We’re saluting our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and playing some of his best video games ever released! Last week we played Spider-Man: Enter Electro, which helped build the video game tie-in to Sam Rami’s first Spidey film, but with the stigma of being a movie tie-in game, can it hold up to the previous two Spidey games?
Released: April 15, 2002
Platforms: PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, PC
Picture this: Take 2000’s Spider-Man, give it a next-gen graphics makeover, some A-list actor voice work, and repair all of Spider-Man‘s issues that should have been taken care of in Spider-Man: Enter Electro. What do you have? Spider-Man: The Movie, and the greatest Spider-Man game ever…at that point.
Much like Spider-Man and Enter Electro, Spider-Man: The Movie is part beat-em-up and part platformer taking place withing the walls of warehouses and office buldings, and on the rooftops of New York City. We see all the same web attacks as the last few games like Impact Webbing, Web Dome, Web Yank, and some new ones like Web Laser, which allows Spidey to fire webbing like a laser in mid-air. And while there is a huge list of cool attacks (most of which you wont take the time to learn), the biggest improvements are with the camera and web-swinging mechanic, which were the hugest problems of the last games. The camera is significantly less erratic, which is a big relief, and now it’s much easier to dictate the speed and direction of your web swinging.
The meat of your gameplay consists of retrieving items, flipping switches, and beating up thugs and robots. While most of your missions may sound boring, completing these as Spider-Man is a blast. Wall-crawling and web-slinging to your objectives is always awesome, and there are plenty of great challenges and puzzles thrown in between. There’s also a very interesting pace within the game. Some missions will have you swinging across the city, and pounding enemies as fast as you can, while others have you waiting in shadows on ceilings, avoiding security guards, and stealing computer data.
The most unique part about Spider-Man is how it helped break the mold of your basic video game movie tie-in. The game takes the basic plot of the film and embellishes it hugely, pitting you against more than just the Green Goblin. Uncle Ben’s killer, Shocker, Scorpion, and Vulture are all bosses in the game, but my absolute favorite part is the Kraven the Hunter level; however, the Kraven stage of the game is exclusively on the Xbox version. In this portion of the game, you play through a deadly obstacle course, leading into a fight with Kraven in the middle of a snake pit. This level, along with all the other bosses, is a Spider-Man fan’s dream come true.
The boss fights overall are the most exciting part of the game, especially the final showdown with Green Goblin. Just like the movie, and just like the classic moment in the comics (minus Gwen Stacey), the fight takes place above the George Washington Bridge in NYC. It’s such an exhilarating and intense battle chasing Goblin, and avoiding pumpkin bombs. I had a smile on my face for hours after the first time I jumped on Gobby and his glider and beat his face in while flying through the air.
All the great cheats that made the Spider-Man games of the past so awesome are back, and bigger and better. There aren’t a huge number of comic book relevant costumes like the last game, but being able to play as Captain Stacey and Alex Ross is pretty awesome. The most astounding unlockable is being able to play the game as the Green Goblin. I don’t mean web-swinging through the game as Peter in a Goblin suit; I mean flying around levels on the Goblin Glider and chucking pumpkin bombs. It’s a fantastic experience.
The game’s graphics aren’t anything special by today’s standards, but in 2002 it was a great example of what the Xbox could do. Sound design is sufficient, and voice work is decent. Toby Maguire and William Dafoe are the only stars reprising their roles, but the show stealer was Bruce Campbell doing the narration. Even as a condescending asshole, you can’t help but love him.
As awesome as I’ve been making this game sound, it isn’t perfect. In some versions of the game there can be some frame rate slowing as the action picks up, and if you aren’t a big Spidey fan then you may not find the game as ridiculously cool as I do.
Not only is Spider-Man: The Movie one of the best Spidey games ever, it’s one of the best comic book movie tie-in games ever, and we all know how rare a thing a game like this is…until the next Spider-Man game was released, and took us to places we had only dreamed of.
Next week on The Comics Console we’re playing Spider-Man 2!