It’s rare that I actually go play a game and actually go through the trouble of getting a 100% completion rating. It’s even more extraordinarily rare when I go get a 100% completion rating twice for the same game. But this is precisely what I did for Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4. I know there have been review after review heaping praise over this Sony PS4 exclusive and all of it is definitely well-deserved.
I have a feeling that this is generally going to be just another review that is going to say how great the game is. However, I can try to be objective and try to rate the game on its own merits. I’ve already mentioned about some of the things I liked and disliked about Marvel’s Spider-Man before but this time, I like to go into more detail.
First off, I really love what Insomniac Games did regarding how you traverse Manhattan/New York. I know everyone has talked about how great it feels to swing around the city but, heck, it’s probably one of the reasons why I’ve been playing this game non-stop for the past couple of weeks! Basically, you just jump up in the air, press and hold the R2 button and Spider-Man does the rest. Well, that’s what you’ll be doing when you first start playing anyway as the more you play, the most web-swinging techniques you’ll pick up. You can time the release of the R2 button or press the X button with the web swing arc and, depending when you do it, you’ll either fling yourself up into the air to get some mad air or zip forward across the skyline quickly. And since Spider-Man does whatever a spider can, he can also climb or run up walls, which is also a great way to get high up into the sky really quickly. The best thing about all of this is that they mesh together in such a beautiful way that it becomes almost second nature! I’ve probably clocked in around a week of web swinging while playing Marvel’s Spider-Man and, you know what, it just never gets old!
While zipping across the city is great, you just can’t be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man unless you talk to the neighbors. Insomniac Games did an impressive job with how you interact with the people who are wandering around the streets and sidewalks. Spider-Man will even comment once in a while if you bump into them. Fans will even ask to take a selfie with you or shake your hand. You can even hear some of your detractors tell you how they feel about your vigilantism. However, I do believe they could’ve still done a better job as all the civilians look the same. I didn’t expect detailed character models for the NPCs but I do wish they added a little variety as everyone is the same shape and size. Sure, there are Asians, Hispanics and white people all represented but I couldn’t spot a single overweight person nor any children. It just struck me as incredibly odd.
While the “regular” New Yorkers look rather plain and same-y, the characters with the more prominent roles look, well, amazing. I love all the detail and work they put into the other characters. All the little intricate wrinkles they put on Otto Octavius’ face looks incredibly realistic. That’s not to say that the character models for the other main players are nothing to sneeze at. Peter Parker doesn’t look like a hunk but more of a meek but intelligent man. Aunt May’s model looks great and, while I kind of disagree of giving Mary Jane a more of a “plain Jane” look instead of the supposed bombshell she’s supposed to be, the choice made sense because of how the story is written. Oh, and I gotta say I love the Stan Lee cameo as, not only did they record dialog from him, they made it look like he was really in the game. Good work, Insomniac Games!
Speaking of the story, I was really engrossed most of the tales they were spinning here. The entire story regarding Mr. Negative trying to get revenge on Norman Osborne was great but I felt they cut it short because of the major twist of changing of the main villain during the last act, which was rather disappointing as I found Mr. Negative’s story arc really entertaining because, well, I didn’t know who Mr. Negative was! This was probably why I was disappointed when they had someone else pulling the strings at the end. I did find the side story of Peter Parker trying to reconnect with Mary Jane rather good if not a little too predictable and just a bit too saccharine-y. Sadly, I just didn’t go for the entire Miles Morales subplot about him learning how to be a hero. It just didn’t click for me and it felt like it was shoehorned into the game at the last minute as nothing he did had any lasting impact.
I will say I loved most of the missions as they all fit into the entire Peter Parker/Spider-Man repertoire of skills. You can take pictures of prominent (and even fictional landmarks) littered around New York. You can search for Peter Parker’s old school bags that he’s forgotten during his eight years as the Wall Crawler. You can even invade enemy bases and take out hordes of baddies. The last one is my personal favorite, by the way. Oddly enough, the mission that I really didn’t like were the ones where you had to chase something flying around. It’s weird because I love the web swinging so much! But I guess that only applies to when I just want to zip around the city rooftops at my own speed and not to chasing enemy drones or pigeons.
Of course, what’s a superhero game without fighting? And, boy, does Marvel’s Spider-Man have a lot of fighting! Thankfully, the combat engine works just as beautifully as the web swinging engine. That’s because you can’t just button mash the attack button to victory. You always have to be on your toes and react to when you see your Spider-Sense reacts to something as this tells you when to dodge. If you don’t, you’re going to die. A lot! Much like the web-swinging, pressing the dodge button at just the right time become almost instinct after a few battles. But there’s just so much more to combat than just punching your opponent. You can throw objects at your opponent, yank their weapons out of their hands with your webs or even blast them with your webs to tie them up! Probably the most powerful attack is the air launcher punch because you can chase them up into the air and pummel the baddies into oblivion from there. In fact, this move is the more abusable attack as baddies who don’t have any firearms can’t do anything but just watch. It’s great for crowd control and avoid any incidental damage. I do have to say that there were times when the camera would get stuck behind a wall but this didn’t happen all to frequently but enough to become annoying.
I do have a few minor problems with the game, though. Most of the segments and puzzles that deal with connecting power grids and viewing spectrographs get old quick and don’t provide that much of a challenge. I can say the same thing regarding the stealth segments involving Mary Jane and Miles Morales as it’s like everything is conveniently laid out for you and you just have to follow that specific path, stifling any kind of creativity you may want to try. Also, while Spider-Man has a very deep rogues gallery, they only really make their presence felt during the final act, leading to only a few big setpiece boss fights spread across the first two acts.
Despite these minor complaints, I love almost everything about Marvel’s Spider-Man. The best thing about the game is, well, how everything feels like the sum is greater than it’s parts. I will admit that I wasn’t all that excited for Marvel’s Spider-Man when Sony announced it at E3 a year ago. But, after playing it non-stop since getting it a couple of weeks ago, Insomniac Games pulled a masterpiece of a game. There’s an incredible level of polish and everything does tie together beautifully and nothing does feel like a loose thread… or in this case, web.
Even though I’ve already beaten the game twice with 100%, I still haven’t gotten all the trophies and I’m still eager to jump into the webbed shoes of New York’s web swinging hero. Maybe I should play the story mode for a third time?
Have you played Marvel’s Spider-Man? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!