I can’t recall if there’s any other comic titles for Spidey.
‘Web Of’ or ‘Team-Up’ don’t have the same ring to it as the above adjectives.
But thankfully they’re the only ones I need to describe the time I had with Insomniac Games undertaking of the titular character.
After Marvel offered them any IP they wished to work on, the creators of Spyro, Ratchet & Clank, Resistance and Sunset Overdrive jumped at the chance to take on one of the world’s most recognisable and popular icons.
And with the nostalgia of 2004’s Spider-Man 2 still at the forefront, have Insomniac created an adventure that will surpass it and take Spider-Man on to a brand new day? (this is a comic pun, just FYI)
Peter Parker (Yuri Lowenthal) has been Spider-Man for eight years and has settled into his role as the protector of New York City.
After defeating Wilson Fisk, a philanthropist who runs a criminal empire under his alter ego The Kingpin, a new gang emerges known as the Inner Demons who begin to take advantage of the Kingpin’s downfall.
Tasked with defending what’s left of the Kingpin’s territory from the Inner Demons, Peter learns that Martin Li (Stephen Oyoung), one of New York’s most prominent benefactors, leads the Inner Demons under his alter-ego Mister Negative.
Working to ensure the Inner Demons don’t take New York, Peter’s personal life is further complicated as his Aunt May (Nancy Linari) works for F.E.A.S.T; An organisation setup and run by Martin Li.
It was ‘Peter Parker smart‘ for Insomniac to create a whole new world for their Spider-Man. Removing the shackles of his 616 Universe, Ultimate Universe, movies and more, sees a whole new mythos unleashed upon us.
And holy bloody heck do I love it.
If you’re fan of the comics or other mediums, then you’ll find this new, relatable world where Peter is just Spider-Man.
He’s Spider-Man, he knows what his whole shtick is, and he’s very good at it. So much so, that the base-set of moves you get at the start was terribly surprising to me! Zip-lining and point launching joining the standard swing movement, along with a basic combo set makes the game FEEL like a Spider-Man game from the start.
And that swing! Yes I spoke about it in my preview here, but now I’ve gotten to take it further having completed the game fully.
While very similar to Spider-Man 2, it takes on an even more natural flow. Most likely due to technology, it’s almost dynamic in the way Spidey flies across the city. Fire escape in your way? You’ll either quickly slink through it, or parkour up it vertically. About to run into a corner? Hold circle and you’ll web-zip out and around it. Losing speed on your swing? Hold X to jump at the top of your swing as the game adds flourish to the peak of your jump.
And what could make swinging that little bit better?
How about a soundtrack that activates whenever you swing, with a bombastic intro and soft-fade once your movement fully comes to a halt. I didn’t think I’d want something so menial, yet when I realised it was happening, I could see how the game was dramatising my movement across the New York rooftops in cinematic fashion.
Starting with an internal level to keep players on a linear path to run them through gameplay, you’re then thrown into a very open New York that becomes your main playground. While the technology is there to produce incredible spider-manning through the world, load screens still exist for any switches to internal areas. While not a huge takeaway from the experience, it will likely become a talking point with that constant dream for the living city experience.
While the internal/external argument has some merit to it, it quickly diminishes in the wake of the activities you’ll take on throughout the game. Almost RPG-lite with the reward system on-hand, I quickly hoarded tokens you receive for collectibles, buildings, challenges, bases, research and crime. These activities find themselves spread out across the island, where you can either attack them as you go, or be a mad-lad like myself and do them all in one hit.
For the most part, they’re your standard-fare, but crime is sure to provide both excitement and repetition. Randomly spawning throughout the city, they range from horde-like combat to chasing down vehicles, and HOH-BOY, your first vehicle take-down is AMAZING. But the repetition? Well these crimes, while fun at first, do continue to occur with the only real variation being the villains you engage. Now I for one don’t mind this, I just love being Spider-Man. But for the general audience, this could get tiresome quickly.
The tokens lead into a reward system that improves gadgets and allows Peter to purchase suits that also come with their own skills. Wildly, these suits aren’t locked behind DLC! The 3 bonus suits that Deluxe and Collector’s Edition owners will receive on Day 1 can be earned by all after a bit of work, which is completely worth it. Whether or not you’ll switch off the original PS4 design is up to you, but know that it is INSTANT when you do so and even the Loading Screen reflects this change!
The tale that weaves itself over this sprawling city is something marvelous. As I said previously, resetting everything for their own universe was smart. They get to plant little cameos and clues as to the state of this Peter’s world, which builds and builds over the course of the story, culminating in a resulting collision of so many different plot-lines from multiple universes.
This story is lovingly portrayed by a cast of some of the best voice actors in the biz right now, with Yuri Lowenthal and Laura Bailey at the front as Peter and MJ. Lowenthal really gets to shine, as the well-known quippy Spider-Man gets to do all that and more, with banter dropping left, right and center regularly.
This creation of Spider-Man by Insomniac is amazing. It is spectacular. And it is the ultimate version we have so far. It’s not just technology that allows this Spider-Man to soar higher than his predecessors, but it’s the heart they’ve put into the characters who work together to make the hero of New York City.
Spider-Man can be anyone, because anyone can be a hero. And that’s what this game captures effortlessly.
I am Spider-Man 2 no more.
Insomniac Game's Spider-Man leaps to the top as the new go-to for Spider-Man gaming glory, capturing the web-slinger and his world beautifully with a wonderful story offset by fun gameplay.
While it can tiptoe along the line of repetition, it provides a wide amount of variety that makes playthroughs of the game fresh, and you can bet on your spider-butt that I'm ready for NG+.
P.S: This game, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has post-credit scenes that you'll DEFINITELY want to hang around for.
XENOJAY.COM was supplied with a media copy of the game for review by Sony, and it was played on the Playstation 4 Pro console.