PlayStation, Marvel Games entraps players in their web
by Christian Hollis, Editor-in-Chief
Reviewed on PlayStation 4
Developer Insomniac, with the help of Marvel Games and PlayStation, have crafted one of the best Spider-Man stories of all time with extremely fluid gameplay but falls short when it pulls the player out of combat.
“Marvel’s Spider-Man” puts the gamer in the place of a newly college graduate Peter Parker. At this point, Peter has been fighting crime under the iconic mask for eight years. He has recently found a passion in his career as a scientist and looks for mentorship under his boss. The background is given through a camera span, showing photos of Peter’s parents, the late Uncle Ben and selfies from high school of Peter with love interest Mary Jane and best friend Harry Osborn.
Insomniac was able to tell a story with characters fans already love, so they placed them in different roles. Instead of MJ being a damsel-in-distress, she’s a playable investigative journalist for the Daily Bugle, and sneaks into areas protected by armed guards to get information on bringing the antagonist down. Unlike the live-action movie directed by Sam Raimi, Norman Osborn isn’t the main villain, he is the Mayor of New York, and Peter Parker looks up to him not as a menace, but instead his best friend’s father. The characters are thrown to life by gorgeous cinematics from a motion capture and carefully animated facial expressions. Voice actors Yuri Luthenwal (Peter Parker), Laura Bailey (Mary Jane) and Nancy Linari (May Parker) hit a home-run in capturing their roles.
It is truly unprecedented. Some things are a little predictable, but the fact that these characters are in a different role entirely out front flips the Marvel Universe gamers know on its head.
And yes, it is a new Marvel Gaming Universe. Easter eggs such as Avengers tower, the Sanctum Sanctorum, Matt Murdock’s business card, and many more that will not be spoiled, show that Marvel Games has something magical up its sleeve that they haven’t announced yet. That universe could not have a better foundation to build off than “Marvel’s Spider-Man.”
Every collectible, side-mission and bit of dialogue relates to the story. Backpacks scattered around Manhattan tell Peter Parker’s past, landmarks begging to be photographed in each district show life in Marvel’s New York City.
The gameplay shows off the most polished mechanics seen in the Open World genre. Traversal around Manhattan through web-swinging has never felt better. Combat feels really intuitive. Critics may claim it’s a knock-off of Rocksteady’s Arkham trilogy, but Spider-Man is much more fleshed out than those games.
Average enemies, even thugs with hand guns, are powerful. Spider-Man can go from one health to the brink of death fairly quickly against base enemies, but thanks to the Spidey-Sense, the player can swiftly dodge by bullets, and counter with a quick web.
There are eight gadgets for Spider-Man to choose from such as traditional web shooters, spider drone and the electric web. Each gadget works better with situations. During a stealth mission, Spidey may need to use the tripwire to web enemies to the wall without calling for reinforcements. Gadgets are easily accessible through a gadget wheel opened by pressing L1.
After mastering combat, it feels like a ballet, going from enemy to enemy while dodging bullets, switching gadgets, dropping the big guy’s guard by throwing a mailbox at him, using actual button combos, signature moves, activating a suit power during dire situations and webbing bad-guys to walls. It feels so intuitive, and unlike Arkham, it’s more than just pressing square and triangle over and over.
Contrasting combat, the puzzles to solve while playing as Peter Parker when he takes off the mask can get repetitive and overstay their welcome. It’s made to have the player feel like a genius after solving the puzzle. The puzzles would have been much better if creators didn’t pull Spidey out of gameplay for so long, and it feels Insomniac realizes that too. After taking longer than a minute to complete the puzzle, the game gives players the option to completely skip without penalty, making the puzzles seem completely pointless. It feels as though Insomniac could have gone a better way of playing as Peter Parker if given more time.
Despite issues with minor puzzles, Marvel has struck gold, and have the opportunity to build an empire in the gaming industry as they did in 2008 with the film industry. “Marvel’s Spider-Man” takes 25 hours to complete the main story, and 30 hours to collect all trophies for a shiny Platinum. Every minute of it will give Marvel die-hards a smile from ear to ear and have them craving for more.
“Marvel’s Spider-Man” is available now exclusively on PlayStation 4.