With Batman: Arkham Knight being one of the first games I played on my Xbox, I figured that it would make sense, having now made the jump from Xbox One to PlayStation 4, to make Spider-Man my first new game, and as such, have spent the past week playing through it in all it’s glory. So now it’s time for my review!
There will be some spoilers for this game. I won’t go all out, but I may mention certain characters who don’t appear in the trailers, for instance.
RELEASED: September 7th 2018
DEVELOPED BY: Insomniac Games
PUBLISHED BY: Sony Interactive Games
When I was younger, one of my favourite games was Spider-Man 2. The feeling of being able to swing around New York City as Spider-Man was unmatched. Since then, while I haven’t played all the Spider-Man games that have been released, the one’s I have played haven’t quite come close to matching that euphoric feeling of being Spider-Man. Off the top of my head, the open-world aspects of Ultimate Spider-Man and Web of Shadows had similarities, but felt lacking in other regards. Similarly, games like Shattered Dimensions didn’t reach the heights set by that original game. Now, of course, Spider-Man 2 wouldn’t hold up quite as well, but that’s no longer an issue, because Marvel and Sony’s new game, the simplistically titled Spider-Man, is everything Spider-Man 2 was and more.
Featuring an original story from veteran Spider-Man comic-book writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage, alongside Insomniac’s in-house team, Spider-Man sees a twenty-three year old Peter Parker, a college-graduate now working as a laboratory assistant for Otto Octavius, helping him perfect his prosthesis work. Meanwhile, in his ‘other life’ as the ‘Amazing Spider-Man’, Peter has finally managed to bring down Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, alongside his police chief ally Yuri Watanabe. But with the Kingpin now locked away, other forces, such as the nefarious Mister Negative, have set their sights on New York, and it’s up to Spider-Man to stop the city from falling into chaos.
I’ve read a lot of Spider-Man comics in my time, but this here is easily one of the better Spider-Man stories I’ve experienced. While a lot of it is pulled from Dan Slott’s own lengthy run on the premiere Spider-Man comic-book series, the changes and unique takes on the Spider-Man mythos make this well worth purchasing for any Spider-Fans. While one might argue that the villains in the game aren’t very well dispersed throughout the game’s run-time (the majority don’t show up in person until the third act), the growing threat of Mister Negative and his ‘Demons’ is more than sufficient. This is in part due to the masses of character work that’s been put into the game. It’s got a lot of heart, flowing throughout each of the characters, who you can’t help but fall for. This Spider-Man is the perfect rendition of the web-slinging hero, hitting every beat that’s important to Peter Parker’s character. Mister Negative is appropriately sinister, but also has his alter-ego explored in a way that makes you feel that he could be somewhat justified in some of his actions. Watching Otto Octavius descend into villainy is heartbreaking, and his character is perhaps one of the most lovable in the game. While other villains don’t get the same amount of screen-time as Octavius and Mr. Negative, the game does cram in a lot of lovely little references that mean what little you get of the other villains (Electro, Vulture, Shocker, Rhino, Scorpion, Tombstone, Taskmaster & Silver Sable) feel like sufficiently fun teases for any fans of the genre.
The biggest surprise for me, however, was that of Miles Morales (the ‘ultimate’ Spider-Man in the comics). I’ve never been all that bothered about the character when reading stories featuring him, but here, I came to truly appreciate him and can’t wait for a sequel so I can see how his journey progresses.
The gameplay is similarly exciting. The combat system feels reminiscent of the Batman: Arkham series, with enough of its own Spider-Man-esque twist to make it feel unique. Of course, the most unique facet of the game is the web-swinging, which is both integrated perfectly into combat, and also greatly enjoyable by itself. After completeing the first mission where you apprehend the Kingpin, I think I spent at least an hour just aimlessly swinging around, visiting the sights of New York and running up buildings like Avengers Tower – it’s just so much fun, and makes completing the various side missions, such as collecting Peter’s old backpacks, so much more fun and compelling than, say, the Riddler trophies in the Arkham games.
Being able to stop wherever you are and take a photo (including selfies) also adds a fresh new layer to the game, as it inspires you to not only fight as effectively as possible, but to do it with style.
However, there are parts of the gameplay that I would say highlight the weakest points of the games. While some might think the weak points would be the various stages in the game where you stop with the web-slinging to work on various scientific projects (which essentially just amounts to completing some fairly simple puzzles), instead, the most boring part of the game, may, unfortunately be when you play as other characters *cough*Mary-Jane*cough*.
Look, I’ve got nothing against Mary-Jane, and her depiction as a savvy reporter is an interesting change from the usual super-model stuff the comics has her doing. But every time (bar one, near the end) that I realised I was about the play as her, I let out an audible sigh. This could be in part because of the fact that most MJ missions start with her recounting something she’s just done, before a title-card announces ‘Fifteen minutes earlier…’ and then forcing you to play out the scenario you’ve just heard about (I was just told how this plays out, stop making me do this!) and in part because they’re mostly just inane little lapses where you have little to no capabilities as a character, that bring the story momentum to a halt.
The Miles missions fare a little better, and are generally lesser in number, which I was glad off, what with this being a Spider-Man game and not a ‘Peter Parker’s civilian buddies’ game. Add to that the aforementioned fact that this game made me more invested in his character, and I look forward to seeing him become a Spider-Man.
But that is but a minor quibble (that mostly comes down to personal preference) I have with an otherwise fantastic game. It looks great, it sounds great, and the story kept me on the edge of my seat in spite of the fact I’d already been informed how it ended prior to buying my PlayStation; it’s just that good.
The main story may be over, but I will definitely be continuing to play this game, and can’t wait for the DLCs coming in the next few months.
All-in-all, I give it:
Another bonus, for me anyway, was that even the credits were interesting, as it encouraged me to keep an eye out for one of my friends who, as he describes it, works in ‘the industry’: