7 & 7 Review: Marvel’s Spider-man (PS4)
Marvel’s Spider-man is the first Spider-man game from Insomniac Games. It sees Spider-man dealing with a host of emerging threats in New York City alongside Mary Jane Watson, Aunt May, Miles Morales and many other staple Spider-man characters.
- Developer: Insomniac Games
- Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Director(s): Brian Horton, Bryan Intihar, Marcus Smith and Ryan Smith
- Designer(s): Joel Goodsell and Mark Stuart
- Writer(s): Jon Paquette, Benjamin Arfmann, Kelsey Beachum, Christos Gage and Dan Slott
- Composer: John Paesano
- Platform: PlayStation 4
- -When it comes to Spider-man, in any media, the most important aspect of the character… is his heart. Second to that would be his web-swinging which makes him a highly unique character in all of fiction. I am happy to report that Marvel’s Spider-man captures that ability to perfection. The controls give a sense of momentum, durability and agility to Spider-man in all areas of movement whether it’s flying through the streets of New York or down on the ground engaging in combat with any number of street gangs. Don’t be surprised if you waste countless hours just playing around with the swinging mechanics because it feels so good.
- Catches Thieves – The combat feels great and Spider-man looks amazing in action, but the game doesn’t necessarily capitalize on both of those facts. You will find yourself engaged in combat with the same half-dozen enemy types or so more often than you may like, and even the optional combat objectives do little to mix up your approach to battles. It doesn’t that sometimes the objective aren’t always plainly stated. The enemy types are also quickly negated with a variety of skills that Spider-man can acquire as well.
- Is he strong? – Where the action does get to shine is in the boss encounters, which is a remarkable feat for an open-world title. I won’t say they’re all winners, but overwhelmingly the boss encounters are a ton of fun and deliver larger, more visually diverse set-pieces. To the game’s credit, it knows boss encounters are one of its strongest assets and starts you off with one of the better ones, and the final encounter is up there as best in the game as well. Not just because of the action nor the stakes, but it really makes you appreciate the emotional journey that Peter and you the player has gone on in the past 20 hours.
- Take a Look Overhead – With a world as vast as Spider-man, it’s a wonder the side quest system is just so generic. Take for instance, the Black Cat side missions, one of Spider-man most prominent allies/foes, who has a knack for stealing things here and there. You play a wild goose chase with her as she leaves a dozen cat dolls for you to snap pictures and it’s not an exceptionally fun quest, but you do it all and the pay-off is… Well who knows! The pay-off isn’t a big deal, but the hunt doesn’t seem to be Black Cat specific, the same could be said of Harry’s inclusion in the game and several other side missions. It feels like the usual open-world quests with a Spider-man and his amazing friends coat of paint. There are a few exceptions to the rules and those tend to be the meatier side missions that have you taken down other criminals and helping those in need. For the sequel, I want to see more of that and less of attacking random street gangs again.
- At the scene of the crime – The game is a looker. Really not much more to say than that, it is one gorgeous looking game. From a fairly decent recreation of Marvel’s New York City (though I guess the Baxter Building is in another dimension) to some really good re-imagining of Spider-man’s friends and foes, the care given to this game’s graphics does not go unnoticed. Also special kudos to them for the deep dive into Spider-man history for a variety of costumes you can unlock and wear. Some truly amazing gems in there.
- Listen, Bud! – Spider-man is known for his banter, and you’ll hear quite a bit of it in the game, some of it you’ll hear often. Way too often. Aside from the repeated dialog when encountering side missions and street crimes, the rest of the audio in the game is great. The theme song sounds fitting for Spider-man, it reminded me a lot of James Horner’s theme for The Amazing Spider-man movies. While the phrases are repeated a ton, Yuri Lowenthal does a great job as Peter Parker and Spider-man. He is given much weighty material than most Spider-man actors in recent memory and knocks it out of the park. The rest of the cast does a great job with their material as well, but I need to give a special shout-out to Darin de Paul. Darin plays J. Jonah Jameson, perhaps Spider-man’s longest lasting foe, who doesn’t have a physical presence but is felt throughout the game, and even his arc is stellar to listen unfold.
- To him, life is a great big bang-up – They story of Marvel’s Spider-man is novel for many reasons, I can’t think of many games that attempt to balance the heroics of the lead with the more grounded elements of their real life as well as Spider-man does. The segments where you control Peter and get insight into his life outside of the costume are some of the best moments in the game. I loved checking in with my chess-playing friends at F.E.A.S.T anytime a mission dropped me in that area. I was a bit more conflicted in working with Doctor Octavius, but come more from knowing who and what he becomes in the Spider-man lore. The pacing of the story can feel a bit uneven at times, but I ultimately want to lie that on the feet of marketing. At e3 2018, we were given a glimpse of the ultimate threat in that game so while playing it everything else seemed to be build-up for that moment, and it comes much later in the game than anticipated. And I do think it hurts the back-half because we don’t get to spend a ton of time in the new status quo before we’re cleaning it up.
Review 6 (Out of 7) – From top to bottom, Marvel’s Spider-man delivers a ton of great content for die-hard fans and newbies alike. There’s some things to iron out, but the game promises more to come and can’t wait to see what a sequel offers.