Game Review: Spider-Man (2018)

Release date: 2018
Version played: Playstation 4 in 2018

Developed by Insomniac Games (Sunset Overdrive, Ratchet and Clank) and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, exclusively for the Playstation 4, comes Marvel’s Spider-Man, an action-adventure / superhero video games based on the Marvel Comic character. Players take control of an older, more experienced Spider-Man, aka Peter Parker (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) as he deals with his personal life and superhero life both coming together in ways he never expected. When the mysterious Mister Negative arrives to fill the power vacuum left by the arrest of the Kingpin, Spider-Man finds himself embroiled in the middle of a war zone, as sinister new enemies return, or debut, to challenge him.

+ every single character is just exactly as they should be. Yuri Lowenthal’s Peter Parker just feels right, with his voice work in the final act (and the final boss, in particular) being simply spectacular. I know Mary Jane’s portrayal will be divisive, but her voice work by Laura Bailey (ironically the voice behind Gwen Stacy in the 2017 Spider-Man cartoon) is great. Nancy Linari is another standout as Aunt May, and the other major characters, which may constitute spoilers to mention, are all up to the same standard. The Vulture does make a minor appearance in this game, voiced here by Dwight Schultz. Schultz previously voiced Professor Pyg, the incredibly hammy (hilarious pun intended) operatic serial killer in Batman: Arkham Knight, and he was Vulture in the first movie adaption game many moons ago. I just want more of him in everything from now on
+ I enjoyed the Batman: Arkham inspired combat (but I entirely understand if you don’t). There is a much larger emphasis on dodging, as Spidey can’t tank nearly as many hits as Batman can, and Spidey can zip around between combatants at a much faster pace than those other games. Another issue that arises, and I’ve written about this combat style before, is that the desire to keep big combos going often means forgoing the use of most gadgets
+ the swinging itself isn’t perfect (not quite to the physics and momentum based nature of the PS2 game), but there are so many options for traversal that it is forgivable. Point launching, wall running and jumping over objects with crisp parkour, all blending seamlessly into each other, make just exploring New York almost more fun than the missions themselves
+ after Forza Horizon 3 and Horizon: Zero Dawn (and then later God of War), camera modes are quickly becoming my favourite things about new release games. Not only do they provide free advertising for the studios’ game, but they add another layer to the game that I often feel is missing in these fast-paced games – they give you reason to stop and take in the work the environmental artists do. I have taken so many photos in this game, some of which are below, but dang it I’m going to take a million more – I only wish you could pose Spider-Man in the same way you could Aloy in Horizon: Zero Dawn

– the story has some real pacing issues. A few characters go through huge changes far too quickly, and the game back loads the boss fights into the final quarter or so. This means the builds up to the bosses is great, but you soon find yourself smashing them all out in one sitting, and then the smash cut to the credit leaves you little time to digest what has happened
– a few times throughout the story, the gameplay style changes (to be as spoiler free as I can) and frankly they fell a bit flat for me. I appreciate the developers tried something a bit new, but it is clearly not the right direction to go
– frankly, it does get a bit repetitive at times. If, like me, you are the type of person to go for every collectible and side quest as soon as possible, it makes the “down time” between story missions a little bit boring

> there is so much left just hinted at, such as potential sequel hooks and story character that may be more than they appear. I was so excited when I read one character’s in-game biography and realised what was being hinted at
> watch the credits. This is a Marvel property, after all. You won’t regret it.

Should you play this game: To be blunt, this may be the best Playstation 4 game of the year. I didn’t know what to think before plying God of War, and I was so pleasantly surprised I had nothing but nice things to say. But I had some super high hopes for this game, and with great expectations comes great responsibility for the developer to meet them, and frankly, they exceeded them. I’ve written before that Spider-man 2 on the Playstation 2 is one of my favourite video games, and the fact that this not only holds it’s own in terms of combat, web slinging and “the feel of being Spider-man”, but surpasses them, means this should not be missed.

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