August 26, 2018 at 5:45 AM #650
Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding
"Hellooo New York!"
Who doesn’t love Spider-Man? The antics of hapless everyman Peter Parker have delighted comic fans since the 1960s, but in the realm of video games, the wall-crawler has been less well treated Â¨C subject to numerous shoddy, uninspired movie tie-ins which did little to capture much of the spirit of the character. If you enjoyed the idea of Tobey Maguire reading his lines as though he were waiting for a bus? You were set. But for the rest of us, we have been waiting a long time for a Spider-Man game which truly honors the ol’ Webhead.
So, does Insomniac’s 2018 outing deliver? Read on, and let’s dive into a New York filled with Iron Men, Punishers, Asgardian Lightning Gods, and one perpetually unlucky kid from Queens.
The key, of course, to any good Spider-Man game is the gameplay, and I am happy to tell you that Insomniac have struck gold. In combat alone, Spidey moves with grace and fluidity, throwing punches and spinning webs with a delightfully easy control scheme, and with a consistent system of upgrades and special abilities which encourage the player to tinker and experiment, seeing what works, and what gadgets are best for the task at hand. A bit outnumbered? Spider-Man can call on a drone for assistance. Feeling a bit stealthy? You can set down mines, which detonate under any hapless mook walking by, ensnaring them in an explosion of webbing.
And all of that is without even mentioning the wonderful web-swinging mechanics. In games past, this has often been a clumsy affair, but Insomniac have allowed players to glide majestically between skyscrapers, all based on a system which detects appropriate surfaces to latch onto, creating a wonderful sensation of constant movement and energy. Many players will likely spend many hours just swinging about, enjoying the sensation of Spidey sprinting up fire escapes and swan-diving off huge tower blocks.
These finely-tuned gameplay elements are helped along by graphics which are some of the very best the Playstation 4 has to offer. Insomniac’s New York is a thriving metropolis, full of Autumnal gold, gothic churches and murky alleyways. This detail extends to the characters, whose facial expressions are vital in telling the story.
And what a story it is! It is perhaps the very best aspect of the game. Peter Parker is a lovable, honorable fool, constantly beaten down by life but struggling to do the right thing. His enemies are a hodge-podge of amoral monsters and hauntingly human disasters, who appear more victims of circumstance than truly evil figures. You will empathize with Spidey as he endures battle after battle, growing more desperate and worn down, but the true genius is how you empathize with the villains, too, understanding their motives even as you’re fighting them across the city.
If there are any criticisms to be found, they stem mostly from the open world setting. In some games, such as the Grand Theft Auto series, this is a boon, allowing players an almost unlimited array of activities. In a story-driven, emotional roller-coaster like Spider-Man, however, this is simply not an option. The world, whilst beautifully designed, has little to explore beyond a few collectibles and some rather uninspired side-missions. And whilst there are copious references to the wider world Spider-Man lives in, we meet precious few inhabitants of that world, making it perhaps less intriguing to fans of the comic who might want to see Spider-Man interacting with other heroes.
But I must stress that these criticisms are extremely minor, and do not reflect on the quality of the activities available or the admirable work Insomniac have done in crafting this world and telling this story.
In conclusion, Spider-Man provides players with a gleefully anarchic combat experience, a sense of true freedom to fly about the city, and a story which drags Peter Parker to his darkest lows and most exhilarating highs. It is an awesome achievement of graphics, gameplay and narrative, and can stand proudly besides Insomniac’s lauded work with the Ratchet and Clank series. Fans of the movies, fans of the comics, fans of just good games in general owe it to themselves to buy this, perch themselves on the nearest rooftop, and take a swing into Spider-Man.
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