I love Spider-Man and anyone who knows me knows I love Spider-Man. So naturally, whenever a new comic, video game or film comes out, I approach it with one question lodged firmly in my mind: “Does this feel like Spider-Man?” I’m happy to report that Marvel’s Spider-Man, from Insomniac Games, released on September 7th, stays true to the spirit of Peter Parker. More than that, I feel it is the definitive Spider-Man experience, in terms of story and gameplay.
The game was first announced back in 2016 and I remember being insanely excited. I’ve owned every copy of the PlayStation system to date and one of the first video games I ever beat was the Spider-Man game for the PS1 that Neversoft developed. Naturally, I knew this would be a must play.
Marvel’s Spider-Man opens with our friendly neighborhood web-slinger taking down Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin of Crime. Fisk’s absence leads to a power vacuum that the deadly Mister Negative and his Inner Demons rush in to fill. Spidey must combat Mister Negative and the Demons, as well as juggling his relationships and finances.
I could spend all day raving about the story because the story in this game is amazing. First and foremost, Peter Parker is captured perfectly. Yuri Lowenthal, previously of Ben 10 and Naruto, lends his voice to the web-slinger and manages to balance both Peter’s quips and pathos. The best part is that this is a Spider-Man with eight years of experience under his belt. Which thankfully means we get to skip the origin story. However, just because Peter is on the cusp of young adulthood doesn’t mean life stops throwing him curveballs. You will cheer, you will clap, and you will cry (especially at the ending scene.)
Peter’s supporting cast also receives a timely makeover. Aunt May is no longer a doting, frail old woman but actively seeks to help others as a volunteer at the FEAST center for the homeless. Mary Jane Watson has traded the runaway for the printing press In this universe she is a reporter for the Daily Bugle. Miles Morales, the once and future Spider-Man, crosses paths with Spidey and has a large role to play in the story. This makes me extremely happy, as I’ve professed my love for the character in the past. J. Jonah Jameson even gets his own podcast! In addition, a major Spidey villain is also revamped for the story but I will keep his identity secret so as not to spoil the game for others.
A good story means nothing without good gameplay; fortunately, Insomniac has exceeded in that area. The controls are deceptively simple (there is a lot of reliance on quick-time events and button combos) but once you get the hang of them, you will have a blast flipping around and kicking criminals in the face. The highlight of the game would definitely have to be the web-slinging mechanics. I got an endless thrill leaping off buildings and shooting a web line at the last minute, and zipping from building to building using webs. It was exhilarating.
You will also have the chance to upgrade Spidey’s arsenal and wardrobe as the game progresses. Peter Parker is one of the smartest characters in the Marvel Universe, and this shows in the occasional puzzles you will have to complete, as well as the gadgets he uses as Spidey. From a trip-mine that webs up enemies to a floating drone and an antigravity bomb, the possibilities are near endless. These gadgets will greatly aid you in combat. You also get the chance to wear several suits from Spidey’s history. Including everything from the Iron Spider suit to the 2099 suit, there’s a suit for every Spidey fan. I personally completed the game using the Advanced Suit but what can I say; It grew on me.
Since this is an open world game, in addition to the story mode you will have the chance to stop crimes as they occur, and interact with the citizens of New York in ways that are both sublime and utterly ridiculous. There is also a mission where you have to track down escaping pigeons – yes, I am dead serious.
The “fast travel” system is also a treat; not only does it get you to certain points in a hurry, it is a hoot to see Spidey casually checking his phone, or jamming along to a beatbox on the subway. However, the most interesting missions happen when you take control of Mary Jane or Miles These characters have to utilize stealth to avoid being seen and collect information that is crucial to the plot. Neither MJ or Miles (at this point) spider powers so the player has to be extra careful while completing these missions. It adds a nice layer of difficulty to the proceedings.
Marvel’s Spider-Man has something for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned comic book fan or a gamer looking for a good time. Don’t miss out on this one. With great power comes a great responsibility to play a great video game.
Final Verdict: 5 / 5 web backpacks.