This title was reviewed on Playstation 1, but is also available for Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast.
Welcome to the next stop on our hype train leading up to the release of the next Spider-Man game. We’ve looked at the 1991 Spider-Man game and how that put the web-slinger on the video game map. Now, we’re going to look at one of his most famous adventures, developed by the prolific Neversoft, Spider-Man, and no, it isn’t the last game I’ll be looking at on this train to share the same title.
If you read my Retro-Spective on the Sega Dreamcast, you’ll know just how much better the Dreamcast version of this game looks. However, most people remember the PlayStation version, and so that is what we’re looking at. Even compared to the Dreamcast version, the PlayStation 1 version of Spider-Man looks great by PS1 standards. The modelling on the characters is very well done, with Spidey and his rogue’s gallery being very recognisable. The random crooks you fight are also treated fairly in the modelling department, although can look a tad terrifying. Textures are also decent, although suffer from the infamous PS1 texture warping, and there’s also a decent draw distance, although it admittedly could be better. Considering this is on the PS1, the graphics are definitely serviceable.
The story here feels like it’s been ripped straight from the pages of a Spider-Man comic book. The basics are that a Spider-Man imposter steals a prototype machine from Dr Octavius, and so Spider-Man is framed for said crime and sets out to clear his name. A more sinister plot opens up as you play, and it has plenty of twists and turns throughout, and plenty of classic Spidey villains appear. What’s great is that they don’t feel like they’re shoehorned in like a certain 2014 Spider-Man game. There’s even cameos from other Marvel characters, like Daredevil, Captain America and the Human Torch. The game even goes out of its way to explain the poor draw distance and why you can’t go down onto the city streets, which is a nice touch. Admittedly, it isn’t much of a launch point for newcomers, as it builds upon already existing stuff from the comics, so Spider-Man’s relationships with certain characters may go over your head if you didn’t know them going into the game. However, if you’re experienced in the Spider-Man universe, you’ll find a fantastic and well done story here.
The gameplay here is also incredibly solid. Being based on the Tony Hawk engine, the physics feel very good. Spider-Man has an incredibly versatile move-set. He can jump, swing, climb on walls, he can do whatever a spider can. He also has access to numerous web abilities. He can web up enemies, create a dome shield, put webbing on his hands to enhance his punch damage and a bunch more. The versatile move-set gives plenty of depth to the gameplay.
On top of this, the overall design of the game perfectly accommodates this move-set. Most levels have you fighting on the rooftops of New York, and there’s plenty of crooks to beat down, and they all challenge you to use your various abilities in numerous ways, making combat very satisfying. Some enemies aren’t so fun to fight however, with the symbiotes in particular being a pain in the ass, and more of a chore to fight than anything, but they’re shown later in the game. With the buildings of New York being so far apart, web swinging is the way to go. It differs compared to later games, feeling more like a jump extender than anything, but it still feels great to use.
What would Spider-Man be without his villains? Well the 1977 live-action Spider-Man series answers that question, and it’s not good. Thankfully, Spider-Man (2000) is chock full of Spidey’s famous villains, and they all make for entertaining boss-fights. Whether you’re fighting Venom, Rhino or even a giant Mysterio; each boss is unique and fun to fight against, although admittedly Mysterio was too good for the PS1 to handle, and it ends up slowing the game to a crawl, being one of the few faults I have with the game. The game also has one of the best final bosses in game history, being a fusion of Carnage and Doc Ock. It’s nightmarish, but downright awesome in concept. It was so good that the later Spider-Man: Edge of Time would use the concept for its Atrocity character, although replacing Carnage with Anti-Venom.
The fan service doesn’t end at the characters either. Throughout the game, you can unlock a wardrobe full of Spider-Man’s alternate costumes from throughout the ages. These costumes include the 2001 Spider-Man Unlimited suit, Ben Reilly’s suit and his Scarlet Spider attire, the Symbiote suit and even the Cosmic Spider-Man. Each one has their own unique abilities as well, with Symbiote Spider-Man having unlimited webbing, Cosmic Spider-Man being completely invincible with enhanced damage and Symbiote Spidey’s unlimited webbing, guess that’s what happens when you have the Uni-Power.
One of the few flaws I can come up with is that the game is rather short, and you’re able to beat it in a few hours. However, it’s a minor nitpick, as the unlockable costumes and other hidden extras keep you coming back, and you can always play through the game again with one of the new costumes slapped on.
Where do I even start here? The voice acting, the sound effects, the music, they’re all downright perfect. Rino Romano, who portrayed the web slinger in Spider-Man Unlimited, reprised his role here, and he brings the youthfulness and great one-liners that make Spider-Man with him. Other characters are also very well voiced, and STAN LEE HIMSELF narrates various parts of the game, which is incredible. The music is no slouch either, being varied depending on the situation. No matter the situation, the music is very funky, with plenty of slap bass and percussion, and it suits the Spider-Man formula to a T. The sound effects are also great, with an incredibly satisfying thump when you take out a few criminals.
This is almost the quintessential Spider-Man title. The game is great in pretty much every aspect. It makes you feel like Spider-Man thanks to giving you access to his entire move-set. Every aspect of the sound is pretty much perfect, and there’s so much fan service that it’s hard to comprehend; Stan Lee narrates, there’s a ton of unlockable costumes, and there’s appearances by loads of Spider-Man villains and other Marvel characters. However, the game is rather short and linear, and a choppy Mysterio fight and the frustrating symbiote enemies prevent this game from being a masterpiece, but it’s still a game that no Spider-Fan should miss.