There’s been a lot of Spider-Man games over the years. The first I ever played was on Nintendo Gamecube, which was Spider-Man one, based off the movie franchise that was hugely popular (and still is to some) at the time. Now, Spider-Man 2, both the Movie and the video game, hold a very special place in my heart. Not only a fantastic childhood film, but likewise with the game.
Skip forward years later, and we’ve had several Spider-Man games. Some based off other franchises, other’s not. Then ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man’ rocks up onto the scene, exciting fans of the movies, comics and games all over the world, after several arguably bad Spider-Man games that had left fans wanting something that recalled those feelings from Spider-Man 2. All seems so promising and exciting, as we get to hear reviews start to crop up by the big game reviewers, and the hype reaches a new unprecedented level. Then it comes out, finally. All seems good in the land of Spider-Man fans. But is it? (Probably. Maybe. Yes.)
Now, personally, I’m in love with this game. Which seems typical as Spider-Man is my favourite superhero overall anyway, so maybe I am a little biased, but with that being said, there is always room for improvement in lots of different areas, even when it’s a fantastic game. For me, it brought back all those nostalgic feelings we all crave and reminded me of coming home from school and loading Spider-Man 2 on my Gamecube and swinging around the city, just being able to explore, let alone actually just playing the game’s story mode. Who wouldn’t get a kick out of being able to get a taste of what it’s like to be Spider-Man?
Being able to just run and jump off a skyscraper, freefall, and then start swinging around any way you want to is such a satisfying feeling for me, and I’m sure a lot of people would agree with that at least. It’s a feeling for me unlike any other video game out there, probably because Spider-Man himself is so unique himself! Bearing in mind this is just how I feel about exploring New York City as Spidey, the freedom to just do what you want. (Seriously, who the hell uses fast travel in this game? Okay, maybe to just get the achievement, but that should be it, get swinging!) I was ready to just give the game 5/5, and I think on some level I do, but there are some issues. Or at least, there are some things that could be improved on.
I love the overall combat, the use of combos and how it seems to flow throughout even your average street-crime fight. Some may cry ‘Arkham copy-cat!’ and okay, maybe it takes some inspiration from it, it’s very possible. But is that wrong? The Arkham games are fantastic for their story and combat, but I don’t think they get to call that style of combat their own. They’re not the only game series out there that use the style of combat that we see in Marvel’s Spider-Man, and they won’t be the last. I think the combat used in Spider-Man is actually better, it’s not just a matter of countering at every opportunity, it’s about thinking how you can take everyone down fast, use the gadgets available to you (Electro-friggin’-webs, Anti-Gravity devices, lots of different web based goodies!) and try to take enemies out in the air, or on the ground, whilst dodging certain enemies types that are very aggressive, and ones with certain abilities.. Alright, right now it’s starting to sound a lot like one of the Arkham Batman games, but it’s just different. If anything, I think it’s harder, and a lot more frantic! Especially if you decide to go for a higher difficulty right away.
So, I’ve already touched on some of the aspects of the gameplay, the exploration and combat, which are by far some of the largest aspects of the game. There’s the story, which can be done at entirely your leisure (and should be, what’s the rush?) and side-missions, and random events such as crimes that vary to some degree. Now, Side-missions are one of my favourite aspects. Whether it’s little snippets of story that aren’t relevant, or challenges that vary from web-slinging traversal skills or fighting a ton of bad guys in various situations, or even doing a stealth mission, which have different levels for you to accomplish to help earn medals to craft new suit mods and gadgets.
There’s a lot of other things to do on the side, but I will admit that some do feel a bit same-ish, or just not that interesting, and some would only do them to get the trophy, and it depends if you’re a perfectionist. Essentially, the ones you think will be fun are, and the ones that don’t sound fun, aren’t. Only you know if you prefer enjoy beating up loads of bad dudes as compared to chasing pigeons. Everyone’s different, but I know which camp I sit in.
One of the main complaints I heard about at first was that the random crimes that pop-up are all too similar and get boring way too quickly. Well, for a start, there’s only a certain amount of crimes they can put in that’re going be appropriate for Spider-Man. It’s not likely that Spider-Man is going to swing in and stop white-collar crimes. (Although, I would be down for that.) Whilst people saying this do have a point, there is some difficulties of what other crimes/situations could you put in? Perhaps saving someone falling from a construction site? Helping someone off a building that’s on fire? There’re a few different ideas that could be used, but the options are limited. I don’t mind beating down on street thugs, so you won’t hear me complaining too much. But once you’ve completed the game and done a lot of the events, I’ll admit it does become a bit stale relatively quickly.
