I know what you’re saying already. Shut your mouth. And you would be entitled to, this is just an opinion piece, after all, but hear me out, guys, I’m not some newbie who’s just jumped on the bandwagon for the fame, I was reading Spider-Man before he even set foot on the silver screen. When I grew up my live-action webslinger was Nicholas Hammond. Trust me, I’ve been through them all, I’ve watched every adaptation of Spidey there’s ever been, and I’ve never seen one as well done as Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man.
This is not to say I am putting the game above the comics, nope, those are my true passion and where I feel most comfortable interacting with these characters, but Spider-Man is nothing short of brilliant.
For those of you who haven’t played yet, the story is thus: Peter Parker has been Spider-Man for eight years. In that time he’s had his fair share of run-ins with super-villains, but is on the verge of putting Wilson Fisk behind bars. When he does so, he unknowingly creates a power vacuum in the underworld, allowing Mr. Negative to rise to power and challenge Mayor Norman Osborn’s control over the city… by any means necessary.
I’m not trying to sell you the game, chances are you’re here because you’ve googled Spider-Man, or you read this site. For those who have no interest in Spider-Man, don’t waste your money. It’s a good game, but to really enjoy it you need to enjoy Spider-Man. Now that’s out of the way let’s move onto the meat.
The game offers you a wide variety of suits that honours Spidey’s various attires from throughout the years. Although I’m not crazy on Insomniac’s new design for Spidey, there is another suit they did put in (no spoilers) that definitely goes on a list for a great-looking suit. I played most of the game in the standard vanilla suit, that’s a hybrid between Maguire/Garfield/Holland suits, all with the coolest bits weaved into it. But if normal Spidey isn’t you’re thing, there’s a long list of suits you can find that you might like. Each one has its own unique properties and can be upgraded. Prepare to get used to the upgrade system. There’s a lot of them and a huge amount that can be tweaked for upgrades.
The physics in the game has finally solved that terrible problem that’s plagued every other Spider-Man game, the webbing and swinging using thin air. This game doesn’t do that, you need to be level with a building before you can shoot off a web for some fast, swinging action. The sense of empowerment is addictive as you cruise down 5th Avenue bouncing from web-to-web. Decide to take a little breather? No problem. The sometimes-not-so-friendly citizens of New York will let you know exactly what they think of you whilst you take a rest.
There are enough side missions in the game to keep you playing long after the main story is over. Perfect for anyone that wants to do some web-swinging post-finish. Imagine the freedom you’re granted when you polish off Red Dead Redemption and that’s what you’re given here. The ability to roam, pick off criminals, respond to requests for help, and live the life of Spider-Man.
New York is sensational. Recreated down to the very last detail. I felt as if I were there at times, and could well imagine this is what a day in the life is like for the Spider. Anyone creating a superhero game take note of this one, Insomniac Games has set a high bar to take on. A friend of mine, who is a New York resident, has also commented on the accuracy of Manhattan, comparing its detail to True Crime: New York City for the level of detail put into the game. It’s a fair comparison, I can only compare what I see in the game to what I’ve called up on Google Earth (yes, I’m one of those people) but to hear from a native New Yorker that they’ve hit the money with recreating his home city is heartwarming. Spider-Man is perhaps New York’s most iconic fictional resident, so it’s only natural that ol’ webhead is done right.
So what’s it like to play in the boots of Spider-Man? Well, it feels pretty damn good. All of Spidey’s superpowers are present. Reflexes, spider-sense, spider-strength, the web-shooters, they’re all here. You can do whatever you like, whenever you like, as he can do whatever a spider can, and so can you. One other aspect of the game I really like is this is a self-contained universe, it gives the writers absolute control over what how they cook up a delicious meal for us superhero fans, and whilst a couple of my favourite villains didn’t make a full appearance, their DNA is present and, oh boy, I know they’re coming.
So with the praise of the costumes, the freedom, the being Spidey aside, I’ve got to say what grabs me the most is the storyline. This little beauty is without a doubt the best Spider-Man story told outside of comics. I’ve already heard people calling for the writers to be given the reins to write the Spider-Man movies, but I say, why bother? We have a perfectly good medium here to tell a story in, and I doubt they would be able to pull off in a film the intensity, and depth that this universe has to offer. Parker’s relationship with his mentor, Otto Octavius, a man he has idolised since childhood, is so touching. His split with Mary Jane, and their attempt at rekindling that romance and it’s inherent problems, shows us the pressure it would put on a relationship with dating a superhero. Osborn’s position as Mayor or New York and his vested business interests conflicting with his position in political office also call into comparison with another businessman in political office. There’s not been many games that have gripped me from the start with the story and held me. Granted, they had an ace up their sleeve with this starring Spider-Man, but the story is very well-written. Sure, it’s no Shakespeare, but the writers nail Peter and his various relationships.
The downside, and there is always one, is the game is guilty of having small sections that I had no interest in. These feel like filler and stretching out game time when they could easily have been dealt with by cutscenes. I’m not a huge fan of cutscenes, but I would rather a cutscene than playing part of the game where the whole point is to sneak around and not get spotted. That aside, they are infrequent and few, so don’t let that put you off too much.
Overall, Marvel’s Spider-Man is a great experience. Is it worth buying a PS4 to play it? Not just for this game, but Sony has some pretty damn good exclusives on their little black box, so I would put this in your top five PS4 games.
It’s a Marvel! (sorry)