While it’s possible to talk about every Spidey game, I personally look at the Spidey franchise as starting in the PS1 days. So, since I’ve played every game since then, here’s my mini-review/overview of all of them.
During a scientific demonstration by a supposedly reformed Doctor Octopus, Peter Parker ends up witnessing someone dressed as Spider-Man stealing the experiment. This impostor not only makes off with the device, but destroys Eddie Brock’s camera, causing him to transform back into Venom. The police are after Spidey for the theft, a strange mist is filling the city, and there are plenty of villains running around. Sounds like a typical Spider-Man adventure.
This game was the blueprint for all video games based on superheroes. Instead of just making a platformer or brawler and shoving a popular character into that mold, this one was built around the concept that you’re Spidey. So, you can crawl walls, get a spider-sense that warned you, swung on webs, used webbing for interesting combat… And my god, the fanservice! All the costumes you could unlock, the characters you ran into. Like I said, this was the one that showed what should go into a superhero game. And there were so many memorable parts. Whether you were chasing Venom in a webslinging race, facing the Rhino in a trapped-off arena, or running for your life from both an explosion and a horrible combination of Doc Ock and Carnage, this game was just a blast from start to finish.
Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro (2001)
The sequel to the above game featured Electro in the main villain role as he attempted to steal a Bio-Nexus device. Using villains like Lizard, Hammerhead and Shocker, he basically gives Spider-Man a good runaround as he attempts to fulfill this goal.
While this game was the same as the last one in almost every way, it sadly just didn’t stand out as much. Outside of a few decent boss battles, there wasn’t enough interesting scenarios to help it stand out as anything more than an add-on to its predecessor
Spider-Man: The Movie (2002)
Based on and expanding on the first feature film, it follows Peter Parker as he learns the ropes about his powers, chases down his uncle’s killer, and faces a bunch of villains, culminating in a series of battles with the Green Goblin.
So, we get a graphically updated, gameplay-improved version of the first game on this list. And it’s a fun trip, adding new storylines including foes like Shocker, Vulture and Scorpion, with improved webswinging so it actually feels more like a mode of travel, more fight combos, and a lot of incredible set pieces (such as an aerial duel with Vulture or a face-off with a giant OsCorp robot). If there’s only one thing I could complain about, it’s Tobey Maguire’s voice acting. While I think he’s a great film actor, he just sounds… like he’s not even trying. Which is sad, as Spidey has a lot of good quips during this game.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Odds are, this is the game everyone remembers. Set during the second movie, Spidey has to deal with his responsibilities to New York, facing foes like Rhino, Mysterio, and of course Doc Ock, while also taking care of his various jobs and his relationship with Mary Jane.
This time, the developers took a page from the trend of open-world games, giving you a massive life-sized city to play with. They also overhauled the entire game engine, giving you more realistic webswinging, more acrobatic maneuvers, and more combos for combat. There were even more awesome set pieces, like trying to face a pseudo alien invasion staged by Mysterio (“The Cliche who walked like a man!” Spidey exclaims at one point), teaming up with Black Cat to take down a criminal operation, and of course replicating the major scenes from the film in game form. Sadly, while the webslinging and free-roaming was fun, Maguire’s voice acting didn’t improve, the side-missions got repetitive very fast, and once you were done with the main story there was nothing left to do. While a lot of people see this as the supposed best of the franchise, it has not aged that well. But it’s still a fun experience, and a step in the right direction for the series.
Ultimate Spider-Man (2005)
After recapping the battle between Peter Parker and Venom from the popular comic Ultimate Spider-Man, we’re then thrown into an adventure as both Spider-Man and Venom, with the two slowly being drawn into the origins of the Venom suit and the corporation that both Peter Parker and Eddie Brock’s parents worked for. Along the way, the two will face each other, the Beetle, Rhino, Electro and the Green Goblin.
