Spiderman has had a long history in the gaming space since back in the NES era. While we had a couple of passable titles, there have been more flops than successful titles over the years. Insomniac definitely had their work cut out for them when making yet another Spider man game. Fortunately the game is the biggest success story in the history of the Marvel hero delivering practical and fun web slinging, a twenty hour solid story that showcases some of Spidey’s biggest villains to date. Gorgeous graphics and a easy to use photo mode all combine to deliver a solid PS4 experience for comic book and gaming fans alike.
As a precursor before I start talking about the story, I think it’s fair to say that comparing this to the movies or traditional comics is not a fair thing to do. This is clearly its own thing and as such should be treated that way. Peter Parker is the focus of this story, having recently broken up with Mary Jane, he is experiencing life as an adult while still delivering that awkward nerdy character. He is trying to keep a steady job down while juggling his responsibilities as the “friendly neighbourhood spiderman” With some help from Detective Yuri Watanabe, Spidey stays on top of crime happening in the city while juggling helping Aunt May at her volunteer position at FEAST, a homeless shelter ran by Martin Li.
The biggest issue with the game is the story and its pacing, it took me a while to really sink my teeth into it. The first half of the campaign story while interesting is definitely a slower pace. Exploring the emergence of new gang “The Demons” and the history of Devil’s Breath is a bit of a slog. To mix things up though you do also play as Mary Jane, intrepid reporter to change up the gameplay style a bit which does offer a change of pace, however it is overused after the fourth time you have to sneak past the bad guys and throw cans to distract them. After the main villains of the game are revealed things ramp up considerably for a satisfying conclusion that makes all of the issues at the start completely forgivable.
As the game is open world there are no end of side missions and quests for Spidey to assist with and while the chasing pigeons quest is relentlessly tedious, completing them does unlock upgrades for your gadgets (as well as new ones) you also can unlock new suits, each complete with their unique ability that can be used on any of the other suits once unlocked. When I was failing at the main missions I found completing a ton of side missions and responding to police alerts which upgraded my character and abilities would help me complete the main missions moving forward.
Traversing through New York City as Spiderman is the best it’s ever been. Insomniac have made web slinging practical and a majority of the fun is figuring out your swing and boost together to zip through the city as stylish as possible. All of your web slinging combos do take some time to figure out and factoring in the size and scale of buildings around you is something I spent countless hours playing around with and is one of the highlights of the game.
Other characters like Miles Moralis, Aunty May, Norman Osborne and Doctor Octavius are major parts of this story. Seeing how they interacts with both Peter Parker and Spiderman is the part of this story that Insomniac have totally nailed. The Miles Moralis part of this tale is particularly harrowing and it was great to see another Spiderman brought into the fray. Aunt May is a standout as an older version of the character who has moved on from the death of her husband and figuring out the rest of her life and how Peter fits into that.
The music for this game is nothing short of epic. With composer John Paesano providing the score it brings a truly cinematic feel to the game. In particular as you swing through the city the score swells to enhance the experience and is something I could have (and will) spend hours enjoying.
Marvel’s Spider-man is a love letter to not only fans of the comic book hero, but to gamers wanting a great superhero experience on the Playstation 4. While the story does take a bit of time to get moving, it swells to a satisfying second half. Controls do take some getting used to but once mastered enhance the gameplay. Insomniac have outdone themselves and by taking their time to get so much right with this title, deliver the best game of their career so far.
Marvel’s Spider-man is available exclusively on the Playstation 4 right now.