Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: September 7th 2018
Platforms: Playstation 4
After years in the crime fighting career, Peter Parker, aka Web Head, aka Spider-Man, finally manages to defeat the Kingpin Wilson Fisk. Little does he know, defeating Fisk opens a massive power vacuum in the underworld of crime, thus causing a new criminal organization to rise in New York. Now, Parker must face new villains as well as deal with old foes from his previous adventures as the Spider.
Right from the beginning, the game shines. The very first thing it teaches you is how to swing through New York, and it is amazing, pun very much intended. Insomniac spend more than a year working on the web swing mechanics and you can see how it pays off. For the first time in an open world game, I rejected fast travel. Traversing the city is one of the best feelings the game gives you. You can swing, shoot a quick web to gain speed, run on the walls, and zip point to specific locations. You’re able to go from point A to B without losing speed, no matter how far. I’d actually get so much speed, I’d often pass my objective rather than land perfectly. Still, one of the most enjoyable things the game can offer. The city also offers many things to do, which you’d miss in case you fast traveled.
The other part of this game shines as well. The developers gave a lot of options on how to deal with enemies right from the beginning. In fact, there are so many ways to fight, I’d actually get a bit lost with which way I should go about it. There are a lot of commands in this game and it might take some time to get used to them. Still, once you get the hang of it, you’ll notice how fluid the game can be. The only downside is that, since Spidey is so powerful, the game does become easy eventually, even on high difficulties. If you have already played hack n’ slash games, especially Batman, just go to the highest difficulty right off the bat. The only part of the game I felt challenged was on the DLC. I think Insomniac noticed that the game was a bit easy, and tweaked the difficulty for it accordingly. Nonetheless, this game features one of the best combat system of this generation, being capable of many combos, perfect dodges, using your web to reach foes that are far from you or even trapping them on the floor or walls. Your options are plenty.
This part is simpler than the others, but it’s pretty fun on itself. Don’t expect extremely intense stealth sections; this is not Hitman. Still, the stealth does allow to thin the enemies forces quite well before you feel the need of fighting them. Unlike Batman Arkham, you can fight enemies with guns quite easily, so the stealth isn’t a necessity, unless you can’t be detected for plot reasons. Most stealth areas are done with other characters who don’t have Spidey powers to rely on, but I don’t want to spoil about these other playable characters. Just bear in mind that the stealth is pretty simple, but does its job.
New York City
As far as open world games go, this is one of my favorite maps ever made. It’s not small, but it’s not huge. You have a lot of space to web swing and there are many things going on, like crimes and secondary missions, but it’s not one of those games where it’d take hours to go from one end to the other of the map. It’s big enough to entertain you, without boring you. And almost every side activity gives you good rewards. If you like unlocking suits, be on the look out for every side activity. Not to mention all the Marvel references that can be found throughout the map. And the game offers you photo mode, so you can take pictures (and selfies!) on these locations. Plus, every now and then, we have our beloved J Jonah Jameson and his podcasts that are not only funny, but usually talks about things you’ve done recently, which makes the game a lot more immersive.
Unlike super hero games have done in the past, this game has its own story. No MCU connections, this game web swings by itself. Also unlike the movies, this Spider-Man is more mature. No origin story, no High School Peter Parker, giving us a different and unique take on a character we know way to well. You won’t see Uncle Ben die yet again, either. The story is exciting, intense and very entertaining. The characters have good motivations and, even though you know who’s good and bad in case you’ve watched the movies or read the comics (after all, these characters already exist for some time), it can still be very dramatic to see some of them falling to the dark side. My only problem with the story is pacing. Not many things happen during the beginning and a lot happens in the end, making it feel a bit rushed. Some events near the game’s finale could have happened earlier, solving both problems. Still, it doesn’t take from the overall experience.
Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, and I need to address this part. The bosses from this game are a mix of good and bad. They’re good because they fit the storyline, making perfect sense as to why they are there and how dramatic the fight can be. They’re bad because they follow the same formula in terms of combat: web-shoot until they’re trapped, web-strike with triangle and punch them until they come back to their senses and retaliate. Repeat until you win. The only boss who offered something extra was Shocker, but even then, it wasn’t that much of a difference. Also, adding to the pacing problem from the story mentioned earlier, there are a lot of boss fights near the end that deserved some extra time to develop. But I won’t say more, this review is spoiler free.
This game is easily the definitive Spider-Man game. From combat to web swing, easter eggs and an emotional story, this game is as spetacular as its main character. Spider-Man is one of the best super heroes out there, and now, he has a game that shows him in all of his glory.