Earlier this week I finished playing through Ultimate Spider-man, a 2005 tie-in to the Ultimate Spider-man comic series developed by the same studio that made the tie-in games for Sam Rami’s film trilogy. I played this game back when it was still new and have very fond memories of swinging through the city and hanging out with Spidey and all of his friends. What I didn’t remember, though, is that the story is very, very short.
I beat it in less than four hours of play time this time around. I remember spending forever in the open world of this game before, and apparently, I spent all that time just ignoring the actual story, and swining around. Forunately, the way that you move through the city as Spider-man swings from building to building is fast, fluid, and really, really fantastic! On top of that, the game is beautiful. A lot of people laud Spider-man 2 as the ultimate Spider-man game, and it sounds like it uses the same mobility engine as Ultimate Spider-man, but it relies on “realistic” graphic to pair with the movies, while Ultimate uses cell shading to reflect Mark Bagley’s wonderful art. What this means, is that even though the graphics are a bit jagged due to technical limitations of the day, the art style helps it feel fresh compared to it’s contemoraries.
Progression through the game comes in two parts; story missions and city missions. Story missions show cutscenes starring either Peter Parker’s Spider-man or Eddie Brock’s Venom, and then have you complete specific objectives as one of the two. In order to get to each story mission you have to complete a series of city tasks; these include races, brawling missions, stopping bandits, and rescuing civilians. That requirement is how the game regulates the speed at which you complete the story: you can’t bust straight through, because city missions force diversions.
This time around, I was playing the game on Twitch, and mostly completed exactly the number of city events that I needed to in order to unlock the next story mission. I didn’t do a lot of wandering around. What’s crazy to me though is that my previous game my previous saved game, the one from 2007, it shows a play time of over eight hours, and I haven’t even finished the story on that file! I think that save must have been from my second time playing, because I’m sure that I beat the game before, but I have no idea how I managed to spend eight hours wandering New York! I mean, I love this game, and my memories of it are of swinging around the world more than they the story, but eight hours of side quests is just insane!
I’m really looking forward to the Spider-man game that’s coming out on the PlayStation 4 in September, and I’m hoping that it will surpass Ultimate Spider-man as my favorite Spider-man game of all time. If, however, it turns out to have a story as short as this one did, I will be severely disappointed! Ultimate is still good, but holy smokes do I wish there was more story to keep me invested in it. Even though I’ve loved wandering around this world before, with so many games available to me today, without having a specific motivation to keep me engaged in the world it’s hard to spend the time exploring it.