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Spider-Man: The Movie
PS2 Staff Review by Ryan McCarthy

I imagine most of you who are reading this, like myself, have seen the new Spider-Man movie already. I also presume that all of you, again, like myself, thought it was the greatest comic book movie ever made! Excellent� However, prior to seeing the flick, I didn�t have much interest in the new PS2 game that was released in mid-April. Of course after witnessing the silver screen masterpiece, I was just itching to get my Spider-on� I mean play with Spiderman � in the game� forget it. After playing Spidey�s latest however (courtesy of Treyarch), I think I�m going to need to see the movie again, just to prevent this game from ruining my Spider-Man kick.

While there are very few high points to the game, the most impressive is clearly its graphical showcases. The graphics in Spider-Man are at their best in the levels outside, upon the rooftops of Manhattan. This is best displayed in any of the aerial combat levels, where Spidey takes on either the Green Goblin or the Vulture amidst the skies. The camera swings around Spider-Man eloquently and swiftly and displayed are some of the most impressive graphics on the system. The texturing, framerate and detail are all quite good throughout as well. Yet with all these positives come a few negatives as well. While Spidey and his nemesis� all look great (especially Goblin) the remaining cast, specifically the generic thugs, look bland and uninspiring. Most likely due to the quality of the outer levels, the indoor venues also didn�t receive as much attention. They�re generic and boring, and lack even a quarter of the graphical merit of their outdoor counterparts. The game overall also lacks a certain degree of polish, clearly due to Activision�s rush to have the release coincide with the movie. Although aside from these qualms, everything else in Spider-Man, graphically that is, is quite competent.

Despite it�s occasional graphical brilliance, Spidey�s gameplay is very much a different story. I have two big gripes with the game, neither of which in my opinion can be overlooked. The absence of checkpoints throughout the levels makes repeating ENTIRE levels common and frustrating, especially when you get nailed right at the very end of one. This method of artificially lengthening games has always frustrated me, and Spider-Man is a perfect example of why. The other concerns the later missions, and their required use of stealth. You�re forced to go through undetected, or face the wrath of a ridiculous number of unusually strong robots. This, when coupled with the nonexistent checkpoints, nearly ruined the game towards the end, not to mention seriously hurt it�s score. The combo system also has its flaws, that while plentiful (26 combos in all) and fun (you must find each hidden throughout the levels), the differences between each are really insignificant. Combat is basically relegated to simply mashing the punch and kick buttons and see what cool things Spidey might do (insert sarcasm here). Despite its improvement, the camera is still quite problematic at times, most when crawling along the walls and ceilings indoors. On the upside, the aerial combat levels are a great addition to the series, not to mention executed beautifully. The rush of jumping down onto the Goblin�s glider, 50 stories up, and then punching him in the head is hard to beat. Sadly, these levels make up a very small portion of the game. Ah, too bad.

The sound in Spider-Man obviously took a backseat to the graphics as well, as its mediocrity shows through, quite brightly I might add. The music is fine, but its a bit too generic and gets repetitive after awhile. The voice acting however is just plain terrible, excluding of course the absolutely hilarious Bruce Campbell. I hope they didn�t pay Tobey and Will a lot� because their voice acting is about a tenth the quality of their actual acting. The sound effects are the best aural aspect, and are just enough to balance out the overall package.

Unlike the new movie that is actually worth its asking price, this game is about $30 bucks too much. There just isn�t enough enjoyable playtime in Spidey to make it worth its full price. I finished the game, on normal, in a paltry six hours. Opening all of the games extras would require at least one more go-round, but it�s suspect as to whether those extras are actually worth the effort (in my opinion�no). The extra allowing you to play as the Goblin (actually the son Harry, not Norman) is pretty awesome and will make you want to play through as him at least once more. Overall though, these extras don�t even approach those offered in Neversoft�s original.

As you can probably tell, I didn�t enjoy Spider-Man in the least. Despite that, I don�t feel it�s a bad game. It�s just its not really good either; it�s just� average. It�s a shame this game wasn�t better though, because the game/movie combination could have been huge. Hopefully for the sequel, they won�t have to rush it for any movie, and Spidey will get the attention he deserves. But alas, I can only recommend a rental for this disappointment.

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