So when Marvel decided to re-enter the gaming world it’s no surprise they swung in (pun intended) with their old reliable flagship character, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Marvel, Sony and Insomniac Games (the people most known for the Ratchet and Clank series) have partnered up to create this PS4 exclusive that is, in my mind, undoubtedly the best Spider-Man game to date. Now, guys, I'm gonna be honest here. I love Spider-Man, ever since I was a little kid and I watched the Sam Raimi trilogy I fell in love with the character. That said, I'm gonna be listing the good and the bad stuff so this will be a completely unbiased review so here we go.
Before we go into this, a small warning, this part of the review will contain some spoilers so if you haven’t finished the game I suggest you do so before reading this part. Ok, now that that’s out of the way here are my thoughts. In this game, Peter Parker is 23 years old and has been Spider-Man for about 8 years now so we get to see a more experienced Spidey in action. The writing is really good with great dialog and it really nails that Spider-Man tone, which is no surprise considering who the writers are (Jon Paquette, Benjamin Arfmann, Kelsey Beachum, Christos Gage, and Dan Slott).
There are also a lot of villains in this game (Electro, Rhino, Scorpion and more familiar faces) and at first, I thought it was gonna turn out to be really messy but I was wrong. They handled it pretty well with Mister Negative and Doc Ock taking the spotlight for most of the game and with good reason too. Peter actually works in a lab for Dr. Otto Octavius and Mister Negative aka Martin Lee is Aunt May’s boss. This makes both of them a big part of Peter’s as well as Spider-Man’s life and I really like that because it makes the story and their conflict that much more personal. Everything is handled almost perfectly except the pacing. Now, I'm not saying its terrible but it’s a bit off and sometimes it slows the gameplay down to a screeching halt, especially during the Mary Jane and Miles Morales missions. But other than that, not really a lot of issues.
The most important thing in any Spider-Man game and the trademark of the character is, of course, the web-swinging. Most people would agree that Spider-Man 2 for the PlayStation 2 had the best swinging mechanics but Insomniac really knocked it out of the park.
While playing the game I found myself shooting past objective markers just because the traversal is so damn good. With the combination of web-swings, web-zips, free fall dives, wall running and the point launch, traversing the concrete jungle that is New York City feels smooth and is more fun than ever. On top of that, there are a few unlockable skills that will add a bit more style to your web-swinging and a parkour mechanic which allows you to traverse smaller obstacles. Although the parkour mechanic feels a little clunky sometimes it still works, plus you’ll be web-swinging most of the time so it's not a huge dealbreaker.
Now, let’s talk a little bit about the combat. It’s comparable to the Batman Arkham games as both combat systems are very fluid but here it has…that Spidey twist to it. Of course, you can punch and kick thugs all you want, but we’re talking about Spider-Man here. Enemies swarming you on the ground? No problem, launch one of them in the air and juggle him around a little. That guy over there has a riot shield? Slide between his legs and kick him from behind. Whether you’re sticking guys to walls, doing aerial combos or web-throwing things in your environment at your enemies (such as trash cans or mailboxes) the combat feels great. Not to mention all of the gadgets at your disposal, that Insomniac is famous for in their games. There’s also a focus bar that builds up as you fight and when full it can be used to heal Spidey or do some badass takedowns.
But of course, not every situation needs to be resolved with a fight. The stealth system is also pretty comparable to the Batman Arkham games, you can even perch-takedown enemies in a similar way only here Spidey uses his webs, obviously. The only bad thing I can say about the combat is that some animations are pretty repetitive, for example, the aforementioned sliding between an enemies legs and kicking him from behind. The same animation plays every single time you do that move. Personally, I would have liked to see a bit more variety. As for the stealth, the AI is not that perceptive. I finished the game only on the amazing (normal) difficulty so I don’t know how much more perceptive the enemies are on the spectacular (hard) difficulty.
Side activities and rewards
As I said before there’s plenty to do while swinging around the Big Apple, and that’s with a capital B because the map is huge. And as for those side activities, there’s a bunch of different ones. From stopping crimes like jewelry store robberies and drug deals to race-type challenges and side missions that have little side plots, there’s a lot to keep you busy. Oh yeah, there are also gang hideouts with a couple of waves of enemies for you to clear out. By completing these side activities you are awarded tokens of different kinds.
These tokens are used to unlock and upgrade gadgets and, of course, unlock a plethora of alternate suits for Spidey. Also, every suit has a unique suit power that will give you huge combat advantage. And don’t worry, if you really like one suit power, once it’s unlocked you can equip it to any of your unlocked suits. You can also add up to three suit mods which are little passive boosts that are also unlocked with tokens. However, it pains me to say that Spider-Man suffers from the “activate towers to see the map” syndrome which has been a thorn in gamers sides for far too long (I’m looking at you Ubisoft). Also, some side activities require you to do a few little puzzles that are very repetitive and boring but thankfully there’s a skip button for them.
In conclusion, Marvel’s Spider-Man is, in my opinion, the quintessential Spider-Man experience and is a great superhero game with an engaging story. It’s definitely worth picking up and with Insomniac planning to release some post-launch content, it will definitely keep you entertained for quite some time. Marvel’s Spider-Man gets a 9.0/10 from me.