Amazing, Spectacular, Ultimate, Superior, Astonishing, Sensational
Look, let’s be honest - when we think about “superheroes” we may come to Superman, Batman, first in our heads. However, when we start asking folks who their ‘favorite’ superhero is, especially amongst the youth, Spider-Man leads the forefront. Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4, delivers one of the most beautiful reasons why, through an experience that I can’t recommend to more people. A game that does well to blend the content of countless games, films, and comic books, Spider-Man delivers everything a fan of not only the hero could hope for, but a gamer, film fan, and a fan of the comic universe in general.
New York City
Insomniac Games’ take on Spider-Man is nothing short of phenomenal. From the incredibly detailed Lower East Side, all the way uptown to the exciting Times Square, we are presented with a fantastic rendition of the Big Apple. While this is something gamers are more than likely familiar with, there is nothing quite like taking our friendly neighborhood web-slinger on a high-speed swing-fest through the bustling metro.
Of course, we cannot mention any of this without the true hero within, Peter Parker. The alter-ego of Spider-Man has always been a source of pride amongst fans. He is us, the brilliant, nerdy, geeky, awkward, pure human. At the same time, he dons the mask and becomes the confident, strong, empowering hero that comes at just the right time to save the day. Insomniac not only explores this dynamic, but they welcome it with open arms in an attempt to convey to us that this game is not simply about our wall-crawler, but also the man beneath the suit. The wonderful balance of the two keeps the players incredibly engaged, and leaves us wondering when the next cutscene will be.
(Not So) Friendly Neighborhood
This beautiful city, is not the safest. It’s Spider-Man’s duty to protect, and Insomniac have given us the best feeling superhero game thus far. Now, with that said, Spider-Man PS4 has heavy influences from WBs Batman Arkham games. These are made immediately present when taking control of Spidey to kick every goons’ ass that dare rob, shoot, or steal in the city. Everything from frantically executing combo on top of combo in any direction you point the stick, to finishing moves, stealth, combo extension, and gadgets - this game pays homage to a wonderful Batman series that truly revolutionized hero games, but further extends on it to gives us things completely unique to Spider-Man himself.
The combat system seems made for Spidey, and he thrives in this. Webbing guys to walls, flipping over one while drop-kicking another, and just when you think there’s breathing room, zip over to a camping sniper who thinks it advantageous to sneak up on your spider sense.
The game gives countless opportunities to fight bad guys, and in a myriad of ways at that. Of course, what would this game be if we didn’t have larger, more engaging baddies from the deep lore of the comics?
Insomniac answers and gives us the Sinister Six. That’s right, you’ll see and fight the likes of some of Spidey’s most dangerous foes while trying to keep order in the city. Each fight with any enemy in the game feels better than the last, and it comes in part from the upgrading of skills, as well as the constant learning that comes from repetition of fights. Each dodge a little crisper, the moves start to flow. The gamer truly feels themselves getting better at the game throughout the playthrough.
Great Power, Great Responsibility
“With great power, comes great responsibility” is one of the finest quotes we saw from Tobey Maguire original portrayal of Spider-Man on the big screen. It came from an emotional moment shared between him and Uncle Ben in the front seat of his car. You may think that I joke when I say that, this story is and the depiction and execution of the dialogue, passion, and relationships in this game is some of the best you’ll see this year.
Not only is this because of the superhero-hype of our modern era, but also because it’s a mere fact. Parker is developed in a way that can only make you love him - he’s a caretaker with Aunt May at a homeless shelter in the city, and brings the same witty joy into helping others that he does into fighting crime. The artwork, and creation of a Peter Parker that feels so close to home as he manages his relationship with MJ, and a constant desire to both keep everyone happy, and fix everything that’s wrong in the world. He’s flawed, and he’s good-hearted. What more can we ask from a protagonist?
While slinging through the city, collecting intricate pieces of the theme and lore of the universe, fighting thugs, and playing mini-games is great to do for hours, the game is not without hiccups. These hiccups come in the form of slow-down gameplay from none other than Mary Jane Watson. Written extremely well into this story, she is an independent character who operates in the world with Peter Parker. They of course, always have their relationship dramas, but in this game she herself has an active role in uncovering some of the mysteries into the depths of the main plot.
These sub-missions involve stealthily maneuvering your way around obstacles, and even enemies, to accomplish a task in particular. It does give a chance for the gamer to take a breather, and see the world from another perspective, but it’s not one that’s necessarily needed. Every scene played out with her, I would have frankly rather enjoyed an extended scene showing her do it with even more grace and precision than a failed stealth attempt, getting caught, and re-playing the part. It’s not terrible, but I feel it’s something that served only to break the monotony of playing with Spider-Man so much.
THAT BEING SAID, using her as a catalyst for learning more information, I did enjoy. The small scenes where she walks around, asks questions, or gathers intel about something going on, I think was the extent of her role in the game. Even in the later portions of the game, where you move with MJ from location to location in Grand Central, pointing and shooting Spider-Man essentially at baddies as he “covers” her from above; this may have been both more difficult, engaging, and interesting to do from the perspective of Spider-Man! It’s small, yes, it’s nitpicky, yes, and it goes to show just how good this game is that I sit here talking about the miniscule gameplay portions where you play as MJ to sneak and take out soldiers.
Spider-Man PS4 is one of the best video games I’ve played this year, and one of the best superhero games (if not the best) that has ever been made. Insomniac does this by leaning on the best parts of the games that came before, and evolving them into a unique formula that makes the world breathe. The humor, the action, the enemies, the humanity, all come into the light as a precious gem in this game that serves movie, comic, and video game fans alike.
Needless to say, play this game - and I strongly recommend doing, watching, and buying into this game as much as possible. You will not be disappointed by every easter egg, attention to detail, and every sub-plot that exists in the world. A fantastic journey that I will be following throughout the DLC.