Marvel's Spiderman Review
The question I ask myself before I write a review is could the game I have just played be any better? The reason I don't publish reviews instantly after a game is released is because I want the honeymoon phase with a game to finish first. With Marvel's Spider-man, I'm divided, whilst I have been completely engrossed in swinging around open world New York, I feel it is missing something, something that just takes it to another level. If God of War and Red Dead Redemption Two set the standard at the moment, Marvel's Spider-man sits just behind them.
New York, New York, New York!
The graphic designers over at Insomniac have to take massive credit for the world they have created, New York has never been more beautiful. Whether it be early morning, sunset, or late at night, the city of New York is an amazing in game creation. I constantly found myself firing up photo mode whilst climbing to view points on the highest sky scrapers, perching on lamp posts on the edge of the Hudson river or just being a friendly neighborhood Spider-man and patrolling the streets, Spider-man might just be the best looking game I have ever played. Whilst swinging around New York what stood out the most was the color and the lighting put into the city to make it feel alive, Central park in particular is so stunning, you feel like you are actually there. The only aspect of New York City I think could be improved upon is the size of the map, I feel it could be bigger, it doesn't take much effort to swing from one end of the map to the other, I feel because of Spider-man's ability to swing, the map size should be increased to supplement this, it would also allow various other areas to be created, small estates, etc, something to take you away from the city. The people of New York from a distance offer very little, they are busy going about their day, yet when Spider-man swings into their lives they come alive, all reacting in various ways to meeting New York's hero. The most entertaining aspect is how you can interact with the locals, posing for selfies and even acknowledging a local can make a local feel unique! It's interesting to observe how the introduction of Spider-man can brighten up their day!
The question on everyone's lips at the time of release was "how is the swinging?" and honestly, word's don't do it justice, you need to experience it for yourself, it is one of the top experiences on PlayStation 4. Insomniac have managed to capture the essence of Spider-man through the swinging mechanism. It has to be said I imagine it was probably one of the most difficult aspects of the game to create, but they've done a fantastic job of it. What is most impressive it just how much of a difference angles, speed, etc, can all make to the swinging, there is honestly no better feeling then releasing your webbing at just the right time and sending Spider-man whirling forward. Going into the game I wondered how they would make it work, it seemed so complicated and yes, at times it can be awkward, but for a mechanism like this I think you have to ignore any small bugs that may appear and focus on the positives. Spider-man can also do tricks whilst diving towards the streets below, although these are relatively limited and I would often forget they even existed. Swinging around New York is probably my most enjoyable experience on PlayStation 4, even surpassing casual roaming in Grand Theft Auto V. I only wish the map was even bigger than it is, with more housing estates, cranes and obstacles to latch onto to make the environment even more entertaining, I realize it is New York, but I think more could have been added to make the environment stand out, however do not let this take away from the fact that flying through a city is incredibly enjoyable.
The Story & Side Quests:
Without spoiling it, Spider-man creates a story that is intriguing and emotional but is over before it begins, it is very short, taking only a couple of hours to complete provided you don't get distracted. The story allows you to play as three characters, Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson and Miles Morales. Each has their own unique set of skills and personalities, Peter is (SPOILER ALERT) Spider-man so is obviously the main character you control in the game, with Miles and Mary Jane taking the backseat. I would have liked to have seen Miles explored more, he was a decent character to have, but I think more could have been done with regards his role in this game. MJ gets more action that Miles without doubt, she very much plays the role of investigator, sneaking around and putting herself into situations she really shouldn't be in, again it was nice to be able to play as another character and the personality is there, but I found myself hoping I wouldn't be playing as her each time a new mission loaded up. The story takes awhile to get going and really it wasn't until close to the third act that I found myself really getting into the plot. If there is anything wrong with the game it's that it probably suffers from the disease known as repetition. Missions usually follow the same formula, scout out an area, take down the enemies, sneak into a base, and so on, so on. That's not to say that's a bad thing, it is always enjoyable (mainly Spider-man's entries) and it is hard to imagine how the developers could improve on this if there is to be a next game because essentially this is what Spider-man does.
In terms of side quests, the city is divided into various sections which all have various side quests to partake in, these include speed challenges, pigeon chasing, base take downs, collectibles, etc, you get what I mean. Put it this way, the platinum trophy basically requires you to complete all these side quests so you can maximize your stats, unlock all your abilities, upgrade all your abilities, etc, it is not a hard platinum, and I probably will get it someday, but right now, I'm taking a break from it because all this repetitiveness has taken its toll on me and I need a break from it. That is the best way I can describe the side quests. Also don't buy into the whole 'radio tower' conundrum people were speaking about, they aren't as irritating as they were being out to be. I had them all unlocked in about fifteen minutes, there are only a few and then you have the whole map revealed.
There is absolutely no point in denying it, Spider-man borrows heavily from the Batman series in terms of combat. That isn't a bad thing though, the combat in Batman was perfect, and the combat in Spider-man is also perfect. Spidey is quick, agile, nimble, he can leap from one side of the room to the next, he can jump off walls, he uses the environment to his advantage, pulling down objects that are behind enemies, pulling doors from cars and swinging them at his foes. The combat at the start takes some getting used to, I found myself constantly dying at the start of the game due to its pace and how quick you had to be when dodging (when you aren't use to such intensity). Even towards the end of the game I found myself still enjoying getting into fights with hordes of enemies and taking them all out with the various abilities that Spidey unlocks throughout the game, my person favorite allowing me to attach a gadget to an enemy which would then unleash a web either grabbing another enemy who walked into its sight and joining the two together or slamming the enemy into a wall, some of the other abilities are what I would call fillers, just put in for more variety, one of these abilities just sends enemies flying in a direction without much thought to it, useful, but lazy. The boss fights however are incredibly repetitive, having a tendency to follow the same formula for each, stun, hit, stun, hit, stun, hit. They aren't particularly challenging either, until act III, no spoilers.
Every now and again I will discover a game's theme song and it will become all I listen to for weeks, for years it was Uncharted's theme. Now it is Marvel's Spider-man's theme. It is incredible, I am listening to it right now. What makes it even better is that when you are swinging around New York, the music will follow the speed at which you are traversing at, diving into the streets? Expect the music to pick up pace. Took a swing to high and slowed down? Expect the music to slow its pacing. Honestly, I can't put into words how good the game's soundtrack is, all I can say is that you need to listen to it. 'Chasing down the devil' and 'Renewed Rivalries' are two of my other personal favorite tracks on the soundtrack. Stop what you are doing, go onto YouTube and let it play.
Overall, Marvel's Spider-man is an experience I encourage any gamer to dive into, is it enjoyable? Yes. Is it beautiful? Yes. Is it a long game? Not particularly. Is it difficult? No. What the game lacks in diversity regarding side quests, missions and boss fights, it makes up for in beauty, enjoyment and a story that is both emotional and intriguing come the third act. Where the game succeeds exceptionally is in making it feel like you are in it's world, it makes you feel like you are Spider-man with a gripping soundtrack and beautiful world that leaves me imagining what the developers can do next with Spidey.