Spider-Man 2 – Xbox
Developer: Activision Treyarch
Release Date (NA): June 28th, 2004
Genre: Action/Adventure, Open World, Third Person
Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10
Reviewed by THEbipolarBear
Spider-Man 2 truly allows the player to become Marvel’s greatest superhero, making the game a solid member of my top 5 video games of all time, and a serious contestant for the number 1 slot. From fighting New York’s worst goons to dramatic super villain battles to just swinging around nighttime Manhattan, all aspects of this game are immersive, interesting, and integral to the web-slinger’s experience. Therefore, there is no room for fluff – no pointless missions, no skippable cutscenes, and no enemies worth sparing. Even delivering pizza to impatient customers is extremely enjoyable as Spidey. This game revolutionized everything from superhero games, such as the incredibly successful Batman series, to open world cities, such as the iconic Assassin’s Creed games, to my author box way down at the end of this article, and this is for a plethora of reasons.
First of all, let me express my unconditional love, and the inevitable bias that follows, for the Spider-Man franchises. Despite being my favorite superhero, the Spider-Man games are by far the most enjoyable superhero games for me. Swinging around the city and flinging bad guys off of the Empire State Building is my most-beloved pastime while Peter Parker’s witty, sarcastic humor has shaped my own. I consider it the highest of honors just to have my name by this title in the world wide web, no pun intended. My point being that the story, mechanics, gameplay, and overall impression of Activision’s Spider-Man 2 may be augmented through my eyes. Even still, this game’s characteristics were genuinely revolutionary and the experience of becoming Spider-Man was cutting-edge at its time and even today.
The story, such as characters, plot, and setting, is crucial to comic-book-based video games, as you can see in both Maximum Carnage and its sequel, Separation Anxiety, two games based purely on the comic series from which they were derived. The reason integrating effective storylines into comic book games is so necessary is simply because comic books are stories themselves, full of many villains, heroes, and love-interests. Almost every hero has another super-powered acquaintance and multiple rivals, creating an exhausting cast of creative characters. Therefore, a comic book game with a lousy, straight-forward storyline is ultimately a lousy comic book game. Activision must’ve known this when they made Spider-Man 2, because while the story may be all over the place, it is at least followable and incredibly interesting.
Even though the adjective “followable” may contain a negative connotation for some, you must take into account that comic book storylines only span the length of around 30 pages at a time, not 10 or more hours of gameplay. A single issue often includes both the rise and the fall of a certain villain, while a series, especially one including Spider-Man, can contain dozens of villains, each of which has their own path which intertwines with almost every other villain. Therefore, Activision’s feat of producing a comic-book-game storyline that neither lacks integrity nor is absent of reason is one to respect. If you’re looking for a very sophisticated plotline, complete with easy transitions and taking care of problems one quick solution at a time, I highly recommend you do not invest in this game. Do not even pick this game’s case up if you want a blatant or clearly explained reasoning for every situation or conflict. However, if you can bear to suspend disbelief enough to jump from an evil octopus scientist to saving lady liberty from invading aliens while being late AGAIN to Dr. Connors’ class, then this wonderful, nonlinear game is surely for you.
In previous adaptations, the web-head had only “flown” through the air, with animations applied to give the appearance of swinging. Activision finally brought to the table what everyone had been waiting for – 3D physics. This allowed for state-of-the-art mechanics, creating a playground of possibilities and paving the way for games like Mirror’s Edge and Dying Light, two games centered around parkour-like, environmentally-based gameplay. Finally, it was possible to jump off of a skyscraper and shoot a tangible web onto a flag pole at the last possible second. Combine the tangible web with the ever-fruitful ragdoll physics, and you’ll soon be swinging gang members off the Queensboro Bridge and hanging goons from the light post like punching bags. Furthermore, small additions, such as swinging from traffic lights, wall-running, and web-zipping provide the perfect transitions between swinging and soaring through New York, creating an epic series of agility and style. And in Spider-Man 2, looking good never paid off more.
Spider-Man’s fighting style, complete with spider-sense, web-slinging, and pounding punches, combined with Activision’s new mechanics produced overwhelmingly epic gameplay, and Spidey becomes even more impressive when you unleash the full power of his spider-sense, called Bullet-Mode. Built up by pure style, Spider-Man’s Bullet-Mode allows him to become completely aware of all of his surroundings and extremely lethal. The mode lasts only for a short while and is marked by a blue meter, but you can wreak a lot of havoc in that short time frame with the help of advanced combos and increased damage stats. Even outside of the slo-mo mode, gameplay is still amazing. It can also be easily augmented when you spend your hero points – Spidey’s currency that he uses to upgrade his super powers, such as swinging speed, combos, and air tricks which build up your style points. And as the great Deadpool says, “… it’s called progression in games. A must have.”
A lot of decade-or-more old games with positive reviews are looked at with respect because of circumstance, such as Doom, which is honestly a mediocre game, but for its time, it is fantastic. However, Spider-Man 2 does not fall into this category. For example, I simply popped this wondrous game into my Xbox 360 to refresh my mind of how the game handled, and I couldn’t put the controller down for another hour. The combination of style and experimentation was addicting to my younger self who logged more than 10 hours on this game, and it’s still addicting ten years later. This is the reason that this game yielded such a high rating from me. If a game from a decade ago can trump a recent, hugely selling and highly acclaimed game such as Skyrim or Tomb Raider, then it calls for a prestigious rating. So if you’re a comic book junkie, a marvel fanatic, or even just in the market for an extremely fun open world adventure, I recommend you go ahead and pick up the console version of Spider-Man 2 despite the haphazard plotline and the dated graphics, and start your own journey to become your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.
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