Title: Marvel’s Spider-Man
Available On: PlayStation 4
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Official Site: Marvel’s Spider-Man
Release Date: September 7th, 2018
Where to Buy: Retail, PSN
There is no doubt Spider-Man is about to hit peak popularity once again. With the success of Tom Holland’s take on the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and an animated movie starring Miles Morales set to hit in December, the time feels right for a new Spider-Man game.
It is apparent from the minute that the game is booted up that Insomniac Games did not take their new task lightly: to deliver a Spider-Man game unlike any other, that truly makes you feel like you are Spider-Man. If you had any reservations about this game, worry not because Insomniac has nailed almost every aspect, creating what is easily the best Spider-Man game yet and a title that even rivals some of the best work done by developer Rocksteady on the Batman Arkham series.
Speaking of the Arkham games, it is true Marvel’s Spider-Man borrows quite a bit from the acclaimed series especially when it comes to combat, but the game still introduces enough new to make the combat uniquely fresh and exciting. Watching Spider-Man acrobatically soar from enemy to enemy is a delight and will keep you on your toes frequently. As the game progresses, you’ll upgrade Spider-Man’s skills through a flowchart that will unlock even more exciting moves to use in combat such as stealing enemies weapons from them or using a ground pound maneuver.
While it is slightly more difficult to pull off huge combo multipliers like in the Arkham games (the enemy A.I. isn’t always the best at bunching themselves up to be taken out easily, and I occasionally had to look around when I realized the fight music hadn’t ended and there were one or two more enemies to take out), the combo counter is forgivable and will keep your streak going for at least a few seconds even if you haven’t hit an enemy.
Spidey also has a variety of gadgets to unlock and upgrade that can be used for both combat encounters and stealthy ones. There are about eight different gadget moves you can use during a fight and I found myself switching it up frequently especially towards the end of the game when the enemies get much tougher to bring down.
Along with both new moves and gadgets, Spider-Man has a host of suits to unlock and can be tried on at any time. However, these aren’t just simple skins; each suit has its own special move that can be used once or twice in combat, and the player can unlock and add up to three perks such as increased defense against melee attacks, enemies taking longer to spot you in stealth scenarios, etc. The best part about this is that the suits, special moves, and perks can all be mix-and-matched so as to encourage you to experiment and not be stuck in the same suit throughout the entire 15-hour campaign.
I will not divulge too much on Spider-Man‘s plot except that it has some story beats that certainly surprised me but all-in-all if you know Spider-Man lore it’s easy to see some things coming. That’s not to say however that it isn’t engaging all the way through, and seeing Spidey go toe-to-toe with much of his rogue’s gallery is a treat to watch and play. You will also take some time to play as Mary Jane Watson and Miles Morales, but their missions are sporadic and mostly boil down to stealth sections. Some of these instances are exciting but there is not much to do as MJ and Miles except run and hide.
The biggest star of the game is the open-world and especially traversing it. When Insomniac said that they wanted players to truly feel like they are Spider-Man, this was it. Swinging around the world is incredibly easy and intuitive once you have the hang of it, leading to you performing feats that you didn’t think the developers would have even thought of. Flying through the sky truly feels exhilarating, and was so fun I never used the fast travel feature unless the game forced me into it.
There are a plethora of collectibles and side missions to tackle in the open-world and are spaced so well and strategically that it is very easy to get side-tracked for a good thirty minutes or more. Between finding Peter’s old backpacks, to chasing pigeons around the city, I was enamored with the side content. Much of that is because of the fact that most of them, sans actual side missions, take about five minutes to complete tops, leaving you with that sense of “just one more collectible and then I’ll go back to the main quest” feeling.
After completing the opening mission and taking down Kingpin, I took my first swing around New York City and breathed a sigh of relief. I knew in those first minutes of the game everything that I needed to: Insomniac and Sony had done it. I was playing a Spider-Man game that lived up to the greatness of the character and could sense that the developers had pulled out all the stops to make this the best Spider-Man experience it could possibly be. There is certainly some room for improvement, but as a first game in a potential series? Not bad Insomniac, not bad at all.
Verdict: Marvel’s Spider-Man excels not only in its narrative and combat but also in its world-building. The ease in which Insomniac Games hands the Spider-Man reins to players and lets them truly feel like the wall-crawling webhead is exceptional and shows the studio’s care and reverence for the character. Spider-Man on PlayStation 4 will surprise you, delight you, and keep you coming back for more.