Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro

Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro

Activision passes on the spider-sensing to Vicarious Visions, with almost great results.

Jewel Case Release

Genre:
Action-Adventure
CDs: 1
(?? Megs)
Players:
1 Player
ESRB: Everyone
Violence
Publisher:
Activision
Retail Barcode:
0 47875 80173 8
Memory:
1 Block
Developer:
Vicarious Visions
Sony ID:
SLUS-01378
Accessories:
Analog, Vibration
Released:
October 18, 2001
PSRM:
022890

The battle for New York has begun.

The city is at risk, and only you can save it from the evil clutches of an old enemy: the powerful Electro. He has a mysterious new device that will make his million volts of destruction even more deadly.  But, with Spider-Man on the job, Electro is in for the shock of his life.

  • New Attacks and Combos: Spidey’s got a brand new bag of tricks, including ice and Taser-webbing!
  • Super-Villains Galore: Electro has been joined by Sandman and others in a nefarious scheme to bring the city to its knees.
  • You Are What You Wear: Create-A-Spider lets you equip Spidey with the right tools for the right job by mixing and matching suits and powers.

 

 

Review

Hello true believers, time for another exciting tale of web and intrigue. Today’s journey takes us into the PlayStation’s Marvel Subset collection once again, this time joining everyone’s favorite photo-journalist Peter Parker in his second outing as the heroic and very amazing Spider-Man.

Sub-titled Enter: Electro, the sequel to Neversoft’s original outing is this time handled by Vicarious Visions. Having saved the city the first time around, Spider-man is once again brought to task by a sinister plot. The stage is set when Spidey discovers an explosive heist, and in pursuit uncovers that there’s more than just one villain involved. It turns out that  “Max” Dillon, better known as Electro is having other devious folk steal various technologically advanced equipment that will create a fancy vest to wear. Once the suit has a proper jewel in its core, the suit will amplify Electro’s powers to almost god-like levels.

The actual game begins with the first robbery, and has our hero quickly running and swinging through small, open world like levels chasing his prey. The chase will take him through various city levels, a train yard, laboratories, inside a hostage situation, through a museum, and finally to the top of the world. The main man himself Stan Lee narrates each level’s introduction, and he also voices various menu options and item descriptions. Stan’s voice still stands the test of time in terms of charm, and it’s one of my favorite little things in the game.

While that all sounds exciting, the game is its own tragically flawed character. Since the adventure falls apart as Spider-man get closer to the end goal, we’ll start with the opening positives first. Thanks to it being a sequel, the game retains the comic-book style presentation from the first game. While texture sets are reused quite a bit, the memory saved allows for fairly large play areas – the opening city block allows for wall climbing, roof hopping, web swinging, and more. Store fronts will explode, items can be picked up and tossed, and more importantly there are plenty of goons to web-up and punch. There are little details that help add to the visual flair like newspaper sheets lying in the street, to vials on desks in the science lab, to copious amounts of buttons in the various control rooms. My favorite level for detail is probably the train yard, as the visual tricks used to imitate lighting elements really gives it a proper night feeling.

Over all there’s some really nice variety in level design…at least in the front half. One mini-boss fight will have gamers fighting Shocker in a burning warehouse, another one will give chase after a rolling plane before it collides with a wall, another will require stealthily taking on 6 machine gun stations, and so forth. 

Despite simple wireframes, pretty much every character in the game is textured wonderfully. Badges and mustaches are visible on guards, mercenaries have great looking body armor, and the various super villains like Sandman and Shocker all look like they leapt right out of the comic panels. There’s some nice animation to be had as well, with enemies reacting to Spider-Man’s various attacks in different ways.

Which brings us to Peter’s arsenal. For a game that can technically be beaten with minimal use of his various powers, our web-slinger is pretty nicely armed. Along with the staple web shot and web swing, players can equip web-gauntlets for stronger punches, create an explosive web shield to distance themselves from enemies, use standard punches, and have the ability to string up villains or yank them aside. Power-ups will allow web shots elemental abilities like taser shock and ice blasts. Both are essentially just different ways to do the same thing, but hey, I would never knock a variant.

