Spider-Man (PS4) Review
Score: 10/10 Legendary
Your friendly neighborhood masterpiece
I remember June 12th, 2017 as if it was yesterday. I remember sitting at my computer desk with a Red Bull and a turkey sandwich as Sony went about their press conference for E3. As excited as I was, nothing prepared me for the Spiderman reveal. I squealed like a child and watched, completely awestruck, as he fought bad guys and stopped a helicopter from crashing into the city. I didn’t want to have a ton of hope because at this point there was literally no good recent spiderman game. I couldn’t pump the breaks though, and I found myself being excited about it for days after. Maybe this time they would get it right. Over a year later I can tell you, everything is so, so right.
(Watch the newest trailer here)
I honestly don’t even know where to begin (Seriously it’s been 30 minutes now). Let’s start with this; I have beaten the main story, the side missions, unlocked all the suits, skills and gadgets there are and this game never stopped being incredible. The story of Peter Parker is an emotionally compelling narrative and when you couple that with flawless web swinging mechanics, awesome gadgets, beautiful scenery and some of the best voice actors in the industry, you have an excellent game. Let’s get into the juicy details.
Swinging through the tall skyscrapers of Manhattan is one of the most fulfilling pieces of the game. I have spent hours just swinging. Just traveling. Every swing, flip and jump is so elegant and effortless. It takes almost no time at all to get the feel of it and when you do you feel something inside of you. I compare it to the feeling I got as John Marston; peacefully riding into the sunset along the border of Mexico with the western music playing. The feeling of freedom. The feeling of peace.
No matter what kind of game I play, I’m not usually the stealthy one and not usually the one to try fancy combos. I usually just try and brute force my way through things (my wife would argue that I do this with my whole life). Spider-Man gave me actual joy in trying new things. At first I would do the usual button mashing of kicks to the head mixed with the occasional dodge of gunfire. As you level up though you get access to tons of new skills and gadgets. You can approach almost any fight in countless ways. Throw down a web bomb onto the middle guy and watch as everyone around him gets webbed up. Throw down a spider drone and watch a little spider robot shoot lasers at the enemies. Dodge bullets and counter with your foot to their face. Power up your suit so you can electrocute enemies with your punches. Web enemies and throw them at other enemies. The possibilities are endless.
One of the most impressive components of the game is the open world and large number of side quests and collectibles. Early on Spider-Man finds an old backpack of his that he forgot about years ago and this prompts a search for over 50 backpacks with different collectibles inside. There are a bunch of little Easter eggs so I won’t spoil them, but they were an absolute blast to collect and read. Insomniac also did a tremendous job recreating not only New York, but the Marvel version of New York we love. Marked on the map are multiple landmarks like the Avengers Tower, Fogwells Gym where Matt Murdock’s dad trained, Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum and a Wakandan Embassy. Seeing these monuments, combined with Spider-Man’s little witty comments really helped bring my childhood to life. This is only scratching the surface though! You can complete challenges from Taskmaster, try and catch Black Cat, fight Tombstones gang, track down Harry Osborns old research stations, fight random crime and fight against a tyrannical governmental agency. Insomniac took a lot of pages from the incredible Arkham Series, but put that good ol’ Spider-Man charm to it. And holy crap does it work.
The story of Spiderman is one of the more emotionally charged stories that Marvel has put out, being pulled along by a brilliant voice cast. Peter is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal, who has been an incredibly important voice actor my entire childhood, and MJ is voiced by Laura Bailey who is a legend. These 2, along with others such as Travis Willingham, help bring this cast to life. They help tell the story of an older peter Parker who has already been spiderman for years. The significant challenge of being who he is has made his relationship with now ex girlfriend Mary Jane somewhat rocky, He’s changing from looking up to a mentor to becoming one, and he learns how to push aside personal feelings in order to do what he knows to be right. While your gameplay as Spider-Man makes you feel like an invincible hero, your gameplay as Peter Parker makes you feel like a normal person with the same problems as all of us. The main story is a sometimes humbling and always spectacular 15 hour journey, with an emotional rollercoaster of an ending that truly moved me to tears. You are put in the shoes of a man who is trying to make the best of what he has. A man who struggles to understand what he is, and often fails. But through his own mental fortitude and unbending will, you are shown what it means to be a Hero. I may or not be crying now.
This game is everything it needs to be. Emotionally charged story, diverse combat, flawless and graceful web slinging mechanics, a ton to do and a fantastic cast and musical score. If you are a fan of Spider-Man, or even just a superhero fan, this is a game you need to play, and a story that just needs to be told.