A Fantastic Adventure
From start to finish, Insomniac’s Spider-Man is the adaptation you’ve always wanted. From the thrilling and personal narrative to the fluid combat and web swinging mechanics, this is a title that really nails it on the head.
Cinematic is the perfect way to describe Spider-Man. This is a game that oozes with style and this is immediate from the first time you press start. Whether you’re playing as the titular hero or any of the other playable charters, it feels like you’re jumping into a grand adventure that was made for cinema. There were a number of times where I paused after a cutscene and said “wow” because of the events that just unfolded. When this game gets going, it can really get the blood pumping, it’s also a plus when you’re a huge fan of the comics.
This will sound a bit off, especially considering that you’re playing a superhero game, but the narrative is the best part of Spider-Man. Peter Parker has been Spider-Man for 8 years and has moved on from the Daily Bugle and is now a lab assistant. He, like all of us, is struggling with balancing his personal and professional life and this is shown in-depth throughout the game. You really get to connect with the main characters and you’ll even have some empathy for some of the villains. There are some really powerful moments in this title and not all of them come during large setpieces. It was an amazing and emotional ride from start to finish.
The rogues gallery in this game is surprisingly robust, especially with all of the moving parts. The Sinister Six, Sable, and Norman Osborne are all predominantly featured, but there are some other cameos that will surprise you. I was especially giddy when I found out who was in charge of the challenges found throughout the city. What’s impressive is that each of the rogues serve a specific purpose within the narrative. They each have just enough screen time and don’t overstay their welcome. It also helps that there are some nice curveballs thrown in to help keep you engaged.
Combating these rogues and their subordinates would make you think that Spider-Man needs back-up. That’s where you would be wrong. Insomniac, who just happens to have developed Ratchet and Clank, gives Spidey enough gadgets and abilities to even the odds against the waves of enemies that you’ll face. Each of these can be upgraded by earning tokens either through exploring New York or completing various challenges. Using these tools and abilities in combat is a blast, it’s also required if you want to have any type of success in certain situations. While Spidey can zip to opponents, dodge their attacks and web throw them, gadgets give you a significant advantage. They practically implore you to experiment and it is fun watching enemies get stuck to different surfaces.
With all that being said, swinging through the city is the best gameplay mechanic in the game. It is satisfyingly fluid and I have burned time just swinging throughout the city. You can wall-run, jump off, pull yourself to a ledge and springboard to help increase your momentum as you move. There is a feeling of speed and grace that cannot be found in any other title. Hell, if you want to throw in some nice flips and spins for style, feel free to do so, it adds to the experience. This recreation of New York is begging to be explored, do yourself a favor and swing around, you never know what easter egg you’ll find. If you want to fast-travel, you can do so after a certain point in the game, they throw in some pretty fun cutscenes as it shows Spider-Man interacting with random citizens. This might be the first open-world I truly enjoyed exploring.
It also helps that the presentation is top-notch. Visually, it’s phenomenal, character animations are strong and the amount of detail in the environments with little pop-in is startling. Seriously, you’re moving at a break neck pace and the transitions are seamless. I cant remember a time I ran into any slowdown. Voice acting is strong, the cast give some excellent performances, especially Peter and Mary-Jane. The music is also strong and it’s a great touch as when you begin swinging the music begins to pick up and follows you wherever you happen to go.
All of this praise doesnt mean there arent blemishes. Some side quests are strong, while others can be bland and generic. The random combat encounters require you to swing around aimlessly at times until they appear and after the first few they become uninteresting. There are small glitches here and there, some occur during cutscenes which are hilarious, but these can break the immersion. These blemishes however, do little to diminish how great this title is at capturing the spirit of Spider-Man.
You will geek out during this title once or twice as it is littered with references and easter eggs from the comics and films. Walk on the street and make finger guns at citizens, its truly an entertaining feat. One of the features I love about this game is its photo mode. The fact that you can create your own comic book covers is legit and as you can see throughout this post, I’ve made many. It’s a lot of fun to capture the perfect picture and then frame it so that it looks like the game is part of a larger comic event. Oh, and did I mention that you can unlock a number of different suits from different comics. There’s something for every fan. What’s great is that these suits also unlock a special ability. Spider-Bro is where it’s at.
Fans have been patiently waiting for a title that would capture the essence of Spider-Man. Well, its finally here and is a great addition to the PS4 library. This is a GOTY and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed playing. It’s an exhilarating experience that’s for the nerd in all of us.
5 out of 5