Marvel’s Spider-Man for PlayStation 4: The review
When playing a Spider-Man game, you’re probably wondering if it has all the essentials. Open world: check. Memorable Spider-Man character moments: check (just ask my friend Spider-Cop). Costumes, customization options, web swinging attached to buildings, a batch of villains, and a pretty redhead named Mary Jane: check.
The first time I picked up a Spider-Man game was in 2000 for the PlayStation original. I have a lot of love for games that have come before and after. How very appropriate that Spider-Man returns to Sony PlayStation for the next generation. Previous videogames were published by Activision, also known for Call of Duty, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, and Legend of Korra. At that time Activision was under contracts with Marvel. This time, developer Insomniac Games (known for Sunset-Overdrive) under Marvel and Sony Interactive Entertainment publishing are at the helm of Spider-Man.
This entry is a lot of things to a lot of people. Is it good? I won’t make my opinion easy. As a hardcore multimedia Spider-Man fan, I can absolutely say that this game inspires confidence in execution but also treads carefully on using ideas new and old.
Spider-Man PS4 attempts to reinvent the wheel on existing characters while establishing a history true to form from the comics. I’m not a fan of the Lois Lane reinterpretation of Mary Jane. She’s a compilation of different retellings from different Marvel writers over the years. Peter Parker has a new and familiar history in this game, but at his core he is still the responsible superhero we know and love. Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime controls New York City’s political, legal, and financial establishment until Spider-Man aids in his felony capture and sends him behind bars. All is quiet until a new enemy called Mr. Negative rises to take control of the criminal underworld.
This game takes the best points of previous Spider-Man titles ranging from the web zipping on building ledges, references to other Marvel characters, pressing the R2 button to web swing, the ability to perch criminals from the shadows, the ceiling camera during wallcrawl sections, the Spider-Sense dodge, the web strike, the aerial combat, the Peter and MJ chemistry, as well as the side quests leading to larger messages in additional storylines. The goal to create a new game while borrowing older elements is refreshing.
If I have to deduct points from anywhere, I’d blame the combat segments. Spider-Man surrounded by a wave of dangerously diverse thugs, must be aimed precisely at a target while the player needs to manually rotate the camera in the fight. An option to use an automated view at certain points would have helped matters. When it comes to the controls, the game has a learning curve. The best recourse is patience for veteran players and newcomers alike. Fast reflexes caused me to press the wrong buttons at times given the new control scheme. As for two new playable characters during stealth sections, they operate decently. To be fair, the stealth sections are subject to enhanced variety later-on.
A lot of people are going to take grievance with Spider-Man’s exclusivity with PlayStation despite normally being a third-party character on Xbox and PC. If Spider-Man at Marvel’s direction ever leaves Sony, I want every developer and publisher going forward to remember the legacy of what this game set out to be: fulfilled ambition.
I do not say this lightly: this is the standard of Spider-Man that I’ve been waiting for in videogames for a long time, and one I’m still waiting on in the movies over at Marvel Studios. This videogame would make a great two, or three-hour film. Marvel’s Spider-Man will be supported with episodic downloadable content until the end of the year so feel free to pick up the game now or after a price drop. Have fun because I know I did!
caption: Spider-Man in the new PlayStation 4 video game.
Photo credit: Polygon