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 Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 12:59 GMT 13:59 UK
Spider-Man in a bit of a spin
Spiderman: The Movie game screenshot
Spiderman in action above the city

Spider-Man has always been the silliest of the superheroes.

It's one thing for a man to dress up as a bat and have a dodgy sidekick named after a garden bird, but a man who grips to walls and spins webs - aha, c'mon guys.

But thanks to the glamour of Hollywood, Spidey is now fashionable and the obligatory game tie-in swings into our living rooms.

The only problem is that Activision's Spider-Man: The Movie game left me crawling up the wall in frustration.

As expected, you don the ludicrous suit and swing, splat and spider-sense your way through the city, kicking bad guy butt.

It's a slick production with a DVD-style menu of "special features" (ie watch cut-scene movies). But that's when it all starts to go a bit downhill for those of us used to the spectacular real-time 3D environments of games such as Grand Theft Auto 3.

Spider-Man exists in a similar world - we have the now obligatory sunbursts between buildings - or that's at least what you think until the game really starts going.

The first thing I tried to do was leap off a skyscraper to the ground - just as Spidey had done in the cut-scene movie. Spidey went splat.

Despite the hype of being able to swing wherever you want, the pavement is out-of-bounds for this spider - as are many locked doors, rooms or buildings that appear on the spideyscope.

What you're left with is a grandiose and well-animated maze game where you're restricted to specific goals. Think of Tomb Raider's limitations and you're there.

Training levels

Some of the early levels of the game include training elements where a wise-cracking narrator takes you through advanced moves such as aerial combat.

This is useful until you do the pot-of-strawberry-jam thing and discover that you have to listen to the whole script again.

Spiderman takes on a supervillain in mid-air
Aerial combat: Fun but infuriating
But if you're happy doing what you're told then Spider-Man versus a succession of supervillains is a good game.

It has the best introductory training level that I've tried in a long time and it can be terribly good fun to hang off a ceiling and power-web (that's spidey talk for zap) the bad guys.

The gameplay and combat options encourage an all out mega-battling approach. But the better game is had by swinging Spidey through the shadows and picking off the laughably camp evil dudes one-by-one.

Swinging aerial combat calls for a manic button-hitting fest in the hope that something goes right. The game rarely slips up or grinds on the animation front, even if you are webbing a dozen villains at once.

But back to the cons. The most annoying element of the game is the camera angle during combat.

During attacks, you lose track of an opponent as you bounce off walls and the camera spins through 360 degrees.

The game attempts to compensate by allowing you a hands-free "lock-on" to your nearest opponent. But this fails in my view as you then lose the sense of where you're heading. A spider-sense radar would have been a good compromise.

Spider-Man appears stuck between the fly spray and the swat.

The game play is intricate and at times a beauty to watch. But the atmosphere falls short - not least in the cut-scenes when the nods towards the film appear disjointed.

Spider-Man is fun but infuriating and ultimately lacks a final touch of class to make it take over your life.

Spiderman: The Movie is available now for Playstation 2, Xbox and GameCube,

See also:

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