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Spider-Man has reigned supreme in the comic book world for quite some time and now looks to topple the videogame world (again) with Activision's latest entry.

The friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has been swinging his way around our imagination for years. Ever since the googly eyed teenage image of Peter Parker graced the pages of a Marvel comic the world has embraced Spider-Man as a bona fide super hero. With the recent release of the record breaking blockbuster film into theatres there has never been a better time for a Spider-Man video game to hit the next generation consoles and thankfully the Xbox has got the cream of the crop. As with all games of this scope and size there are faults but thankfully Treyarch has assembled a very enjoyable package for gamers of all shapes and sizes to enjoy.

Sadly with every Xbox game there are high hopes of a visual treat. Perhaps it was rude of Microsoft to release Halo as the first Xbox title back in November. Ever since then we've had our hopes raised to the amazing heights that every Xbox game can possess the beauty of Halo. Spider-Man resides on the other end of the spectrum. In fact it is so far down the spectrum PS2 age graphical mud is still in sight. Maybe that's overstating a little, but Spider-Man was obviously not optimized for Xbox.

Horrible shadows and effects populate the world of Spider-Man and almost every screen reeks of a PS2 port. Blotchy textures look moderately better than on the PS2 and Gamecube version but the difference is negligible. Quite possibly the nastiest of these effects is the rain. What happened to the rain of Project Gotham? Instead we are treated to white lines streaking across the screen mimicking the weather that we're all so accustomed to. The frame rate doesn't improve on the situation as the game stutters a bit when the landscape grows. Surprisingly the game holds consistently on the cityscapes but stutters in the indoor scenery. Overall the graphics aren't bad, but they could have improved the overall experience if Spidey had been given his appropriate graphical prowess to match his stylish moves.

If there's one aspect of Spidey's superhero status that rings true above all others it would have to be his elegance in the air. Thankfully the video game translates his aerial prowess with ease using the Xbox controller. It would take me far to long to detail all of the combinations that are utilized through the game. Your abilities include kicking, punching, jumping, and some wicked web related abilities. Spider-Man can make an explosive web shield and enhance his punching power among a few other abilities. For quick travel Spidey has the ability to perform a web zip, which entails our hero shooting a strand of web onto a surface and quickly pulling himself to the location. Of course above all other abilities there arises one overpowering superpower and that is of course the ability to travel around the city by use of the web. Picture Tarzan swinging around on vines and then make the vines come out of Tarzan's hands and you'll begin to get the picture.

While the controls handle very nicely overall, there is one flaw that will mar the gameplay experience for the few hours of play. Sadly the camera system does get in the way a bit. The manipulation of the camera's position is dictated by the right analog stick and can be a bit perplexing if you are a rookie. After a bit of training however, you'll be able to fly through the cities like none other (and see where you are going).

The game is based loosely along the storyline of the movie, as you'll be able to tell with a few of the locales and mission objectives used throughout the game. While the movie features on solitary villain, the Green Goblin, the game features almost all of Spidey's classic nemesis including the Green Goblin, Shocker, and the Xbox exclusive Kraven among others. Of course the villains are all trying to topple the surround city and our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man must intervene and restore peace to the citizens.

Unlike many other games derived from movies, Activision has secured Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe to reprise their roles as Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. While some may debate that Mr. Maguire is too dry and clumsy to portray a comic book super hero, if you're a fan of the comic series then you should know that Peter Parker is definitely not your typical super hero. He's a bumbling mess of a man who fits the mold of your standard nerd that every school possesses. And a villain can't get any better when the sinister Willem Dafoe takes the reins of the character.

As the sound effects go there isn't much that can go wrong in the world of Spider-Man. The standard crashes; thuds, and slams (plus the "thwip" of the web) are included in the game and perform nicely throughout all of the levels.

The artificial intelligence of the characters and enemies featured in the game could have used some more work but nonetheless gets the job done. Enemies attack in packs but seem to have a very limited range of attacks and come in very uniform styles. The game creators obviously weren't very concerned in giving a very diverse fighting experience but what they did succeed in doing is delivering a large number of fairly challenging nomads to fight against, and that really is what this game is all about.

The game offers four difficult levels with obvious variations in challenge. On top of the standard single player games there are also a few mini games that can be purchased using points earned throughout the game. I won't give away any of the games but I will say that Spidey is put in some very unSpidey-like situations.

Overall the game is a solid effort that is a lot of fun to play and could have been ever better had the graphics been improved upon. As it is Spider-Man is a good game that succeeds in providing a fun experience. Sadly that's a fleeting feeling as the game can be completed in a solid afternoon of playing.

Nate "Gamer X" Ahearn
Is afraid of heights...

GAMENAME: The Scores













The Final Word:  In the end the game is fun for the short amount of time it lasts. If you're not a fan of the comic book the game still provides some good fighting action and an excellent feeling of super hero status. This one is definitely worth checking out.

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