Insomniac Games had a hard task before it when making Marvel’s Spider-Man.
With a slew of terrible games before it and some gems scattered in that mix, fans of the wall crawler were right to fear that this game would be a swing and miss.
Thankfully Insomniac has delivered an incredible game that immerses long time Spider-Man fans and newcomers in the world of the web slinger.
We’ll be swinging when we’re winning
Marvel’s Spider-Man (simply Spider-Man from now on) throws players directly into the bright, sunny streets of New York City. Skyscrapers rise up from the concrete where citizens go about their daily lives and while the sun is shining there is a darkness seething beneath the surface.
But we’ll get to the dark stuff later. First, did Insomniac nail traversal in Spider-Man? Absolutely.
The sense of speed, height and agility Insomniac managed to get across to the player is remarkable and while there is a fast travel option available in the game at later stages, you will find yourself through the world manually even if a mission is on the opposite end of the map because it is just so much fun.
Climbing to the top of the Empire State building, rocketing down, shooting your web to a building and pulling out of the free fall moments before you taste the tarmac never gets old, and I do this every time I load into the game.
Spider-Man has a number of gadgets that you unlock throughout the game including electrified web shots, web bombs, web spears, okay I made that last one up, maybe the next game though.
Players will need to make use of all of the gadgets available to them in fights including the powers that come with each Spider suit.
Fear not, suits are unlocked the good old fashioned way, by playing the game. Each suit has a unique power that, when unlocked can be added to a different suit. Furthermore, suits can house up to three modifications which can improve the XP you earn, how much health you have and more.
There are a number of different enemy types that you will encounter from annoying grunts with guns to enemies with swords and hulking brutes that take a beating before falling. While the character models are recycled, players need to assess every fight on their feet. Some enemies can sustain a flurry of fists while others require you be nimble to defeat them.
While enemy models may get boring after a while the fights they provoke require you to think on your feet as enemies swarm you.
You will need to use objects scattered around the environment, your web and more to win fights and you will die, a lot.
On the combat we did note an oddity during the game. In one sequence we managed to knock an enemy through a wall and we were unable to reach them to dispose of them and complete a mission. It was frustrating but one of the only bugs we encountered.
After getting to grips with the movement and combat systems players are tasked with fixing a radio tower and so begins the Spider-Man busy work AKA token missions.
Truth be told these token missions aren’t that egregious and there is a point to them.
Doing these missions will unlock a variety of tokens which can be used to unlock new suits, gadgets and Spidey powers.
In some games this sort of “busy work” becomes tiresome but Insomniac has integrated them so well into the game that you’ll never feel as if you’re being forced to do them.
The game flows incredibly well even when you’re catching pigeons. Yes, that is one of the side missions.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, it’ll change your life
While Insomniac nailed combat and traversal through New York it’s the main story that will keep you coming back for more.
We meet Peter Parker after he’s been Spider-Man for a while and has defeated his most trying adversaries. The game opens up with a fight against Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk.
While Fisk is a key driver in the early stages of the game he’s soon replaced by Mr Negative and later another villain we’re still not comfortable revealing because, well it changes the tone of the game completely.
The pacing of the game is slow in the first two acts but in the final act things ramp up drastically. This isn’t exactly a problem as it gives the player time to explore New York and complete some of the aforementioned token missions to build up their power.
The voice acting is incredible. During some cutscenes you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re watching a Spider-Man movie or cartoon. Hell, Yuri Lowenthal (Spider-Man/Peter Parker) recorded his lines twice so that players could hear Spider-Man talking at rest or while swinging between buildings.
There are moments where you will cry, moments where you will laugh and moments where you will gasp in awe at Spider-Man.
So is it worth the R899 price tag? Yes, twice over.
The main story will take you 15 – 20 hours to complete depending on how good you are (I died a lot in combat during the early stages) but after that there is a ton of collectibles to gather up.
Usually I don’t care much for collectibles but the promise of new suits and clever little Easter Eggs weaved into the collectibles make it worth finding them all in Spider-Man.
The story is superb and while there are some glitches in the game that may force you to reload a mission we never felt like the game was ruined because of it.
Spider-Man is a must own title for PlayStation 4 owners and if you don’t own the console yet this year’s God of War and now Marvel’s Spider-Man make a compelling argument for those sitting on the fence.