"One of many Spider-Man video games in a long history of Spider-Man video games, Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage comes in the form of one of those "beat-a-lot-of-people-ups". It follows a storyline from the comic where Carnage (AKA Cletus "The Slack-Jawed Yokel" Kasady), a psychotic serial killer wearing a psychotic alien symbiotic costume, escapes from the insane asylum to wreak havoc on the city. Of course, he's also gathered together a gang of equally psychotic super-villains to help him; ..."
One of many Spider-Man video games in a long history of Spider-Man video games, Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage comes in the form of one of those "beat-a-lot-of-people-ups". It follows a storyline from the comic where Carnage (AKA Cletus "The Slack-Jawed Yokel" Kasady), a psychotic serial killer wearing a psychotic alien symbiotic costume, escapes from the insane asylum to wreak havoc on the city. Of course, he's also gathered together a gang of equally psychotic super-villains to help him; the carnage wouldn't be to its maximum level, otherwise.
Now you get to stop him!
You can play as Spider-Man, the amazingly responsible average guy with radioactive spider powers, or Venom, a slightly less psychotic man who wears a slightly less psychotic alien symbiote. Only one at a time, though; you start off with Spider-Man, and at various points in the game you get to switch if you like. Spidey and Venom have minor differences in functionality, and some levels are different depending on the character you've chosen at the moment, but it's all the same at the end.
Most of the game is spent fighting psychotic armies of punk kids, teenaged girls, trenchcoat-wearing chumps, and umbrella-wielding old men. Sure, the demographics lack in variety, but they make up for it by being ones that you'd typically want to beat up anyway. There's the occasional super-villain as well, who'll make things harder for you with their pesky super-powers, but those battles certainly become more interesting.
A fair amount of Spider-powers are at your disposal, but unfortunately, the game presents little opportunity to use them. Both Spider-Man and Venom can web-sling and wall-crawl until the cows come home, yet they made it so you can pretty much beat everyone with fists alone. Still, there are a couple of levels devoted to the utilization of the spider-powers, but it was a rather foolish move on the part of the programmers not to add more. The whole thing makes about as much sense as a Superman video game that's set indoors. Nuts!
Luckily, some of the features in the game manage to make the experience more than Haggar in spandex. Our heroes do demonstrate strength and agility far beyond that of the average mayor, and their web-shooters can be applied to combat situations with some effect. Like a projectile which renders an enemy incapable of movement for a short time, or a web "harpoon" which somewhat resembles that of Scorpion's (of Mortal Kombat fame) in effect and appearance. You can also find pickups that allow you to call one of your super-hero friends to help you out. Multiple super-hero friends are available, each with a different power that they'll show up and use before wandering away again.
Although, it's somewhat disappointing how there aren't any game situations that require more cleverness on the part of the player. Actual puzzles probably aren't called for in this case, but Spider-Man's supposedly a genius and Venom's certifiably insane. To not take advantage of such defining character traits feels like a shame. And despite the presence of all the fancy webs and super-friends, the enemies still are defeated most effectively through the use of repeated punching. Webbing becomes almost completely useless against the more powerful super-villains later part of the game.
For what it’s worth, Maximum Carnage is presented very well, though; everything feels very comic book-ish. Pages from the actual comic are show to fill in the parts of the story that don’t involve fighting. The graphics look possibly hand-drawn, which adds to the effect. They even flash a little "Thwak!" on the screen to indicate the impact of Spider-fists on some poor bastard's face.
The game gets pretty challenging if you've never played before, so you could be at this for a while. But once you get the hang of it, you can clear it in no time at all. Even then there are still a few secrets here and there that you might want to look out for, and after you've seen everything this game is still a fine way to get the rage out.
Check it out, if you're in the mood for something a little more Spidey. Hell, maybe you could still get your hands on one of those limited edition "Red" cartridges.
Back in the day, that would have been enough to impress a man.
Community review by disco1960 (June 10, 2005)
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