Locomotion and Momentum in “Spider-Man 2”

Saying that Spider-Man 2’s web-swinging is loved sells it short. In 2004, Treyarch struck gold. To date, it is the most visceral and enjoyable incarnation of Spidey’s unique movement that I have experienced. Unlike many Spider-Man games before and after Spider-Man 2, Treyarch created a way to web-swing that forced Spidey’s webs to attach to solid objects while also conserving his momentum between swings. Combined with a wide range of control over Spider-Man’s movement and jump height, it creates an organic, high skill cap form of movement throughout the recreation of Manhattan.

Demonstration of a variety of Spider-Man’s techniques. Credits and thanks to creator.

Subsequent games struggle to recreate this level of control. Increased presentation values can sometimes make contemporary web-swinging look better, but they often lack other key components of Spider-Man 2’s engine, such as collision for webs, even while they borrow other aspects. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a prime example of this. While they do borrow one of Spider-Man 2’s lauded features and force your web to attach to physical buildings, they do not employ collision for the web itself. At 1:08 of this developer playthrough, Spider-Man launches a web that lands somewhere above the tunnel entrance, but he swings through the tunnel in a straight line. In Spider-Man 2, your web would catch and bend on the upper lip of the entrance, sending you straight into the roof.

Recently, I finally stumbled across another copy of Spider-Man 2. I bought it without hesitation. When returning to old games, I’m always hesitant, unsure whether some aspect of gameplay that I loved was either actually good or nostalgia. It delighted me to see that the web-swinging lived up to memory.

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