Alongside a great number of titles that were presented at E3 2016, there was official confirmation that the brains behind Ratchet & Clank, Insomniac Games, would now be taking up the mantle to create a PlayStation 4-exclusive adaptation of Marvel’s Spider-Man. While the details are scarce on what the superhero outing will entail, the game’s trailer points to an original storyline, a uniquely new take on the web slinger’s outfit, and an open-world environment full of civilians, traffic, and interior locations in the form of overcrowded coffee shops –authentically New York City.
While it was originally believed through earlier rumours that the studio developing the game would be Sucker Punch Studios (Creators of Infamous), the thought of Insomniac Games taking the reins on this project seems a tad more interesting. Given Sucker Punch’s ideas, world design and character development in creating an original experience within the superhero genre, they do seem to be a natural fit for the development of one of Marvel’s most popular characters. Insomniac Games on the other hand, well, they’re largely known for frantic action, chaotic characters, and fast-moving sequences packed with explosions and oozing with colour.
The surprise for what they could bring to an open-world setting in the form of a Spider-Man game, one with an aesthetic that emphasizes realism over the cartoonish history of games which they’re known for is quite intriguing. Throughout the past 15 years or so we’ve been treated to a great number of games that seek to deliver a superb and true-to-comic book experience in adapting Spider-Man to the virtual world. There are some however, that aren’t so amazing. Here are the top 5 Spider-Man games that have made their way onto PlayStation formats, all of which deserved to be played.
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5. Spider-Man: Web Of Shadows (PS3)
Incorporating a great number of characters consisting of the web head’s closest allies, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows sees our hero attempting to stop a symbiote takeover of New York City, while the most notorious of his villains become infected and empowered by the alien swarm themselves. While Venom is the root of the problem itself, the game hosts some of the best boss fights within the history of Spidey’s video game outings, and it also provides choice for how the player wishes to experience the story from different perspectives. Players are given the choice to switch between the alien costume and the classic red ”n’ blue outfit at any point in the game.
This proves to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game as each costume gives way for different combos, game mechanics, and consequences for how the story plays out. For instance, completing an objective in Spider-Man’s vanilla spandex results in good karma and a more positive outlook from the game’s contributing characters. Giving in to the alien and unleashing your dark-side will have our hero being addressed in a negative manner, with his friends portraying dislike for his actions therefore affecting the story that follows. But I say screw ‘em, go on, get lost. There’s nothing more satisfying than mixing and matching combos as you constantly switch back and forth while raging destruction upon your enemies. You think you’re better than Venom? You’re two sides of the same coin.
4. Ultimate Spider-Man (PS2)
Placing its focus directly on the comic book series of the same name, Ultimate Spider-Man tells the conspiracy tale of the diabolical black suit, which our hero briefly adorns before it’s later adopted by Eddie Brock—most popularly known as Venom. Diverting the original story of an extra-dimensional alien substance disguised as superhero attire, Ultimate Spider-Man introduces both Peter Parker and Eddie Brock’s Fathers as the basement scientists who created the suit. From there onwards the entire game revolves around a cat and mouse nightmare hunt of Spider-Man having to do battle with Venom.
Other characters also make an appearance within this sprawling open-world full of side activities and Easter Eggs, but the real appeal here resides within the game’s aesthetic that seeks to accurately emulate the cel-shaded look of the comic books which it’s based upon. Packed with eye-popping colours, a gorgeous animation structure, and one of the best utilizations of the web-slinging experience within its gameplay mechanics, Ultimate Spider-Man is a must-play for fans.
3. Spider-Man (PSOne)
Taking the true first step in delivering a Spider-Man experience in the form of a partially explorable, three-dimensional open-world, this PlayStation classic released six years after the debut of the console itself, yet still succeeded in just about everything it set out to deliver. Spider-Man was not only an enjoyable experience one that remains true to the characters and lore of the Marvel universe, it was also a technical masterpiece at the time in terms of its visual qualities and smart design in creating an open-world. Whether this holds some truth or not remains a mystery, but it was believed that due to the limitations of the console’s performance specifications, the game’s storyline which involves New York City being drowned in a poisonous yellow fog is partly the reason for not being able to fully explore sections of the environment.
Going too low to the ground beneath that which you traverse results in the Underoos mascot succumbing to infection and falling from his web, which proved a neat game design. Spider-Man also features a large number of appearances from Marvel’s most notable characters, some of which are actually tied to the storyline itself. Those such as Daredevil, Black Cat, The Human Torch, and The Punisher serve as great fan service and do well to provide an astonishing experience. Bad news is that the in-game camera was awful, so trying admire the low-polygon geometry of Black Cat’s figure proved to be a serious endeavour.
2. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (PS3)
Spider-Man has always proven to be an interesting and diverse character, one that provides enough depth and complexity throughout the many stories that have been told. While the majority of these have remained tied to the child-like attraction of humour and charm that the character is well-known for, there are a great deal of stories which focus on darker and deeper moments within the web-slinger’s life—some of which aren’t necessarily based on Peter Parker.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions uses this to its advantage. By providing the character with four distinct Spider-Men to take control of, all of which play very differently from one another from a mechanical perspective, these four characters are introduced to the player and to each other, through the means of Madame Web—Spider-Man’s interdimensional “eyes and ears”. In a dire, world-ending plot consisting of a magical tablet hoping through different dimensions, our four unique heroes must all do their part in acquiring fragmented pieces of the cryptic artefact.
In terms of the characters themselves, players take on the role of four distinct web-slingers: The Amazing Spider-Man, who we all know and love; the much younger Ultimate Spider-Man who’s now become bonded with the alien costume; Spider-Man 2099 also known as Miguel O’Hara, a geneticist from the year 2099 who recreated the Spider-Man experiment; and finally, Spider-Man Noir, a 1930s incarnation of Peter Parker who’s darker in his mind-set and more punishing in his brutality. He also wears a trench coat and carries a gun. Unlike The Batman, he gets the job done first time round.
1. Spider-Man 2 (PS2)
It took years to get it right, it set a standard, it proved that good video game adaptations of movies are possible. Spider-Man 2 is best known as the game that nailed the important aspects of web-slinging and how to adapt it to the game pad in a manner that feels natural, intuitive, and enjoyable. Even till this day the games that have followed its release fail to top the level of entertainment that this gem has provided; nor have they raised the bar or expanded upon the amount of detail, mission structure, and level of quality within the story that Spider-Man 2 delivered upon at the time.
Everything from the side activities, combat mechanics, and the believability of existing within the fictionalised version of Marvel’s New York City was born from those that were first introduced within Spider-Man 2. It’s within this formula and structure as to why the game’s so prominent amongst the many games that have been created since its incarnation, as none have done anything to truly up the ante in delivering the feeling of what it’s like to be Spider-Man. As a video game based on a movie, there’s bound to be some preconceived notions of quality. Spider-Man 2 however, gets it right—even down to the minute detail of Tobey MaGuire’s razor-thin lips which naturally look like poor CGI animation.
It’s going to be a long time before Insomniac Games allows us to experience their take on the beloved hero and who knows if it’s going to be any good. But hey, look at it this way; regardless of how many bad Spider-Man games we’ve had, regardless if Insomniac Games screw things up or not, nothing will ever come close to the sheer abysmal atrocity of Tobey MaGuire’s teenage-emo uncertainty in Spider-Man 3.
With great power comes a lot of reviews, and with a lot reviews comes a lot of angry nerds. What are your favourite Spider-Man games? Give us a shout in the comments section below!