pleasure of hearing some of the flick's actors speaking as you play. It's great to have Spidey himself, Tobey Maguire, doing Spider-Man's speaking part.

But the game is more than the movie. There are added enemies -- the special level featuring Kraven the Hunter is a real treat -- and twists and turns the movie doesn't have. But it's all good.

There's a lot of fighting in Spider-Man, and Spidey is well equipped for that task. The best parts come as our hero swings through the air. Fighting airborne enemies is a whole new experience. You can now control Spider-Man's maneuvers as you swing, allowing you to better deal with such tough guys as Scorpion, Vulture and the Green Goblin.

You have control over your height, your direction and even when you're willing to fall a few dozen stories to evade -- or catch up with -- the target du jour.

The venues are fantastic, vast, colorful, detailed and treacherous. You can climb everywhere, of course. When you're on the ceiling it becomes transparent so you, the player, can see what Spidey's up to and also keep an eye on the opposition. Nice touch.

Graphics get an A. This is a deftly drawn and detailed game, with massive levels to explore and enemies at every turn. Colorful and beautifully textured, it's a sight to behold.

Controls get a B. To do this game justice, you'll have to practice a lot. This isn't a two-button experience, and you'll have to have all your fingers working at top efficiency, especially in the later scenes when serious enemies appear. As usual, there are camera problems, but they're worth dealing with for the rest of the experience.

Sound gets an A. The voices of major stars are a wonderful addition, as is the music and solid sound effects. An aural tour de force.

Give Spider-Man a B+. This is one game that does the movie on which it's based proud. With a few minor tweaks, perfection was within reach. But fans of the web-slinger will not be disappointed.

ON THE NET

  • www.activision.com

    www.treyarch.com

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