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Published on January 21st, 2019 | by voxx


2018: The Year of Spiderman

There is no doubt that Marvel have been just that ever since the very first ‘Avengers’ film was released way back in 2012. They have conquered the world of cinema with hits like ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Infinity War’ breaking records, but their gaming presence has felt lacking. ‘Spiderman 2′ on the Gamecube was brilliant but it was released back in 2004, and that’s about it for big achievements. There have been a few games that garner some praise and are fun to an extent, like ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ and the ‘Deadpool’ game, but each fall flat and grow tiresome due to repetitive gameplay and voice lines. However, this is all in the past. Let’s jump to the present day and take note of what seems to be the start of a fantastic partnership. ‘Spider-Man’ on the PS4. A phenomenal game, although not without fault. It contains everything to be the perfect Spider-Man game and it is, without question, the best to date, although it does come across as bloated and too overstacked.

Let’s start with the positives, and it really is a case of where to start due to the amount of stuff Insomniac Games get right. Yes, the ever fluctuating Insomniac games; on the one hand there’s ‘Spyro’ and ‘Ratchet and Clank’, on the other there’s ‘Fuse’ and ‘Sunset Overdrive’. What I believe to be most important element in a game about Spider-Man is the web swinging and the world you traverse, and this has been done to perfection. The momentum, the feel, the sheer fun you have falling at high speeds and pulling up at the last second. It feels right, and since you’ll be doing it for around 70% of your playtime, it’s instrumental in the game’s success. The world is beautiful too; stunning, breathtaking. Insomniac clearly know this as they have included something that should be in all single player games, a photo mode. At anytime, you can pause the game and select this mode, leaving the entire world the at a standstill whilst you control the camera. The angle, the filter, the focus range and exposure are all at your control. Everything you need to capture the most glorious shots.

More positives include the combat and the characters. The combat is fluid, fast paced, and genuinely a spectacle to behold. Spider-Man moves with authenticity, and the moves you have and unlock give you choices on how to take down a rather large cast of enemy types, which really does build your immersion into this world. The characters are all unique and serve a purpose. Spider-Man, Miles Morales, MJ, Aunt May, and many more of the main cast move the engrossing plot along at a reasonable pace, in addition to fleshing out the thoughts and emotions of Peter Parker. Every character of note goes through a satisfying arc, meaning you really do connect with most of the cast. With the writing being consistently good too, it becomes a really good journey. The world evolves with you, further immersing you with not only an alright day/night cycle but with criminals and world damage appearing where appropriate to the story. It’s consistent in the world and in missions. The side quests are realistic and they all seem like real issues that Spider-Man would face in his downtime. There are also set missions like gang hideouts and challenge zones, and these all connect together. For instance, one sets up the first of three Downloadable Content packs (DLCs), and another has you fight another well-known villain of our friendly neighbourhood wallcrawler. They don’t feel hollow like in other games. This a fully fledged living world, and even the standard open world collectathons are fun just because of the voice lines and character conversations that accompany them. All of the gang hideouts and collectathons reward you with items to buy more suits, suit upgrades, and gadgets, each with their own value and each very useful in most situations.

Now, some negatives. Spider-Man doesn’t have the best villains in the business. Batman has Scarecrow, the Joker, and Two Face, all of which represent a side of himself. Spider-Man’s villains do this to a very limited extent but forget to actually be engaging characters. Negative Man represents the double life Peter Parker lives, and Rhino represents Spider-man’s occasional lack of forethought. Okay, good start, but that’s where it seems to end and four out of the main cast of six villains are very face value and dull. Furthermore, the majority of the main villains are hardly even around for the game and show up for just a couple of missions. Only a handful of the large enemy list feel like a threat throughout their tenure in the game, which is a shame, although I know that the characters that appear aren’t Insomniacs fault; they’re just chosen from characters created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko many decades ago. But they could have done more with the source material or even added to it since it’s in association with Marvel.

Another bad aspect of the game is it’s bloated gameplay. There is the perfect Spider-Man game in here, and yet it also seems to include many different mini games which just draw on and add nothing to anything. The Signal Wave Matchup mini game is acceptable as it’s over quickly and makes a bit of sense, but what is affectively Pipe Dream by LucasFilm Games from 1989 is not, and neither is the gene matching mini game. Such unnecessary bulk and filler that only serves to aggravate is baffling to me when they got so much else correct.

Also, the DLCs really don’t feel as fun as the base game. Maybe with the first two in particular it’s because they don’t have an actual ending and end with “To be continued”, but the gameplay is the same. Maybe it’s because there is less variety or it’s because the bad aspects are amplified more due to less being there. I’m not sure, but they do provide more of Spider-Man, which is what you’ll be wanting after the end of the first game.

To conclude, ‘Spider-Man’ is a phenomenal game that is absolutely worth your time, especially if you have seen the masterpiece which is ‘Spider-man: Into the spiderverse’. With an unbelievable number of stunning suits to unlock, and the brilliant soundtrack and score, the experience is satisfying and exciting. The negatives are noticable if you’re looking for them, but otherwise don’t take away from the experience. With Marvel making Spider-Man travel across the universe in ‘Infinity War’, and releasing the best Spider-Man film and game all in the same year, it really does feel that 2018 was the year of Spider-Man.

- By Ben Hanrahan

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