Marvel’s Spider-Man goes from feeling like you are watching a fully-fledged Marvel film, with stellar set pieces, great character development and of course all the Marvel love you expect from an Avengers film and then while you are swinging about New York City, it just feels pretty amazing as a video game too. The worlds collide to create one of the greatest superhero video games of this generation and the sheer amount of love put into every detail has gone a long way to fully realize the Spider-Man universe on a console. Marvel’s Spider-Man is a chunky package of a dozen things done right and then you get a fantastic story, a fluid and impressive combat system, and a great open world packed with a load of things to do.
Before you carry on, check our Spider-Man video review below
Marvel’s Spider-Man takes place somewhere in the Marvel Universe where Peter Parker has been Spider-Man for some time now. There is no transformation of powers or anything of the sorts, rather, from the start of the game, you jump right into the action as if you have been playing it all along. A group of no-gooders known as The Demons are terrorizing New York City. Led by Martin-Li, also known as Mister Negative, the game starts small and slowly opens up before you. Spider-Man is facing his deadliest threat yet as the Sinister Six which include Scorpion, Electro, Rhino, Vulture, Mister Negative and another surprise villain plan to bring down New York City piece by piece.
While these villains are on the loose, Peter Parker needs to juggle the daily life of Spider-Man as well as just be the all-around geek as he works his day job at the Otto Octavius science lab and helps his Aunty May at the food shelter known as FEAST. Marvel’s Spider-Man is one hell of a story as throughout the game you meet some fantastic characters, see them grow and even say goodbye to a few. It pushes the envelope when it comes to character development and by the time the credits rolled the entire Spider-Man universe was yanked wide open with a load of characters you connected with.
Of course, the star of the show here is Peter Parker and his second life Spider-Man and the characters are nothing but phenomenal. His one-liners, crazy personality and of course the look and feel of Spider-Man has been brought to life with an outstanding amount of attention and it could have easily gone south. Spider-Man feels great as you swing about New York City, chaining rooftop dives with leaps of faith that see you kick off flagpoles at great speed. Often my objective was a few thousand meters away and I could have easily fast-traveled but the idea of getting there by using all of Spidey’s awesome traversal mechanics made the fast travel option feel redundant.
The more you play the game, the easier it is to get about and once I had unlocked the full skill tree that supports and improves Spider-Man’s movement, it was a dream to explore the city. Various skills help improve his speed, and as you level up in the game you unlock swing speed buffs and finer tweaks to his overall jumping and swinging. It helps that New York City is packed full of things to see and do and you want to be able to do them with as much Spider-Man flair as possible.
Some great side objectives keep you busy while not on main missions like catching a homeless man’s pigeons that have escaped and are now flying through the city. Of course, Spider-Man has the ability to catch these birds stories up in the sky. Research stations scattered around the city offer side missions that deliver a great sense of New York City. These missions all revolve around some sort of city problem such as toxic water being fed into buildings, fish being poisonous and of course, Spider-Man can get to the root of the problem with ease. The missions feel like something logical especially when you are facing issues that we could possibly face in our daily lives.
I was a bit concerned about just how much there would be to do in the game and it did not disappoint. Every time I found myself on the way to a new mission, I was distracted by something in the distance be it a collectable backpack that holds cool Easter Egg items to Spider-Man’s past, to Black Cat’s camera that required me to try and find a cat doll she hid in the distance using a camera she so cleverly planted for me. Not to mention the hundreds of landmarks that you can take photos of in the city. These are actual places in New York City and I have seen these landmarks in real life and attention to detail and scale of them is unprecedented.
It goes without saying that New York City in Marvel’s Spider-Man is a real stunner. Running on the PS4 Pro, it is simply eye candy as everything glows with love and yes, even the puddles look epic. Lighting in the game comes to life with HDR as it truly shines in every aspect of the game. The morning sun looks warm yet chilly. Even Electro’s electricity is punchy and vibrant on the screen and can be seen miles away in the distance.
