Spider-Man 2000: The Most Underrated Superhero Game


As we’re apparently coming into the ultimate days of the present console technology, now is an efficient time to remind avid gamers all over the place to not stare so intently on the future that you find yourself overlooking a few of this technology’s greatest titles. That may sound like a wierd warning, however with out fail, the ultimate years of a console yield really nice video games that fail to draw the eye they deserve. It’s a plague disguised as a pattern that robs some video games of their legacy. It’s additionally an enormous a part of the explanation why 2000’s Spider-Man for PlayStation isn’t usually remembered as one of many best superhero video games of all-time.

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Released in North America on August 30, 2000 (and later ported to the N64, Dreamcast, PC, and Game Boy Color), Spider-Man was launched at a time of transition for just about everybody concerned with the undertaking. Developer Neversoft had simply launched the revolutionary Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater the yr earlier than and hadn’t but develop into a studio largely accountable for pumping out skateboarding sequels. Publisher Activision had begun making a few of the acquisitions that may finally flip it into one of the crucial profitable recreation publishers on the earth. Marvel, in the meantime, was nonetheless making an attempt to get better from its December 1996 chapter submitting and had begun searching for extra methods to develop the model (which included the discharge of the traditionally necessary superhero movies, Blade and X-Men).

Yet, a very powerful identify on this chronological conundrum is PlayStation. By the time that Spider-Man for the PlayStation was launched in North America, the PlayStation 2 had already been launched in Japan and was producing the sort of hype worthy of a system that may go on to develop into the best-selling online game console of all-time. While the PlayStation 2 wouldn’t be launched in North America till October 2000 – and Europe in November 2000 – the mere attract of its arrival was sturdy sufficient to successfully kill Sega’s Dreamcast, which had launched only one yr prior.

Sega’s beloved remaining console wasn’t the one sufferer of PlayStation hype, although. Indeed, many PlayStation video games launched in 2000 didn’t garner the eye that they may have in any other case obtained had they arrived a yr or two prior. That left main titles just like the good Final Fantasy IX, the true cult basic Vagrant Story, the all-time nice Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, and even big-name sequels like Driver 2 preventing for the love – and cash – of avid gamers who had been simply marking the times till the PlayStation 2 arrived.

In the center of that pandemonium was Spider-Man. While Spider-Man’s identify worth did assist the sport’s mere existence garner a sure stage of hype, it’s a must to keep in mind that this was earlier than the discharge of the 2002 Spider-Man movie and a decade earlier than the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a factor. Neversoft’s most-anticipated recreation of 2000 was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. The Spider-Man identify on the jewel case simply didn’t have the drawing energy you assume.

Of course, if Spider-Man had been a real once-in-a-lifetime nice online game, it could have damaged by all of these limitations and captivated the gaming world. That’s one factor we must always in all probability get out of the way in which now, although. Spider-Man isn’t an undisputed nice recreation.

In truth, it’s onerous to think about any trendy gamer discovering it in themselves to get previous the sport’s visuals and different technological shortcomings. In a type of unusual twists of destiny that may solely exist on this difficult little world we’ve made for ourselves, these shortcomings can largely be attributed to Neversoft’s want and skill to push the talents of the PlayStation to its remaining limits.

The result’s a recreation that’s each extremely formidable and technologically handicapped. Neversoft clearly wished to create a Spider-Man recreation that allowed gamers to actually expertise the fun of controlling Spider-Man in wealthy 3D playgrounds. It was a positive aim, however even after builders had explored nearly all the pieces the PlayStation might do, they hadn’t but found how you can use the console to create huge 3D worlds that didn’t require a substantial variety of design compromises.

Chief amongst these compromises is the “fog” that rolls throughout lots of the recreation’s out of doors environments. Yes, very similar to Silent Hill, Spider-Man finds a solution to work fog into the plot to be able to compensate for the PlayStation’s horrible draw distance. No in-game excuses are made for the merely rendered character fashions, stunted animations, or for Spider-Man’s painfully restricted potential to swing across the recreation’s ranges. As for Spider-Man’s 3D fight…effectively, this was earlier than Batman: Arkham Asylum confirmed the world how nice brawler battles in 3D motion video games could possibly be.

