Probably one of the most anticipated games of 2018 for PlayStation owners across the world since it’s announcement at E3 in June 2016. Over 2 years later it’s out in the wild, but honestly… Was Spider-Man worth the wait?
The developers Insomniac Games certainly have the right pedigree to make Spider-Man a success with titles such as Spyro, Sunset Overdrive and more recently Ratchet & Clank to their name. Games that I can testify to having plenty of fun with before, especially the disco ball in Ratchet & Clank and the awesome traversal mechanics in Sunset Overdrive. But could they really match the fun factor of those games?
How does it fare?
What is apparent early on is the amount of love that the developers have poured into this game, the swift, fluid movement of everything ‘Spidey’ does genuinely feels fantastic. From the fast-paced ‘Arkham’ inspired combat to wonderful web-slinging over the rooftops of New York City, it is a joy. Swinging around is ‘spectacular’ and extremely easy to get the hang of. With little effort, you swing, crawl, launch and look effortlessly stylish ‘flying’ both through and over the streets of Manhattan, Harlem and Hell’s Kitchen. The movement is fluid and there’s something quite special about web-slinging your way through NY, which feels just as you’d expect it to. Additionally, the cutscenes feel truly epic complemented by beautiful visuals throughout the game.
Character-wise, this isn’t the young inexperienced Peter portrayed by Tom Holland in Homecoming and Avengers, this is an experienced Parker with years of crime fighting under his belt, he knows what he’s doing and it’s up to you to catch up. This is immediately apparent from the ‘tutorial’ which has you up against an extremely recognisable villain almost straight off from the start that sets the tone and indeed the main story of the game.
As previously stated the combat is very much akin to that of the ‘Batman Arkham’ games – it’s difficult to master at first with not much training. The thing is Peter already knows what he’s doing and you need you to ‘get good’, fast. There are more moves available than I ever used and be warned the bad guys hit hard, and not just bosses either, a thug with a gun can bring your health down quickly.
However, once you get the hang of it and remember you can ‘fly’ around the screen making use of the environment, air combat and web-slinging (something I forgot multiple times) you get to grips with it. It’s exceptionally quick as is the whole game, but you can also ‘slow time’ with your spider-sense to a limited extent which helps break it up and plan your next victim.
It’s not just fast-paced, web-slinging combat either, there’s also a handful of stealth sections which I found to be extremely satisfying. Perched up on top of a beam, hanging from the ceiling or simply just out of sight crawling on a wall, picking your next victim feels great.
The storyline is brilliant, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Incidentally, in case you didn’t know it is exclusively a single player endeavour and without giving too much away… New York comes under threat from multiple angles and it’s down to you as Spider-Man and Peter Parker to stop it.
To address the grumblings you must have heard. Yes, the main game is relatively short but is still almost 50 main missions split over 3 acts, with New York completely changing at the start of those acts. I’d say the main story is probably between 12 – 15 hours without side missions or much else, and there is plenty to enjoy both inside and outside the story. You also get to tussle with a lot of major villains in some great battles both front and backloaded, which is always a great nostalgic laugh to fight on through.
But guess what? Without giving too much away… You don’t just play exclusively as Spidey or Peter Parker.
There’s even a cameo from certain someone…
SIDE NOTE TO PARENTS: The storyline is quite mature and in some places, a little traumatic, hence the 16 rating. Some more sensitive children could be upset by some scenes so giving a fair warning to young web slingers and their parents
On side missions and extras, there are so many of them – from collectables (cleverly done to channel some spidey history) to infiltrations to stopping crime on the streets and special challenges, including stealth and combat (how very Arkham of you spidey) that unlock during the game.
There’s a wealth of upgrades and new suits to unlock and each suit can be fully customised with powers from another suit, as well as a mix and match mods to unlock and upgrade through tokens from completing aforementioned extras.- Of course, gadgets which are unlocked throughout the main story are done cleverly to tap into Peter’s scientific genius.
It’s Not All Good
No game is perfect, but there are a couple of things that really ground my gears:
- I experienced maybe 3 game crashes during the first few days of gameplay, which forced me to restart but thankfully due to autosave I didn’t lose much progress – the latest patch, however, seems to have addressed most these crashes.
- The action is fast and furious which can lead to some early frustration as you get to grips with both web slinging and combat early on. There is no ‘training’ tutorial that helps you familiarise yourself with it. You just have to go out and bash some thugs (or others) up to hone your skills until you find a style that works for you.
This game is probably about as much fun and beautifully realised as superhero gaming can be right now. I think it might be fair to consider it a good alternative to the Arkham games if you’re not a fan of the Dark Knight. What I mean by that is it shares similarities with the open world nature of Arkham City/Knight but isn’t quite as dark.
I’d say it’s well worth it and would give it a solid recommendation – if you’re on the fence – just do it. This friendly neighbourhood reviewer doesn’t think you’ll regret it.
About The Author
Paul has been gaming since the days of the Atari 2600, all the way through to current gen with a wealth of gaming pedigree to call on. He’d like to think he knows what makes a good game by now. But he will leave you be the judge of that.
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