We’ve seen it time and time again, games that are that over-hyped, they’re just destined to fail. However, there are some exceptions to that trend and in recent times those that have lived up to the high expectations have come in the form of a fair few PlayStation 4 exclusives. Titles such as Bloodborne, Horizon Zero Dawn, the Shadow of the Colossus remake and God of War to name a few have often exceeded such expectations. So the latest in the long prestigious line comes in the form of Marvel’s Spider-Man from Insomniac Games, the studio that brought us Ratchet & Clank (including the 2016 remake), Spyro the Dragon, Resistance and Xbox One exclusive, Sunset Overdrive. The latter arguably lending the most influence for Peter Parker’s latest video game outing.
Despite the intense hype, it was wise going into the release of Marvel’s Spider-Man with some caution. However, I can say straight off the bat that Marvel’s Spider-Man is a fantastic game and one of the most difficult games to put down in recent times. Not only does the gameplay overall feel some fantastic, but it’s also a cinematic marvel (pun intended), at times its easy to forget that you’re playing a video game as you sit back and watch its visually impressive cut-scenes. Sure you can tell that you’re watching a video game cut-scene, the graphics are very impressive, but you can still tell. One of the reasons why this story is also so immersive, are the brilliant facial animations and the high quality voice-acting, which by the way, the voice actor that plays Peter Parker (Yuri Lowenthal) had recorded the same lines twice, one for when Spidey is on the ground and the other for when he’s web-slinging. The soundtrack is also superb, that does well to captivate the essence of the Marvel cinematic universe. From a storytelling standpoint, Marvel’s Spider-Man pretty much has it all.
Many games over the years have tried to replicate the refined gameplay of the elevated by Batman Arkham series. However, while some games have come close to topping the Arkham series gameplay, they’ve not quite managed dethrone the master. Yet, here comes Marvel’s Spider-Man and we’ve got a true contender to that niche gameplay throne. In truth, I couldn’t really pick one out of the other to which I prefer. Because I’ve played Arkham Knight quite recently and the combat in that still remains superb. But what this Spider-Man outing does, is takes what works from the Arkham series, implements it to near perfection in its own game and that adds the element that only the Spider-Man franchise could provide.
For a combat system appears to be so deep in combos and gadgets with the function to level-up Spider-Man, it’s still an easy game to pick up and play, and once you get the flow of the combat, it feels so incredibly satisfying. One thing that this game arguably does better then the Arkham series however, is how Spidey interacts with his environment in the heat of the battle. You’ll have to be quick to see it, as it can happen in a blink of an eye, but as you’re punching and kicking a group of thugs in the face, Spider-Man will bounce off walls to ricochet to throw a fist or foot with some extra momentum, almost instinctively. It’s the kind of natural reflexes that you would expect to see in a Spider-Man movie, let alone a video game, which only adds testament to the great work done here by the developers.
As you know, combat is only one half to the gameplay that one would expect from a Spider-Man game, because of course we have the web-slinging. Swinging through Manhattan has never felt some good, well since Spider-Man 2 in 2004 at least anyway. It feels great swinging through the streets at an insane pace, whether you’re seeing the sights or chasing down the bad guys. Spider-Man will attach his web to just about any building or obstruct (rather than just thin air) and as you get the hang of things, you’ll be speeding from one end of New York City to the other (while performing tricks for extra XP) in no time. Littered throughout the city are plenty of side-activities, from not only side-story missions, but even construction sites that offer a rouse to Kingpin’s criminal activities, missions for Harry Osborn, hidden relics, iconic landmarks and partaking in giving the NYPD a hand in putting a stop to some street crimes.
Whichever side activities you choose to take on, not only will you earn extra XP to level up Spider-Man, which will improve aspects such as durability and damage dished out, but it will also unlock new opportunities to improve Spider-Man in other ways by earning variety of tokens to upgrade his suits (28 in total), moves, gadgets and more. Speaking of suit upgrades, no matter what suite upgrades you acquire, they will all automatically carry over to the next equipped suit. So you can swap and change however many times you please. While you don’t have to do any of the added activities and you can just focus on the main story campaign if you wish, these are the best way to help to unlock the abilities and gadgets that you may have unlocked. Plus by exploring the in-game world and seeing the sites, you’ll discover plenty of cool Easter eggs and nods to Marvel cinematic universe. Oh and if you’re lucky, you may even see a cameo or two.
You may have noticed that I’ve not talked about the main story here at all and that’s because it’s quite difficult to talk about many of its aspects without giving away any spoilers, and I’d hate to do that. You may already know quite a lot of what to expect if you’ve watched any of the pre-release trailers, but even so, there are plenty of surprises for you to experience, so I want to help to keep it that way. Because in truth, I think we can all pretty much agree that we hate spoilers, especially when it involves our favourite comic book franchises.
To finish up, if you haven’t guessed it already, Marvel’s Spider-Man is a truly fantastic game. It’s one of those games that just oozes class and genuinely has little to fault. If I was being nitpicky, I suppose the stealth could be better, something that this game doesn’t do as well as Batman Arkham. Perhaps when on the ground, being able to lean against walls with a click of an analogue or shoulder button would aid the stealth. But is Marvel’s Spider-Man the best PlayStation 4 exclusive ever? May be, that all depends on mine and your preference. I would go as far as to say that it’s my favourite Spider-Man game of all-time, and I loved Spider-Man 2. Simply put, Marvel’s Spider-Man is a cinematic and gameplay master class, and is an absolute must for anyone that owns or is considering owning a PS4 anytime soon.