" If it was a skill or tactics issue, fine, but just because missing one of fifteen jumps will kill you instantly sucks sour frog’s ass and is a leading cause of hurling your controller across the room like so much monkey feces. "
Title: Spider-Man by Activision
Format: PSX Adventure
Reviewing Monkey: Monkeymus Prime
The Hype: You don’t just play it, you live it. "…A totally free-roaming 3-D New York. Web-Shooters and Spider-Sense let you thwart your enemies…"
What This Monkey Thought...
Graphics: Being spoiled on my new P3 800mhz PC, this took some thought. But I realized that the graphics in this game really pushed the envelope for the PSX. The characters only have a moderate polygon count, but they move fluidly, and the programmers really captured the essence of Spider-Man and his cast of characters. Everything in the game is bigger than life, and the fogging on levels doesn’t interrupt game play, or lead into the "Can’t see the next thing to jump to/Hey where’d that enemy come from?" problem seen in other games. The frame rate is good, and I never experienced any slow down. 5 out of 5
Sound: The sound that was in the game was great. As far as I could tell, they got a lot of the voice talent from the recent Spider-Man cartoons to provide voices, and Spidey’s quips were right on. There’s just not a lot of it. Music is almost non-existent, and most of the levels are played in near silence. Just the slap-slap noise of Spidey’s feet (which I liked, because Spider-Man essentially runs around in socks). I think what this game needed was a theme, like the Batman animated cartoon or the newer Spider-Man show. Let there be silence, and then kick in the theme when something dramatic happened. About to fight Doctor Octopus? Dun-Dun-DUN!!! Theme music time!! Get you nice and pumped up for the big fight. 3 out of 5
Game Play: This was a toughie. Mostly, the controls are tight and very responsive. Sadly, there are two major problems. One is that the movement controls are not static; instead they change with the camera angle. When you go up to crawl on the ceiling, inverting the camera, the controls can reverse entirely. Suddenly forwards becomes backwards, and when you’re being pursued or following something, this becomes crucial. Or if you cling sideways to a building, you have to trust to faith and instincts to jump off the wall and swing to the next building, otherwise you may end up leaping off into empty space with nothing for your web line to latch onto. This is highly aggravating.
The second is the various types of webbing. There are four types of webbing that exist in the game, each corresponding to hitting the triangle button and a direction. It takes work to select the right kind of webbing by memory, and also to get the timing down. Certain boss fights require a certain type of webbing, and having to stop, set up your shot by facing the right direction, and then hope that when you push up+triangle it’ll fire your impact webbing is a pain in my red monkey ass. 2 out of 5
Level and Environment Designs: Pretty straightforward levels and such, but what pushed them above mediocrity was the environments. The inclusion of the Fantastic Four’s Four Freedoms Plaza building and the addition of billboards advertising TV specials or interviews with Carnage, Wolverine or the Lizard was a touch that said, "Hey, you’re not in just another video game, you’re in the Marvel Universe." Props go out for doing it in a way that’s subtle and enjoyable. 4 out of 5
Replayability: There is lots of goodies to be had by beating the various levels and training scenarios. There are tons of different costumes, some do nothing, some get you enhanced punch damage, or unlimited webbing, one even gives you an invisibility option. Each of these costumes are ones that have actually appeared in Spider-Man continuity, like his black costume, the Scarlet Spider, etc. Other things, like the comic cover gallery, are less important but still fun to look at. Of course, when you boil it all down, you’re still just playing the same game, over and over again. 4 out of 5
Story/Dramatics: This game captures the feel of a comic book perfectly. Spider-Man launches from one seemingly unrelated distraction to another, only to have them all tie in to the main plot, or at least in some way advance it. The voice actors are top-notch, and the cinematics advance the plot, not just sit there and look pretty. This game also has one of the best payoff endings of all time. It’s damn funny. Let’s just say that it compares superhero card games to super villain card games. 5 out of 5
Instructions and Learning Curve: The instructions tell you the moves, and tell you about the displays on the screen, but precious little else. This game balances right in the middle for the learning curve, with one big plus and one big minus. The big minus is that the game is short, only 6 stages long, with multiple levels in each stage. Rather than make jumps harder, or give you more enemies, the game simply spikes the difficulty level occasionally. The ending bosses are cake compared to the 5th stage boss. Also, the spiking includes levels filled with annoyingly difficult jumps where a wrong move causes insta-death. This makes these suddenly difficult levels not so much challenging as frustrating. Going through a level over and over again hoping that random luck will get you past it does nothing for me. If it was a skill or tactics issue, fine, but just because missing one of fifteen jumps will kill you instantly sucks sour frog’s ass and is a leading cause of hurling your controller across the room like so much monkey feces.
The big plus is a very cool one. This game has a mode specifically for kids. It’s got a simplified control setup and a much lower difficulty. This rates big in my book, as a developer has attempted to find a balance between challenging, or in this case pissing off, older gamers, and realizing that with a character like Spider-Man, kids will want to play and parents will buy it for them. Way to go on this one, guys. 3 out of 5
Installation and Real System Requirements: Killer taxing of the PSX and acceptable load times make this kick ass. 5 out of 5
It walks the fine line between a 3 and 4, and just barely comes out on top.
The Good: A cornucopia of wall-crawlin’ stuff, really captures the essence of the comic book, smooth graphics and game engine, does whatever a spider can
The Bad: Poor controls at certain points, frustrating rather than challenging, lack of stimulating music, spins a web with some luck, camera switches- then you’re f***ed
The Overall Ugly: I enjoyed this game, I’ve never played a better Spider-Man game (the last good one in my mind was the original one on the Genesis) and possibly never a better all-around comic based game. It’s just really short (I beat it in a day), and better control and a more level challenge could’ve made this one of the all-time greats.
What it's Worth: $34.99