Spider-Man can be a very fun experience, and the game really does make you feel more like the hero more than any game that preceded it. If you have a Playstation (or a Nintendo 64 or Sega Dreamcast), this is a game worth trying out, and if you’re a Spidey fan, then you likely won’t be disappointed with a purchase.
When this game was released in 2000, it must have made a lot of web-heads very, very happy. Spider-Man had been a video game veteran, having appeared on home consoles since the day of the Atari 2600, but he had always been confined to side-scrolling, two-dimensional platform hopping. With the transition to 3-D came a greater freedom of movement, and the possibility that developers could finally create an experience that captured what it was to be Spider-Man. With this game, that possibility almost became a reality.
Why “almost” you ask? What it comes down to is the control in this game. While the control isn’t horrible, there are issues that will lead to frustration. Precise movements in this game can be very difficult, primarily due to the touchy camera. It is difficult to rotate slightly to the left or right, which you will often find yourself doing to prepare to swing or to launch a web at an enemy. Whenever you do attempt to rotate, your camera will swing around much more than you want. Also, there is no button to center your camera behind you. While it will automatically do this if you take a step forward, there are times when you just want to quickly recenter it without having to move. You may find yourself annoyed with crawling on walls and ceilings as well, since your controls will not reorient to which direction you are facing until you stop moving. As you progress through the game, though, you will become accustomed to this and may not find it a problem at all after playing the game for a while.
Control issues aside, there is much to like about Spider-Man. Many recognizable faces from the comics can be found here, such as Doctor Octopus, Carnage, Venom, and Rhino. Also, some of your fellow superheroes will show up as well, like Black Cat, the Human Torch, and Captain America. All of the characters are rendered faithfully, and for the most part, the voice acting is good as well. Venom’s voice really seemed appropriate to me, which was a big plus, given that he is a favorite character from the comic book (and I know I am in no way alone in this).
Spider-Man’s abilities in the game also seem fitting. Not surprisingly, he can tangle enemies in webbing and can do his signature web swinging, but he can also create a web shield, can create gloves out of webbing that cause more damage, and can shoot balls of webbing that inflict damage. The developers did a good job of animating Spider-Man as well, which definitely helps the player lose himself in the character—something that was harder to do with the stiffer movements of Spidey’s two-dimensional incarnations.
The game has unlockable content, such as comic book covers, character profiles and—probably the most interesting—new character costumes. While some of the changes these costumes bring are purely cosmetic, some will actually have an impact on the game, such as Spidey’s symbiote costume. Though I found the game maddening at times after missing jump after jump, the prospect of playing through again in the black Spidey suit makes me want to go ahead and fire up the Playstation now for another run-through.
While playing this game, I kept waffling on whether to recommend it or not. Now that I’ve completed it, I believe it worthy of a recommendation, regardless of what reservations I may have had. Spider-Man can be a very fun experience, and the game really does make you feel more like the hero more than any game that preceded it. If you have a Playstation (or a Nintendo 64 or Sega Dreamcast), this is a game worth trying out, and if you’re a Spidey fan, then you likely won’t be disappointed with a purchase.