PlayStation 48.80
Overall 8.80
Marvel has changed the landscape with its cinematic movie universe and now they are going to try the same with gaming starting with their biggest star, Spidey. Spider-Man games have had an up and down history, mostly downs, Insomniac games fixes this by taking elements from the recent best super hero games (hint: Batman). It isn't the gameplay that really stands out but the Marvel movie like presentation and story which is the best Spider-Man story told in a medium outside the comics.

Swinging is probably the most important aspect to nail down when making a Spider-man game and Insomniac nails it. I cannot compare it to the famous Spider Man 2, never played it, so I can only go by what I played in this game and its fantastic. Swinging from skyscrapers while seeing the city reflected on the glass of these man made monuments is a thrill, many photo mode pictures were taken. You hold a button and spiderman will swing forward as long as there is something to swing from above him. Other buttons are used to propel forward and zip line to certain points which can be strung into a big vault for more speed. With some practice you will be swinging around buildings, running up walls, and doing all the usual acrobatics Spider-man does. It's one of those movement systems that is just fun to use, the act of travel feels great BUT can get tiring after a while because there isn't really any advance tactics to it.

As you patrol as the friendly neighborhood spider-man many combat situations will arise, enter the modified Arkham combat system. At it's core the combat is the same, push toward an enemy and attack and spider-man will leap toward him and start some basic punch combos. There is no counter button, instead there is a dodge that is tied to spider sense, dodge at the right moment and you can web stun them. The key difference from Batman combat is the free flowing movement, at any time you can swing out of the way, zipline to high ground than zip punch a thug far away. Also aerial combat is key, enemies float in the air after being bunched as if they are on the moon which allows spider-man to do air combos which raises his special bar. The special acts just like the specials in batman which are an instant take down, they even use the exact same button press.

Spider-Man has a whole host of gadgets which is perfect for Insomniac who are the gadget masters. Most of these serve as ways to quickly incapacitate enemies. When using Spider-man's entire combat repertoire the battles become controlled chaos as you punch, web, swing, zip all over the place. It allows a level of freedom that Batman does not but at the cost of the deeper combat and scoring system Arkham games have. The skill ceiling is not high in spider-man, once reached, every battle is the same and with no challenge modes like batman there is never a deep exploration of the combat system.

Here is the thing about Spider-Man, it does everything well. Combat is very fun, swinging around the impressive New York recreation is a joy, and it has the standard side missions and busy work you find in most open world games. There are stealth sections that are practically linear, might as well be a big QTE honestly. Those segments felt like Insomniac had a checklist of things modern AAA games need to have so they just included them in. This game takes from the how to make an open world game book and adds almost nothing to it.  Batman was a trendsetter, Batman broke the mold. Spider-Man is just taking that mold and making it fit the spider-man universe and it works but nothing stands out from a gameplay perspective.

Now most open world games have a few good main missions but never do setpieces the way linear games do, well not this one. Spider-Man has impressive Uncharted level action sequences which would be show stopper trailer bait if this were a movie. Yes there are more than a few QTEs but it works, I found these sequences to be hugely exciting mainly because of the perfect blend of action and story.

This Spider-man is a Peter Parker that has been on the job for 8 years, he has fought and beaten many of his famous foes. He is in a turbulent relationship with MJ, his real world job is an internship with a still sane Otto Octavius, he is a young man still trying to get by. All these story lines converge into the main threat when Mr. Negative starts to terrorize the city Joker style on his quest to destroy the legacy of Mayor Norman Osborne (pre Goblin). Everything is presented like a movie with amazing voice work, great acting, great writing and stunning action sequences. The ending is nothing short of spectacular, the most emotional I have ever gotten watching a Marvel property on screen.

I wish the story was a but more balanced, it is extremely back loaded. Most of the best moments will happen in the final 5 hours of the game, including the majority of boss battles. This means your first 20 hours or so will be mostly doing side quests which are rather mundane stuff. Do not expect the level of puzzles from Arkham games, expect chase the pigeon and go through the blue circles fast!  The final few hours are sublime though as you finally get to face off against a bunch of spider man villains in good boss battles. These bosses won't win any spots in the boss battle hall of fame but they are well designed and each has a certain skill set focus to them.

Many times I watched in awe at how detailed this open world is, it is ALL of Manhattan and when you sit at the top of the new world trade center you can see all of it, no pop up, its crazy. And yet this game still has little details and touches in the indoor environments of a linear game. It is a graphical power house. There is a great new Spider-Man music theme which plays so often that it will stick in your head as any great theme should. To 100% the game will take some time and patients. There are a few tedious activities that repeat over and over again. The collectathon stuff is all marked on the map so its just busy work but these collectibles serve as a sort of spiderman encyclopedia. You will see famous locations from past spider-man stories as well as many Marvel universe easter eggs which hint at a larger interconnected gaming universe. Of note is the large collection of Spider-Man costumes to unlock, these are great skins and they all come with a new super skill so they are not just cosmetic. For spider-man fans you will find suits from many famous storylines and it's a great incentive to do side content.

If you are tired of open world games in general or never cared for Arkham or other open world super hero games than Spider-Man will not impress you. The game sticks to established trends and never takes any risks from a gameplay point of view. Insomniac succeeds in making the player feel like they are the web slinger in a story worthy of a Marvel movie. That alone makes this a very memorable experience as I love Spider-Man, but if you don't I don't know how nuch the game will resonate. This has been the generation of refinement, games are so polished, control and look so well, but this comes with a sacrifice of gameplay innovation. Spider-Man is another clear example of this trend, plays great, is memorable because of the source material but needs some new ideas to take the next step into being an all time classic game.
Posted by Dvader Sat, 29 Sep 2018 22:47:25
Sun, 30 Sep 2018 18:57:28
Did you just TP Spider-Man?
Mon, 01 Oct 2018 17:17:20
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