These abilities will be used against gun wielding bad guys, sentry robots and more. As progress is made towards boss fights, some battles will rely less on his powers and more on intuition. In both fights with Sandman, the player must use the environment around him more than their web fluid. During the first fight, Sandman creates a sand wall preventing the player from following a train. Gamers will need to toss barrels at both the wall and Sandman to get through to the moving locomotive. Against the rolling airplane, objects must be removed from its path, and then quickly locking up the engines before it slams into a wall. The most cheeky of the fights is Shocker, who can be stopped in one hit with the right crate being slammed into him.

So with all this great attention to detail, where could it have all gone wrong? Like the live-action Spider-Man 3, Enter: Electro’s third act is where everything comes crumbling down. After an opening gauntlet of tight level design, suddenly things don’t make any sense. The laboratory areas are one sadistic take on the old Mission Impossible break-in sequence, but with Spider-Man suddenly unable to cling to certain walls. A towering spiral of a room requires our hero to access a control panel, but the panel is 4 floors up and only accessible by tiny platforms surrounded by random lightning bolts. No non-mutant human on Earth would be able to reach that panel, which one would need to do if there were an emergency in the lab.

This level of absurdity destroys any suspension of disbelief the player has about the world they’re now in. When you get to the museum, Electro suddenly has this ability to turn plastic mannequins into sentient robotic samurai, which having been beaten leads to the biggest design mishap. You’re supposed to climb up a huge tower in the museum to reach the next level, but this tower, which is in a public museum, has no stairs or floors. The only way to get to the top is to either wall climb, web swing, or treat various monitors, signs, and info booths as platforms. In what world would this museum ever exist? Anyone standing on the ground floor can’t see past the 2nd story of decorations, and there’s no windows looking in from other floors. It’s a level design that was only created to serve as a transition rather than a well thought out, grounded possibility. This is seen all the time in adventure games where players aren’t sure if the eventual level boss had to do all the swinging, climbing, and platform jumping they had to do to get to his private room.

it also doesn’t help the previously mentioned lab and the museum tower are also ripe for gamer frustration, since a single jolt from the random electricity bolts stun Spidey and drop him to his death or beginning of the level. And drops him again…and again…and again. SIGH.

The final boss fight against Electro partially redeems the journey to him, but the overall vibe of the game is too tarnished to completely repair. Adding insult to injury, the end credits are of Spider-Man’s voice actor making jokes about the developers, who scanned in their faces to appear in the credits. If the amount of time spent on the credits had been put towards repairing the last 3rd of the game, the overall package would have been so much more worth it.

That isn’t to say the game’s a failure, the parts that shine do shine brightly, and there is a very interesting saving grace – the Create-a-Spider Suit option. Think of it like a modern-day Trophy / Achievement program but instead of useless point values, players get actual in-game content. Performing various tasks will unlock a suite of various Spider-Man costumes that each offer different abilities. Once several of them are unlocked, heroes can choose what to look like and then which abilities they want equipped. Having suffered the wrath of that damn laboratory tower, I picked invincibility and called it a day.

In the end, Spider-Man: Enter: Electro is a fun game that gets tangled up in its own web of destruction. For true Spidey fans, the costumes will provide endless replay value and challenges, while the common gamer will find solid ground to stand on while dealing with a few last minute frustrations.

 

Media

YouTube

 

Screenshots

 

Magazine Ads

There are no Ads for this game yet.

 

Variants

Greatest Hits Release

 

The 9/11 Spider-Man “Unreleased Variant”

Pre-September 11, 2001 Version (See Below)

Background Details

Terror attacks on the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001 created an interesting problem for media outlets. Radio stations stopped playing certain songs, movie projects were cancelled, and more. Video games were no different. Activision and Vicarious Visions feared that specific parts of the game’s content would hit too close to home for those families affected by the tragedy. The game was delayed for several weeks to allow the reprogramming of several areas, including stage names, a video edit, and the climactic battle. What’s important to note is that this was not the only video game to have its course altered by the events. Dreamcast’s Propeller Arena was cancelled, and PlayStation’s Syphon Filter 3 had its entire packaging changed.

