In the build-up to its release, there is no question that Marvel’s Spider-Man was one of 2018’s most highly-anticipated titles. Fans have been salivating for another round of web-slinging action throughout the city of New York since the game was announced during Sony's E3 press conference in June 2016. The time has finally come for fans to once again take on the role of one of Marvel’s most popular and iconic superheroes, brought to life by Insomniac Games exclusively for the PlayStation 4. Spider-Man has had a long history within the world of video games, appearing in games both good and bad. Fortunately, Insomniac has developed something very special for Spider-Man’s latest adventure. Marvel’s Spider-Man is the strongest Spider-Man title to date, providing a fun and refreshing story that properly pays tribute to all that is “amazing” about the Spider-Man universe.
Marvel’s Spider-Man includes many mechanics that are reminiscent of older Spider-Man games. Those who have played earlier titles will have no problem feeling immediately comfortable with the basic web-slinging and combat control scheme. What really makes Marvel’s Spider-Man unique is the fact that throughout the game, players also take control of characters other than Spider-Man, adding an enjoyable gameplay experience from the perspectives of fan-favorite characters including the likes of Mary Jane Watson and Miles Morales.
Marvel’s Spider-Man features a more mature Peter Parker at 23 years old, having been Spider-Man for roughly eight years. After putting Wilson Fisk (Kingpin) behind bars (yet again), Peter finds himself teaming up with his former girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson, to stop a group called the "Inner Demons" who are hellbent on obtaining a substance known as “Devil’s Breath”. The villainous group stages a bombing attack at a re-election rally for Mayor Norman Osborn, taking the life of Officer Jefferson Davis - a colleague of Spider-Man’s and the father of Miles Morales. Following the attack, Peter extends an invitation to Miles to help out at Aunt May’s non-profit organization, of which Miles accepts. Peter, Mary Jane, and Miles end up working together to save the city (and each other) from the Inner Demons and slew of other “sinister” villains plaguing New York.
Marvel’s Spider-Man does a lot of things well, but let’s be honest: We’re here for the web swinging. Marvel’s Spider-Man knocks it out of the park in regards to swinging between the buildings of New York, running up walls, slingshotting across rooftops, and diving headfirst from the highest points in Manhattan. The fluid controls combined with Spider-Man’s smooth in-air acrobatics make swinging through the city incredibly satisfying. Swinging from mission-to-mission never seems like a chore, especially with the amount of side quests available for players to take advantage of while en route to their final destination.
For instance, along the way, players can search for backpacks hidden around the city, partake in a handful of side missions, fix radio towers to reveal more sections of the map, and take pictures of specific landmarks around the city - some of which include other recognizable Marvel universe locations such as Avengers Tower, Uncle Ben’s grave, Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, and the Wakandan Embassy. Performing these side quests reward players with experience points, new storylines, and even alternate Spidey suits that can be easily switched out; each suit coming with its own distinctive look and special ability. After finishing the main storyline, it is well worth the time to go back and complete the additional tasks.
Honestly, it’s a reach to try and find anything glaringly negative about Marvel’s Spider-Man, but there are a few elements within the game that could be improved upon.
Players are sure to be familiar with the large waves of enemies that attack Spider-Man from all sides. This is really nothing new for a Spider-Man game, but as the game goes on, the battles become more tedious than enjoyable. The hordes of overpowered enemies that surround Spider-Man create a chaotic combat dynamic that sees the “Spidey Sense” constantly going off; so much so, that it is nearly impossible to dodge every incoming attack at once. While an impressive amount of moves and combos exist, these heavier battles often lead more towards button-mashing tactics than fluid combat controls. Along the same lines, boss fights also left a bit to be desired. Battling iconic Spider-Man foes is always a fun time, but the difficulty level was surprisingly tame, with encounters lacking a need for strategy that one might expect from a boss fight.
Additionally, throughout the game, players are tasked with completing puzzles, putting to use Peter Parker’s scientific brain by matching genetic patterns and repairing electrical circuits. We get it. Peter Parker is smart. These puzzles are a nice break in the action, but sometimes end up being quite time consuming, especially since they become harder and more involved as the game goes on. However, players do eventually gain the ability to skip over these moments after spending a certain amount of time trying to solve each puzzle. Insomniac did well to make completing these situations optional.
But enough with the nit-picking of an otherwise solid game.
What really sets Marvel’s Spider-Man apart from its predecessors is its story. Featuring a well-established Spider-Man allows for more creative freedom than that of an origin story or refamiliarization. It allows for the development of other characters that players can actually care about, as well as a deeper dive into the character of Spider-Man himself and his complexities, which ultimately makes for a more captivating story. Especially in its third act, Marvel’s Spider-Man showcases a conflicted Peter Parker questioning past decisions he has made, and struggling with the new ones that present themselves leading up to the game’s surprising, yet satisfying conclusion.
Insomniac set out to make a great Spider-Man game, and that is exactly what they delivered. Not only does Marvel’s Spider-Man give the wall-crawler the game he deserves, the game provides numerous amounts of humor and easter eggs that any Spider-Man fan can appreciate. Marvel’s Spider-Man lives up to the immense amount of its hype, giving fans an entertaining story in the wonderfully webbed world of their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
Marvel's Spider-Man is now available for PlayStation 4. A copy of the game was purchased by The Gamer for this review.
4 out of 5 stars.