Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 on PS5 is fast approaching, five years after its PS4-exclusive predecessor arrived, and I’m very excited. I’ve been a fan of the wall-crawler since I was a baby (my first words were “thwip” and a bunch of Tobey Maguire quotes). But while Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 does look pretty amazing, I don’t think anything can top the game that Spider-Man 2 should be; 2008’s Spider-Man Web of Shadows.
Let’s cast our minds back to the 2000s – a time when emo culture reigned supreme and pop-punk aesthetics were par for the course. Activision worked with now-defunct Shaba Games to develop a Spider-Man game that would go on to inspire a generation (or, at the very least, me).
For those unfamiliar with Web of Shadows, the game opens with a clearly distraught Spider-Man swinging down to fight symbiote-infected creatures while shouting “Where’s MJ”. It’s angsty, silly, and beautifully overdramatic – but damn does it set the scene. Even though it’s 15 years old at this point, this opening is still used as a meme on social media, showing its cultural relevance to this day.
It feels a little too much like blasphemy to pretend that Spider-Man Web of Shadows is a masterpiece, especially when the Spider-Man 2 PS5 release date is imminent. But, this game was daring at the time. This is because the morality system makes you decide between red Spider-Man and black Spider-Man, which subsequently affects how civilians interact with Spider-Man. It also means that there will be different superheroes (or villains) that you can call in for help too.
However, the reason I love Spider-Man Web of Shadows is the combat. Imagine combining a healthy measure of Spider-Man 2 swinging with a dash of Devil May Cry combat and a generous pinch of flashy attacks and you’ll get Web of Shadows. On the fly, you can switch Spider-Man between his red suit to his black suit, both of which offer different and distinct fighting styles for Peter Parker. Red-suited Spider-Man sees you able to wield a range of agile and faster (but weaker) attacks, whereas the black-suited Spider-Man will deal a range of heavier and slower symbiote-like combos.
I’m not a fool. I know that nostalgia can blind you, and before convincing the editorial powers that be to let me write an article about my favorite superhero, I tasked myself with finding and playing a copy in the year 2023. I wanted to make sure that Spider-Man Web of Shadows is truly the pinnacle of Spider-Man games, and can stand the test of time against Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.
After some hard work (a Google search), I found the game is pretty much lost to time. Except, thanks to some hard-working people at the Archive.org site, who will preserve copies of previously-commercial media to be legally available to the masses, so that they aren’t forgotten. We don’t need any more lost media of course. After some issues getting it to run on my Windows 11 PC (no surprises there), I found myself teleported back in time to something completely magical.
I will admit that it hasn’t aged particularly well. Insomniac is the clear victor when it comes to overall quality, with its older counterpart featuring shoddy swinging (albeit, very PS2 Spider-Man 2-style), and writing that reeks of a writer’s room trying to emulate how edgy teenagers think grown-ups act. However, the combat is still absolutely sublime. It’s smooth, like a hot knife cutting through some symbiotic butter. Switching between the black suit and the red suit is still just as easy and satisfying as it was when I first booted up the game on the PS3 at nine years old. If Insomniac Games decides to take any inspiration from this title for the upcoming PS5 game, I really hope it’s the ability to switch between suits on the fly.
What makes Web of Shadows even more special is the fact that it’s symbolic of a long-gone era. This was during a time of movie tie-ins, where any developer was able to buy the rights to a game adaptation. This meant that there was much more focus on gameplay. Sure, I fully expect the Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 gameplay to be as great as the Arkham-style combat in the first, and I’m sure I’ll absolutely love it. But I imagine it will remove the symbiote suit later on in the game for the sake of the story, which will fit into the unfortunate modern trend of the story coming to the detriment of gameplay.
The PS5 is home to so many incredible titles, ranging from God of War Ragnarok, to Final Fantasy 16, to the upcoming Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. However, when I’m 70 years old and telling my grandkids about the games that “used to be good” back in my day, Web of Shadows will, strangely, be one of them.
I have zero doubts Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 will be exceptional, but I love talking about Web of Shadows. However, it’s hard to come by without a good ol’ PC, so if you’re waiting for the upcoming Marvel game, you can check out the best PS5 games right now and waste your time in a new world, or play some of the best PS5 RPG games if you need a new role-playing title to sink your time in.