Toby Maguire as Spider-Man may have been a questionable decision for the feature film, the greatest mumbler of all time hardly seems suited to play the part of the infamous web slinger, but what are you gonna do? This game rocks and that is all that really matters. Toby Maguire aside, this is a pony of an event that is worthy of the highest recognition. I haven’t seen the movie yet, all I have to go on is the video game, but I can say without a doubt that this title is of extraordinary quality. Its not unlike the previous games really, for all intents and purposes this is a logical sequel, but it innovates enough to be original in its own right. Spider-Man: The Movie was released across nearly every platform currently on the market, so regardless of the type of hardware you own there is a good chance you will be able to play this game. That is, unless you are a Mac user or all your time is spent in the post-apocalyptic world of the arcades. It’s just a genuinely cool experience; Gray Matter did an excellent job of emulating what it might be like to be Spider-Man.
Character models are busting at the seams with polygonal-perfection, animation is smooth and realistic – in short, Spider-Man has never looked this good before. Explosions are intense and powerful with lots of destructible items. The various indoor and outdoor environments are teeming with atmospheric detail, with steady frame rates even in the many instances when things get busy on-screen. The CG cut-scenes do a good job of translating movie scenes into a 3D rendered universe and Toby Maguire looks spookily realistic.
Voice acting is particularly good with Toby Maguire revising his respective role as Spider-Man. Willem Dafoe plays the part of the Green Goblin and does an excellent job of incorporating a sinister, over-the-top-type ambiance to the character. The rest of the cast is played by professional voice-actors and they represent the various characters found in the game very well, but it’s a little disappointing that Toby and Willem were the only people from the actual film to provide voice-overs.
As you fight foes you’ll be treated to quips and witty retorts between Spider-Man and the legion of baddies in the Marvel universe. Swinging through the air high above towering buildings while laying the smack down on your opponents is perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the game, more so then any previous Spider-Man title in fact. Spider-Man will slam into buildings, nearly losing his balance if you are unable to successfully negotiate sharp turns. While this is almost purely an aesthetic addition, it does a nice job of giving the game a sense of urgency and consequence.
Bruce Campbell will play the part of narrator in this game (Stan Lee fans are SOL) and he incorporates an off-the-wall sense of humor and useful advice into his many commentaries. He will guide you through the tutorial if you opt to freshen up your spider-skills before beginning the actual game.
Fans of the previous Spider-Man games will be glad to know that the gameplay mechanics of this title have been tweaked and refined almost the point of perfection. Camera issues are nowhere near as prevalent as they used to be. You’ll have a large arsenal of fighting combos at your disposal, and the level design is very intuitive and easy to navigate.
The many levels in SPTM offer lots of diversity in the way of level design. Unlike in earlier games where most levels consisted of moving from one area to another in search for baddies to beat on, or the occasional run-away-chase-scene, this game incorporates a new play-style in almost every level. The Metal Gear-esque stage of avoiding detection and compromising the enemies computer systems is of particular interest. In this level you’ll be able to hide in dark corners and if your sighted, a barrage of mechanized robot killers will be unleashed en masse at which point finding a secure hiding spot is necessary to survive. Then of course there are the aerial combat sequences, which put you in the role of taking out various bad-guys while web-swinging through a skyscraper-laden Manhattan. The sheer amount of diversity in gameplay is worth the price of admission.
While the camera is very much improved over previous Spider-Man games, it can still cause some nagging annoyances here and there. In Gray Matters’ defense though, the camera is very versatile in the sense that it does a good job of working with the many different atmospheres; it transitions nicely from underground sewage scenes to huge open-space warehouses.
Moving around in the game is very easy and the addition of the ‘Zip-Line’ maneuver even allows Spidey to move in vertical directions with ease. Crawling up a tall building is no longer time consuming since you can simply use the Zip-Line to speed yourself around. Every acrobatic maneuver is conveniently laid out on the ‘Cube controller. In close-quarter situations you’ll be glad that Gray Matter paid so much attention to detail in the gameplay department. However, the fun really gets an adrenaline boost in the wide-open outdoor sequences. Scaling buildings and swinging around is incredibly fun – free falling directly on top of a thug and taking him out before your feet even touch the ground is a good example of the intense action that you’ll find in this game.
Among Spidey’s many offensive attacks are the ability to wrap up enemies in spider-webbing, toss artillery based impact webbing, and of course the “Web-Dome”, which allows you to shield yourself in webbing and then explode the shield on cue to deal damage to surrounding foes. You’ll also be able to collect Spider-Man symbols throughout the game that will unlock new close range combat combinations; the amount of variety in combat situations is straight up staggering.
You’ll want to visit the game’s levels even after winning the game since the more points you earn, the more secret stuff you will be able to purchase in the game’s secret-store. Style points can be accumulated by mixing up your strategy and tackling objectives in different ways. At the end of every level, you’ll be scored on your actions in the game. There are tons of extras you can unlock to extend the game’s life span – genuinely cool stuff too. Among the unlockable goodies are new Spider-Man costumes like the Captain Universe and Spider-Man 2099 getups, and even the ability to play as the Green Goblin, changing the progression layout of the game considerably! Expect to invest a minimum of 10 hours to get to the end credit.
Spider-Man: The Movie is enjoyable from beginning to end, with enough diversity peppered throughout the experience to keep the action fresh. Spider-Man is a rare exception in the movie-to-game category that truly delivers on purporting the excitement of its subject matter into an interactive digital form.