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Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch / Neversoft
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Platformer

Graphics & Sound:

Blarg. This is the third time that I've played this game--the N64 version, the Dreamcast version, and now Spider-Man on the PC. And while the game definitely looks sharper than it did in any previous incarnation, it still has the same cardinal flaw that those games did: a horrible, horrible camera. The full-motion video is straight from the Dreamcast version, which I assume is straight from the original PSX title; the environments are definitely less jaggy than they were on previous systems, but the pervasive 'fog of doom' still hangs over the entire city, making for a visually bleak landscape many times. It's a shame, too, because the character animation and detail is definitely higher on the PC than anywhere else I've seen. After jacking the resolution of the game high up, it still ran smoothly. Indeed, I felt the game ran a little too fast, but that could have just been my perception of it.

Since this is a port, one wouldn't expect much of a difference between it and the previous iterations of the license, and one wouldn't be far off. The music is still the 'action sequence' riffs, which works surprisingly well; the voice acting is solid, with an overblown style that fits well with the comic-book motif and good ol' Stan Lee; the sound effects are passable, but nothing particularly special. This game definitely won't flex the muscle of your sound card, but it gets the job done.


Unfortunately, Spider-Man is a port of a game that's already been ported twice. That in and of itself isn't so bad; the main problem with the PC release of Spider-Man is that it doesn't bother to transcend its console roots. A touchy control scheme, the same blasted camera I've been fighting for over a year, and absolutely no acknowledgement, other than graphical tweaks, of the power of PC systems as opposed to console solutions makes Spider-Man decidedly less than it could have been.

For those of you who haven't touched any of the previous iterations of the game, the story goes something like this. Otto Octavious has reformed and is now working for the 'good of mankind,' and during one of his presentations Spider-Man breaks in and causes a major tizzy. Of course, Peter Parker himself is in the audience covering the shindig, so there's definitely something very strange going on. Throughout the course of the game, you'll uncover the suitably comic-book plot of the entire thing. It's not a revoluationary plot, but few games of this style have those, and it works admirably well for what it wants to do.

Spider-Man is broken up into a large number of levels. Each level may have you traversing the rooftops of New York, crawling around stealthily inside of a building, and so on. Some of the levels have gimmicks, such as timed events and hostile helicopters that want to blow you off of the map. There are really two major styles of play in the game. In one, you swing from rooftop to rooftop, fighting bad guys and trying to get from place to place. In the other, you move around inside of various locations, sometimes climbing up on the walls to hide from the baddies and so on. There are the requisite boss fights, of course, which all have their own patterns to master.

This version of Spider-Man is flawed not because the concept of the game is flawed--it was entertaining enough back on the other systems--but because it simply refuses to acknowledge the fact that it's on a PC. Controlling Spider-Man is difficult enough, and the console-style save system has stayed in this port as well. While some may welcome the challenge that 'area saves' present, others will become frustrated by some annoying timed sections. There's quite a bit of hidden stuff in the game, but it's the same stuff you found in the original versions, which fans of this genre probably already own.


Sadly enough, most of the difficulty with Spider-Man comes not from the game's inherent challenge but from fighting with the controls. This was originally a console game, and the controls are geared that way, and woe betide the player who tries to use the keyboard for anything resembling precision. Add to this one of the world's most annoying cameras, which manages to show you just about nothing of use half of the time you play the game, and you'll find yourself quickly frustrated with the challenge of playing the game, much less what you're supposed to be doing in it.

Game Mechanics:

As stated above, the game uses keyboard controls only in the most rudimentary sense. They're touchy, especially when it comes to movement, and the use of a gamepad is almost necessary. Of course, if you're going to play this with a gamepad, why not play the console versions? I've already commented on the various problems with the camera, but they bear repeating: after three previous iterations of this game, one would hope that the camerawork could be fixed by now. Alas, that is not so. The game's menu system is also deeply rooted in the console origins of the title, but it's definitely navigable.

It's not so much that Spider-Man is a bad game. It's just that it's a game that has been done better already on the Dreamcast. Without the responsiveness of a console controller, the game just doesn't have the fluid feel that it did on the N64 and Dreamcast. While those of you with excellent gamepads and no console may want to pick the title up--despite its problems, it's definitely an enjoyable game--anyone who owns a system that it came out for already should definitely pick up the console version. Spider-Man for the PC just doesn't utilize the system as it should, and it is weaker for it.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

Win9x/Me/2K, P2 266, 64MB RAM, 200MB HD space, 3D accelerator w/ 4MB VRAM, 4x CD-ROM, sound card, mouse, keyboard

Test System:

Athlon 1.1GHz running Win98 SE, 512MB RAM, GeForce 2 GTS w/ 32MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live!, 8x DVD-ROM

Windows SimCoaster Windows Steel Beasts

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated