Spider-Man is finally out into the world, and it is a delightful blend of interesting story, exhilarating traversal, fast paced combat, and stunning visuals. While previous Spider-Man games have had elements of these, none of them have combined them with the same expertise as the latest one has. From the first minutes of the game, I was drawn in and didn’t want to stop playing the game. It is a truly spectacular time!
Without getting into too many spoilers, the story in Spider-Man is unique. Thankfully, it doesn’t go into the already exhausted origin story of Peter Parker’s alter ego. Instead, he has already been your ‘Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man’ for 8 years. Peter and Mary Jane are not together anymore, and he is living the life of a bachelor in a dingy Manhattan apartment while working as a research assistant. As the story progresses, more and more staple characters of the Spider-Man universe emerge.
Where Spider-Man sets itself apart from other games in the franchise is that the story is more thought out and unique than it’s predecessors were. There is no movie tie in, or overplayed story arch. In addition, the story doesn’t force the player to endure the origin story, again, for the umpteenth time. The dialogue is written thoughtfully as well (especially Spider-Man’s quips to villains). The motion capture of the actors synched up very well with the dialogue tracks, so there aren’t awkward cut scenes in this game. The writing, voice acting and facial animations draw you in from the game’s opening.
Swinging around Manhattan has never felt so real.
A big part of the appeal in Spider-Man is his ability to climb great heights, take tremendous leaps of buildings and catch himself at the last second. The high flying traversal of this version of Spider-Man has more variety and is more fluid than it was in previous games of the franchise. The first thing that stood out to me was that Spider-Man can only shoot a web out to swing from if there is a building next to him. In the past, he would shoot webs at thin air and would swing from it. One touch I really liked is that Spider-Man doesn’t just make the same motion while web swinging. Instead, he twists and turns sometimes which makes him feel even more alive. You can also do flips after a swing to gain a small amount of XP.
The exciting movement isn’t limited to the air, it’s on the ground as well.
The parkour in Spider-Man is a lot of fun as well! While you can control the parkour moves he makes, it is fluid feels natural. You hop, flip and slide over obstacles in your way with grace and elegance. The movement also plays a big role in combat, both when entering it and during it. You can swing into combat to start a fight against come crooks and swing out of it if things get too hot. While fighting you can use movement to your advantage by swing kicking a thug off a building. Using the combination of his spider sense and his agility, Spider-Man can also dodge attacks. Timing a dodge right, will result in a perfect dodge. This helps Spider-Man build focus faster.
The combination of movement techniques makes navigating Manhattan a complete joy! Traversal in this game is one of it’s most memorable points. I could explore the city for hours and not grow tired of it. The movement in this game is one of the many areas in which it shines.
In Spider-Man, knocking thugs around and pasting them with web shooters is a lot of fun!
The combat in Spider-Man offers a good deal of variety through the combination of striking ability and the use of gadgets.Spider-Man has his typical punching and kicking combos, along with the ability to knock enemies into the air to continue the melee. This combat is fast paced, sometimes frenzied, but generally fluid. While the learning curve for melee combat is low, mastering gadgets is not. Some enemies are invulnerable to certain gadgets so learning to identify which ones they are is the key to success.
Using the variety of gadgets at your disposal can make a fight a lot more manageable.
By using the right gadgets in the right situations, Spider-Man can remove enemies from combat with one shot. This proves especially helpful when clearing out enemy bases as your opponents come in waves. The impact webbing will knock an enemy back to stick them to walls taking them out of combat. The web shooters are what sets Spider-Man apart from other games in the genre. Before the enemies are alerted to your presence, you can use stealth takedowns to eliminate some of the hostiles in the area. Spider-Man can use his web shooters to pull and enemy up to a perch and stick them to a wall. He can use his web lines to zip into an enemy and knock them out in one hit. Generally, the stealth works well but it can some time to learn the limits of Spider-Man’s health.
By dealing and avoiding damage, Spider-Man builds up focus which can be used to heal him, or to knock an enemy out in one move by going to a mini cut scene in one of several set one hit finishers. There are also suit mods which are obtained by leveling up, and suit powers which are obtained by unlocking new suits. From my experience, most of the suit mods and suit powers were rather pointless. I used the same set up for most of the game.
There is a good amount of character customization in Spider-Man both in appearance and abilities.
This is the one area where I feel the game was lacking. If the suit enhancements were more useful, say be creating new combat combos, it would have added more variety to the combat system. I did appreciate the fact that while unlocking the suit powers was tied to unlocking a new suit, using the power obtained from a suit was not tied to wearing that suit. For example. if you like the suit power obtained from the Advanced Suit, but prefer the look of the Classic Suit, you can mix and match them.
Overall, the combat is one of the most fun parts of the game. Clearing out enemy bases and stopping random crimes around the city was something I looked forward to.
The graphics in Spider-Man are beautiful!
Visually, the graphics for Spider-Man are top notch. While the depiction of Manhattan is not perfect, the building look different enough to make it a convincing facsimile, although a lifelong resident may disagree with me. The detail in the characters is good and their movements don’t look janky. I didn’t notice any drops in frame rate even during intense combat situations. The flow between quick time events and normal gameplay transitions flawlessly, and really impressed me. I have no complaints with the visuals in the game. In fact, I found the art style and graphics to be stunning.
Overall as a fan of Spider-Man, I am extremely satisfied with this game. I had a lot of fun exploring and fighting crime. I thought the game was somewhat short, but I would rather have a shorter game packed with a lot to do, than I would have a longer game that is drawn out. If you are on the fence with playing Spider-Man, I recommend you go for it. It is one of the best games I have played the last few years. I give it a 5/5!