When I first heard the news of there being another Spider-man game coming out I had mixed feelings, being completely honest part of me wished they would just leave it alone and maybe look at another property, but then another part of me wanted them to keep at it in the hopes that eventually they would get it right…
Insomniac are the latest team of Devs to tackle the unenviable challenge of bringing Marvels Spider-man into our gaming hands. After many attempts by other studios to a varied reception (to be polite) could this be the one game to rule them all? (Oops sorry.. wrong franchise).
I’m sure everyone is familiar with the origin story of Spider-man so I won’t go into that here, which is a good thing as Marvels Spider-man actually takes place a little further into the life of Spidey. Our masked hero has been keeping Manhattan safe for approx. 8 years at the start of our journey.
This means you’re already expected to know a good deal of the characters without much of a background, but there are a few little clues and hints throughout just to cover anyone completely new to Spider-man (if there is anyone out there that this applies to).
Oh, and for those of you wondering… Yes there is of course a Stan Lee cameo
So, after throwing the game into my PS4 and waiting for it to install, I was ready to go. A ton of questions running through my head, all of which I’m sure you’re here trying to find out the answers to as well: Is the combat fluid, will the Web traversal feel natural, how many outfits will Spidey have, how many villains will I get to fight? Plus I’m sure a ton of others. Well, I’ll try to answer as many as I can without spoiling anything.
So, let’s get one of the biggest ones out of the way first. I’ve seen all the comments and things going around prior to release saying how the combat felt like the Batman Arkham series combat. I can certainly see the connection here, but without a doubt it feels like Spider-man.
The majority of the combat involves Spidey using his webbing or environment to out manoeuvre his opposition rather than just standing and fighting. Everything feels really smooth and natural, they have done a wonderful job of adding in the combo’s and special moves just slowly enough that you don’t really notice the additions, you just use them and then feel smug afterwards.
To add to the combat in true Spidey fashion are a ton of web gadgets, skills and abilities which can be levelled up through various means within the game (mostly token collecting by completing various tasks).
While this isn’t something new, it certainly took the tedious aspect of repetitive street crime away as there was a reason to do it instead of just swinging by and ignoring it (which I’ve done so many times in previous games, not really superhero-like!)
Second on the checklist that everyone seems to be discussing here is travelling around the city (and how big the city is). I think the best way to answer this question without saying too much is… I have spent multiple hours just swinging around the city.
One very nice addition here is the ability to pull of tricks while swinging around, these don’t just look cool but they also give you bonus XP as well so it’s always worthwhile pulling of a trick or two when you get chance.
It’s a good job you have this option as I wouldn’t want to be travelling across Manhattan on foot, while I haven’t measured the distances to be precise it’s definitely on the larger side of game maps.
There is a fast travel option here (not exactly sure why you would use it when you have web swinging! But to each their own I suppose. It does give you a fun Subway cut scene to enjoy though.
As is the case with all Spider-man games past and present, there are an abundance of things to pick up and search for. Here we have all the unlockable suits (I’ve counted approx. 24 so far). Also there are Backpacks with little bits of info and background on what’s happened in the last 8 years. We also have Landmarks spread throughout the whole map (which you can take pictures of) showing a multitude of real landmarks in Manhattan as well a few Marvel specific ones (anyone for Avengers Tower?)
So, I’ve explained what the game has to offer, is it any good though? Well the gameplay is definitely addictive and a few times I’ve caught myself thinking it’s time to turn off the console and sleep / eat, then found myself an hour later just swinging around the city taking random pictures, or just going to find out what happens next in the story. For me that’s all I can really ask for in a game.
I think the previews and trailers have pretty much covered this one, Marvels Spider-man looks amazing (Ahem, note the pun!). I know that almost every AAA title that comes out now looks incredible and I suppose that is the standard we have reached now. As someone who grew up on playing Spiderman on the Mega Drive though, I’m truly astonished that it looks this good.
Something that has long been annoying to me with games that have multiple outfits is that the cut scenes are always created with the standard game outfit, making the experience a little more jarring that it needs to be. Well, have no fear, Spider-man saves the day again! Whichever outfit you currently have equipped is the outfit that Spidey wears through the cutscenes! Even if you change it between every cut scene, the game knows!
Does this mean that if the gameplay is addictive and it looks amazing that it’s a perfect game? Not exactly. I’ve had a few instances where bugs crawled in (another pun there!). A number of times I went swinging into a side mission and after the cut scene found myself in the abyss beyond the game map and having to re-load.
To counter this negative, I need to show off quite possible my favourite part of everything in Marvels Spider-man. Photo mode, more precisely Selfie mode within Photo mode. I don’t want to spoil the experience of exploring what is on offer here, so I’ll simply put a few examples of pictures I’ve taken to show why I enjoy it.
Unfortunately, we don’t get the classic Spider-man theme this time around, however the game does have a very nice soundtrack that fits a little more alongside the current MCU style of music. I suppose that makes sense given how popular it is right now.
I think that the voice talent involved in this game deserve full credit as they are key in maintaining that edge of your seat feeling throughout the main story (although some of the basic NPC’s get a little repetitive after a while).
I did notice a few points where the audio was out of sync with the graphics so it was like watching a badly dubbed movie (but I’m going to put that down to some early bugs along with people that swim in the air).
It was a good few hours into the game before I realised that the music adjusts to suit the gameplay, for example if your perched on a building admiring the landscape and listening for crimes the music is very quiet, but the moment you leap into action the music kicks in full blast to assist you as you swing through the city to someone’s rescue. A very nice touch indeed and so subtle.
Is this a game that’s going to keep you playing for weeks and weeks? If you want full 100% completion in all districts and you want to get every single collectable item (as mentioned above) then quite possibly.
For full enjoyment I would recommend trying to mix all of this in with the main story so both come to their epic conclusion together. Something just didn’t feel quite the same about beating up thugs on the street after the battle at the end of the story.
As well as the collectables I mentioned earlier, there are a few other little bits you can collect that don’t really give you any perks but are fun to pick up. One of which had to be all the Daily Bugle papers (which can be collected from Newspaper dispensers throughout the city). Yes they follow the story so make sure to pick them up regularly!
Also there are secret photo locations throughout the map for our former photographer to keep his skills up the par with.
All in all I think it’s very easy to clock up 40 hours + in terms of gameplay here without re-doing much and with the recent announcement of New Game + being added that can only be expected to increase.
Marvels Spider-man is a quality addition to the Spider-man library of games and I think should be counted as one of the best as well. In fact I would go as far to say I personally I think it’s in the top 5 best Superhero games ever made (but that’s a discussion for another day).
It would be very harsh to mark it down for a few obvious bugs and things so early into the games release when I’m sure they will be patched and with the exception of one issue it didn’t really impact my enjoyment at all.
If it wasn’t for the announcement of release day DLC it would be hard to criticise anything about this title and the only reason I feel this should be mentioned is that any times DLC is released alongside the game it makes me question if that DLC was originally in the game and it was cut out as a way for the Publishers to make more money (Yes Sony I’m talking about you!). Whether this is true or not is something we will never really know.
Just so you can see how our review compares with the others, here are the other major publication review scores… and one extra special score.
Marvels Spider-man fully deserves the Thumb Culture Gold Award and should be in every True Believers collection.