Marvel’s Spider-Man PS4 Review

October 21, 2018 by  
Filed under PS4, Reviews & Features, PlayStation

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertaintment Europe  Developer: Insomniac Games 

Genre: Action  Players: 1  Age Rating: 16+  Other console/handheld formats: N/A

It has been a number of years, but finally we have a new Spider-Man game, and it’s good to have the web slinger back once again. Simply titled Marvel’s Spider-Man it may be, although at least the game doesn’t take us back to the superhero’s over-told origin story.

Peter Parker has actually been Spider-Man for some time at the start of the game, which means he is an experienced crime fighter and wise cracker. This is all well and good considering the amount of enemies that developer Insomniac Games has crammed into the game, although each and every one feels as if they have a place in the story, and it never feels as if they are there for the sake of just being there. While the game does stick close to its source material, it’s also nice that Marvel has given Insomniac the freedom to create their own Spider-Man universe somewhat, with a few changes shaking up things a little. If you have been following the game, you’ll know that Spider-Man himself has had a bit of a makeover, which generally hasn’t gone down too well, although you’ll be pleased to know that his classic suit in on the game, along with a host of others.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is unsurprisingly an open-world game, and this is definitely where the character belongs. The detailed and charismatic New York that you get to swing around is full of various activities to take part in, and new side content is still being revealed to you deep into the game, although some of this content is rather similar it has to be said. There’s backpacks to find, which actually turn out to be brilliant fan service, as they contain Spider-Man related trinkets which Parker comments on. Other tasks have you clearing out enemy bases, photographing landmarks, fighting various crimes around the city, discovering towers, and more. There’s certainly a lot to do, but some won’t like the fact that Insomniac decided to go with the side content that the game has considering that many developers are moving away from what is fast becoming a rather dated open-world template.

The game looks incredible when the sun is shining with glowing buildings and some brilliant lighting effects. The time of day is scripted, however, with Insomniac forgoing a true day to night cycle.

Marvel’s Spider-Man certainly has some very well made and memorable story missions, and there’s also some interesting boss encounters in there. I won’t spoil too much here, but there’s definitely enough variety in the main missions, and there’s also some fantastic and tightly scripted moments that set these missions apart from the rest of the game.

As you primarily swing to get around, I am glad to say that the system that Insomniac has in place is a very slick one. Spider-Man himself is very well animated as he swings, rolls, and leaps into the air, and it’s the variety of Spider-Man swinging that actually has the hero’s web attaching to buildings as opposed to the sky, and in certain sections of the city you are able to soar to incredible heights. The game doesn’t quite extend to individual web shooters in the way that Spider-Man 2 did so well, although there’s still much satisfaction to be found in swinging and zipping through the city as there’s a real feelings of heroics as well as momentum to be found. The game has a fast travel option, although swinging about is so fun that it’s a feature that is soon forgotten, and the web swinging is executed so well that it just never gets old. You’ll feel like Spider-Man, and that’s all that we could ask for in a Spider-Man game.

The combat is also very slick and rewarding. As you might expect, the fighting does have a fair bit in common with the Batman Arkham games, but it’s not a straight steal by any means. Like the swinging, the combat is beautifully animated, making it all the more satisfying, and there’s a flow to it which is also comparable to the Arkham games. The difference is that Spider-Man’s combat builds up focus, and this focus can be used to either heal the hero or make use of finishing moves, and there’s also the fact that the webbing also plays a big part, allowing you to take out enemies by sticking them to walls or the ground and even lobbing objects at them, and there’s also much more of an emphasis on aerial combat, with the possibility to force enemies up in the air with you, which is helpful against foes with melee weapons or if you want to attempt to divide and conquer in what would otherwise be an overwhelming fight. Everything that the game has to offer in terms of mechanics can be beautifully combined, making for a very seamless experience in which you can truly mix the hero’s abilities up.

There’s also sections in the game in which you are able to do things quietly, although still making use of Spider-Man’s powers of course, by swinging around, webbing opponents, as well as quickly taking them out silently. Like the rest of the game, its all very enjoyable, and mostly a choice way to play as opposed to forced on you.

In some brief sections you also get to control Peter Parker himself, although these sections are nothing more than a vehicle to move the story along, while adding in some player interaction. It’s a nice reminder that there’s a human being inside that famous suit, however, and at times you also take control of other human beings in the form of Mary Jane Watson and Miles Morales. These sections are largely stealth based, and being that none of these characters have super powers, you have to use their brains and skills to stealth your way through them, which involves pushing over objects with Mary Jane and hacking electronics with Miles. They’re a nice change of pace and fortunately don’t intrude enough to ruin the fantasy of playing as Spider-Man.

Back to the hero then, and Spider-Man’s abilities can also be upgraded in the game. Various things will give you XP in the game world, and once you level up you are awarded with a skill point. These skill points can be used to learn new moves in one of three skill trees and to upgrade others, and by the end of the game, you’ll definitely feel as if you’ve grown in your skill set. You can learn moves such as yanking weapons out of the hands of an enemy, web swinging and kicking seamlessly, quick counters, aerial tricks, and more.

The game is largely action based, but it does have puzzles sprinkled here and there. Fortunately you are able to skip through the bulk of them if they are proving too tricky for you or you just want to get back to the action.

You even get to make use of various gadgets, which prove their worth in various situations. Gadgets include Spider-Man’s simple web shooters as well as the impact web, which is stronger webbing, and then there’s the Spider Drone, which helps out in a fight. A final example of the gadgets is the Web Bomb, which explodes and traps enemies to walls and objects with web if said enemies are close enough when the bomb explodes. The gadgets must be crafted first, and it’s also possible to upgrade them, with the side content giving you the tokens to do so. As fun as the gadgets are to make use of, some of them are rather overpowered and overly quick to recharge once they are fully upgraded it has to be said, and some players will probably avoid using them because of this.

As mentioned above, the side content in Marvel’s Spider-Man is all very rewarding and feels like it has some worth as something other than a little extra, as not only do you receive tokens in order to upgrade your gadgets, but you are also able to craft new suits and mods (think of these as various perks) with said tokens as well. These new suits have their own stats and also provide you with individual suit powers (strong abilities which can help you out in a bind), and in a nice touch you are able to switch mods and suit powers for different suits, which means that you aren’t stuck with a certain suit if you fall in love with its power. This customising is expert and thoughtful game design from a very talented developer, and also very welcome.

Insomniac’s first Spider-Man game is a brilliant start that has excellent combat and swinging mechanics which both work independently as well as seamlessly, although some of the decisions in the rest of the game are a little questionable. The use of an aging open-world template is definitely the biggest question mark, but at least the side content is rewarding in the way that it is implemented into the rest of the game. Regardless of some strange design decisions, I look forward to more Spider-Man games from Insomniac in the future and the continuation of what is, in some ways, a novel story.