Spider-Man: The Movie Preview
It's overtly evident that movie-based games are just cheap cash-ins, which normally mock the greatness of the movie, and usually result in some poor suckers buying it based on the brand name alone. The Mummy, Toy Story, Fifth Element, Shrek, Die Hard, and Driven (tell me when to stop) are prime examples of this cheap way at a few quick bucks. It's almost an automatic process that once a movie sells a few tickets in the theater, it'll spawn off some half-assed video game. Hopefully Activision will help to remedy this stereotypical nightmare, and maybe help to prove that movie-based games can indeed be just as successful as the movie itself. Adding even more hope, Activision's great track record of the dauntless web-slinger over the past couple of years is also quite impressive.
Good ol' Spidey has never looked better, in a game that is. There's no chance at it comparing with the graphical phenomenon that's due out to the theaters; however, Spidey still looks quite impressive nonetheless. He's composed of 2,000 polygons, and some of the levels in which Spidey can roam throughout contain all the way up to 30,000 polygons, each. Also, the environments sport a lot of detail and are bolstered by some astonishing lighting effects. There's simply no question about it, the game is pushing tons of polygons, and doing a damn good job of it.
The game is a movie-based one; however, it's story-driven aspect isn't anywhere near a carbon copy of the story found the film. Don't get us wrong, the core story-line is in the game; however, Treyarch has also added tons of extras: more villains, original content, and new environments. In addition, a lot of Spidey's arch enemies will be found in the game. Antagonists such as the Vulture, Green Goblin, Scorpion, and the Shocker are all found in the game.
Activision's excellent Spider-Man series has gained much of its recognition from it's excellent gameplay, which was what made the game so enjoyable. Well, most of the greatness is back and it's accompanied by some intuitive new gameplay tactics and objectives. Spidey's arsenal of attacks is typical Spider-Man greatness. He can punch and kick, and these two attacks can be combined to execute different combos. He can also body slam his enemies, execute a double-jump, and even hand-spring once he hits the ground. Additionally, Spidey can engender quite a sticky situation (pun intended) by wrapping up his foes in all of his webbing. On the more unusual side of things, Spidey can also jump onto an enemy's shoulders and repeatedly throw punches at his head.
Spidey's prowess in web-slinging isn't only used for dispatching enemies, though. Many areas of the game require him to use his web-slinging expertise to transverse and progress throughout the levels. The zip-line is just one of the impressive tactics that Spidey can utilize in the levels. This move zips you from one place to another, whether it be up a building or across it. Added, he has yet another nifty move in which he can hang from ceiling walls on a line of his web (upside-down), and he can slide up and down on it at will.
There are a whole slew of things to do in the different levels, and the objectives are quite broad. Facets of play found are stealth, action, puzzle-solving, action, exploration, and yes, more action. Each level -- 23 in all -- includes its own unique set of goals and objectives, too. Protecting allies, chasing down the bad guys, and tons of other goals are just the start of things that you'll encounter as you progress.
One level, for example, pits you in the subway station, where your arch nemesis is hiding out after stealing some very elegant jewels. As Spidey makes his way to the subway, the Shocker has his minions treating guards, and other innocent civilians, uncivilly. This is where the smooth little catch comes in. You need to make mincemeat out of the horde of thugs. However, another problem is also at hand; you must protect the guards and defenseless civilians from being killed. So much that each person is accompanied by a life-bar, and if, in some horrible way, one of them manages to die, you must retry the whole level. Objectives such as this make the missions feel more worthwhile and real (trying to protect the helpless people while at the same time disposing the thugs), and helps to make you feel more like a superhero; you know, saving the townspeople and all.
The spectacular premise of this game almost seems to good to be true, but if we were to put our high-hopes on a series of this stature, then Activision is surely a worthy company to deliver everything we hope for and more. Spider-Man: The Movie is currently set for an April 16th release with the movie hitting theaters just weeks later. The sheer magnitude of both have stirred a lot of anticipation, hopefully good Spidey will deliver like he's done time in and time out.
3/28/2002 Joseph Comunale