One Of The Best Spider-Man Games Ever Released
The announcement that Insomniac Games would be taking on an open-world Spider-Man game to try and surpass the excellent Spiderman 2 on the original Playstation was met with scepticism and intrigue. Following their success with the Infamous series and more recently Sunset Overdrive, if any studio was up to this mammoth task, Insomniac Games felt like a natural fit to the franchise.
Skip forward to 2018 and Spider-Man is not just one of the best games released this year, it’s a title that makes you truly feel like Spider-Man, nailing almost every aspect of the webslinger in this well crafted open-world game. Aesthetically, New York looks great too with some impressive lighting effects and a long draw distance combining with responsive and enjoyable web-slinging mechanics to make Spider-Man one of, if not the best, Spider-Man title to ever be released on console.
The long draw distance and aesthetic of New York helps immerse you in the world
Split into three acts, the story begins with you literally jumping into action after a brief opening cut-scene foreshadowing what’s to come. A prologue mission then ensues that sees you tackling one of Spider-Man’s deadliest foes, helping you become accustomed to the controls and general ebb and flow of combat and traversing the world. From here, the story then progresses, seeing you switch regularly between Peter Parker and Spider-Man as you juggle your real-life responsibilities with fighting crime. The first two acts build slowly, establishing each of the key characters in the Spider-Man universe including work colleague Dr Otto Octavious, Norman Osborne, Mary Jane Watson and more. Scattered throughout the story are numerous stealth-based segments too that see you take control of two other characters that help to shake things up and bring some much needed variety to the game.
Toward the end of the second act, all hell breaks loose as a handful of Spider-Man’s greatest enemies are released into the city and with it, some of the best boss fights of the game. The final few missions see you taking on these escaped enemies in an impressively creative manner before finishing the game on a note of intrigue, hopefully in preparation for the much-needed follow-up to the recently announced fastest selling game of the year.
Aside from a handful of recognisable enemies, most of Spidey’s villains come from gangs and foot soldiers
The one element of Spider-Man that was absolutely crucial for the studio to nail was the web-slinging. Not since the Playstation 1 days has this felt as intuitive and realistically depicted as it is here and some of that is thanks to the simple HUD system behind this mechanic. A translucent white dot appears against any surface you can web sling from with an additional tap of X giving you a boost of speed or height depending on the angle and trajectory of your web sling. It does take a little getting used to, especially combined with running up buildings and walls, but after a few hours you’ll easily be zipping around the city, diving from perilous heights and performing mid-air somersaults.
Traversing the world is something that worked surprisingly well with both Rocksteady’s Batman series and the Infamous games and you can see echoes of influence from both of these titles through almost every facet of the game. The combat takes much the same route as the Arkham series with on-screen prompts of when an enemy is about to hit you and combination of finishers or attacks helping to string together long combos. These in turn build focus which can be used to regenerate health during a tough fight or use one of around 15 skills that can turn the tide in battle.
As you progress through the game the combat does open up considerably as you unlock new skills, gadgets and abilities to aid you in combat. A dizzying array of flips, quick hits, shooting webs and general Spider-Man banter mid-fight all help to make this feel like an authentic portrayal of the character although as a personal gripe, the slow-mo hurricanrana (leg flip move) does become tiresome after 15+ hours.
The story is well paced with all hell breaking loose during the third act of the game
In true open-world fashion there’s a whole plethora of things to do here and while a lot of these do feel like tiresome busy-work, the way they’re drip-fed through the story, and in turn onto the map, helps to avoid the game feeling over-encumbered by them early on which smartly makes it far more enjoyable to undertake the various activities on offer. Beginning with collectable backpacks, simple street crimes and radio towers, the game then evolves to fully-fledged base hideouts, side missions, laboratory mini-games and more. Thankfully these all serve a purpose, granting you tokens which in turn can be used to unlock new suits and gadgets.
Those going into this expecting to see an exhaustive list of Spidey’s greatest villains will almost certainly be left disappointed. At most, seven of Spider-Man’s villains show up with obvious omissions being Venom, Carnage, Chameleon, Mysterio to name a few all missing from the game. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, given the story could easily have become bogged down with too many villains, it’s worth pointing out as the bulk of time spent fighting enemies are with three different variation of gang and foot soldiers rather than the more recognisable villains in Spider-man’s history.
As a huge fan of the wall-crawler it is a little disappointing to say the least, especially given the incredible work done in the story to really flesh out and realistically depict each of the key villains you encounter. It would have been nice to see separate quests early on that see you tackle and imprison these villains before their ultimate release late on but this is a minor gripe and not something that detracts from the enjoyment of the game.
Combat is fluid and Spidey’s acrobatic speed is on full display throughout fights
For all of its positives, Spider-Man is not without its problems. Little graphical glitches, frame-rate drops, screen freezes and a few technical hiccups including wonky enemy AI and physic-based problems does hold this back from being a more polished and refined title but it’s not enough to become problematic until very late on in the game. The potential to build on the success of this title is really where the excitement lies though and seeing as this is the fastest selling game of the year, a follow-up game certainly seems like an inevitability.
Insomniac Games have done a wonderful job bringing Spider-Man to life and not only is this the best representation of the webslinger since the very early days on Playstation 1, Spider-man finally looks and feels like his comic book counterpart. With tightly refined web mechanics, a slick combat system and a really enjoyable story, this is one Playstation exclusive you really should check out.
Verdict - 8.5/10