Marvel’s Spider-Man has been out for well over six weeks now, which is crazy when you think how far away it felt at E3. Insomniac’s wonderful recreation of the friendly neighbourhood Spideydude’s adventures has had near-universal praise and with its success assured, we can’t wait to jump back into Marvel’s New York and see what else Insomniac has up their sleeves next.
Marvel’s Spider-Man was the first game ever that all four members of FNGR GNS has played to 100% completion, with all four of us securing its Platinum. We all had something to say about it, so here’s every member of the team waxing lyrical about their time with the game, along with an overall score agreed upon by each of us.
It’s the little things that makes Insomniac’s Spider-Man stand out from all the other games based on the wall crawler (of which there are many). It’s the haptic feedback through the Dualshock controller which builds when you swing closer to the ground. It’s the banter between Spidey and the villains, henchman or otherwise, mid-fight; a staple in the comics but historically missing from the Spider-Man games of yore. It’s the way pedestrians interact with your presence, attempting to give you a high 5 or simply muttering about you being there. It’s the Spidey easter eggs and Marvel lore spliced into every nook and cranny of the game. PS4’s Spider-Man does all of the bread and butter stuff you’d expect from it – the swinging, the fighting, the stealth and traversal – competently, fluidly and accessibly but it’s those little extra touches, that extra mile of polish that make this game shine.
This game shows that Insomniac have a deep understand of Spidey as a core character but rather than just bringing a Sinister Six comic book story line to virtual life (which many were hoping for), they’ve masterfully crafted a new emotionally charged plot centred around a few key characters and then added originality to the origins and relationships between the wall crawler and the supporting cast/rogues gallery. Insomniac have walked the tightrope between pleasing Spidey-fans with fan service and giving everyone a new incarnation of the webbed wonder to consider and they’ve pulled it off wonderfully. Visually spectacular, amazing to play and built around who Spider-Man/Peter Parker is as a character and what he stands for, Insomniac have built a Marvel game that feels like the beginning of something truly special.
Much like any beginning however, there’s room for improvement. The side quests could do with a tad more variety and perhaps better integration into the overall narrative (Harry Osborn’s labs, serving as a starting spot for a number of activities, are all placed on roof tops…where only Spider-Man can access them…No one’s going to put 2 + 2 together?). As much as I enjoyed the available rogues gallery in Spider-Man, it’d also be nice to see it expanded in the (hopefully) inevitable sequel. These are small gripes with what is otherwise a genuine and surprising “Game of the Year” contender that’s thrilling from the first swing to the final boss.
Ah, Spider-Man. Marvel’s greatest creation (don’t @ me) finally has a game worthy of his name and I couldn’t be happier. It’s been a while since I’ve waited up until midnight to play a game once it unlocked on my system, such was my excitement for this brand new Insomniac adventure. Of course, my expectations were so ridiculously sky high if anything less than perfection was on offer I would have been crushed. Thankfully, the first thing you bloody do is swing as freakin’ Spider-Man so the game was damn near GOTY in the first five seconds. It’s such a genius way of introducing you to the game, immediately allowing you to inhabit the boots of Peter Parker’s web-head alter ego and never letting you go.
The swinging does take a fair while to master I found, and as you progress through the game being able to move faster proved invaluable in certain situations. There’s also more than enough to be getting on with throughout Marvel’s New York (‘only 20 hours’ the internet says. Get in the sea, this game is going to keep you busy), whether it be tearing through backpacks, collecting pigeons or stopping crimes, it’s very rare in a game of this magnitude that the side quests don’t feel like filler, somehow Insomniac makes everything tie straight back to the main story and as such, you want to know as much as possible. It’s all so beautifully connected, making Insomniac’s recreation of Marvel’s New York one of my all time favourite open worlds. So many developers could learn from this game.
Is it perfect? Nah, but who the hell cares when everything else is this good. I gobbled up that Platinum without even trying, simply just being in the world and exploring the game allows you to knock out Trophies and side quests without it feeling like a grind which to be honest is a masterful achievement.
I just need more of it. Did I cry at the end? You’re damn right I did and I want to again. Did I cheer for joy when Spidey saved MJ? Hell yeah, it was amazing. I fell in love with the dual-boss battles scripted to perfection, I knew where Otto’s story was going from the beginning but it still hit me like a train when he went as far as he did. Now I’m here, I don’t want to leave. Does it *still* blow my mind, 100% and one Platinum later, how utterly gorgeous the web swinging animations are? Without a shadow of a doubt.
Insomniac, I hereby give you permission to never make anything else but Spider-Man games. It’s my Game of the Year. Screw off Kratos, you miserable bastard.
Well, it’s no secret that I was a doubter of this new Spider-Man game from Insomniac. Going but the trailers, sure it looked breathtaking but didn’t really look much different to the other Spider-man games we have had to endure over the years (Spider-Man 2 excluded of course) I am so so happy to say that I was wrong to doubt Insomniac and their mastery of the video game art form. Although the template of the game doesn’t veer too far from past formula’s, what Insomniac has done is honed every aspect of these games to near perfection.
Gone is the ridiculous notion of having to have a structure to tag your web onto. Sure that’s all realistic and that but makes for an awkward ramble through New York. Insomniac has taken the swing mechanics back to the drawing board and although you can’t fire a web at mid-air and expect to swing, you feel like you can, so you don’t have to think about it. Might be a small detail, but for me it was huge. Catapulting from one end of New York was an absolute pleasure, and even made all those potentially against the clock side missions actually enjoyable to play.
Special mention has to go to the combat though, which is arguably the real star of the show. Taking what Rocksteady had started with the Arkham Games Insomniac have again taken it back to the drawing board and created a fighting system that is so free-flowing, smooth, powerful, Superhero like it beggars belief. You may have heard the statement before but it does make you feel like you are Spider-man. Its astonishingly easy to master yet has enough depth to keep you learning. Without a shadow of a doubt, this is by far the best combat system you will find in a video game ever. Of course, it’s not all perfect, you can see my 10 reasons why in this more in-depth piece.
Like Rossko this is also my game of the year, so far, although Read Dead Redemption 2 is coming soon. I never thought I would say this but it’s really got to pull something out of the bag to beat this.
In a nutshell, Spider-man is the game that Batman: Arkham Knight should have been. Given that the webbed wonder gave city progression a fresh take back in the PS2 era, it felt that the mantel was passed to the Dark Knight to continue it. However, Arkham Knight didn’t, and ruined it by being Batmobile-centric.
The freedom of movement and exploration in Insomniac’s take is such a refreshing and enjoyable adventure in sandbox gaming. It makes it fun to seek out side quests and collectibles, it makes it engaging with its traversal and sightseeing duties. Hell, it even makes the fast travel light hearted.
It’s one of the four platinum trophies I’ve got on my profile, the other three being Telltale games that don’t take much effort. Whereas I actively sought to finish 100% completion on this game, that’s how enthralling it is.
Marvel’s Spider-Man is available now on PS4 (Sean and Greg reviewed the game on a Base PS4. Paul and Rossko reviewed the game on PS4 Pro).
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, all four members of the team purchased the game. For our full review policy, please go here.