When people initially found out that Insomniac Games were going to be creating Sony Interactive PS4 Spider-Man exclusive game, people freaked out for a lot of different reasons. Overall the first reaction was quite bitter, with people slandering the fact that this was going to be a PS4 exclusive game only, with next-to-no chance of it coming out on PC, Xbox One or Switch. Which is a frustrating position to be in if you’re a hardcore fan of a particular console, but thankfully I lucked out, since I made the switch from Xbox 360 to PS4 once the time was right.
Not everyone can afford to have more than one console, and not a lot of people are willing to have two anyway. Why not just make it so it could be across other consoles? Or at least Xbox One? I don’t know many people with Xbox Ones personally, but even just by scrolling through Twitter and Facebook, people’s resentment of this choice was extremely clear, but not noted particularly. Sony clearly wanted this one to themselves. People literally went out to buy PS4 with the sole purpose of playing this new, and tremendously hyped Spider-Man game. And I don’t blame them, I think I would’ve done the exact same thing. (Once again, biased Fan who would take a literal bullet for Spidey if he actually existed.)
Angry fans aside, when we found out it was Insomniac Games behind the wheel of bringing in a new Spider-Man game into Modern Age gaming on PS4, people’s eared pricked up. The Amazing Spider-Man game franchise, which I personally hated, had really shattered a lot of people’s hopes at bringing a new Spider-Man game into the world with a lot of potential. But Insomniac Games? The guys who created Rachet and Clank? Spyro the Dragon? Okay, it isn’t the same kind of game or gameplay whatsoever, but these guys had created titles that people all over the world loved and cherished. In the months that led up to the game coming out, we were sprinkled with lots of bit of information, hints, and videos, but no definite gameplay until we got very close to release. But with every bit of extra information we got, there was a kind of quiet hope that this game would make up for the years of failed Spider-Man games. That maybe this was it, a potential Spidey game franchise that people would use as a comparison for years to come.
In my view, I believe that Marvel’s Spider-Man met up to the hype entirely, and arguably much more than I actually thought it would, even if I think there could be some improvements. Whilst not everyone shares this opinion, I think it’s fairly clear that a lot of people would agree with me, that it’s a bloody good game overall. The hype train pulled right into the station and delivered on its promises.
Now, I won’t prattle on or delve too deep into what I think of the general storyline, in case there’s people out there that haven’t completed it yet. I will say that I feel the story is very interesting, and original. It takes little aspects of the some of the Spidey comics, and makes it its own. It doesn’t directly follow any comic book storyline, but takes inspiration from several, and references some others. (Most notably for me was the references to the Ultimate Universe Marvel comics.)
We see Mr. Negative take the stage as the main villain, who is noticeably very shady and strange, and even I must admit I still don’t really get him as a villain. But once more classic and iconic villains start showing up, those thoughts didn’t matter so much. We see Mary-Jane as an investigate journalist swoop into the game and take a pivotal role in the story, rather than just being Peter Parker’s pretty red-head in constant need of saving, it’s quite the opposite. We see Dr. Otto Octavius right from the very beginning as Peter plays the role of his lab assistant. (You can probably see where his role in the game starts to go, but I won’t say anything more than that!) And we even see Miles Morales in the game, a direct link to the Ultimate Marvel universe comics. Basically, the game is crammed with iconic Spider-Man characters, all of whom flow with the story and really help give it depth and making it a more meaningful journey.
Moving away from the storyline aspect, there’s a lot of nice collectibles in the game, and nods to other parts of Marvel Comics. We have Avengers Tower as part of the New York skyline, we have the iconic Oscorp industries, Alias Investigations, Damage Control, and lots of references to many different characters, like Daredevil. Even if we don’t see these other iconic characters, we feel all warm and nerdy inside, knowing that they’re there in this game’s universe, somewhere doing what they do, while we do what Spidey does.
Now, one of my absolute favourite parts of the game. The different Spider-Man suits. When I realised we were going to get to choose varying iconic suits to roam around the city with, I lost it a little bit! The Iron Spider suit that was first created in the Civil War comic story-arc, but then redefined in the latest MCU film; Infinity War. Complete with the actual mechanical spider legs that come out of the back, it was definitely a selling point to allure fans of the movie into buying the game. We have the Spider-Punk suit, Spider-Noir, Secret Wars, Fear Itself, all sorts of really amazing suits from varying different comics, and there is really a suit to suit everyone. Admittedly, I feel they missed the opportunity to add in some -really- iconic suits, and they seemed to have opted for some of the lesser known outfits. (Superior Spider-Man? Symbiote suit? Where are they!?)
Now that the first chunk of the downloadable content has been released, titled “The Heist” featuring the tricky and cunning Black Cat aka Felicia Hardy. Which has it’s own storyline adjacent from the main storyline. Now that I’ve just completed it, I can safely (Without giving up any major spoilers) that it’s good. It’s not very long overall, and there are some new challenges put into the game, and some collectibles, but you could probably complete it in one sitting. But since Insomniac is planning on rolling out Part 2 and Part 3 in November and December, we’re going to be finding out a lot more. It’s fair to assume these downloadable pieces of content are connected, I think have some ideas as to what may happen already… But that’s purely speculation.
It might seem like I’m literally praying to this Spider-Man game as the beginning and end of all possible Spider-Man games. And there’s no doubt that I am a huge fan of the game almost entirely and can only find a few faults in the game. However, this opinion is only my own, and many people did feel differently about the game after its release.
All the large gaming websites and magazines were all singing praise for Marvel’s Spider-Man. But this brought a question to mind; maybe this is a bit orchestrated? With these large AAA game titles, usually all these gaming-associated companies have nothing to say but good things, with a very low number giving some criticism and negative feedback. Is this because they’re paid off to write good reviews? Is it done this way to help create more help, to aid in driving up sales for the game? It’s something I can’t say is a thing or not, but I have to kind of side with them this time, I love this game and it’s definitely worth your time if you’re a fan of Spider-Man or just happen to have a PS4.
Marvel’s Spider-Man is not the first game to do this by a long, long shot. But it’s still a valid question. The only reason I thought this, was seeing smaller reviewers’ reactions, and people’s general thoughts on Twitter/Facebook. And I’m not just looking at “Pondgate”, I’m looking at people’s general criticisms overall. A lot of people disliked the inanimate people in the game, like if you were to actually stop web-slinging and go down to the street level, people all seem to stop and not do a great deal. Sometimes you’ll get a baddie randomly come at you, but it would be obvious who would be, since everyone else is just kind of… stood around doing nothing much.
Complaints about there not being enough to do in the endgame, about the repetitiveness of crimes that I mentioned earlier, and a bit of a lacklustre for replay-ability overall. I’m inclined to agree that yes, there are some issues present in the game that revolve around these kinds of problems, but I feel it’s difficult to bring the score or critique for the entire game be brought down over these kinds of things.
The most common thing I saw that brought the game into a negative light was its comparisons to the Batman “Arkham” game series. How Insomniac Games had simply copy-and-pasted the combat style from the Warner Brother brand Batman game, and made it suit them, but for Spidey. Now, maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. They took some inspiration, but the combat in reality is very different in its own way. Similar, yes. The exact same? Not at all. I can understand people’s feelings regarding these topics, but nonetheless, I still think they’re overshadowed by the game’s overall vibes.
In conclusion, I’m a bit in love with Marvel’s Spider-Man, and yes, I am a little biased about it. But, I have to be fair and I realise there are some very valid criticisms of it. Things that aren’t necessarily going to be fixed, unless the future downloadable content is going to vastly change how the game is played, which I guess it hasn’t really so far at least. But Marvel’s Spider-Man for me is a definite win for Marvel fans, Spider-Man fans, and people who just want another awesome game for their collection. Stan Lee cameos in it for Pete’s sake. (If you have a PS4, that is.)
If I had anything to say about Marvel’s Spider-Man, it would be that it’s a must for your PS4 collection whether you’re an avid fan, or just causal about it. The gameplay is very individual and unique and makes the game special. And for me personally, it already holds a special place in my heart next to the much, much older Spider-Man games. With great power, comes great responsibility.