Turning a pile of shame into a pile of victory!
Spider-Man: The Movie
PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube
Getting it working
Install the patch. Nothing happens without it – you'll load the game from the menu, see black and hear a racket. Apart from this opening problem, I experienced no glitches with the rest of the game... But, control wise, this is a dodgy port. The notoriously unhelpful camera makes a deadly combination with the keyboard. Unless you have a d-pad plugged into your computer, don't even bother installing this game, it will be impossible to complete (hence this game languished on my pile of shame until I got a d-pad peripheral).
An enjoyable game with surprising scope in combat, spoiled by a frustrating camera.
This game had so much promise, but a few shortfalls (likely artifacts of bodgy port happenstance) really dragged it down.
I found the music to be intrusive, and unnessecarily epic in the earlier portions of the game when not much happened. However, later, when things get more hectic, it fit perfectly. The voice acting and scripting is hilariously bad at some points, but it did its job propelling the story. The story is a strange mish-mash of chance encounters, and plot loosely paralleling that of the first spider-man movie. It feels more like an excuse to put spidey in the scenarios he faces rather than a cohesive narrative, but as each scenario is fun, I don't think it detracts too much from the game.
The levels can loosely be divided into indoor and outdoor. Indoor levels appeal more to a strategic, stealth-based approach. Outdoor levels are more free-form and are easier to complete by button mashing. It is perturbing that spidey's web suspends from somewhere unseen above, and doesn't anchor onto buildings. However this is preferable to the immersion-breaking spider-shaped anchors later Spidey games would boast.
Controls indoor and outdoor are fluid, and combat combos can be used to great effect. A panicking button-masher such as myself can prevail, but having watched other people's playthroughs, I recommend taking the time to learn and use the combos. Enemy AI suits the enemies: thugs are dumb, bosses are significantly more intelligent. That being said, the moveset and strategies employed by all enemies can quite easily be predicted, and attacks are usually telegraphed in plenty of time to zip out of the way.
The camera is a big problem. Fellow PC users can choose 'active' or 'passive' camera settings, which switch the camera view to either trying to remain behind spidey, or picking an arbitrary viewpoint. Both fail continually to show you what you need to see. The 'cheat' UNDERTHEMASK can be entered to give you a first-person camera view (upon loading the game, go to the 'specials' menu, then 'cheats' to enter it, you'll hear the green goblin laugh if you've got it right). I found it dizzying and completely unhelpful. The ability to direct the camera by way of the mouse in 'look mode' is important for lining up a web zip in tricky circumstances, but in the heat of a battle, it is cumbersome and leaves you dangerously open to attack. On the good side, “Camera Lock-On Mode” is absolutely invaluable. It will always point you toward an enemy, making fighting a group of thugs manageable and ensuring you don't accidentally zip in completely the wrong direction.
The difficulty curve is all over the place. Generally, thugs are easy to take down and bosses are much harder. I get the strong feeling that some parts of the game are more difficult on PC than they are on console, simply because of how it was ported. In some situations there is a simple trick to find your way out of trouble. Here are some non-spoilerish tips to help you out if you get stuck at some points in the game:
- Zip to the ceiling, and drop down on top of health if you're looking ready to die.
OsCorp's Ultimate Weapon
- KEEP MOVING! Zipping is really useful in this level.
Escape from OsCorp
- Don't try to take on the security robots, they just keep coming. Spam jump to avoid their projectiles, while running past them. The red health spiders respawn if you exit and re-enter the room, something to keep in mind if you're direly low on health.
Remember, if you play on easy, health will re-appear if you move away from it and come back. This is really helpful in sticky situations, where you're still getting a handle on how to tackle a level.
I have lost count of the number of times I was forced to re-start levels due to the camera letting me down at a vital moment. The checkpoints are annoyingly sparse, and quite often failure occurs tantalisingly short of the next save point. However, these shortfalls can be overlooked, especially in outdoor levels, due to the fluid fun of web-swinging.
Other belated game reviews...