After more than a decade later, the actual release point of the game appears cloudy. The game was originally scheduled to be released along side X-Men: Mutant Academy 2 on September 18, 2001. Confirmed in an interview with GameSpot and IGN, Activision decided to delay the game’s release out of respect for the families. What’s curious here is that the GameSpot article is written a day before the game’s release. Some sites claim that the game was released to stores on August 26, 2001 and then recalled. This presents two problems: The original game’s internal time stamp is listed as August 13th, 2001 – meaning that from the point of Activision creating the master CD and giving it to Sony for production, Sony would have to have had the game pressed, packaging materials made, all of it assembled and into stores in less than two weeks. While this is supported by several people’s claims of having it and not realizing it, the only two known versions were obtained disc-only. This supports the alternate theory that the game was pulled from actual production facilities, and not retail outlets.

Considering there is no difference in the disc art between the original and re-released version, if the game really did make it to retail, it’s more than likely plausible that it would have the exact same case and manual with no edits. The world may never know.

Variant Basics

As mentioned, there is no difference in the disc art. In order to tell them apart, the easiest way is to load the game up and enter the Cheat Code “AUNTMAY” as this will unlock everything including the level select. Go to the level select screen, and scroll through the stages. If the last stage is named “On Top of the World”, this is the 9/11 disc. If it is “The Best Laid Plans”, you have the re-released version. I have starred all level changes in the images below.

While only one of the stage names and its level content can be truly considered ‘wrong time / wrong place’, the actual final level is kind of a toss up. While they are clearly an homage to the Twin Towers, they’re really not that obvious. In Activision’s changes, they not only completely redid the textures, they added a bridge to create a single building.

What is interesting is how this addition of the bridge changes the dynamics of the fight. You no longer have this fear of falling off or getting zapped by Electro mid-swing. Now it’s just a quick dash to get done what needs doing in order to finish off Electro. There has also been some talk of a missing Thor sequence between the two (hence the newspaper clip), but apparently this was dropped from production all together, as it does not appear in the original version either.

Here’s a complete video run down of all the changes in action. For the sale of completeness, the Level Select images are included as well:

 

 

Trivia

  • A game caught up in the September 11, 2001 tragedy. See variant Tab for details.
  • A third game was tossed around as a possibility, but reports stated that since the game didn’t perform up to expectations, Activision skipped the PS1 sequel to focus entirely on the upcoming PS2 release, which could use the movie license as extra publicity and marketing.
  • The game is full of various other Marvel character references, both in Spider-Man’s quips and in newspaper headlines. These include Blade, Watchmen, Thor, and more.
  • Activision created a somewhat merged universe between X-Men Mutant Academy and their Spider-Man universes. Several X-Men characters appear in Spider-Man 2 in their full XM:MA outfits.
  • Spider-Man’s trademark leaping punch remains intact.
  • Electro spends part of a level exploding giant TVs while quipping “Explosions, Only on Activision!”
  • While climbing into an air vent, Spider-Man begins paraphrasing Die Hard’s John McClane line of “Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…”
  • Stan Lee plays himself in the game, announcing level concepts and narrating various Special Menu options.
  • Jennifer Hale, most famous for her Commander Shepherd role in Mass Effect, voices X-Men’s Rogue.
  • The game’s practice level is performed inside the X-Men’s Danger Room with Professor X and Rogue. Beast also makes a cameo as your tutorial fellow.
  • You can unlock comic covers in the game – the on-screen comic representing the item pick-up is the first ever appearance of Spider-Man; Amazing Fantasy #15.
  • There appears to be several glitches in the game, from our play-through of it:
    • When fighting the Lizard, creating all 3 vats of formula will cause the icon to not appear in the level, rendering it impossible to defeat Lizard and needs the level to be reloaded.
    • Depending on when a main villain is defeated, Spider-Man may repeat his ‘win quote’ twice.
    • Spider-Man’s specific web-action isn’t always performed correctly due to how many actions are applied to the same button.
    • The Web Shot training level in the Danger Room is horribly bugged near the finish line. A set of 8 targets will either claim you lost due to taking too long (despite no timer present), claim you hit a non-target when you hit a real target, or just claim you failed as you walk up to it.
    • Lizard is programmed horribly – unless you use the door frames as a sort of safety zone, he will pounce on you and kill you before you can do anything.

 

The Verdict

6.5Good

The Good: Great Graphics | Lots of cheeky references | Lots of unlockables | Stan Lee’s voiceovers

The Bad: Last third of the game | Camera isn’t quite right.