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Spider-Man 2 brought the Grand Theft Auto-style cityscape and open-ended missions to Spidey's gaming career, but it was 2005's Ultimate Spider-Man that finally married the open-ended city with a comic book-style presentation.
The game emits a constant sense of fun, from the bright colors to the thick black lines etched over everything on the horizon. Most of Manhattan Island has been recreated, including the Empire State Building and neighboring Queens. Spidey's sticky powers let you explore every nook and cranny, making the whole city a massive jungle gym filled with secret goodies. Freely swinging through the city, from rooftops to bridges to street level, is an experience that until this point was limited to comic books. Spidey's acrobatic fighting style also receives a first-class representation, letting you flip-kick and web-toss enemies all over the place. This unconventional method of battle is one of Spider-Man's most notable features in the comics, and it's handled with great care. Spider-Man 3 may have more options when it comes to beating down thugs, but well, everything else is pretty bad.
On top of all the proven gameplay, it's the comic-style presentation that brings everything together. The narrative is told through animated panels that whirl across the screen as characters leap from page to page. The game's plot is also considered canon with the comics, so this isn't just some throwaway script, it's part of the ongoing continuity that's been building in the Ultimate comics since 2000. Tons of cameos and unlockable costumes make the ride even sweeter for major fans.
At certain points, you'll switch roles and play as Venom, a complete contrast to the bouncy hero in every way. Venom's immense size prevents him from web swinging, so instead he takes massive leaps, hurls cars and sucks the life out of unlucky civilians. The bad guys have all the fun.
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