games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Spider-Man Games – Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, More

August 28, 2018 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Spider-Man Web of Shadows

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! Next week heralds the release of the Insomniac version of Spider-Man, a game I’ve been waiting for since its debut trailer. Insomniac games are almost always good, with creative combat and great ways to get around an environment, and Spider-Man looks to retain these qualities. So, it’s fun to go back into the history of Spider-Man games and see what stands out. Also, I’ll be taking a break off next week and will return in two weeks. Enjoy:

#8: Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage

Maximum Carnage is a pretty bog-standard Final Fight/Streets of Rage clone with a few Spider-Man stuff thrown in. You can web-swing, wall crawl, and shoot webs to either reel in a target or keep them trapped for a little while but that’s about it. Combat is fairly boring, the enemies are bland and there really is no exploration, which even some beat’em ups had at the time. The minor saving grace is that it doesn’t play terribly, it just has no imagination. And the less said about Separation Anxiety, the better.

#7: Spider-Man and X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge

OK, I’ll be honest, at least 2/5ths of this game is pure garbage. You control Spidey, Cyclops, Wolverine, Gambit and Storm as they traverse various levels within Murderworld. Only, Gambit and Storm levels are objectively terrible, Cyclops isn’t far behind, and Wolverine’s is kind of boring. Storm’s levels involve you navigating her underwater, trying to get air bubbles and stay alive. Gambit’s levels involve him running away from a bootleg version of Big Wheel that will instantly kill you if you touch it. Spider-Man’s levels have him collecting these little flashing box things to unlock the exit of the level. The only reason this game is higher than Maximum Carnage is because it has a superb first level song.

#6: Marvel Avengers Alliance

I think Avengers Alliance was the first and only Facebook game I actually spent real money on. And then it went under, which forever turned me off of Facebook gaming. Avengers Alliance was a decent enough turn-based RPG with Marvel trappings. You had your created SHIELD agent and could recruit various Marvel heroes and villains to be on your team. The combat system was class focused, and had a rock/paper/scissors system where a Blaster class could be tough against Bruisers but weak against Tacticians. Spider-Man was a mainstay for the entire game’s run, he didn’t have as many costumes as some characters (Hulk or Iron Man) but the actual Spider-Man universe was well represented. Alongside the innumerable Spider-Man villains, there were at least 4 different offshoots of Spider-Man including Spider-Man 2099, Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Spider-Man Noir, Spider Gwen, Superior Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Woman, and probably one or two more I’m forgetting. This game ran deep with the Spider-Man roster and I still miss playing it to this day.

#5: Spider-Man (PS1)

This is probably the first “real” example of what a Spider-Man game could be. Spidey could web-swing, wall crawl, punch guys with abandon, use his webs to tie up baddies and so on. And it was all done using the Tony Hawk game engine, which itself was adapted from the Apocalypse video game in 1998. So…thanks Bruce Willis for that? Spider-Man is fairly archaic by today’s standards, you die if you fall off a skyscraper, the camera is a mess, and the indoor environments aren’t great, but it at least had the basics of being Spider-Man down, on a fundamental level at least. It also had some great alternate costumes for you to unlock like Captain Universe and Bombastic Bagman.

#4: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance

Another team-up game, one that has less of a Spider-Man focus but is a better game, overall. Ultimate Alliance seemed to be the pinnacle for these Activision team-up games, with varied combat, a deep roster and a nice, comic-influenced story that would keep you interested. As for the actual Spider-Man parts, he’s pretty fun in the game. His web-swinging is handled well and can really help you bypass some areas in the game if you use it right. Plus, if you spec him correctly, he can be absolutely brutal in the game with Spidey-sense slowing down time and his special moves perfect for crowd control. Marvel Heroes is an honorary mention here.

#3: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

This is actually a fairly decent Spider-Man game. Sure, the camera goes crazy during the fire rescue missions but cameras in Spider-Man games frequently don’t work well. This had a neat mechanic of letting you slow down time and really aim where you want Spider-Man to swing or jump to, or if you really want to collect all the billion comic covers in the game. The combat was also serviceable enough, not great but “fine”. The big issue here is how they handle costumes. There’s around a dozen or so costumes in the game which sounds cool, until you realize they all have different stats associated with them. And they level independently from one another. So, your default costume might be max level, but you finally cleared out all the Russian hangouts and get the “Big Time” outfit. Oh, you want to use it? Back to square one with the leveling system. This means most people just stick with the default costume since it’s such a hassle to gain levels in the game. I sincerely hope the new Spider-Man game doesn’t have this asinine system.

#2: Spider-Man 2 (Original Xbox)

Spider-Man 2 is still held up as one of the definitive Spider-Man games and frankly games-based-on-movies, in general. This is really due to the web-swinging mechanic which was the first Spider-Man to do it right. The webs actually attach to the buildings, not some invisible sky box like earlier games, so you actually have to get skilled yourself in alternating left and right trigger pulls. Also, as you gain levels the web-swinging would get faster and would unlock additional moves for you to do in the air, or to really gain momentum. The camera in this game is also decent, only really freaking out when you’re in an enclosed space, like at the end of the game in Doctor Octopus’s lab. Plus, narration from Bruce Campbell always helps. The only downside of the game is the endless number of lost balloons you have to collect.

#1: Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

At the moment, this is probably the definitive Spider-Man game, and it’s almost 10 years old. This game had an interesting morality system where you could be heroic (red) or be villainous (black) and it would alter your ending and what powers you could use. Spider-Man gets infected with part of the Venom symbiont so he has a whole slew of other powers to use. The traditional Spider-Man combat set is good against single-enemy targets or against small groups of enemies. If you wanted to go big, you switch to the black suit, where you have Venom’s tendril powers to take on massive numbers of foes and deal a lot of damage. This is the first Spider-Man game (again, before the PS4 one next week) to really do combat at least half-way right with a light and heavy attack button and a fairly deep combo system. I’ll be interested to see how the Insomniac Spider-Man game compares to this one.

For comments, list your favorite Spider-Man games and why.

article topics :

The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison