For as long as I can remember, Spider-Man has been my favorite superhero; one of my dogs is named after the wall-crawler. After spending the last 3 days playing through this masterpiece; it’s clear the team at Insomniac Games shares that opinion. From start to finish this game is all about giving you a fantastic story in the most fun way possible.
When we talk about Spider-Man games, nothing is as important as web-swinging. Insomniac Games made a conscious decision to make this your first experience as Spider-Man because they knew they had absolutely nailed it. The game gives you a fast-travel system relatively early on but, more often than not I found myself jumping off the nearest ledge and swinging to my destination. Swinging through the city feels easy and comes naturally to even most inexperienced players.
The combat is very straightforward and feels a lot like the Batman: Arkham Series; 1 button to attack and another to dodge. Even though the combat is simple, the way Spider-Man moves deliver the same satisfying feeling you’d get from landing a difficult combo in a game like Street Fighter. The arsenal of gadgets you acquire throughout the game makes each fight different from the last. Sometimes you must get creative to take out a room full of thugs without being noticed. Other times its easiest to jump in the middle of a gang and beat the snot out of them.
Flow is a term that gets thrown around quite a bit when talking about video games. Essentially Flow is a term used to describe the way a game balances the player’s abilities to the difficulty of the game. If a game is too easy the player will lose interest, likewise if the game is too difficult.
Spider-Man may have the best Flow I’ve experienced in a very very long time. I never felt like something was impossible to complete.
Some of you may consider this next part a spoiler… continue at your own risk
In several parts throughout the campaign, you will play as 2 other characters, Mary Jane Watson and Miles Morales. Most of the time with these characters is spent sneaking around. These characters are used as a way to tell smaller parts of the story from a different point of view. As Mary Jane who is now a reporter for the Daily Bugle, you are tasked with sneaking around and taking pictures to aid Spider-Man in his fight against evil Some fo you may recognize the name Miles Morales as the alter ego of Spider-Man from the Ultimate Spider-Man comic book series. However, this Miles has a distinct lack of superpowers. We spend a good amount of time out of the Spidey suit as well. As Peter Parker, we help a fellow scientist, who shall remain nameless, develop some very high-tech prosthetics. We do this through a series of simple mini-games. I really enjoyed the time spent with these characters but I honestly wish I was doing more than sneaking around and taking pictures. I hope Insomniac Games continues to flesh these characters out in future DLC and any potential sequels we may get.
Sound and Visuals
One of the most important things in any video game is the music. The first song we hear usually sets the tone for the entire game, Spider-Man is no different. We kick things off with the indie rock song Alive by the band Warbly Jets. This song gets you in the mood to get up and move which is exactly why it’s the perfect tune to get things started. The song starts during the opening cutscene and plays us directly into the start of gameplay, without skipping a beat.
The score for the game was created by John Paesano. This makes the 3rd Marvel product Paesano has worked on. The other 2 being The Defenders and season 2 of Daredevil both of which are Netflix original series. I guess the guy likes New York-based superheroes. The almost cinematic feel of the score pulls you in and at certain points, you may forget you’re playing a game.
Marvels Spider-Man is one of the most beautiful games I have played in a very long time. Everything thing from the suit textures to the way the sunlight peaks through the buildings is astounding. For the most part, the level design stays fresh only repeating itself during smaller enemy hideout missions. I’m from a small river town in southern Ohio, so I’m not the guy to ask how accurate this depiction of Manhattan is. That being said I can tell you that it feels like a living breathing city. At any point in the game can jump to the city streets and be surrounded by people just trying to get to wherever it is NPCs go when you’re not looking.
This game has so much extra content and the best thing about is that none of it feels out of place. My favorite collectible was the backpacks, so throughout the city, you will find 55 of Peter’s backpacks from high school, each backpack has an item inside of it with a short narration from Peter about the item. The 55 backpacks are even explained in one of the collectibles. Collecting all 55 unlocks a special suit. Another one of the “collectibles” is the landmark photos. with Peter Parker’s trusty camera you must swing through the city taking pictures of everything from the Bethesda fountain in central park to the Avengers tower in Upper East Side. For each collectible you pick up you receive a token, you also receive these from completing side missions. These tokens are used to unlock suits, gadgets, and suit mods.
Throughout the years Spidey’s suit has taken on many different looks, so it was only natural that Insomniac added the same feature to the game. You can unlock 28 suits throughout the game by completing various objectives and reaching certain levels. Most of the suits also have a suit power which allows you to unleash a unique ability every few minutes. In my opinion the best looking suit in the game is the Spider-Punk suit. The best suit power is the web-blossom which allows Spidey to jump into the air and let out a furry of Webshots immediately incapacitating weaker enemies and wrapping up stronger ones. You can also acquire suit mods which change the way you play. Some of these mods allow you to take less damage, while others will let you see enemies through walls.
As a Spider-Man fan, I will say that this is one of the best Spider-Man stories I’ve experienced. I can honestly say I enjoyed my entire time playing this game. The way the story unfolds is brilliant and refreshing. I was emotionally tested by a particular scene towards the end of the game. All I’ll say is that I didn’t see that coming at all. I would have actually liked to have seen more cutscenes in the game. In true Marvel fashion, this game has 2 after credits scenes. Make sure to stick around and watch them both for hints about future DLC or sequels.
I would recommend this game to anyone that is a fan of open world games, or anyone that enjoys an emotionally gripping narrative. I wouldn’t recommend this game to someone who hates superheroes. This game just barely knocks God of War out of my top spot for 2018 game of the year.