Insomniac shows how fans can create something great
I’d like to start off this spoiler free review with a simple question. Do you have a Playstation 4 yet? If the answer is no(for whatever reason, not wanting to anger the wrath of the fanboys), I would really suggest picking one up. At this point, there are a number of gems, and most have released just this year. One of them most recently being Spider-Man. Shown a few years back at E3(like most games nowadays), the game really impressed me with some flashy graphics, fast and hard hitting combat, and a nice rendition of web slinging in New York City. Alright, it has been a while since the market was flooded with Spider-Man games, and the time is right just after the Homecoming movie and Infinity War. Let’s get swinging.
By now you have probably heard about how the web slinging is. I can confirm along with what you have heard and echo this completely. It is fantastic. The controls can be simple, with just jumping and pressing R2, but there are so many mechanics in play that make this a blast. And once you master them, you can get around the city in no time, all the while looking like a pro showing off that Spidey style. Jump at the end of a swing for higher distance, zip towards your goal with a single web shot keeping you at the same height to set up further tricks. Press L2 and R2 to slingshot yourself onto something, and then jump right as you land for a speed bonus that will make you feel like you are one with the web. Of course there are even more tricks and abilities to unlock as you level up. Level up? Oh yes, options are all the rage, and you get a ton with Spider-Man.
With great power, comes the ability to not have to tell the origin story for the hundredth time. Insomniac decided to fast forward from that point to around eight years of Parker being Spider-Man. This keeps things fresh, while allowing for an original story to play out to a different tune. You will see most of your favorites in some fashion, and even some moments of head scratching, wondering if Insomniac made the right move here in regards to certain characters. While I have small complaints that I won’t spoil, most of the time I found myself okay with it. Now let’s go check in on Aunt May.
The voice acting in Spider-Man is top notch, and you really get invested in almost everyone Peter interacts with in and out of the suit. Yes, you actually get to play as the nerd himself, scientist extraordinaire interacting with people and problems alike. The little puzzles you get to solve here really helps break things up, and they were a nice addition that give you that whole- Parker is a genius that can totally develop his gadgets- sort of feeling. He truly cares about the people he talks to, and it shows. Especially with good old Aunt May. Peter drops his guard and gives her his full attention along with his love. And she gives it right back, along with the worrying. If you know even a little (or more than a little in my case) of Spider-Man in comic form, you will feel right at home here, and enjoy most of the back and forth outside of the spider suit.
Back in the suit however, we know Peter has just taken out the Kingpin. Yeah, Fisk has traded his suit and cufflinks for an orange suit and handcuffs. But now there seems to be a vacuum that has caused more and more career criminals to step forward and wreak havoc in New York. Well, what do we have to stop all of them? A decent combat system with those gadgets I mentioned, all wrapped up with spider sense(counter system). The combat has improved greatly since the Spider-Man days of old, and I would say it is more in line with Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Asylum than Spider-Man 2: The Game. I will say the combat system is not as responsive as the Batman games, but it is close. In Batman, attacking and countering felt more fluid, and it always had Batman launching attacks in the direction of his enemies. As Spider-Man, you have an array of combat moves and abilities, but keeping the fight going can be interrupted by small complaints that I have. For instance, if you combo up an enemy, and want to go to the next person, it seems like Spider-Man won’t respond and just attacks air, not going toward the enemy to keep the combo alive. This can be really frustrating near the end of the game, when there are tons of bad guys loaded to the teeth that can hurt you pretty bad. Granted, you can shoot some webs to stun, or web sling and kick an enemy, leaving tons of options. Like I said, small gripe. Doesn’t happen all the time, but enough to be aggravating. Keep attacking and build up your focus meter, which can refill health, or use one meter for an instant take down on most enemies. Or your suit can build up its own meter, where you can unleash an ultimate of sorts. Since there are a ton of different suits, there are a ton of different suit powers. One thing that I will praise to the heavens is that Insomniac decided to let you swap out suit powers. So, if you really like a certain suit, you don’t have to give it up for another power! Other developers take note here! Such a simple idea, but one that goes a long way.
So I can’t leave out a huge character here. The city itself. There are a ton of things to do in New York City. And more and more open up as you progress, so you don’t feel overwhelmed right from the beginning. From collecting backpacks with random keepsakes, to taking down strongholds, or helping the NYPD with crimes in each area, I never felt like I was getting bored as I went around in between story missions. Side missions lead to some fun dialogue, or even optional boss fights, which you don’t want to miss out on. The main story starts off a bit slow, but I promise it ends with a bang, and the latter half of the game really turns up the heat. I couldn’t wait to keep playing. There are day and night transitions, but only for certain missions, but seeing the city at night, with all the colors, is just a blast to swing through. Times Square in all of its glory, or even the Avengers tower and other locations can be found, and of course Parker has his trusty camera, even though it has been years since he left the Bugle.
But what about Mary Jane? Is Felicia in it? Doc Ock? I’m sure you have heard Miles Morales is in the game as well. My answer is that you will see your fill of staple characters, even J. Jonah Jameson broadcasting on the radio about how much of a menace old web head is. Back to my point, you will take control of other characters at times, and once again, these all play out well enough, keeping you invested in the story. And the story does change things up with what you are used to. It holds up pretty well in this regard, with the exception of a few things, one being post credit that I hope to discuss at a later date. I can say all my time spent with the game never got old.
So what we have here is a game worth playing. Is it a masterpiece? No, but it is the best Spider-Man game in my opinion. And I really feel that if there is another game in this series, Insomniac will shine.
Web Slinging around New York!
The story is a great piece, and picks up near the end.
The voice acting pushes this game to work in a movie setting.
The combat can be a bit unresponsive, leading to frustrating fights.
Certain characters I thought were odd for the story reveal, especially near the credits.