Marvel’s Spider-Man Review
Everyone’s favorite neighborhood superhero returns to the video-game space as developers Insomniac Games attempt to rise to the challenge of bringing the superhero genre to the current generation. The freedom of exploration and thrilling combat of PlayStation 2’s Spider-Man is still fresh in the memory for many fans of the web slinger, but it has been a very long time since a superhero game made an impact. I don’t count the LEGO games, okay? I just don’t.
Marvel’s Spider-Man Review
Set amidst a crime-torn New York City, Marvel’s Spider-Man sees the familiar Peter Parker and friends battle a seemingly endless crime spree consisting of super villains, store robberies, hostage situations, bomb threats, and just about every other crime you can think of. Ignoring Spider-Man’s younger years where Parker constantly battled between the balance of saving the world and passing his exams, Marvel’s Spider-Man features a more confident, more mature, and frankly, a more interesting Spider-Man in a more developed environment.
Having long grown bored of the familiar love-story driven drivel with Mary Jane, I couldn’t have been happier with Insomniac Games’ decision to focus primarily on Parker’s character and the origin stories of some of the most villainous characters in the Marvel universe. However, it wouldn’t be a Spider-Man game if Mary Jane didn’t play a part, and while her role is prominent throughout, the character is stronger, more independent, and much closer to the actual character than the often damsel in distress role she is given today.
Alongside Mary Jane and Peter Parker are a host of other characters from the Marvel franchise. Aunt May, Miles Morales, Dr. Otto Octavius – it truly is a star studded cast from the very best the Spider-Man lore has to offer. Of course, a hero is only as good as the villains he fights, and throughout the game players can expect to fight the likes of Scorpion, Shocker, Tombstone, and Vulture, each boasting an immersive and cinematic combat experience that is as rewarding as it is badass.
With a stellar cast, a fantastically engrossing story, and a sprawling New York at your feet, does Marvel’s Spider-Man deliver on its more video-game based mechanics? In short: yes it does. Soaring through the skies, webbing between skyscrapers, bouncing from the rooftops – it’s all effortless. After just a few minutes during the early stages of the game, I felt completely comfortable with the controls and as my confidence grew, I quickly realized there was nothing I could not do. Marvel’s Spider-Man is unrivaled in its maneuverability, offering players complete freedom of control that is just as exciting the first web sling as it is the last.
If you’re not swinging your way to a fight, it generally means you’re already in a fight. Marvel’s Spider-Man boasts a combat system that takes inspiration from Spider-Man’s inhuman athletic ability and puts that power into the hands of players. General combat is thrilling, rewarding, and some of the greatest animated work I’ve seen in a video-game, with every swing and kick packing a punch, every grab delivering an impact, and the impressive feats just keep coming as you unlock more skills and abilities through character progression. Further customization is offered through the use of different Spider-Man suits, special suit powers and gadgets, each offering a distinctly different way to play, each as viable as the last.
One particular element I often see overlooked with Spider-Man is his ability to strike from the shadows. While not as prevalent as the all-out, action-based scenes, stealth plays a large role in the game. Swinging down from a rooftop and incapacitating an enemy before pulling down some scaffolding to take out a group of three snipers, all without alerting a soul, is awesome. While it was generally slower than it’s fist-in-face counterpart, I found the stealth more enjoyable and rewarding as the game went on and definitely a feature of the game that should not be ignored.
Insomniac Games clearing understands what a Spider-Man game should be about. The exploration, the combat, the characters – all are delivered in a way that is true to the franchises roots in video-games. However, the game is not without a few disappointments. The story itself is somewhat short, running up about 15-20 hours depending on difficulty and playstyle, and while its a fantastic story, I barely felt I’d finished the first course by the end.
There’s a lot of distractions in New York City. Various crime syndicates are vying for power, street crime is at an all time high, and various collectibles can be had, all offering plenty of variety in activities. However, they often felt underwhelming. The rewards are typically far below what you receive through story progression, and everything is so easily found due to copious amounts of markers and points of interest on the map. Outside of some Easter Eggs, it was very much a hit and run experience exploring. Spider-Man is a beloved franchise, one thought of fondly by young and old, but the contrast between the high skill curve in combat and the ease of practically everything else is a style that clashes throughout.
Marvel’s Spider-Man is a complete package that near-flawlessly combines elements of the RPG world with the thrilling combat of an action-driven experience. Whether you’re a hardcore spidey fan or just like to dabble in spandex, Marvel’s Spider-Man is, in a word, amazing.