There's an article in the Escapist that discusses Spider-Man 2 and Ultimate Spider-Man. One thing the article talks up is how you occasionally, in Spider-Man 2, might have a side-mission and a main-mission competing for your attention. Truly the dillemma of a hero - do you make it to your meeting with Mary Jane or do you stop the mugging? I have to shamefully admit that I strenuously argued for cutting that feature due to the technical headaches it was causing us; and the only reason we kept it was because it would also have caused plenty of headaches to cut it. Not that I didn't love the feature, mind you.
They go on to say that USM fails because switching from controlling the hero to the villain ruins your identification with the hero. Hmm. I have to disagree. Venom isn't the real villain of the piece; it's more like a buddy movie where one of the buddies likes to feed on innocent humans. I do think there was a subtle flaw in USM, and that was the bifurcation of the city-exploring half of the game and the story half of the game. The way USM works is you, as Spider-Man, do a number of side events in the city - and then you can trigger a story mission. The story mission can be about either Spider-Man or Venom, (I was tempted to say "you or venom" there, adding weight to Spanner's point, I suppose) and even if it's about Spider-Man it might take place in a much different location from where you triggered the mission. The end result is that the illusion that you're in a world is smashed - which, in my mind, is the whole reason to have a continuous world in the first place. To the USM team's credit, they didn't want it to be that way - originally, you were going to be able to manually switch between Spidey and Venom and pick up where you left off along either storyline - but time pressures at the end got in the way.
Another thing the article talks about is "Being Peter Parker" - this is, of course, something that comes up at the beginning of each iteration. In the movie, he's Peter Parker for the majority of the screen time. In the game, you're Peter Parker for maybe 1%. Is that right?
There are a zillion reasons why we never pushed the Peter Parker angle. For one: it's hard. How do you make a game out of being Peter Parker? Would it be like Facade? Would it be like the egregious stealth portions of the first Hulk game? Would it be a dating sim - maybe you can choose whether you date Mary Jane, Betty Brandt, or Black Cat - the licensor tends not to go for things like that. (Peter Parker dates Mary Jane, end of story, sayeth Marvel and Sony/Columbia. And, no, he has no dark side that you get to explore. You can't be evil Spidey - the #1 thing our focus testers asked for. Fogettabout it.) So, at one level, we didn't do it because we lacked the balls.
But the bigger reason, for me, is that my motivation in playing a videogame is different from my motivation in seeing a movie - when seeing the movie, the story is paramount, and although I identify with Peter Parker, it's not at the same level as the videogame, where I *become* Spider-Man. And while I like identifying with Peter Parker, I don't want to become him. Hell, I'm enough like Peter Parker in the real world already. When I start playing a game, it's because I don't want to be Peter Parker anymore. I want to be Spider-Man.