Marvel’s Spider-Man might possibly be one of the greatest superhero video-games ever made. Insomniac Games and Sony Interactive Entertainment have gone above and beyond with their latest iteration of everyone’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Sure, there have been many games released which stars our wall-crawling hero, but none come close to the latest PS4 exclusive.
Since his introduction to the world in August 1962 in the one-off “Amazing Fantasy #15”, many fans have fantasised what it would be like to be Peter Parker. “The Amazing Spider-Man” comics would capture the hearts of people around the world as many young fans could sympathise with Peter in his life as a young teenager. Besides dealing with the woes of New York, he had to also deal with the troubling time of being a teen in high school.
Moving into the digital era, we have seen many games about Spider-Man over the years – the first being 1982’s “Spider-Man” for the Atari 2600. We would see a boom in the early 90’s on the NES with a handful of games such as “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six”. This would continue onto the SNES with my personal favourite, “Maximum Carnage”, as well as collaborations with the X-Men in “Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge”.
The end of the 90’s would bring a lull in the Spider-Man games, as this was the time when Marvel was trying to survive despite filing for bankruptcy. The release of Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” film would bring back the fans, as well as new games, games which would generally follow in the footsteps of the films. surprisingly “Spider-Man 2” was universally praised for its web-slinging mechanics, something which, until recently, was never beaten in terms of its usability and realism.
This would bring about a legion of Spider-Man games that generally had mixed reviews. The formula was becoming too familiar. By the release of 2014’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, fans had started to grow bored with the rather generic games, especially in Activision’s version which involved being punished for not saving people even if you’re in the middle of a story mission. In a sense, Spider-Man needed someone to save him from mediocrity and becoming yet another shelved franchise once Activision lost the license.
Like a beacon of hope, Insomniac and Sony swung in and save the day! Marvel’s Spider-Man is the fresh of breath air that we have all been waiting for. Between the fantastic graphics and gameplay, you will feel like you are Spidey himself, swinging between the skyscrapers of Manhattan. What makes the game unique is that the story is not connected to any of the past or current films, cartoons, or comics. This is a brand-new stand-alone story – but have no fear, the familiar elements are still there.
You will experience the game through the eyes of Peter Parker himself. Peter has been Spider-Man for around 5 years within this game, so we aren’t forced to re-live the death of uncle Ben again (spoilers). He is a young adult in his early twenties with many of the same problems that real people deal with. Bills that are late, relationship problems, and having to go to work are just as important as trying to protect the city.
The cast of bad guys you’ll encounter on your adventure is pretty impressive. From fan favourites such as the Shocker to the Kingpin and many other surprises along the way, there is never a pause in the action. You have all of Spidey’s usual abilities and tools in order to take them down one by one. However, this time around, you have access to some special tools such as Electric Webbing and Spidey Drones to help in your fight for justice. These will become essential as you progress throughout Marvel’s Spider-Man and the enemies become harder to take down.
My main complaint when it comes to boss encounters though is that they seemed a bit on the easy side. Often, the formula for defeating them does not change; they are flooded with QTEs – a mechanic which is creeping back into many modern games at the moment. I also felt that there was a lot of emphasis on the Sinister Six being in the game, but they don’t show up until much further than you would think. You will actually be against the same villain for the better part of nearly two-thirds of the game.
The open world map is pretty big within Marvel’s Spider-Man. Often, you’ll have missions that will require you to travel quite a distance from one end of the map to the other. Thankfully, there is a fast travel mechanic, in the form of riding the subway, for missions when you can’t be bothered to swing there manually. However, once you get a hang of the web-swinging, you’ll not want to travel any other way. I found myself getting distracted by how much fun it was to jump off The Avengers tower in a swan dive to my death, only to throw a web out at the last second!
It has to be said, Insomniac really nailed the web-swinging in Marvel’s Spider-Man!
As you progress throughout the game, the map will open up a bunch of new side-activities – activities such as stopping petty crimes, taking down strongholds, and catching pigeons (yes, you read that correctly). What makes these activities unique is that they are not immediately available at the start of the game. In fact, these are introduced into Marvel’s Spider-Man at such a comfortable pace that you’ll never feel overwhelmed or visually unable to see the map under the icons. Periodically, Peter will mention that he has time to do these activities before moving on in the main storyline. I would highly recommend using those opportunities so that you can level up your gadgets with the tokens you gain from completing them.
Marvel’s Spider-Man is a very strong contender for the 2018 Game Of The Year. The combat and slick movements are almost flawless as you stick your foes to the walls, beat the crap out of the bad guys, and swing effortlessly through the city. My only complaint about the game is that the boss battles are sometimes a little too simple for my liking, but don’t let that stop you from picking up one of the best superhero games ever made!