Say what you will about the early 2000’s Spiderman trilogy, it had more feeling and depth than the most recent iteration, which has been killed quicker than Gwen Stacy was, to the delight of a grateful nation. It had Spidey not reliant on getting his wrists wet, which is always a plus. And while the most recent video games for The Amazing Spiderman were about as engaging as a wet sponge, Spiderman 2 was a great load of fun that distracted us from the concept that all movie tie-in games are garbage, if only for a moment.
So Peter Parker is back, Tobey Maguire-style, after dealing with the first Green Goblin to worry about the usual balancing act of jobs, internships, school, keeping a social life, and fighting crime. The main plot sticks with the movie while adding some lesser-known villains into the mix in order to extend the game’s playtime, like Shocker and Rhino. We even get to play through Mysterio’s origins and some of his heists such as trying to steal the Statue of Liberty. Dr. Octavius makes a fusion reactor thing, kills wife, robot arms, lust for revenge, yadda yadda yadda. If you want to get a gist for the plot, just watch the movie.
Where Spiderman 2 hits the nail, screw, and neighbor on the head, is in its implementation of Spiderman’s superpowers. While most Spiderman games have you hit one button and watch him swing away, Spiderman 2 gives you an entire web swinging mechanic that uses buttons, physics, and sometimes just plain luck. Figuring out how to properly web swing sort of makes you feel like Spiderman. Figuring out whether it’s better to stay higher up or release the web lower into the arc, when to switch directions, judging how long your web is in a split second, and occasionally careening into the 5 o’clock traffic makes you really feel like a superhero.
The boss fights, however, have a three-pronged approach. They either a) awkwardly implement the swinging mechanic in a cramped area, b) involve a series of just swinging towards an objective, or c) deal only with the combat system and punching something. The most memorable boss fights are definitely in category b, since they make the most use of Spidey’s powers. But someone at the office accidentally reminded their boss that they should probably have a badly done combat system, because a movie tie-in game can’t be perfect. So be prepared to press two to three buttons in quick and unorganized succession to power through fights. Health doesn’t regenerate, and is only dropped from the ether once you’ve completed a minor or major quest.
Completing quests and missions will earn you hero points that you can spend at hard-to-find stores located around the city about as frequently as a movie tie-in game is good. The upgrades themselves are widely varied, but other than the upgrades for the swinging mechanic, they all sort of get lost and are not used too often. Some increase his web-swinging speed, some giving him different combat moves, and some just allow Spiderman to do some fun tricks while he swings his way around Manhattan.
Overall, the game does bear the marks of a movie tie-in game. You know how the plot’s going to turn out because you’ve most likely seen the movie. And even if you hadn’t, the main villain and plotline isn’t hard to spot. The combat’s messy, the upgrades are annoying to find, and the graphics, even for the GameCube, looked like they’d belong on an N64. But it’s the web swinging that pushes the game past being “just another movie tie-in game” and into the real of acceptable and, actually, quite fun to play. I wish the Amazing Spiderman games had realistic web-swinging mechanics. Would love to swing that smug voice actor into an 18-wheeler.