Sunday, December 16

Marvel's Spider-man Review

The version played for review: PS4
Available on: PS4
The price I paid: £49.99
Other Notes: N/A

Spider-man 2 came out in 2004 and gave us one of the best games ever made. It allowed you to swing through the streets of New York as Spidey in a way that no fan would have ever dare dream of before it. Webs had to stick to buildings and momentum was vital to getting places with speed and style. The combat allowed you to use your Spider-sense to avoid danger while your webbing lets you play with both the environment and bad-guys. For years this was the bar to beat in terms of Spider-man games. A few games in the next 14 years would come close to topping Spider-man 2 but none managed. That is until now in 2018. Marvel’s Spider-man on PS4 does what many believed was impossible and takes Spider-man 2’s place as the best game in the Web-head’s library.

The first thing we need to focus on when talking about any open-world Spider-man game is the web swinging. To be blunt it’s fantastic. You’re able to run along buildings, slingshot yourself over rooftops, swing with plenty of speed and move around the environment in ways unheard of before. The web-zip from older games has been converted into two different moves here. First of all, you have the traditional web-zip that will pull you forward without losing height or speed. This is very useful when you need to clear a large building without landing or slowing down. Then you have the targeted web-zip. This takes a lot of inspiration from the Amazing Spider-man games’ web-rush mode. If you hold down L2 then time will slow down and you can target a spot to zip to and then quickly press X to jump off gaining extra height if timed well. The thing that makes this move so useful is the fact that it can be used in real time as well, hitting L2 and R2 at the same time will zip to the highlighted spot. If this is used on a water-tower, fire escape or other small space then Spidey will zip through it. This looks amazing and once you start to use it in your everyday traversal you really do start to feel like Spidey. When you add this to the wonderful momentum based swinging taken from Spider-man 2 and polished up you get something special.

This is not to say the web-swinging is perfect because I do have a few issues with it. Spider-man 2 allowed you to hold onto a web for as long as you like but that’s not possible here. Spidey will let go automatically once you reach the top of your swinging arch or when you slow down enough. This means you’re unable to hang from the bottom of a helicopter allowing it to take you with it. Although this is not all that useful it’s something I loved doing in Spider-man 2. It’s also impossible to attach two webs at the same time which was useful for slingshotting yourself forward in Spider-man 2. Ultimate Spider-man and Web of Shadows both allowed you to climb your webbing mid-swing. This was useful for gaining height or speed in a hurry so it’s a shame to see that missing here as well. While I think Marvel’s Spider-man’s system is better than any other game before it I do find myself nostalgic for these few lost mechanics. These were techniques that felt like chaff until you had truly mastered the swinging of each game. People like myself who are obsessed with Spider-man will put hours upon hours into each of his games. These more advanced mechanics kept the late game feeling as engaging as the first few hours. This was because you still had stuff to practice and master even after you had finished the main content. With this new game, I felt the web-swinging had nothing new for me to learn and master after I was done with the story. That’s not to say it’s not fun because it is. Even after unlocking and finishing absolutely every part of this game I still enjoy just swinging about stopping random crimes. It’s just during this point in Spider-man 2, Ultimate Spider-man and Web of Shadows I felt like I was still learning and here I don’t. I’ve mastered all there is to swinging around the city and I want more. This is something I’m hoping the DLC addresses.

Of course, there is more to Spidey than just web-swinging and I’m happy to say that this game captures just about everything perfectly. Wall-crawling feels just as good as the web-swinging but really comes into its own when you start to silently hunt your prey. Similar to the Batman Arkham games there will be times when you need to stick to the shadows. I’d say this works better than the Batman games. As Spidey, you’re able to swing around the levels freely, stick to any surface and use a mixture of webbing and fancy gadgets to your advantage. Impact webbing will stick enemies to any nearby walls but it’s loud and other guards will very often spot their webbed up friend and call for backup. Then you have the Web tripwire which is silent but still leaves guards out in the open to be found by their friends. It’s best if you use height to your advantage and hang guards from light fixtures or just stuck to high-up walls. The beauty of this mode is that you can pretty much just experiment with all of the Web-head’s 8 gadgets to see what works for you. Or you could just ignore them all together and stick to the old-fashioned tactics of sneaking up behind or above foes and taking them out silently. It’s all up to you.

When things do go wrong though you will have to fight crowds of enemies and this also feels amazing. Again this takes a lot of inspiration from the Arkham games but this time it makes more sense due to Spidey’s Spider-sense. When you see it glow you have to dodge out the way. After unlocking some more moves from the upgrade trees you will be able to chain together massive combos, disarm foes mid-fight, instantly take out certain enemies and more. I’ve got to the point now that I can take out a room full of bad guys without getting hit once and it feels amazing. If you were a fan of Batman’s fighting system then you will also love this one. It’s a little faster and uses the environment more but it’s pretty much the same thing just remixed to suit Spider-man’s abilities over Batman’s. The few nitpicks I do have with it come down to not being able to pick up enemies like you could in Spider-man 2. Still, I do love how you can web enemies to walls at any point with your impact webbing. The only way leaving a failed break-in with every thief webbed to the walls could be any cooler would be if you could leave a little note for the cops.

Although you can’t leave notes for the police Insomniac still paid a lot of attention to little moments that capture Peter Parker’s personality fantastically. Once on the street people will take photos of Spidey while others will even come up to you for a selfie or high five. It’s such a small touch but these moments of interaction with the public really let you feel like a friendly neighbourhood Spider-man. This is driven home with the astoundingly great story. Honestly, I’d say this is up there with the even the best Spider-man comics in terms of quality. I was expecting a generic but interesting remix of the classic Sinister Six plot but what I got was so much more. We’re introduced to a whole new Marvel universe. One where Peter Parker has been swinging around New York for 8 years. Avengers Tower stands proudly over the rest of the skyline with small details around the open world hinting at Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Dr Strange and more. The history is told through world dressing or collectables. This made collecting everything in the game a pure joy as it just allowed me to learn more about this wonderful new Universe. Then you have the story being told around Peter and that’s also great. I won’t say too much because spoiling this plot would be a crime but you do get to meet fan favourite characters such as Miles Morales and Mary Jane.

I think you can see what makes this game something special not just for fans of the Wall-crawler but gaming in general. All of this and I’ve not even talked about the 28 extra costumes that all come with their own unique moves. The Iron-Spider armour from Infinity War, for example, is able to take out and use it’s 4 extra legs like in the film. Then you have the graphics which quite frankly makes Spider-man the best looking game on the PS4. Buildings have interiors, animals run around the parks while props such as guns are so detailed you can read the writing on them in photo mode. This is simply the best Spider-man game ever made and you owe it to yourself to play it. Thanks to Insomniac Spider-man is once again, Amazing!

Recommendation Rating: 10 out of 10.

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