One of my fondest memories from gaming’s yesteryear would have to be playing any of the relatively awesome Spiderman games that have appeared on Playstation in the past. From Ultimate Spiderman on PS2 to Web of Shadows and Shattered Dimensions on PS3, these games are usually a lot of fun to play and have offered a nice variety of playstyles. I enjoyed Ultimate so much because of the cel-shaded artstyle and open world exploration, and Web of Shadows for gameplay mechanics and storytelling. Admittedly I was very enthusiastic upon hearing about Marvel’s Spiderman for PS4, although that excitement filtered into some trepidation as the months moved forward. Talks of DLC before the game had released soured things a bit for me, because it’s a practice I really don’t endorse. But, we’re here to discuss the game, and so we shall. Read on for my thoughts about Peter Parker’s latest Manhattan adventure.
Tale as Old as Time
Spiderman tells a new story with some very familiar elements and trappings for everyone’s favorite webhead. Like most stories for the titular hero, much of the in-game story has to do with Peter Parker balancing his life, relationships and fighting crime on the side, which is why it has always been such an endearing character throughout the decades. Many like myself are so fond of Peter because he’s both likable and easy to relate to, because most of us know all to well how hard it can be to juggle the various demands of life. Mix in the fact that you have incredible superhuman abilities and a long list of enemies, and you have the makings of a fantastic story.
The first mission you undertake is against none other than Wilson “The Kingpin” Fisk, who is holed up in Fisk tower, under siege by law enforcement. In this game, Spiderman works with the police actively to chase down some of the larger threats and to provide a general kind of support, and the interplay of dialogue between Yuri, the police liason, and Peter is really something special. In general the dialogue within the game shines in every portion, reinforced by stellar facial animations and a story that, so far, is very enjoyable.
I won’t spoil the immediate twists and turns in this article, but the game’s narrative doesn’t waste any time at all, kicking into high gear almost right away. There are tender moments, such as Peter sharing a heart to heart with his Aunt May, or Peter and Mary Jane sharing a tense dinner following six months of silence. These moments are where the story really shined, and of course there’s a Stan Lee cameo.
Does Whatever a Spider Can
The gameplay itself is something that should be touted first and foremost, as simply swinging around the city is enjoyable, responsive and really communicates a sense of momentum and speed. The game also does a fair amount of assisting the player by interpreting your path through or on top of buildings and adjusting the animations as such. You essentially use a parkour system to traverse the city, but I never felt as though my control of the character was being taken away, merely augmented in the most convenient and least intrusive way possible.
Combat exists in a similar vein, adopting the Arkham style combat system of strikes, dodges and counters whilst also incorporating a suite of tech gadgets and suit abilities. Where previous games have more often than not featured costume choices for Spidey, this game takes it a step further and offers specific upgrades, abilities and perks for each suit, tailored to that suit’s playstyle. Spiderman Noir is all about sneaking around and dusting those knuckles, while the Iron Spider suit grants you the ability to deploy arms from your back that can deflect bullets and assist in combat. Exploring the different suit choices and ability power-ups is fun, and each is unlocked in relatively the same way.
Activities are scattered throughout Manhattan, and you uncover more of the map by aligning Oscorp (yikes!) antennaes on loan to the police. Revealing a new section will show bonus objectives, collectibles and side activities. Each of these activities rewards you with tokens that you can use to upgrade abilities and purchase new suits unlocked through story progression. Costumes are primarily earned through collecting Peter’s old backpacks from highschool, which feature nice nods to Spider-lore in general.
Random crimes will also happen while you’re swinging and zipping around the city, and completing these also rewards similar tokens for upgrade possibilities. Fisk strongholds also exist through the city, and these activities can be entered and completed seamlessly as you travel. There are also interior sections where Peter uses science and tech to solve puzzles are develop new gear with the help of Dr. Otto Octavious (double yikes!), and this was the only time that I saw a loading screen.
With Great Power
When all is said and done, I’ve put a few hours into the game and I’m comfortable saying that I’ll play it to completion. There’s enough here to keep someone busy for a while, even if their policy on DLC is something that I strongly disagree with. The DLC promises to add three new story campaigns to the game, so we’ll see where that takes things.
What Insomniac have managed to accomplish here is truly a feat, and I think most people would probably enjoy this game; even if they don’t play it to 100% completion, the story, gameplay and atmosphere all lend themselves to a really great experience. The game isn’t without it’s share of bugs and hitches, however, but time will tell whether or not the developers choose to deploy patches to fix these issues. I’ve only bumped into a few, and they were really minor things like wonky animations or getting hung up on terrain while traversing.
Marvel’s Spiderman is a game that I would recommend for practically anyone, but especially for fans of the hero or the Marvel universe in general.