Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone







Arcade style action and free roaming gameplay are two hallmarks of Spider-Man, the latest PC release from the ingenious game designers and publishers at Gray Matter and Activision.  Once again, our favorite wall crawling, web slinging superhero must battle the likes of such infamous comic book villains as the Vulture, Scorpion, and Dr. Octopus in order to save the day in his beloved city of New York . With a powerful 3-D graphics engine, an easy set of controls to learn, and a game script that seem to be right out of an issue of our arachnid hero’s own comic book, Spider-Man will enthrall and entertain both the casual and hardcore Marvel comics reader and gamer alike.

The popularity of comic book superheros has never been greater than it is today. Within the past few years, we’ve seen some of the industries greatest franchises come to life and flourish on the big screen, television, and of course within the gaming world. Following on the footsteps of the big screen 2000 blockbuster release of X-Men, Spider-Man the movie will be hitting theatres across the nation by May of next year, and fans of the wallcrawler are counting down the days in anticipation. Of course, gaming companies are keeping all of this in mind, finding ways to satiate the hungry souls of Spider-Man fans while they wait out the web-heads big screen debut. Activision has jumped to the lead by releasing Spider-Man for the PC, a rehashed and updated version of the popular Playstation game of the same name. On store shelves now for the Holiday season, Spider-Man proves to be a game of high caliber all around, giving adventure/action gamers the rush they need without sacrificing the core of what makes the Spider-Man comics and characters so unique and entertaining.

Developed by Gray Matter productions, Spider-Man is a top-notch 3-D action/adventure title that has the feel and style of an arcade game. More than that, the storylines and writing seem to jump right out of the pages found within any of the various comic book incarnations of our ‘Friendly Neighborhood’ web-slinger.  The base premise of the game follows the escapades of the wallcrawler, who has been framed by a look-alike during a recent rally held by the now supposedly reformed super-villian, Dr. Octopus. Spidey must not only figure out why he’s the target of a smear campaign (and a burgeoning mystery), but also keep clear of the multiple law enforcement agencies out to take him down and while still trying to keep the city safe from its usual bunch of thugs and nasties. During the course of his investigation into this unfolding mystery, the web-slinger will also come across some the of the cities more colorful criminal denizens, including such Spider-Man nemesis’ as the Rhino, Vulture, Scorpion, the Lizard, and even Venom.  Its days like these that Spidey wishes he’d just stayed in bed.

Marvel Comics has put their own 2 cents worth of ideas and knowledge of the Spider-Man character directly into the production and development of the game itself. From the initial load and play this fact is evident, with the classic 1960’s animated Spider-Man TV theme song playing over the Game and Control options screen, to the opening game voiceovers of Spider-Man’s creator himself: comic guru, Stan Lee. Each part of the game plays as a self-contained ‘issue’ of Spider-man, complete with its own specialized comic book cover art, which can be viewed later on in the game via the menu. All characters found within the game, both superhero and supervillian (and there are plenty of each), are highly detailed and articulated thanks to the use of Neversoft’s graphic model engine. This is only accentuated with the highly accurate artist renderings for each of the main players within the game, including Spider-Man himself, Scorpion, Daredevil, and the plethora of other Marvel characters that make their appearance throughout the game.  

Spider-Man’s gameplay is unique among action/adventure games yet fits extremely well with the whole concept of this particular super-hero. Based around a task/goal system of orientation, Spider-Man has many game qualities that are similar to other arcade/action titles. In order to progress, you must rescue civilians, battle super-villians, solve complex puzzles, etc.  Combat is of course a common theme throughout the game, allowing players to utilize multiple moves and combinations of punches, throws, kick, web-slinging, and other familiar themes found within the Spider-Man comic books. There’s even an extremely detailed tutorial system that can walk you through the basics of Spidey’s combat and movement systems (which actually aren’t that hard to pick up on your own). But what really gives this game its uniqueness is the way you can tackle these obstacles. With a free-roaming approach, the developers at Gray Matter let the player choose how he or she will progress through the situation at hand. This is especially evident during the massive cityscape adventuring that Spidey moves through quite often. For most of the in game levels, more than one path can lead to eventual completion and victory:  a nice added bonus for replayability.

Overall, Spider-Man is a solid game, both entertaining and exciting. Fans of the Spider-Man mythos will really love the time, effort, and detail that the developers of the game went into in order to make this game feel like an episode of the Spider-Man animated tv show, or an episode of the comic books:  all of the characters, places, and events have the true Marvel attributes within them.  The only drawback found within the game were certain control issues with Spider-Man himself, especially during wallcrawling movements and the like. Being upside down or traveling vertical on smaller areas were extremely difficult in the navigation department With practice, however, this became less of an issue for the most part, but still something that needs to be addressed in future releases with this particular hero franchise.