Fans of the web-slinging hero have been stood by the sidelines and watched as other heroes, particularly the caped crusader become the new pinnacle of superhero games, taking the thrown from many by the Spider-Man 2 video game from many generations ago. When Marvel’s Spider-Man was announced with Insomniac at the helm, many fans were finally excited about the blue and red superhero. Now that it’s finally here, Marvel’s Spider-Man is an enjoyable superhero game but excels in one of the greatest open worlds I’ve ever had the joy of exploring.
Marvel’s Spider-Man takes place 8 years after Peter Parker first donned the suit of Spider-Man. Spider-Man is working in a lab uncovering new technologies while Aunt May is working in a homeless shelter that she’s dedicated her life to since Ben died. It’s not long though after he successfully puts away Wilson Fisk, that something much works takes his place. A much darker and more powerful group has come in and now Manhattan and Spider-Man are in more danger than ever before.
In a lot of ways, it’s the standard comic book fair but its tone and writing are excellent. The writing of Spider-Man feels just right and it knows exactly when to raise the stakes and hit the strong dramatic moments. It also takes its time examining the relationships Peter faces being Spider-Man with all the people around him. One moment, you could be stopping a helicopter was a massive metal wrecking ball attached as it destroys buildings all over Manhattan, and the next you’re having intimate moments with family and MJ. It’s not afraid to take the mask off and slow things down and it’s done well. As much as I enjoyed the story of Manhattan and Spider-Man unfolding, the change of pace never felt like something that got in the way; Rather, it built upon the world and characters in ways that felt meaningful.
Despite that, it’s really when the reigns are taken off that Spider-Man achieves its highest moments. Exploring Manhattan not only feels incredible but looks it too. There were so many times I spotted myself just swinging, zooming, and reaching heights without an objective – I just wanted to swing around. This sense of exploration and enjoyment is amplified by the incredible and dynamic original score. You can be perched on a high building, taking in the incredibly dense city and when you jump off and start to descend at a rapid pace, the strings kick in and it’s a sensation I won’t forget, nor will I ever grow tired of it. It’s the superhero in an open-world satisfaction that I’ve always wanted.
Don’t worry though because it’s not just about swinging and Peter Parkouring throughout Manhattan as a ton of side-missions, objectives, and challenges will unlock through the progress of the game. Each of the 8 districts displays its completion rate of each objective as well as overall and initially it may look like it’s all just filler and dull. However, as you unlock different side-activities, each one feels unique and asks a certain challenge of different aspects of how Spider-Man plays.
Some of the side-objectives as you to look through a scope in order to find items hidden in the immediate area in front while others will require your combat skills to take on waves of enemies. If you try the completionist route from the beginning, you may feel the tedium set it but if you wait until the variety opens, and until you have more gadgets, moves, and abilities at your disposal, it will help things feel consistently fresh. As you complete objectives both from the main campaign and from exploring the world, you will level up. This will not only increase base stats like health and swinging speed, but will also give you skill points which can be allocated to unlock new abilities as well as enhance current ones.
Taking the stealthy approach is viable in some situations and utilising Spider-Man’s gadgets to take an advantage can offer some fun situations as you set traps and distract enemies – but when it comes to combat, nothing feels as satisfying as getting into the grove of taking down bad guys.The combat is a free-flowing affair which is expected given what we saw of it from the beginning. While it may remind users of the Arkham series, the dynamism of the melee action is so far beyond Rocksteady’s outings. The environment plays a much bigger role as well as the tools at Spider-Man’s disposal – not only with gadgets but with web-slinging abilities. Spider-Man can also unleash a special move by pressing in the L3 and R3 buttons
These special moves are unlocked by obtaining the many suits along the way. Each can be unlocked by progressing through the story as well as completing challenges. Each suit looks unique and covers a width breadth of styles meaning you will be satisfied with one no matter what.
Even though each suit has a unique special, they are not tied to that particular suit. Once you obtain the suit, the special power can be applied to any suit as well as any three mods that will change stats and abilities to further support your play style.
Because everything moves so fluidly and drastically around the area in which you are fighting, sometimes the camera can feel like you have to wrestle with it in order to see the other enemies on the screen. It’s a small annoyance but it did lead to a few cheap hits that frustrated.
In my time with Spider-Man, everything ran incredibly well. There were just a couple of small graphical bugs including characters in the distance locked in the T-pose as well as some heads dethatching from bodies for a quick moment but this could be something that’s rectified by launch.
Spider-Man is not only one of the best open-world games out there but it’s also the new standard for superhero games. Not many games feels this satisfying to just explore as well as taking down baddies and completing side-activities. This is finally the Spider-Man we deserve.