Heavy spoilers ahead for Marvel’s Spider-Man.
2018 was a heck of a year for gaming. We saw Rockstar Games unveil their latest juggernaut in Red Dead Redemption 2 and we were treated to the latest instalment in the God of War series. Looking back at 2018, despite the incredible line-up of games, there’s only one game that still excites me to this day. That game is none other than Marvel’s Spider-Man.
With Miles Morales’ title release fast approaching, I felt it appropriate to take a glance into what made Marvel’s Spider-Man so great and to ponder what to expect in the next game.
Announced by Sony in 2016, this title was quickly positioned to be a PlayStation staple for the future. The trailer and demo shown at E3 2016 introduced us to smooth movement and enticing action that we simply hadn’t seen before in a Spider-Man game or even in a PS4 game at that point. From that point forward, Marvel and gaming fans alike were anticipating the amazing, and amazing it sure was.
Visually, Marvel’s Spider-Man remains one of the best looking games on the PS4. It cleverly combines photorealism with a smooth comic book colour palette befitting the larger than life character. If you’ve ever seen Spider-man across any visual medium, you’ll know that a sprawling New York City is a consistent feature. We are able to effortlessly swing around the busy towers, gleaming in the sun and glowing in the night.
What made the open-world look so impressive is that it consistently looks fantastic at any speed and at any angle. Whether you’re bouncing across the rooftops, zipping through the streets or standing completely still, the city remains as realistic and immersive as can be.
When we look at how far games have come and what’s been released since, this is one of those games that deserves to be held in high regard, just from a graphical standpoint alone. They aren’t hyper-realistic to the point of distraction but nice enough to carry a sense of realism no matter how you play.
Now, moving on to the gameplay itself, one thing that will never get old is the swift entrance of the music that accompanies the swinging of Spider-Man. Filling the void as you scale the rooftops is an empowering orchestral piece that is reminiscent of music heard in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy.
The combat is something that routinely kept me coming back over the past few years. It’s a swift frenzy of melee and web combos as you take on wave after wave of enemies. You’re equipped with an array of gadgets to help even the odds such as the Impact Web and the Web Bomb. Many of these gadgets can also be used in a variety of combinations. The way you bounce from bad guy to bad guy is perhaps the most natural feeling part of the game from a combat standpoint. There’s never a dull moment because the game is always trying to fuel the action.
The difficulty level isn’t too strenuous but the only thing you really need to worry about is not letting too many enemies surround you at once, particularly the heavy’s. The varying ease of the combat may feel like a chore to some after a while but aesthetically, I’d say there is enough on offer to warrant the otherwise repetitive fighting. The flow of combat that had been established in the Batman: Arkham series rose to new heights and made the gameplay such a stellar experience.
If you’re a fan of customization, you’ll be pleased to know that there are dozens and dozens of suits to choose from. The range of suits boasts a slew of comic book classics, film suits and originals made just for the game. The suits aren’t all unlocked through progressions in the story as some require you to collect certain tokens that are obtained from completing various open-world activities. What made this game fun to come back to every so often was the addition of new suits that were added for free such as the Bombastic Bagman suit and the Webbed suit from the original Spider-Man film trilogy.
The open-world is filled with plenty of things to do outside the main story. You’re given side missions, crimes and environmental missions to complete as well as collectibles like Peter’s backpacks and photos of New York landmarks. These elements come together to create a very freeing depiction of an open-world city that you can easily lose yourself in.
The narrative of the this game is one of the standout parts. Insomniac carefully crafted a gripping story that simultaneously caught us up with a slightly aged Spider-Man, skipping the origin, while also establishing new relationships with allies and foes. It can allow you to feel a rollercoaster of emotions at times as we experience the changes that the characters go through in the story. One main thread of the story is the introduction of two men Peter would consider as mentor figures and watched as they slowly became corrupt and hateful enough to lose their morals. Seeing Peter overcame a seemingly insurmountable level of betrayal in such a short time is nothing short of devastating but it perfectly exemplifies the resolve of Spider-Man in the worst of times.
Two years on, Marvel’s Spider-Man remains as one the best experiences to be played on the PS4. Everything from the graphics to the gameplay and story were executed to an exceptionally high degree of quality.
If this game is anything to go by, the next entries in the franchise should also prove to be hits so there’s plenty to be excited about with Spider-Man in the future as we enter the next console generation.