This one simplified the webswinging and combat, making it feel more accessible. It also featured an original story by Brian Michael Bendis, the writer behind Ultimate Spider-Man, and featured cel-shaded graphics based on the artwork and designs of Mark Bagley. The gameplay switched between Spider-Man and Venom, who acted like a beast in combat that travelled by super leaps and restored his always draining health by consuming foes and civilians. It’s funny how this game gets overlooked by fans in favor of the last one, especially because this one feels so much like the book it’s based on.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
This was the first one to come out for the current generations of home consoles, and thus had different versions depending on the console. Set during the third feature film, it follows the same story as Peter faces threats from Sandman, New Goblin, and of course Venom, while having a whole section playable with the black suit. Along the way you’ll also help save Scorpion from a conspiracy, face gang violence orchestrated by the Kingpin, and try to stop the Lizard.
The biggest criticism here is that it does nothing better than the last movie game did. They tried to increase the combat combos, and build a bigger, better New York to run around in. And I like some of the side stories. It’s just… average. And for a game like this, it needs to be the best it can be. And seriously, this could have been a hell of a lot better. And that’s if you’re playing the PS3/Xbox360 version. The Wii/PS2 version was just bad.
Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (2007)
So, here we have a game that technically is a movie-merchandise game, but is an original thing in of itself. Set in its own universe, it begins when a battle between Spidey and all his movie enemies is interrupted by an attack by symbiote-like creatures called PHANTOMS. All of his foes are captured, but Peter is saved by Nick Fury and SHIELD. Spidey then finds out that someone is using symbiote-infused hard-light hologram tech to make an army of monsters to conquer the world. To save the world, Spider-Man will have to travel the world, teaming up with heroes and villains to save humanity.
This was basically LEGO Star Wars for Spidey fans, with drop-in co-op, two characters in play that you could switch between (one was always Spidey) and lots of fighting that was easy to pick up and play. Along the way, you’d meet characters like Black Cat, Iron Fist and Blade who’d join your party, and every boss you beat joined you after you set them free from mind control. It was a fun little game, but got a lot of flack for not being free-roam. I recommend trying it out for a fun time
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (2008)
In this original game, after one of the most WTF intros ever, we find out that Venom attacked Peter and his wife MJ, and during the fight, part of the symbiote broke off and re-bonded to Spidey, giving him the ability to switch between red and black suit. As Spidey deals with gang violence and Kingpin, a plague of symbiotes starts to attack the city, eventually turning the city into a war zone. To save New York, or conquer it? Which will Spidey choose.
This game seemed to be overlooked, but it’s one of my favorites in the series. The setting was creepy as hell, with it feeling like you’re a superhero in a zombie movie. The main draw here was the dynamic combat system. You could fight on the ground, while on the walls, and in the air, and with the ability to switch between red suit (agile and web based fighting) and black suit (brutal strength and tendrils combat), it just made for some seriously sweet fighting. While the voice acting was nothing special, it was decent to get the story across. And as you did more good or bad things, it affected who fought alongside you, heroes or villains, and with each story choice you made, you could end up with one of four endings. But in the end, the real star is the combat.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (2010)
When the Amazing Spider-Man ends up breaking the Tablet of Order and Chaos, he has to team up with versions of himself from different dimensions: the stealthy and dark Spider-Man Noir, the highflying futuristic Spider-Man 2099 and the teenage Ultimate Spider-Man.
I’ve already talked about how much I love this game. From the use of actors who have played the voice of Spidey from various animated series, to the inclusion of so many costumes and gameplay elements that I would love to see Spidey use, this was basically fanservice for every spider-fan. And with this team being the one working on the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man movie tie-in game, I have high hopes for that title.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time (2011)
I could tell you all about this game, but I already did that in last year’s review of it. So if you want, you can read it here.
So, now that we’re all caught up, all I can do gaming-wise is wait until the new one comes out. Until then, try out any of these games to have some webslinging fun.