But what about that combat? You spend much of Marvel’s Spider-Man fighting and the combat is extremely fun and addictive. At first, it comes across very challenging as Spider-Man is no Iron Man here. He can only withstand a few bullets before falling and it makes sense. The combat relies on fast decision-making attacks as you swing around, jump off walls, punch enemies into the air and end them by swinging into them ultimately kicking them off a building. Instead of having to chain together different buttons to pull off a combo, you chain different attack styles to pull off an awesome Spider-Man finisher.
Spider-Man can kick, punch and of course swing around but his gadgets make for a fantastic display of awesome skill. Webbing an enemy to swing into them and send them flying into a wall to get stuck in place. Using a Suspension Matrix which levitates all enemies in place while you switch to your Electric Web to shock them while they are floating in the air is just one example of the endless combos you can pull of in combat. Different enemies provide more of a challenge like the brutes that cannot be hit unless they are webbed and the crazy enemies that wield demon whips which cannot be damaged unless you dodge under them and attack them from behind.
While this all sounds complicated, the more you play the more you will master the game’s fantastic combat. Spider-Man also then has a range of suits which not only look epic and relate to various comic book versions of the hero but they also offer a range of powers that you can use in combat. My favourite is without a doubt his Avengers suit that has actual spider legs that come out of his back and deal massive damage in combat. You, of course, need to rack up focus to pull off these moves and you do so by simply attacking enemies and not getting hit.
There is also a range of skills that help Spider-Man in battles that you can unlock throughout the game. These include the ability to disarm enemies, earn more focus by perfectly dodging an attack and even web throwing enemies that you hit up into the air at other enemies on the ground. By the end of the game, I was a killing machine with a load of skills and combos under my belt but I was not a god as the enemies get harder and have more ways to get past Spider-Man’s attacks.
Marvel’s Spider-Man also has a range of stealth moments in the game that sees you take a more silent approach to an area. Various challenges and even side quests that see you take down enemy bases are best done without making a sound and these scenarios also offered a great break from the usual kick and punch moments. Spider-Man is a deadly silent killing machine at his best and these challenges helped master his skills. He can leap from street light to street light, cling onto walls and even sneak up behind enemies to silently take them out. Of course, these missions offer their own obstacles like snipers and guard towers to keep your eyes on but the overall approach is very different. There was nothing more rewarding that scooping an enemy up, wrapping him in web and leaving him hanging on a crane to simply press triangle and web strike his fellow demon friend below leaving them both incapacitated.
Everything in Spider-Man goes towards Spidey’s overall growth and development and the game has a wide range of tokens that you earn for specific objectives that you use to unlock gadget upgrades and buy new suits. Challenge Tokens are earned by completing Taskmaster’s tough silent, brutal and speed challenges, Base Tokens are earned by taking down an enemy base, and Research Tokens are earned by completing the awesome missions associated with them. If you are short a token for that epic classic Spider-Man suit, then head into the specific missions and earn one. Each mission also has specific challenges that earn you even more tokens such as killing enemies in a specific way or racking up a specific combo. It is all extremely rewarding as there is so much to do and unlock that even after the credits roll you will find yourself grinding more all the awesome suits.
But Marvel’s Spider-Man is not just a good story and action game, it is backed by great missions that tie it all together. From sneaking into a lab as Mary Jane to photograph a statue that holds the secret to Mister Negative’s plans, to escaping death as you come face to face with Rhino as a non-Spider-Man character. These side missions support the overall plot of the game and they provide a great break from the typical Spider-Man experience. There are even dozens of puzzles that see you perform lab equations as Peter Parker. Much of these non-Spider-Man missions rely on sneaking but they help support the idea that his friends are no superheroes and they work well with the way the plot unfolds. Spider-Man also has his fair share of boss fights that see you go up against the deadly villains in the game and while much of these play out pretty much the same way, they deliver an exhilarating finale as you try and take them down once and for all.
With a large, gorgeous open world, a gripping story, tonnes of Marvel Easter Eggs and an awesome combat system. Marvel’s Spider-Man is everything we have ever wanted from a Marvel video game. While its plot does not always flow as smoothly as I hoped, it delivered on its promises and makes for a fantastic superhero game. Its scale feels as ambitious as the last Avengers movie and something about it just works. You would be missing out on an amazing game and experience if you overlook this.
This review was conducted off a sample copy provided to us by Sony Interactive Entertainment
Available On: PS4 | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 7 September 2018