Here Comes the Spider-Man
Images by: Sony
Just like the movie, Spider-Man’s appearances in the gaming scene have highs and lows. From the uninspired The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to the reality-breaking Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, there is nothing the superhero has been through. Having the power to craft Marvel’s Spider-Man, Insomniac Games also has a responsibility to do justice to the beloved superhero.
Step into present day New York City where you’ll find minor tweaks to many of the main characters. Peter Parker is now a research assistant while Mary Jane works at the Daily Bugle as a journalist. There’s even J. Jonah Jameson who is preaching his hatred towards Spider-Man through his podcast. The game moves thing forward as this Spider-Man is a veteran superhero who have taken down infamous villains like Vulture, Rhino and Electro while establishing a friendly partnership with the city’s police.
Almost immediately after the brief introduction, the game will throw you in the middle of the city swinging from one building to another. There is very little learning curve when it comes to his web-slinging as the developers manage to compress the complexity of such movement to one button. Furthermore, this simple approach does not dilute the exhilarating experience you get when traversing the cityscape.
It is so fulfilling to navigate around because the game doesn’t punish you even if you miss a swing or hit into a building. You’ll find that the movement just switch to whatever action that keeps you going. For example, hitting a building will start a wall-running sequence while landing to the ground will cause Spider-Man to roll and continue moving forward.
When you are travelling across the map and performing various tasks, the game also drops many Easter eggs and even references to past movies and comics. Spidey fans will really appreciate this. Moreover, it’s a joy to hear the superhero quipping as it shows that the developers have put a lot of detail and thought when crafting the character.
Jumping into the plot, the game lets you experience Parker’s dual life as a regular person and superhero. What’s incredible here is that you can now perform daily tasks instead of just experiencing the adrenaline-fueled action as Spider-Man. It is actually nice to take things slow as this helps build his character more. In other Spidey games, people tend to forget the person behind the mask and that’s what makes him relatable to the masses.
Of course, the narrative intensifies, and the game devotes less time to his personal stuff in favour of the superhero duties. This is understandable but there is so much more that can be done like developing his relationship with Aunt May or Mary Jane. While they got the other characters right, the developers could have spent a little bit more time getting the supporting casts to grow. Luckily, the story does gets better especially late in the game when you are pulled in every direction creating a dilemma that fuels the emotional turmoil you’ll soon experience.
Despite the urgency of the story, the side objectives and optional activities can be a bit distracting. Some are fun while others feel demanding without any implications to the main storyline. Then again, it is beneficial to partake in a few of these activities like collecting backpacks, doing challenges, seeking out clues and taking photos of important landmarks. Completing them will give you different tokens that can be used to purchase numerous suits, gadgets and upgrades.
Moving over to the combat, it is unique and incredibly fun. You have to remember that Spider-Man is nimble and fast so don’t expect him to hit like the Hulk. There will be a lot of dodging and aerial maneuvers to suit his slick fighting style. Let’s not forget his webshooters that adds another layer to game’s mechanic. Instead of just the normal webbings, you can unlock more like Electric Webs, Web Bombs and Impact Webbing that help varies your combo. Each transition from one enemy to another is so seamless that every move connects to create a striking fighting experience.
Stealth plays a big part too, but it stumbles into simplistic gameplay. At times, the game forces you to do some sneaking in the form of playing as Mary Jane or another civilian. Even Spider-Man’s stealth takedowns get dull after a while. Furthermore, boss fights feel underwhelming as you’ll be repeating almost the same thing for different bosses. It always starts with you webbing or stumbling the boss before beating them up. The lack of creative ways to make use of Spider-Man’s acrobatic movements make these battles mediocre.
Despite all of the criticisms thrown at the game, they are made not only tolerable, but in fact, spectacular by just how great it feels to be Spider-Man. This is all because of the many details put into the game to make it as captivating as possible. No doubt that this is still a sandbox platformer, but it’s a darn good one. At the end of every journey, you’ll still be yearning for one more swing and this is why Marvel’s Spider-Man is sheer bliss.