There is an unwritten rule, it seems, that any game based off a comic-book movie has to be a piece of crap. The biggest reason most games don’t work is that it is hard to replicate the ‘feel’ of being that superhero. Thankfully, no-one told Activision or Treyarch games studio this, because Spider-Man 2 is not only a good film-to-game adaption, but also one of my favourite games of all time. It was released in 2004, on many different platforms, but I played it exclusively on the Playstation 2.
The story is loosely based off the Spider-Man 2 film, with some extras thrown in along the way. You’ll be swinging to and from university classes, and delivering pizza in a surprisingly difficult side quest (can’t let the pizza get messed up, which is harder than you might think). Eventually you face off against Doctor Octopus in a grand boss battle, and go on your merry way. But along that merry way will be meetings with Spider-man stalwart Black Cat, a rundown warehouse with Shocker and his goons, and a few run-ins with the beastly Rhino. The best boss battle, though, comes at the behest of Mysterio, which includes swinging around the Statue of Liberty, requiring immense precision, before a final confrontation against Mysterio, with THREE health bars. If you’ve played the game, you know what I mean.
As mentioned, it is often hard to make players actually feel like they ARE the superhero, rather that something like ‘press X to be a superhero’. Spider-Man 2 definitely did not suffer from this stigma. You could swing from building to building, in a fully recognized New York city, by tapping the left and right triggers to rhythmically shoot the web, or use both triggers to latch on to two points for a powerful swing. What made Spider-man 2 interesting was that each web shot actually had to have something to stick to, so if you were out over the water you could not swing. This mad taking hard corners easier (once you got the hang of it) because you could latch right onto corners of buildings.
The combat in the game was a simple combination of attacks (punches and kicks) and web use, as well as a doge button (the Spider Sense) which could often be the difference between life and death. Combinations could be executed (for example attack>attack>web) which would cause Spidey to perform some sort of powerful maneuver. My personal favourite was stringing up the goons from light posts or traffic lights, and then using them as a punching bag. A close second, though, was using the web to pull them into a grab, then giving them a piledriver off the top of the empire state building.
As I’ve mentioned in recent reviews for games such as Watch_Dogs and Dragon Age: Inquisition, side quests can be a tricky thing to get right; they are either too easy, and therefore boring, or too difficult, and not worth the reward. Spider-man got the difficulty:reward ratio spot on, and there were no mandatory side missions. As Spidey, swinging around, players could come across civilians who needed help, or saw someone nearby that needed help. These missions ranged from saving someone who was going to fall from a building, or getting a child back their balloon (all the while making classic Spidey quips). There was also a huge number of collectibles hidden all over the city, of which I don’t know if I ever found them all.
Arguably one of the best film-to-game adaptions, Spider-man 2 was able to capture the feel of being a superhero in a fully recognized New York city. Featuring some of the best swinging mechanics I’ve seen in any game, and side quests that never got boring and, perhaps most importantly, a Spider-man that actually felt like Spider-man. Spider-man 2 was a fantastic game, based off a fantastic movie, and it is one of my favourite games of all time.