When it comes to Spider-Man video games in the modern generation, it's impossible to mention Spidey without discussing the impact that Insomniac Games left with 2018's Marvel's Spider-Man. While the PS4 game was known for its realistic recreation of Manhattan, the voice acting of Yuri Lowenthal as Spider-Man – among other cast members who brought their characters to life – and the number of content players could explore outside of the main story, the Spider-Man gameplay as fans know it today had humble beginnings.
Released in 2000 and published by Activision, Neversoft's Spider-Man was the first time the web-slinger made his debut from 2D to 3D as abilities that would become mainstays in future titles were seen in its infancy. The ability to web swing from building to building and elements of stealth in some levels were all introduced in the same game. Its 2001 sequel, Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro, received a lukewarm reception upon release, yet a string of movie deals would soon become Activision's big break for Spider-Man in the 2000s.
The theatrical release of 2002's Spider-Man was as important for Hollywood as it was for fans of the superhero himself, being the first live-action Spider-Man movie since the '70s to be shown on the big screen. The reception for the movie was so extraordinarily high that it helped set the precedent for Spider-Man sequels and superhero movies to follow. The video game tie-in, developed by Treyarch, was a surprise success, combining what made the original Neversoft's Spider-Man great with the polish that was to be expected from a PS2-era title.
The gameplay followed the plot of the movie for the most part, as Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man and goes after the villain of the first movie, Green Goblin, through iconic recreations of scenes from the movie among its levels. Several levels that stood out at the time were the New York Parade level and the final level where Spidey fights Green Goblin on the Queensboro Bridge. Several Redditors shared their experiences with the game, praising its simplistic yet effective gameplay.
While the game itself was short, there was a lot of unlockable content for Spider-Man fans to enjoy. Bonus costumes, behind-the-scenes information relating to the movie, and other miscellaneous costumes based on NPC characters in-game were among several unlockables players could access through completing the game. One of the most rewarding unlockables was the ability to play as Green Goblin himself, replaying the same levels as Spider-Man, but told through a different narrative.
The next time around, the player was in control of Harry Osborne, the son of the Green Goblin Norman Osborne, as he investigates his father's motives. For a game released before a time when alternative stories were commonly told from a different perspective, Spider-Man had set a bar that games such as Devil May Cry 3 would move forward in the future.
Treyarch continued to release games for the following two movies in the trilogy, with Spider-Man 2 often considered to be one of the best action-adventure games of that era, setting the tone for future open-world Spider-Man titles. With Spider-Man 2 rumored to be in development, it'll be interesting to see what Spider-Man will be like in the next 19 years.
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