21. Spider-Man 2
Treyarch | Activision | 2004
A fully-featured Spider-Man sim that gives players a full-sized mockup of Manhattan to swing around in freely
What made it so great?
Everyone secretly wants to be Spider-Man, but no game really came close to fulfilling those dreams until Spider-Man 2 came along. Although it's a (really loose) movie adaptation, it was the first game to throw a superhero into a big, open world and just let players mess around with his powers, and it's still arguably the best.
That's mostly thanks to developer Treyarch absolutely nailing the feeling of web-swinging, enabling you to latch onto absolutely any surface for free-form Tarzan antics. There's a careful rhythm to doing it right, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to rocket across Manhattan's skyline with the speed and grace of an Olympic gymnast. The whole experience is a seamless, unbridled rush, and it comes coupled with plenty of things to do, from pursuing non-movie plotlines to chasing down some kid's lost balloons.
Interestingly, we got our first look at Spider-Man 3 recently, and apart from a big graphical boost, it doesn't look like much has changed. No point in messing with perfection, we guess.
Get ready to play
The entire borough of Manhattan is yours right from the start, and it's easy to get lost in the exploration and stopping random crimes without ever getting into the story. But it's worth delving in and taking on missions, as you'll gradually be rewarded with new powers, which in turn lead to cool new ways to explore the city. Whatever you decide to do, swinging around Manhattan just never gets old. Neither does launching punks into spinning pile-drivers from the roof of the Empire State Building, which you can totally do.
Been there, done that?
Like the idea of a big, open New York, but want to smash it to pieces instead of saving it? Then The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction has what you need, in the form of a green force of nature ready to cater to your every cruel whim.
to check out the rest of our Games that Shaped a Generation coverage.