MARVEL Spider-Man is the Game of the Year. The End.
Seriously though, MARVEL Spider-Man is right up there as a top contender for 2018 Game of the Year in a field that already has a lot of great games in it. I know this is going to sound very biased as I’m a huge Spider-Man fan and to have a game that is better than the PlayStation 2’s Spider-Man 2 finally is one of the best things to happen in terms of comic book games since the Rocksteady Batman series. From the story to the gameplay, and especially the web-swinging; MARVEL Spider-Man is a must-own game, and I have no issue saying that straight up at the beginning of a review.
Game Name: MARVEL Spider-Man
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
Publisher(s): Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer(s): Insomniac Games
Release Date: September 7, 2018 (Worldwide)
Price: $59.99 (Gamestop US) / $99.95 (EB Games Australia)
Spider-Man assists Yuri Watanabe and the NYPD in arresting Wilson Fisk, with the authorities finally having enough evidence to serve a warrant. Afterward, Peter investigates a possible break-in at an auction house storing Fisk’s art collection, where he runs into Mary Jane Watson as well as masked gunmen searching for a file. Mary Jane finds the file, which details a secret project named “Devil’s Breath”, but the gunmen seize the file from her and escape. Despite being estranged, Peter and Mary Jane decide to work together to investigate the theft. Peter consults with Martin Li about the origin of the masks, and Li remarks they are involved with a group called the “Demons” and warns Peter not to investigate further. Peter then returns to Otto Octavius’ lab to finish work on their artificial arm, but Mayor Norman Osborn forcibly shuts down the lab, seizes Octavius’ research, and terminates his grant.
Meanwhile, the Inner Demons continue to attack Fisk’s properties and holdings. After several victories against the Inner Demons, with the help of Officer Jefferson Davis, Peter attends a rally for Osborn’s re-election campaign with Davis, Mary Jane, Miles Morales, and Rio Morales also in attendance. However, Mayor Osborn receives an anonymous threat, promising to destroy him and his city, causing him to leave the rally early. The Inner Demons then attack the rally with suicide bombers, killing many of the attendees including Davis, who is Miles’ father. Peter witnesses Li leading the attack on the rally as Mister Negative, but is knocked out by the blast.
In the aftermath of the attack, Miles joins F.E.A.S.T. as a volunteer and quickly befriends Peter. At the same time, Osborn hires mercenary Silver Sable and her team to take down the Demons. Sable doesn’t trust Spider-Man and constantly makes things difficult for him. Peter continues to pursue Mister Negative and the Demons, discovering that Li has a grudge against Osborn and seeks to steal the Devil’s Breath which is a bioweapon Osborn inadvertently created while searching for a universal cure for a disease. Mister Negative manages to steal the Devil’s Breath and attempts to deploy it in Grand Central Station, but is foiled by the efforts of both Peter and Mary Jane. He is subsequently arrested and sent to the Raft.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Due to an agreement with Sony Australia, this is where the story stops… This is only the halfway point of the game and there are some amazing story moments that Sony does not want spoiled and honestly, I agree with them. Usually, I have no issues with posting the whole story in this section, but there are so many more shocking and amazing moments to experience that for once I’m going to not give every little thing away in this game. If you are really hard up on just reading the whole story, then either go to Youtube or Wikipedia, where the whole story is available.
Gameplay in MARVEL Spider-Man would seem very familiar to people who have played DC’s animal-themed superhero. Yeah, we’re making comparisons to the Batman Arkham series here… Except that Batman did not create the system that we have come to know and love in superhero games today. Thanks to Gamespot’s “History of Spider-Man Video Games” video, we learn that all the web-swinging, fighting, and even the dodge mechanic can be traced back to Spider-Man 2 on the PlayStation 2. So to all the Batman/DC fanboys who have complained about the gameplay coming right out of the Arkham series… STOP! You’re wrong, there’s proof, move on… Alright, alright; I’ll give you one thing that was taken from the Arkham series.
Stealth. There are sections in MARVEL Spider-Man where you enter a warehouse or construction site and you have the time and ability to take down thugs without the other thugs noticing to cut down the amount of time you will later spend brawling with said thugs. I’ll admit that this feels like it’s come right out of the Batman games, with its one button takedowns and reliance on hiding up high in the rafters. You also get other gadgets like Impact Webbing and Trap Webs to help in these moments. So yeah, there is one thing that Batman did… But Spider-Man does it so much better.
Talking about better, let’s talk about the web-swinging. To gush over Spider-Man 2 on PlayStation 2 once again, the web-swinging in MARVEL Spider-Man takes the basic physics and momentum-based mechanics of the web-swinging from then and finds a way to add new things like the web zip to it and makes swinging around New York such a joy that I’ve barely used the fast travel system that’s also in the game. The simple combination of using R2 to swing normally, L2 & R2 to web zip to the closest rooftop item, and also X to jump from the same item and also do a quick straight web zip in mid-air makes the game a breeze to play through. I know the above sounds weird, but it works well once you get the timing down that you’ll be zipping over the top of Central Park without even thinking about it.
Now let’s talk about fighting, the last part of the basics trilogy. Just like other games you spam Square to lay boots and fists to thugs, you use Triangle to web zip to the nearest thug and smack him with your fist. Finally, you use Circle along with your Spider-Sense to dodge everything from basic attacks to freaking rockets! All of this is so fluid and easy that you’ll feel like you’re really Spider-Man. Combine this with web attacks/gadgets like Impact Webbing, Web Bomb, Spider Drones, and the OG web shot to stick thugs to walls and everything that they can be attached to, and you end up with the chaos that is awesome to see.
