Activision's 2004 video game adaption of "Spider-Man 2" changed the expectations players had for superhero games in the years to come. Never before had they been given the opportunity to feel like the hero they were controlling. Unfortunately, subsequent titles starring the aerobic arachnid failed to recapture that magic. After over a decade of games that ranged from adequate to terrible, fans will find that Insomniac Games' effort is more than up to par.

When Peter Parker and New York's finest put the Kingpin behind bars, the city erupts in a gang war that threatens those closest to him.

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Making matters worse is the formation of a group of super-villains who aim to bring down Mayor Norman Osborn with no regard for those who get caught in the crossfire. It's up to Peter to stop the Sinister Six and save those he loves.

The gameplay

It feels like Insomniac took what they learned from "Sunset Overdrive" and previous games starring the wall-crawler to craft what is probably the most refined interactive version of Spidey's abilities. Wall-running, zipping, and swinging feel precise and cathartic. Combat evokes the "Arkham Asylum" formula that rewards players who time their blows properly while punishing those who simply button mash. Despite lacking the caped crusader's combat prowess and variety of wonderful toys, the fighting flows seamlessly with the swinging.

In addition to the main missions, there are side activities such as recon missions, radio-tower repairing, and pigeon collecting. None of these tasks are anything new to anyone who's played a sandbox game in the last few years, but the way you get around New York is such a blast that you won't really care.

This makes it all the more frustrating when players are tasked with controlling Peter's non-powered friends. The trial and error stealth sequences with Mary Jane and Miles Morales that fail players instantly once they're spotted are easily the worst part of the game. The "Pipe-Dream"-esque puzzle sequences fare a bit better, but still feel out of place in terms of the game as a whole. For the next installment, Insomniac would do well to focus on the game's strengths while trimming the fat.

The presentation

The plot, penned by "Spider-Man" veterans such as Dan Slott, is also a bit of a mixed bag. Fans will undoubtedly admire the game's characterization of Peter Parker -- as well as the many nods to its source material. That said, the uninitiated may find themselves rolling their eyes at Spidey's quips and the game's reliance on standard superhero tropes. The game boasts cinema-worthy production value with sweeping orchestral numbers and solid vocal performances. At times, it feels like you're playing the latest comic book blockbuster.

Bolstering the Hollywood presentation is a stable frame-rate and superb draw distance that immerses players in the Big Apple.

The verdict

Like Peter Parker himself, Insomniac's first foray into the series has some spectacular abilities -- as well as a few flaws that hold it back. With some tweaks, this series could be amazing. As it stands, it's enough to warrant a strong recommendation.