Marvel's Spider-Man

21/01/2020
I had high expectations of Spiderman on the PS4 back when I saw it unveiled at E3 2016, so as you can imagine, I was eagerly anticipating its release this past September. Having had such a long drought of great or even good Spiderman games since the days of the movie tie-in Spider-Man 2, scepticism was beginning to creep in as to when the next great Spiderman game would arrive.However, Marvel putting their beloved hero in the hands of Insomniac Games seemed like a perfect fit after their success with Sunset Overdrive, and with the added notion that Marvel were going to actively pursue making triple A video games, I couldn't help but be excited, and thankfully I wasn't let down.GraphicsImmediately what became apparent is the beauty of the game, the care that had been put into the New York City open world, from China Town to Hell's Kitchen, the city is vibrant and bustling with life. Swinging through the city skylines as Spiderman is an absolute treat and joy in its own, I even began the game just swinging around for about 20 minutes because of just how perfect it felt, but more on that later.Seeing a superhero that I loved growing up come to life with such detail and care taken for each one of his 28 suits, some original, but most from comic book history made a comic book nerd like myself giddy with glee. Crawling up Avengers tower, spying through the window of the Sanctum Sanctorum, taking a selfie outside the Wakandan Embassy, just some of many Easter eggs and beautifully created visuals incorporated into the game to immerse you in the web swinger's world.On top of that, a super awesome soundtrack score, akin to the Avengers, all but adds to that superhero feel. What aids the immensely gorgeous graphics of the game is the addition of Photo Mode. Now normally, I'm one of those people that doesn't take advantage of this, or use and share pictures at all. But even I got drawn in on this occasion and snapped Spidey in a number of precarious, yet awesome web swinging poses with the back-set of a stellar New York City, a testament to the great work created by Insomniac.

Controls

As for the feel of the game and the controls, I spoke before of how I spent 20 minutes just swinging around the city with the Spider bitten hero, and well truth be told, it's because it just felt so right, so adept, so tuned. Insomniac somehow mastered the tool of web swinging to such a high degree, that it becomes so silky smooth to swing around the city, parkour over buildings and catapult yourself off of peaks and edges of buildings or lampposts, all by using the right and left triggers.Moving into the combative areas of the game, it's much like the Arkham series in that you can approach some scenarios stealthily and lurk above enemies to silently knock them out. Or you can take the physical approach, which in many cases you have to, and use your athletic physical prowess and superhero abilities. These moves and abilities, like Arkham are mapped to your square (melee), triangle (web abilities) and circle (dodge/spider sense) buttons. After an hour or so into the game, I became comfortable with the controls and found it second nature to dodge an attack or gun shot after my spider sense went off, fling an opponent into the air, jump after him, beat him up mid-air, then web a separate enemy to a wall and swing away victoriously. As you play through the game, you gain a plethora of different gadget and web abilities as well as unique suit mechanisms that you can mix and match at any time to customise your experience and tailor it to your playstyle.

Story & Characters

The core story of the game is around 15 hours and Insomniac have created a true and authentic Spiderman story. Much of that time is spent being the masked hero, however, there is no Spiderman without Peter Parker. Peter's relationships with his mentor (whom I will not name), Aunt May, Mary Jane and Miles Morales are huge aspects of the game and help build this awe encompassing story and historic Spiderman world. His role as a scientist alongside his mentor lead to some slightly repetitive puzzle games in the lab, but at the same time help push the story forward.His relationships with Mary Jane and Miles Morales are what struck me the most, the different yet modern take on his and MJ's relationship was something that can strike a chord with many couples, whilst his mentoring of Miles shows you that goodness in Peter, as well as that intertwining aspect with his own mentor in the story. An array of Spiderman villains are on show in the game, all of which make Pete and Spidey's world come to life, his past encounters has shaped who he is now and who he understands the villains to be and in some cases doesn't. Boss battles are few and far between, mostly at the beginning and end of the game, but when experiencing them, are absolute spectacles.As for the side missions in the game, this is where perhaps my only gripe came about. While I did complete them and platinum the game as swinging and the combat was so fun, I didn't feel they were that rewarding and intriguing to go back to. All be it the backpack collection is a nice touch, with each you collect bearing a recording to something that happened in Spiderman's history, which helps fill up that lost time of how Spidey got to be who he is in the game. The other side missions tend to be repetitive beat-em up missions or location shots which can be fun at times, but have no real story bearing reward other than suit unlocks.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, the combat, the web swinging, the story, all kept me hooked and ingrained in the game. While not being perfect, with lacklustre side missions, it was certainly a much better Spiderman game then we deserved. With a powerful story and humbling relationships. I can't wait to see where this series goes next. Give me more Spiderman!

Manraaj Jadeja