There’s a certain respect for the player, I think, in skipping the beginning of an origin story when crafting a game based on a movie (and perhaps even based on another property). Unless you’ve got an incredibly unique way of packaging and presenting a Superhero’s rise to power, it’s best to leave it than risk lulling a player into a fit of button mashing immediately after the title screen. The primary hook these games have is in their related character/movie/breakfast cereal mascot, so it can reasonably be assumed that the majority of the audience is already at least partially familiar with the subject matter. And, let’s be honest: we don’t need to spend the first hour of the game doing homework and getting punched in the gut by high school bullies before spending the rest of our days climbing around on the ceiling. This isn’t (insert David Cage joke).
That’s where Spider-Man starts, at least mostly. I’m sure the campaign is an exciting and mostly bullshit retreading of the movie’s story, just like every movie game that needs to stretch those precious 90 minutes into 7-10 hours of basic gameplay, but I decided to check in with the training mode first. Why? Because fucking Bruce Campbell is narrator of the game, and I’ll be damned if I pass up an opportunity to listen to that man literally do anything. He’s one of three immediately recognizable voices tied back to the movie, the other being Tobey Maguire himself, as well as good ol’ Willem Dafoe. I’m so greatly pleased to hear that man say anything in the game, with super bonus points when I can tell that he couldn’t give two shits about the sounds oozing out of his face. Er, coming back to the tutorial, it starts to become immediately apparent that the controls aren’t terribly responsive…which I discover through the next three hours aren’t terrible…until you start having conflicts during web slinging. Anyway, having achieved my license to sling, I headed into the game the movie the game.
While avoiding the aforementioned trope of starting me off fresh as a babe (with an uncomfortable, unskippable FMV showing me the first 20 minutes of the movie proper), I’m given the cliff notes version, and immediately dropped into the pursuit of Uncle Ben’s killer. In the movie, we’re treated to a quick (4+/- min) chase scene that sees the bad guy trip and fall out the window of his own accord (presumably to death?). Here? Somewhere on the order of roughly 50+ minutes after taking chase, several dozen bad guys beaten so hard that they disappeared, and a shotgun battle with the rapscallion responsible for my delicious uncle’s death that involves. That’…that’s almost as impressive as making three movies out of The Hobbit.
That’s kind of how these games have to live, straddling the fence between wearing the skin of the movie like Tom Green in “Freddy Got Fingered” and using original content to pad out the extra time required between the lines to get the gameplay time past the finish line. Directly after this milestone event from the movie, we’re taken through several encounters with “The Shocker” (I put it in quotes so you’ll think of the sex move) and The Vulture, which clearly never happened in the movie but Taco Bell also pads their ground beef to bulk it out and I like that so I’m not complaining. The only real problem I had most times was the complete breakdown of controls when attempting to both web swing and engage in combat at the same time (it’s like trying to crab walk while performing brain surgery). Other than that, it was a matter of trying to stay awake in between bouts of Peter Parker sounding as bored as possible through endless waves of samey henchmen. Highlights from this section of play include consistently throwing up “The Shocker” gesture whenever Shocker appeared on screen, accusing The Vulture of being a pedophile, questioning J Jonah Jameson’s Spider-Man fetish, and reveling in Spider-Man’s greatest weapon: jizz.
I mean, as a product of it’s time, it’s not terrible. It certainly does show its age, primarily in graphics and controls. Still, having received a good Superhero movie back then, much less one as beloved as Spider-Man? That alone would be enough to get someone to overlook some of the rougher aspects of the game, if only to be swept up in Spider-Mania. Spider-Madness? Speaking of Madness…
This “Bonesaw” looks nothing like Macho Man. Boo. More like “Bonehead”. Pricks.