No game has quite captured the greatness of Spider-Man until now. This is a game where you can just web sling around the city for hours. Or at least until you run into one of the many random crimes you need to stop. Either way, it is still GOTY material.
It’s been a little while but the world’s favorite web-crawler has finally made his return to video games. Marvel’s Spider-Man, developed exclusively for the Playstation 4 by Insomniac Games, is an Open World Action Adventure game following a seasoned Spider-Man. Released on September 7th, 2018 Spider-Man on PS4 reintroduces the world to the hero we love long after he’s gotten accustomed to having great power and great responsibility.
Spider-man is a comic book hero so it is only right that his game look like a comic book. The colors are vibrant and beautiful. Buildings, landscapes, and other components of the world find just the right balance between looking cartoonish and looking hyper realistic. People in the world share a similar level of detail whether they are primary, secondary, or extra roles. The fluidity of Spider-Man’s motion is absolutely astonishing and every suit has it’s own tiny details that were clearly taken very seriously during development. The minor area where the game falls a little flat is in the water. Sidewalk puddles look great (despite all the pre-release nonsense) but the surrounding waters of Manhattan feel a little lacking. That’s not a big deal because that water serves more as a boundary than anything else. Spider-Man PS4 doesn’t ever become the “game to show” when thinking about showing off how incredible video games but that hardly matters.
Comic book games have a tendency to have good stories. Sounds like a no-brainer considering the source material is nearly limitless. Spider-Man PS4 has a great story. Instead of trying to retell the origin story that has been done a million times, Insomniac drops us in what feels like the ending of a comic book series that we never read. It starts huge with a boss fight against an important well known boss that sets the tone and pace for the rest of the game. This isn’t a training wheels Spider-Man in his rookie years, this is a Spider-Man whose biggest struggle has become balancing being a super-hero and a person. And Insomniac was not afraid to include all of his struggles as part of the game. Spider-Man maybe doing great but Peter Parker is falling apart. All of this before the true antagonist of the story is even brought into play. The pacing feels amazing and even the side missions find a way to include what’s happening in the main mission without feeling forced in to it. Spider-Man PS4 is the best comic book available to play because it would have been one of the best comic books to read.
The commentary steals the show. While swinging across the huge city of Manhattan the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has so many conversations with himself, that it feels like he may be breaking the fourth wall. But his commentary is amazing. And when Spider-Man isn’t commenting on the world himself there’s a variety of things to listen to like Jameson’s new talk show, the police radio calling out crimes around the city, or just the sounds of all the citizens with the varied opinions. That’s not all though because the team at Insomniac did an amazing job making the in game New York sound a lot like the real life New York (reviewer is a real New Yorker). Trains, buses, taxis, and sirens are all the rage and sound incredible. Major credits for an amazing voice acting cast as well that includes that includes stars like Patton Oswalt, John DiMaggio, Joe Quesada and Robbie Draymond, who absolutely nailed being Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
One of the most important things to consider when playing a super hero based game is that you may not get to do all the cool things your favorite super hero can do. That is far from true in Insomniac’s Spider-Man game. In this iteration, it feels like the team made a checklist of every possible thing Spider-Man is known to be able to do and made sure that we could it. And then they piled on a bunch of stuff some of us may never have even thought about. Thus Spider-Man delivers the most satisfying gameplay of not just any comic book game but of any open world action game. Side missions and fetch quests are so well integrated into this world they created, that they never feel like a burden or un-exciting. The way the team handled everything web based is spectacular. Whether it be swinging through the city or bounding an enemy together with Web fluid it feels great to be Spider-Man. The control and stability of the character alongside the camera motion eliminates a lot of the awkward motions that typically hang around in games with a lot of explosions and super powers. Alternating suits never feels like a burden because of the ability to modify every suit with cool upgrades and the gadgets. They are crafted as the story progresses just heighten the experience without making the game too easy. Gameplay feels like it was also designed around the idea of being Spider-Man.
After playing 13 hours in one sitting (not even joking here), Spider-Man is officially the most fun game of 2018. At no point throughout the entire gameplay experience was there the slightest hint of boredom or desire to do anything else. The variety of missions makes it exhilarating to switch between the different every day task of being Spider-Man. Be the fighting Spider-Man who goes around beating up thugs and criminals. Or be the sneaky Spider-Man who quietly takes down enemies and uncovers secrets. Or maybe be super nerd Peter Parker who just wants to get his life together and make technology that changes the world. There is so much to do in this version of New York that no one thing ever becomes repetitive. It’s all just Spidey style fun.
Six or seven years ago the idea of a licensed Marvel game was a terrifying premise. Deep down the fear of a development studio butchering a favorite Marvel character in video game form was very real. Two or three years ago the idea of a licensed Marvel game ever existing again was almost wiped from the realm of possibility. Now this year the arrival of Spider-Man on PS4 has made for not only one of the best gaming experiences of this generation but also sprung hope for more. Spider-Man is a game everyone should, and probably will, play. Insomniac, please give the world more of this greatness.