After what felt like an eternity, the highly-anticipated open-world superhero game, Marvel’s Spider-Man finally launched this past week on the PlayStation 4. While I’m a fan of Spider-Man, what excited me most about this game is the fact that Insomniac Games was the developer behind this one.
Sure, all of the trailers and write-ups have been excellent leading up to release, but after what the developer pulled off in Sunset Overdrive (not to mention its storied history with Ratch & Clank), I had a feeling this one would be something special.
I’ve spent a good chunk of hours in the game to this point and I’m ready to reveal some of my initial impressions. So, does Marvel’s Spider-Man ensnare me in its web or would we be better off just rolling up a newspaper and swatting it away?
Read on to find out, true believers.
Many would attest that the hallmark of any good Spider-Man revolves around the character’s primary way to get around: web swinging. I’m here to say that the web-slinging and locomotion mechanics are some of, if not, the best we’ve seen in any Spider-Man game. Insomniac absolutely nailed it, which is good because it’s basically one of the biggest and most crucial elements to a game like this. Though with their mastery of movement in Sunset Overdrive, I think we shouldn’t have been worried at all. They know what they’re doing and as a result, it feels so good to swing, web zip, or catapult yourself around the city.
Combat also feels really good as Spider-Man is extremely agile and nimble as one would expect. I’ll admit that things are fairly simplistic at first, relying on a style similar to the Batman: Arkham games where you have an attack, dodge, and gadget button. As you earn XP and level up, new abilities and skills are unlocked which definitely improve this side of the game and give you more creative options for dealing with situations.
I’m not super deep into the story yet, but one of the things I really admire about what Insomniac has crafted here is that it completely removes Uncle Ben and the origin storyline.
Now, I understand how important Uncle Ben’s death was to Peter becoming Spider-Man. The whole “with great power comes great responsibility” line, but can we just be honest with ourselves here for a moment? That storyline has been played out in my opinion. How many times have we seen, read, or heard that story?
Thankfully, the Peter Parker we meet in this game has already experienced that tragedy and has been Spider-man for a few years at this point. In my opinion, it opens the door for new stories to be told.
I will say that I was kind of hoping for an Arkham City style array of side missions that spotlighted other villains not taking part in the story. It was a cool touch in the Arkham games, finding Azrael, discovering Hush’s weird experiments, or trying to survive against the Mad Hatter’s psychedelic drug effects. I don’t think that’s in the cards for Spider-Man, as I’ve already taken down criminals attempting to hack into a city-wide network with the help of a bird watching woman. Certainly not on the same level as fighting Mysterio. Ah well, there’s always another opportunity in a sequel, right?
As an open world game, there’s plenty of things to collect and do. For better or worse, there’s a small tower-style mechanic in the game. Basically, Spider-Man can activate signal towers which sort of unlock the district allowing you to see the collectible locations, photo op areas, and more. I find myself addicted to hunting down these items, taking out Wilson Fisk’s hideouts, and unlocking new district zones. Part of the benefit from doing these activities is the token rewards you get, which allow you to unlock new gadgets, abilities, and a crazy amount of Spider-Man suits like Noir Spider-Man, Iron Spider, and so much more.
The attention to detail is on a whole nother level. As previously mentioned above, hidden backpacks are littered across Manhattan, just begging to be found. Not only are these critical to unlocking new suits, but each one features a small trinket, memento, or item that Peter comments about. More often than not, the item references some piece of Spider-man comics history so, for fans, it’s super cool to see.
Not only that, during Peter Parker segments, you’ll occasionally be able to find things in the place where you are that can be interacted with like a document or picture. Towards the start of the game, Peter visits Aunt May, who’s working at the local shelter. Instead of heading right to the quest marker, I explored the space a bit and found a way into her office which held a few items you could interact and hear Peter’s thoughts. Naturally, one was a picture of Uncle Ben and a younger Peter, in which the current Peter admitted to missing him. Again, not important at all, but a fantastic little detail that adds believability to the world the team has built.
The ultimate attention to detail is one that most open world games overlook: the citizens. So Spider-Man is obviously a good guy, so harming innocents is out of the question. TO drive this point home, the attack button transforms into an interaction button when you’re walking around innocent civilians. The interactions are awesome and even hilarious at times. I’ve seen Spider-Man unleash the finger guns, high five, hand shake, wave, and so many other things when walking past normal citizens. Again, it’s a great and simple touch that really makes the world feel believable.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m absolutely loving my time with Marvel’s Spider-Man. While I still have a loooong way to go, I’m confident in saying that Insomniac has done it again. This is one open world game that is absolutely worth the price of admission.