Review: Spider-Man (PS4)
Spider-Man for PS4 has arrived, and I was finally able to stop playing it long enough to write the review. Here it is.
9 years ago, a game was released that was destined for greatness, and ended up achieving immortality. It would go on to redefine the Superhero game genre and is still influencing game developers to this day. That game was Batman: Arkham Asylum and the developers of the new Spider-Man game must have been taking notes.
In as much as the tagline of the Arkham series was “Be the Batman”, the new Spider-Man game’s tagline could be “Be the Web Slinger.” From the very beginning, you will feel like Spider-Man. The conscious decision to forgo an origin story and put you right into Spider-man’s shoes is really smart on the part of the developer. As the game begins, you have been Spider-Man for 8 years, and have a tenuous partnership with a NYPD Detective.
The story begins with a mission to take down Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin, but that is just the launching point. From there, you will begin unraveling a series of attacks targeting the Mayor of New York, Norman Osborn, which will bring you into conflict with a mysterious villain called Mr. Negative, and eventually, most of Spider-Man’s most famous villains, assembled in a version of the infamous Sinister Six.
I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’m being deliberately vague, but I will say that throughout the course of the story, you will encounter, and get to play as Mary Jane Watson, and Miles Morales. You will also spend a fair amount of time as Peter Parker, which is a great balance. Of course, Aunt May is there as well, and the game has a particularly unique way to incorporate J. Jonah Jameson.
Also, much like in the Arkham games, Spider-Man has some amazing gadgets at his disposal, but the interesting twist here is that, in the game, most of them are crafted using tech found in enemy bases. All of the gadgets, including the web shooters, are upgradable.
There is also a skill tree of abilities which can be unlocked using skill points awarded for leveling up. You get experience for finishing a main mission or a side mission, and completing different token quests, such as photographing landmarks, or stopping street crimes.
You use these abilities in combat, which, if I’m being honest, is some of the most fun I have had in a video game this year. I purposely found myself seeking out every enemy encounter I could, because combat in this game is a beautiful experience. Spider-Man jumps, flips and dodges around punching enemies and using his webs in innovative ways as part of a deliciously violent ballet. The more you level up, the flashier the moves you can use in battle. After you unlock enough moves, combat becomes a true joy, with Spider-Man zipping from enemy to enemy with spectacular speed, often becoming a red and blue blur. Again, replicating the intoxicating feeling from the Arkham series of truly knowing what it’s like to fight as your favorite hero. The main difference being that although Batman preferred silent beatdowns, Spider-Man is true to form, throwing out quips in between fists or web blasts. Insomniac has truly captured the essence of this character.
And, all of this action takes place in the largest, most detailed and accurate recreation of New York EVER. The city is huge, and it takes a good amount of time to swing from one end to the other. The city is also populated with a TON of things to do. In addition to the main story missions, there are numerous other side missions and quests
The game also plays great homage to all of the different suits Spider-Man has worn throughout his various comic and movie incarnations. There are a total of 28 unlockable suits in the game, including the Stark suit and the Spider Armor from the Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War movies. The suit Spidey wears for most of the game by default is also introduced in a very intelligent manner. The suits are unlocked over the course of the game, and are crafted using a variety of tokens, which are accrued by completing different types of side missions throughout the game.
It looks beautiful. It has amazing controls and is just generally spectacular. Spider-Man for PS4 gets a 5 out of 5.