Spider-Man feels like relatable superhero. Whilst being as quick with his quips as he is with his fists, he’s always juggled super human abilities with relatable, everyday struggles. The incredible feats of heroism and bravery from Spider-Man are often intertwined with relationship drama, fiance woes and superhero work / life balance difficulties from Peter Parker.
It’s a duality that is wonderfully presented in Marvel’s Spider-Man, a brand-new, original Spider-Man adventure from Sony Interactive Entertainment, Insomniac Games and Marvel Games.
Marvel’s Spider-Man features an experienced, battle ready Spider-Man. No longer a rookie, and with eight years of experience under his belt, the player is introduced to a world rich with backstory and villain roster. Our friendly neighborhood superhero is as ingrained into New York culture as pizza pie, and is warmly welcomed by most when recognised.
Fans of the action-adventure genre will feel at home with the gameplay mechanics. Combat is fluid, with Spider-man utilising a variety of impressive and near gravity defying combos to defeat his opponents. The player will find themselves stringing together incredibly long combos and clearing entire sections of enemies without ever touching the floor, or providing the enemy time to regroup. Specific villains may require certain types of attack sequences to disarm or disable.
Finishing combos are played in slow motion with a variety of camera angles, which provide a great feeling of satisfaction when chained together within combo streaks.
Spider-Man also has a variety of gadgets, stealth and investigative abilities at his disposal, allowing the player to choose brains and stealth over brawn when required.
The use of these web gadgets are a must within combat, as they will incapacitate enemy in a variety of ways to assist you in your massive combo chains. They are also incredibly handy when attempting many of the required stealth missions.
Whilst combat, stealth, gadget and investigative mechanics now seem industry standard for the action adventure genre, they feel quintessentially ‘Spider-Man’ in design. Stringing an enemy up with your web whilst perched over their location for example, feels incredibly natural.
Once accustomed to the mechanics however, the player may find themselves too fast for the game itself. Many missions have secondary objectives, which present themselves once the mission had started.
Sometimes however, the player may find themselves in a state of never ending web slinging and clear the entire mission before the secondary objectives are even presented. This creates a frustrating loss of additional XP and sometimes secondary unlocks.
The first mission within Marvel’s Spider-Man is a well crafted tutorial to provide the user with an overview of the above mechanics and the games first boss; Wilson Grant Fisk aka The Kingpin. After defeating The Kingpin and putting him behind bars, he provides Spider-Man with an ominous threat; suggesting that he was the one that kept order within the city. His threat is that within one month Spider-Man would wish he had him back in command of New York’s criminal underbelly.
Mr Fisk seems to be a man of his word, as Spider-Mans next undertaking is to battle a new and mysterious criminal mastermind Mister Negative, a man hell bent on chaos and destruction.
The backdrop of New York has been wonderfully created using a modified version of the Sunset Overdrive game engine. You’d be forgiven to assume this is a to-scale replica of New York, as the playing area is expansive and incredibly detailed. Whilst the player will spend most of their time swinging from building to building many stories above the inner workings of New York, it’ is a joy to mingle with the general public on the ground, as many will stop to applaud your efforts or even ask for selfies.
This incredibly large recreation of New York is varied and many of the missions provide alternative presentations of familiar areas, which ensures that the player does not feel like they ever retread old ground or locations.
The speed and sheer joy of traversing the city via web slinging cannot be understated; being Spider-Man is fun. There are quick travel opportunities between map points but it is doubtful if any player would use them, given how easy and exhilarating it is to swing from building to building. It is during these moments where Spider-Mans personality shine, as he frequently interacts with various characters via phone. One highlight is the ongoing ‘Spider-Cop’ interaction with police chief Yuri.
Insomniac Games quirky sense of humour, fast city traversal and fluid combat mechanics presented within Sunset Overdrive has paired perfectly with Marvels Spider-man.
The main story missions will take the player about 20 to 30 hours to complete, and the game features a staggeringly large amount of secondary missions, collectables and achievements.
Each of these feature an unlockable token system that the player uses to generate XP, earn skill points, upgrade gadgets and unlock skill trees.
This rewards the player with clearing the map of enemy HQs, assisting New York inhabitants and various other tasks.
The highlight of this system is the unlockable suits. Spider-Man will have 25 suit variations on offer at launch, each with their own unique abilities, which can be transferred to other suits once unlocked.
These suits are visible across all gameplay and cutscenes. The suits were the primary focus for our 100% completion of the game during our review, simply because they look awesome! The tasks required for full suit collection provides an incredibly detailed look at the history of Spider-Man.
It isn’t all high rise building web slinging however; many scenes and missions feature Peter Parker and his colleagues. These moments highlight the duality that Peter struggles with, as many of his relationships are strained or in tatters. Aunty May is a lovable source of assistance for Peter when he is evicted from his flat. Peters boss and mentor is forgiving of his never ending tardiness or complacency. Mary Jane Watson is a strong, independent reporter with a strained relationship with her now ex boyfriend, Peter. Some stealth missions feature MJ as a playable character and provide a welcome variety to gameplay.
Many of the relationships crafted or formed during the game shine during the later portion of the storyline. The story crafting and creative direction at play here comes into its own during the later portions of the game, with some truly moving and emotional decisions to be made by our hero. These are slow burners however, as the momentum and gravitas does not pick up until the later third section of the primary story.
Fan favourites within the Spiderman villain roster become more prominent as the story progresses. Whilst many would appreciate more time with certain villians, the payoff with the storyline is incredible and well worth the build up and focus found within the earlier stages.
Marvel’s Spider-Man is a Playstation 4 Pro enhanced title, which provides dynamic 4k resolution, or built-in supersampling for HD TV or monitor owners. To put it plainly, New York looks incredible. Recent online chatter can be swiftly ignored; the graphics on display are extremely impressive and there is no downgrading of visuals from previous examples, regardless of however big one certain puddle is.
Insomniac Games have done an incredible job with their first licensed title. Marvels Spider-Man has perfected the balance of light heartedness, humour, action and drama that has made Spider-Man a fan favourite.
With robust combat mechanics, an incredibly fluid urban traversal system and plenty to do within New York, Marvels Spider-Man is a must buy for all Playstation fans of the action arcade genre.
Reviewed on a Playstation 4 Pro and 4k TV.