Graphics in MARVEL Spider-Man are just some of the best ever seen in console video games.
I’m going to start with the characters themselves. Peter Parker, Mary Jane, Aunt May, Martin Li, and even Stan Lee (Yep, wouldn’t be a MARVEL anything without a Stan Lee cameo) look 99% realistic, right down to the point where even the eyes are emotional. Yes, people, we’re getting way too close to the uncanny valley here. I thought that Detroit: Beyond Human had great graphics, but MARVEL Spider-Man actually finds a way to take things one step further, making MARVEL Spider-Man more like watching a movie at times instead of watching a video game cutscene.
But how does all this stand up while playing the video game? It’s seamless! The opening scene of MARVEL Spider-Man is a great example of how great the graphics are in this game. Going from the opening cutscene into your first web swing is so seamless that you actually have to make sure the controller is in your hand or you’re going to miss that one great moment.
There is no slowdown in MARVEL Spider-Man at all when it comes to anything, which is weird since there have been interviews recently saying that the whole of New York isn’t loaded into the PS4 memory, yet you move so quickly through the same map and there are no load screens (unless you trigger a special one-off sequence or have to enter a building) at all. Even when fighting anywhere up to 20 thugs on-screen at once alongside Police and bystanders will not show any drop in frame rates. (I’m sure The Outerhaven Editor-in-Chief Keith “Mr. FrameRatesMatter” Mitchell will be along shortly to correct me.)
The sound in MARVEL Spider-Man is pretty cool. Voice acting is really well done with Yuri Lowenthal playing Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the lead role alongside other voice acting notables such as Laura Bailey (Mary Jane), Nancy Linari (Aunt Mary), Tara Platt (Yuri Watanabe), Travis Willingham (Kingpin/Wilson Fisk), and William Salyers (Otto Octavius) makes the game into a really great feast for the ears. Everyone put in top-level performances into MARVEL Spider-Man, which as I said before, makes the game more like a movie than a video game.
Music-wise, it’s easy to ignore the tunes that you have going throughout the game. But that’s normal when you’re busy running around New York. However, when it comes to that travel, MARVEL Spider-Man does make sure to kick in a nice epic sounding soundtrack that makes the web-swinging experience a great trip to go through… and no, the Pizza Delivery theme from Spider-Man 2 does not make a return (Unless you count an Easter Egg when standing near any Pizza shop in the game… hint hint).
When it comes to extras, MARVEL Spider-Man has a huge lot to go through. From collecting backpacks (which are full of references to the movies, other games and moments in Spider-Man history) to taking photos of more notable New York and MARVEL landmarks like Madison Square Garden and The Avengers Building; there are also small missions like catching pigeons for a homeless man, tracking down Black Cat’s little wifi snooping cats, and doing some science for Harry Osborne and Doctor Octavius.
The result of doing all these side missions, other than getting that sweet 100% completion, is that you use the resource rewards which can be used to make things from new costumes; featuring suits like Noir, Scarlett Spider, 2099, Homecoming, and more. (No Symbiote costume… Sadness for us Venom fans, especially with the movie coming up in October.) Each suit has its own special ability that you can use, or just mix and match with mods with the costume you prefer the most to make a custom Spider-Man. You’ll also upgrade your spider-gadgets and of course, leveling up and filling a talent tree.
All of these little side missions mixed with all these things you unlock and upgrade makes it more of a need to get these side missions done, but they are done in such an interesting and fun way that you almost want to do these side missions over the main game at times, thankfully these side missions unlock over time so you don’t get too overpowered too early on in MARVEL Spider-Man.
As I said at the beginning of this review, MARVEL Spider-Man is one of the best Spider-Man games, if not Game of the Year in a field that has a lot of strong contenders. It’s rare that I look on Twitter and see so many people who are posting images of their 100% game completion and their Platinum Trophy for the game. This shows that people are really into MARVEL Spider-Man and want to get every last drop of entertainment out of the game that they can.
On a personal level, I’m a huge Spider-Man fan. I own over 500 of the printed 839 mainline Amazing Spider-Man comic books in single-issue format. I’ve seen every live-action and cartoon media for Spider-Man, including Spanish Spider-Man. So I’m a huge fan. So this game is perfection for a fan like me. So, of course, I’m hyped about MARVEL Spider-Man, but all over the place, people are loving the crap out of the game and I’m not going to say any different.
Review Disclosure Statement: MARVEL Spider-Man was provided to us by Sony Entertainment Australia for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
Amazing, Spectacular, Sensational, Superior... The Ultimate Spider-Man Game
Hands down MARVEL Spider-Man is one of the BEST games I have played all year. Within moments of swinging out into the streets of New York I was hooked. From there the game took me on a wild ride that I wished would not stop. Loaded with references to other Spider-Man games, the movies, TV show, Cartoons and of course the comics; MARVEL Spider-Man is the ultimate comic book video game if not 2018 Game of the Year… Fight me!!
- Great and simple web swinging
- Best 1:1 representation of New York in a game
- A non-stop story that leaves you wanting more
- Collectables and references that any Spider-Man fan will love
- Camera gets in the way during fights.
- Some moves while fighting can leave you vulnerable due to long animations
- Momentum based web swinging can leave newcomers frustrated
- In game Camera missions take away much needed web swinging moves