All of these limitations would have sunk Spider-Man had been it not for one essential design factor that even essentially the most highly effective consoles can’t instill in a recreation: the eagerness the studio had for the character. See, it seems that the builders at Neversoft had been big Spider-Man followers. In truth, there are numerous instances when the sport’s core plot – some trifling mess involving an imposter Spider-Man – seems like the perfect out there excuse the builders might provide you with to work a few of their favourite Spider-Man villains and Marvel heroes into the sport.

What retains the entire thing from feeling like a misguided piece of fanfiction is the sheer pleasure of all of it. In the sport’s very first stage, we’re greeted by narrator Stan Lee – who was doing Stan Lee cameos earlier than Stan Lee cameos had been cool – run into Black Cat, swing by the Fantastic Four headquarters, and get to listen to J. Jonah Jameson scream at Spider-Man at the same time as The Scorpion threatens to kill him. From there, gamers encounter Daredevil, Venom, Carnage, The Punisher, Captain America (who’s caught enjoying playing cards with Spider-Man throughout a post-credits sequence), and even get references to and cameos from different Marvel characters like Thor, Wolverine, and Galactus.

In case you haven’t already gathered, lots of the issues that make Spider-Man so particular are the identical issues that make the present MCU particular. At a time when many Marvel and superhero video games had been nonetheless seen as an try to use the love followers had for these characters and their worlds, Spider-Man utilized that love not as an exploitative type of advertising however relatively because the lifeblood of the expertise. The identify on the sport mentioned “Spider-Man” – and the sport does do a wonderful job of capturing the spirit of that character – nevertheless it was greater than that. Spider-Man was really a grand celebration of the Marvel universe {that a} technology of people that grew up on Marvel maybe didn’t but understand they wanted of their lives. In truth, a big a part of what makes the sport distinctive to today is the way in which that it attracts a lot of its inspiration from Marvel comics.

Spider-Man is about as far faraway from the thought of a “gritty superhero reboot” as you will get. No makes an attempt are made to cover the inherent absurdity of Spider-Man comics or Spider-Man: The Animated Series, which the sport additionally borrows closely from. Venom alternates between being a real menace and comedic reduction. Rhino is a dumb thug with a keenness for ahead momentum. By the time Doc-Ock and Carnage merge and the mechanical tentacled abomination begins chasing Spider-Man by an exploding constructing, you gained’t even bat an eye fixed on the ridiculousness of all of it.

While the technical shortcomings of Spider-Man may frustrate trendy avid gamers, the comedian e-book charms of Spider-Man have misplaced none of their preliminary enchantment. Few superhero video games launched since Spider-Man have really endeavored to recreate the model and tone of their comedian e-book sources – 2005’s Ultimate Spider-Man is among the few that comes shut – and none have actually tried to recreate the “Golden Age” really feel of Spider-Man. That design deficit solely elevates seemingly minor facets of this recreation, corresponding to its varied unlockable costumes that double as a museum of Spider-Man’s historical past in addition to the sport’s good “What If?” mode that pays tribute to the world of alternate Marvel universes by presenting the sport’s essential story in ways in which barely change a number of eventualities.

That’s the true tragedy of Spider-Man’s hidden gem standing. This recreation by no means actually obtained the possibility to innovate and encourage different superhero recreation builders to pursue digital recreations of comedian e-book worlds because it ought to have. Later video games like Freedom Force, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, and even Viewtiful Joe would draw from that effectively, however the majority of main superhero video games launched since Spider-Man – together with the Arkham sequence – aimed for one thing extra cinematic.

While it’s onerous to fault the outcomes of that method (the PS2 adaptation of Spider-Man 2 is rightfully remembered as among the finest superhero video games ever for its good open-world web-slinging), you possibly can’t assist however really feel that one thing has been misplaced by the business’s willingness to so rapidly abandon the extra whimsical nature of basic comics in favor of the persevering with pursuit of extra mature expressions of the superhero style.

Maybe that’s Spider-Man’s true legacy. Rather than arguing its deserves as one of many best – and definitely most underrated – of superhero video games, maybe it’s time that we acknowledge this title’s standing as considered one of gaming’s best love letters to the comedian e-book medium.

Matthew Byrd is a employees author for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days making an attempt to pitch deep-dive analytical items about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an more and more perturbed sequence of editors. You can learn extra of his work right here or discover him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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