New 'Spider-Man' game
gets tangled in own webbing
By Michael Ahlf
Daily Cougar Staff
In our first game this week, Activision
brings your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to the Gameboy Advance in
Spider-Man: Mysterio's Menace.
It's your basic superhero title in form:
You as Spider-Man get to explore seven levels in New York, hunting down
the bad guys and picking up power-ups
like armor, spare web-shooter cartridges,
special suits (including the Venom suit) and new abilities.
The game mechanics are decently arranged,
making Spidey rely on his webbing and ability to cling to walls in order
to take down thugs and bosses: At
the beginning, impact and capture webbing
are available, while other uses, like a shield, can be found.
Spider-Man doesn't have a lot of reach,
so capture webbing is important, as is using his ability to cling to just
about any surface, be it a floor, ceiling or
even a streetlight.
Also useful in navigating levels is his
web-slinging ability, which uses up some of the precious web fluid in order
to extend Spidey's jumps across gaps
in the terrain.
Well-crafted comic-book-style story line
panels between levels, level art full of color, and the GBA's polygon abilities
make Spidey and the enemies
appear as realistic as possible, rounding
out the game's graphics.
The one downside is the artificial intelligence,
because every enemy has a completely predictable pattern of attack, especially
the bosses. It's amusing,
but not truly captivating. Grade: B-
Up for PC this week is Trade Empires from
Eidos Interactive. This strategy game breaks away from the traditional
strategy genre, since it's not about
The whole point of each of Trade Empires'
four chapters, from the Song Era in China to British industrialization,
is to grow your merchant family into a
thriving financial empire.
As such, this is the micromanager's dream
Watching the myriad details in the game,
with prices on every product and production and sale centers, is the key
The game's engine allows you to hire new
merchants, set their routes, determine what they buy and where they sell,
and oversee entire multi-region
The people in the game who are buying the
products, of course, will want to live where everything is cheapest, so
undercutting your competition is key --
but once the competition is gone, it's
time to hike the prices up to make your profits.
On the painful side is the game's interface:
bulky and hard to learn, it's a source of frustration when trying to decide
how to deal with current events.
Like every good strategy game nowadays,
Trade Empires offers the option to give commands while paused, as well
as fast-forwarding options for
when nothing much is going on.
If you like strategy and management, this
is your game, but don't pick it up if you don't want the stress.
I also have two "Quickies" -- these are
games you've seen before, just kicked over to another platform. It's Spider-Man
and Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX, for
the PC instead of the PlayStation.
Mat Hoffman is good on any platform, but
Activision passed up an opportunity to make the game shine in terms of
its level editor. The game is the
PlayStation game, down to forcing players
to use the keyboard/gamepad instead of the mouse when designing custom
levels, wrapped up in a PC shell
with slightly improved graphics.
As such, if you don't have a PlayStation,
it's worth getting, but go for the PlayStation version first.
Spider-Man is the same story -- the PlayStation
game, on the PC for the improved graphics.
Expect nothing different, and if you have
the PlayStation game don't bother with it. On the other hand, if you are
a die-hard fan or didn't pick it up the first
time around, the PC's graphics capabilities
do a lot to improve the title, so it's worth buying.
Mat Hoffman for PC I give only a B-, because
of improvements passed over; Spider-Man ranks a B.