Spider-Man Games Through The Years - From Maximum Carnage To Insomniac

by Matthew Mueller

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Marvel announced this year at E3 that renowned game studio Insomniac would be at the helm of their newest Spider-Man adaptation. The studio certainly has the chops to make Spidey work in 3D, something that has proved rather complicated for other studios. 

I’m not saying that making a great Spider-Man game is easy though, not at all. In fact, attempting to blend his unique move set with an open world is much different than having someone straight up fly across the sky or ride in a ground-based jeep or tank. With Spider-Man, a developer has to blend both aspects of the world together seamlessly and make each jump, swing, and movement feel like organic and fluid.

While there are definitely highlights, Spidey’s overall batting average is a bit low when it comes to games. Marvel has been trying to make Spider-Man work in a video game since the original Spider-Man released back in 1982. Since then the marquee hero has been featured on almost every system known to man, and has steadily made the progression from 2D brawlers like Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six and Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage to more fully realized affairs like Neversoft's Spider-Man.

That title was pretty well received at the time, and is still regarded as one of the best iterations of the character, but it wouldn’t be until Spider-Man 2 from Treyarch that the hero finally felt fully realized. Web Swinging was physics-based for the first time, and you actually had to pay attention to where you were going and plan out your next move. Many still remember fondly spending hours just web-slinging around the city.

Later games would get aspects of the character right, including Ultimate Spider-Man’s lovely art style and fun demeanor and Spider-Man: Web of Shadow's engrossing story and fun combat. At that point, a developer named Beenox got the rights to the character, and proceeded to make the next four games starring the wall-crawler.

They hit their mark with their first effort, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, which brought in four fan favorite renditions of the character and blended them into one story. Many were looking forward to their next entry, Spider-Man: Edge of Time, assuming it would build upon the same foundation. While it did feature time travel elements, it actually narrowed the scope considerably, and because of that wasn’t as well received. Their third title, The Amazing Spider-Man movie tie-in, had a number of flaws, and overall wasn’t what fans were looking for. Their most recent effort, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, was much better, and in fact had some very promising enhancements to the web-slinging mechanics, but tired combat and repetitive missions kept it from achieving its potential.

Now Insomniac has the baton, and hopes are high that they can deliver an inventive take on the character, especially with their well-versed experience with combat mechanics and their work with humor in games like Ratchet & Clank and FUSE. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, so we’ve included a poll of the best (and worst) Spider-Man games, and want you to vote for your favorite.