From back in the handheld Gameboy days to movie spin-offs and comic-inspired games, Spider-Man has been one of the most popular superheroes to get a video game adaption. Although this rich history may have more downs than ups, Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4 takes the cake for the best video game adaption of the character ever.
In the latest video game iteration of Spider-Man (don’t forget the hyphen, Spidey makes sure to remind you), you get to play as a more experienced Spidey. Peter Parker has been Spider-Man for 8 years in the game, and has pursued a career in science. As Spider-Man, he has already fought most of his rogue gallery, and has developed a wide array of gadgets to aid in combat.
A sight for every true believer
But first, let’s talk about how this game looks. Simply put, Insomniac Games has put a lot of work into creating the most realistic version of New York for Marvel’s Spider-Man. Not to mention, it simply looks stunning. While the general environment, animations and cutscenes look great on their own, the beauty of the environment is accentuated further when you’re web swinging around town. The game not only includes various popular New York landmarks such as the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge but also fictional ones from the Marvel Universe, such as Avengers Tower or the Wakandan Embassy. The game invites players to look for these landmarks and take a photo for additional crafting tokens. Not only do the graphics make it look like a lot of fun, the improved swinging mechanics bring a very natural feel to the game. Spidey is able to swing faster, higher, zip line to certain spots and launch, while also doing a few tricks inspired by Tony Hawk.
Be the Spider
Combat mechanics take a turn as well. While most open-world titles with a melee fighting element today reuse the combat mechanics from the good old Batman Arkham series, where the player can just keep dodging and use counters to land a one-hit kill, Marvel’s Spider-Man improves upon it so much that it almost seems like a new style. Spidey is more agile and he can dodge various attacks, but you need to make sure you hit the right button combo for the next attack. This is paired with a lot of web-based swing kicks, throwables and gadgets as well. However, while this combat system might be a lot of fun, it can take a while to get used to, and the game is not that easy where even getting the hang of it guarantees a victory in every battle. Unlike other games, the enemies do not wait around for you to finish beating one person. There were multiple moments where a thug fired or charged at me mid-combo.
Speaking of robberies, the world of Marvel’s Spider-Man is filled with various side activities that range between collecting items, challenges as well as various types of bases for a fun beat ‘em up experience. However, you also get a taste of being an actual hero, thanks to various crimes that happen around the city, which are completely optional to deal with, but the hero in you will do it anyway. These include muggings, assaults, hostage situations and car chases. While players can also ignore this, it results in people complaining about Spider-Man in JJJ’s talk show, and I just couldn’t let that happen. Over the course of the story, these side missions also change a lot to fit into the story.
A story worth telling
Marvel’s Spider-Man takes a different angle in terms of story. While Insomniac Games has taken the liberty of altering a few characters, this allowed the studio to create a whole new story for the game. I don’t want to spoil much of the story, but just so you know, most of Spider-Man’s popular villains make an impactful appearance. The story of Marvel’s Spider-Man is pretty impressive and intriguing in its own right, but what really helps is the voice acting, which is simply on point.
This also brings a level of depth to Peter Parker’s story, something never done in a Spider-Man game before. However, the missions where you play as MJ or Miles Morales are also quite fun, with a stronger focus on stealth elements. Peter Parker has his own story to tell in this game, which focuses on the themes of being a good mentor, Octavius to Peter and eventually Peter to Miles.
A closet full of spiders
One of my favorite features of Marvel’s Spider-Man is the sheer number of suits you can unlock and craft. These range from suits from the movies, comics and even one from the old animated series. Each of these suits has its own special ability, but the best part is that you can switch around different abilities with different suits. This is actually great because while some suits may look stunning, you might not have much use for their ability. I played most of the game with the Iron Spider suit from Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, up until I unlocked the Spider-Man 2099 suit, all of which don’t change during cut scenes or quick time events.
These suits also allow players to get creative with the photo mode of the game, allowing for some impressive shots of Spidey swinging around the city or taking a selfie during a fight.
Marvel’s Spider-Man truly raises the bar for superhero games. By paying homages to great moments in Spidey’s rich history and developing a gameplay mechanic that is yet to be rivalled, it is safe to say that Insomniac Games has officially created a strong contender for the next Game of the Year.
Also Insomniac Games, how about a Daredevil game next? Just asking…