Review: Marvel’s Spider-Man

Be Greater.

Console: PlayStation 4 game played on a PlayStation 5.

Before getting my hands on a PS5, I had a list of titles that I wanted to buy if I would get my hands on a PS4 or PS5. Tomb Raider 2013God of War 2018 and both of Insomniac’s Spider-Man titles. A 1st party AAA Spider-Man title in the style of the Arkham games? That sound awesome! Spider-Man: Miles Morales was part of the (store packaged) bundle I got and didn’t feel like waiting to find a good deal on the original so I christened my PS5 with that title. 

With the pseudo-sequel/spin-off out of the way, a Black Friday deal and some other titles I wanted to play very badly out of the way it’s finally time for me to dive into the title. And none too late, now that the title is making its way over to PC later this year. 

So, what’s my experience with the game? Marvel’s Spider-Man is a great time for both fans of the web-slinger as well as newcomers just looking for a good time. It’s not perfect, nothing is, but the is quite possibly the quintessential Spider-Man game. 

Let’s dive in.

Eight years into his crimefighting career a 23-year old Peter has become an experienced superhero. Still, he struggles to balance his two lives. His research job at Octavius Industries as Dr. Otto Octavius’s assistant is under threat of losing its funding, the rent is long overdue and he hasn´t spoken to Harry, whose in Europe, and MJ, who broke up with him, in months.

After the capture of Wilson Fisk, AKA ‘The Kingpin’, a new gang called ´the Demons´ lead by the mysterious ´Mister Negative´, start terrorizing the city. Before long, both Peter finds facing both old and new foes in a battle where the entirety of New York is at risk.

Mr. Negative and one of his goons; a major threat throughout the entire game.

First and foremost: Insomniac did a stellar job creating a strong foundation for the game’s world. It feels alive and cleverly uses easter eggs and references to comic stories as worldbuilding. They did a lot of research into Spider-Man setting up a world full of the well-known, the adapted/modernized and the obscure.

Among the big names like Norman Osborn is Mr Negative, one of the game’s biggest villains, who is a rather obscure character. With such an obscure character getting such a big part in the story, not only are casuals and comic fans alike won’t know what to expect but it gives him and other more obscure characters a chance to shine. Luckily, the writing here is good enough to give these characters something to work with and the top-notch voice acting does a lot of the heavy lifting here as well. The dialogue is excellent, and the quipping of Spidey is especially strong.

The characterization of Peter is done very well and stays true to the heart and soul of the characters. A lot of the rest of the cast though suffer from predictability and lack of depth. Characters are introduced only to then unceremoniously be tossed aside. I think the pacing issues also play a role here. There’s a lot of ‘stop and go’ and the first two acts are pretty well-paced only for the final act to rush by.

So yeah, the story isn’t perfect. Still, it’s a fun and engaging romp that’s worth experiencing. Just not as iconic and impactful as it could have been.

But do you know what is? The gameplay; navigating the world. Jumping, web-slinging and running along and up walls and buildings. It’s so fluid and so fun, that I barely used the fast travel subway option. On the other side of the gameplay is the combat. Crowd control is the name of the game here and you have of ways to do so. From the hand-to-hand combat to the special moves to the gadgets. 

You punch, kick, dodge and web in a combo system in which environmental actions such as throwing objects like manhole covers, grenades and even webbing-restrained enemies. By straining together attacks, using your environment to open up/stun enemies and/or launch them in the air for some air combat, the more your special meter fills up. for either a one-hit-knockout or refill your life bar. The gadgets range from your web-shooters, electric webs and web bombs to temporarily incapacitate an enemy. 

The instant finishers are pretty cinematic and much more varied than I though. 

You also have some out-of-suit sections where you walk and/or sneak around a small area and interact with characters, the environment and some mini-games. The boss fights are mostly fun, big action pieces with some quick-time events here and there. Neat. 

In terms of side-content, Spider-Man has quite a bit on offer. There is quite a bit of stuff littered across NYC for you to do while swinging from point A to point B. From crimes popping up over the city to plenty of collectables like backpacks, to research stations to Taskmaster’s combat challenges. You also have a handful of side-quests, like investigating a new drug hitting the streets together with MJ. These activities are fun, if repetitive. I mean, how many times do you have to climb a tower to open up the world map?

With the rewards of these challenges, you can unlock new gadgets, skills and suits. Yes, suits. The game features a ton of different Spider outfits. From the classic suit to some very deep cuts from the comics. I’ve always been very basic when it comes to customizing the looks of my videogame characters so while I stayed with the Advanced Suit shown on the box I can’t deny that there’s a lot of appeal in all these different Spider costumes. Some of them come with special abilities which you can swap to each costume freely after unlocking them. 

When I said that some of the costumes were deep cuts, I wasn’t joking!

Graphically speaking, the game looks like you can expect a AAA 1st party title to look. Nothing really to note in that department other than it does look good. The music is very cinematic. You know, orchestral with long build-ups. I like it though I have to say that, outside of the main theme/leitmotif, I don’t find it particularly Spider-Man. 

The performance of the game is solid as well; it’s smooth sailing. Loading screens aren’t overly long nor plentiful, the framerate is stable etc. The only issue I ran into is that when manual saving if I clicked the option too quick after opening the menu, the game would take nearly a solid. So yeah, be warry of that. 

Conclusion

Marvel’s Spider-Man is an excellent time. With an engaging narrative and excellent gameplay, it’s a fun action romp in which you get to be Spider-Man, with everything that entails. It’s a well-made game that, while not perfect of course, is the quintessential Spider-Man game (at the time of writing, that is). Not only that, it’s just a fun and well-made game in general. 

If you have a PS4/PS5 and are a fan, and don’t have the game already, then it’s worth giving it a shot. And even if you don’t, that spiffy upcoming Steam version couls also be an option for you. I imagine that's going to be the version most who want to give this game a shot are going to pick up later this year. 

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