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Review

Marvel's Spider-Man Review

Be the Spider-Man.

It’s been a long time since there was a truly great Spider-Man game. Since the excellent Spider-Man 2 on PlayStation 2, Spidey fans have had to endure a lack of physics-based swinging, instead putting up with webs sticking to the sky and low speed, animated swinging in its place. Insomniac are known for creating games with smooth and stylish movement systems, with games like the Ratchet and Clank series and Sunset Overdrive seemingly making it the ideal developer to make Spider-Man’s web swinging and zipping a digital reality.

Their expertise really shows. The physics-based swinging around Manhattan is superb; it’s clearly had a lot of care and attention put into it. It’s not just quick and stylish, it’s filled with options too, from obligatory features like gaining height by jumping at the top of a swing or gaining speed nearer the bottom, to nice touches like web launching from the top or sides of a building after running along it. But for one or two supplemental abilities, the vast majority of these moves are available from the start as well. Within an hour or so you’ll be landing directly on top of mission markers like you’re Spidey himself.

Swinging is easy to pick up from the moment the game’s opening cutscene – short and to the point – shifts seamlessly into gameplay and you take your first few swings. Nitpickers like myself might point to shenanigans with web length when very close to the ground and being able to perform the swing kick in combat when there’s nothing to attach webs to, but they’re points that are easy to overlook. More importantly, it has the depth to still be fun even after many hours of gameplay.

In this game’s original take on the character, Spider-Man is already an experienced web-head with eight years under his belt and a few  supervillians locked away through his exploits. In fact, the game opens with Peter Parker being woken by his phone alerting him to the police finally making a move on Wilson Fisk – the Kingpin. Parker quickly puts on his suit, jumps through the window and away you go, swinging through Manhattan towards Fisk’s offices for an action packed introduction to the game.

You can draw a lot of comparisons to the Batman Arkham series; Spider-Man also has combat and stealth sections, a large open world littered with tasks, and even a similar combat system, but there’s some important ways it differs enough to feel different. In combat, for example, when your spider sense goes off and you tap circle Spidey dodges rather than counters, leaving you to counter the attack yourself, and where certain caped crusaders tend to keep their feet on the ground whilst fighting, you’ll find that the web-head can go through whole fights barely touching the floor.

Combat is fast and hectic, particularly early on when you find yourself a little overwhelmed by enemies. Almost right from the off you’re dealing with multiple melee attackers, gunmen, rocket launchers, and brutes all at once. They don’t always patiently wait their turn to attack either, especially from range, and failing to dodge when three enemies with assault rifles are about to shoot you could very well spell Spidey’s demise. As a result, you’ll be dodging, swinging, and zipping all around, as staying still and letting yourself get penned in is a quick way to die. Crucially, you will need to make full use of your attacks, webs, and wide array of gadgets to quickly take care of enemies.

Giving you several inventive ways of incapacitating enemies, gadgets are very powerful, which is why they are also limited. You carry a certain number of each gadget and your stocks are refilled through defeating enemies, both in stealth and in open combat. The amount of each gadget you can carry and the gadget’s abilities can be upgraded using six different types of tokens, which are earned by completing the various missions around the city.

Swooping in to stop robberies or end car chases give you crime tokens to be used on gadget upgrades and suits, while enemy bases earn you base tokens. Bases start similarly to a predator mission in Batman Arkham, with you zipping around above enemies and taking them out one by one. An indicator will let you know if you can safely take out an enemy, but stealth is arguably the weakest part of the game. It’s still good, but your options are a little more limited than they are elsewhere in the game.

Some of your gadgets aren’t much use here, so you’re left with fewer options than in other areas, but you can still easily get absorbed in splitting up groups with diversionary web shots to take them out. Curiously, enemy bases will start out as stealth missions, but even if you take out all the enemies silently, reinforcements will appear and combat will begin. There are only a few situations where stealth is forced on you, usually involving hostages.

Suits are one area that the game really gives you a lot of options. Outside of a few that are unlocked via the story and side quests, they are purchased using tokens once you meet a level requirement. There are 27 suits in total to unlock, inspired by both comics and films, with the Homecoming one unlocking relatively early in the game. Each of them has their own special ability, such as the Spider-Bro that comes with the Homecoming suit, which will electrify enemies in combat for you for a time. There is a lot of variety, from Spider Armour through wrestling suits to Secret War, so there’s something for everyone, even the Spider punks out there.

As well as base and crime tokens, there are also research tokens earned from completing projects for Harry Osborne, who is out of town and needs Peter to check up on various Oscorp research facilities throughout Manhattan. The nice part of these is that, whilst there are quite a few, there is variety baked into them. The Oscorp research projects don’t repeat mission types too often, and even enemy bases tend to require different approaches. As a result, completing the side content doesn’t get old too quickly as it’s usually a different type of challenge rather than repeating the same thing over and over. Sometimes you’ll even play as someone other than Peter or Spider-Man in the story, engaging in a little light sneaking through a corrupt museum, for example.

But, as with the combat, you don’t have to look too deep to see familiar open world game foundations. They’re not intrusive, but you have Ubisoft Oscorp antennae to reach, though climbing them is hardly a challenge for Spidey and neither is the mini-game to hack them, taking only a few seconds each time. There are also the odd Pipe Mania and stick positioning mini-games to complete, landmarks to photograph and backpacks to collect across the city, as well as timed challenges for swinging, stealth, and combat. QTEs are most prevalent when trying to stop a car chase, but also crop up occasionally in boss fights and story missions. These can sometimes feel a little cheap and the timing is occasionally a little out of sync with the graphics, but they do the job of keeping you engaged where regular gameplay would struggle and feature some serious spectacles.

There is a surprising number of supervillains to contend with through the game, though most of them are reserved for the final act. The story, which I certainly won’t be spoiling here, takes its time as it introduces its characters and even features some origin stories. Characterisation is particularly strong throughout the game and I find myself really believing characters, but for one or two contrived scenarios – impressive for a game of this length about a man dressed like a spider. I found myself sympathetic towards villains and heroes alike, thanks to some excellent voice acting, and even got chills from what must have been motion captured performances.

A couple of story arcs started during the game will extend into the expansions, which was a mild disappointment not because there isn’t enough story in the main game, but just because I was excited to see them come to fruition. I would advise reading the in-game character bios and delving into the history that the landmark photographs and backpacks reveal, just to get a sense of where everything stands in this strange new spider-world. This is particularly true when the game sometimes seems to gloss over the emotions that you’d expect from a particular turn of events or betrayal. Other than that, the story is an enjoyable one, mixing together a lot of familiar aspects into its own version of Spider-Man and managing to deliver some strong emotions at times.

What’s Good:

  • Graphically stunning
  • Feels like being Spider-Man
  • Tonnes of variety
  • Very well realised spider-world
  • Performances are great

What’s Bad:

  • Couple of plot threads unresolved until DLC
  • Stealth has a little less variety
  • QTEs and other open world staples

Marvel’s Spider-Man does a spectacular job of making you feel like the ultimate Spider-Man. From swinging through the city at high speed to fighting off legions of enemies by zipping between them and pulling them into the air, its gameplay looks like a scene from the films. It’s remarkably well realised in terms of its world, design, and even technically, with short loading times and a rock solid framerate even on the base PlayStation 4. If Spider-Man is your thing then this is an essential purchase.

Score: 9/10

Version tested: Original PlayStation 4

19 Comments
  1. aerobes
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    Sounds predictably great. No disappointments or surprises either, I could live without QTE’s though.

    I’ll be sure to pick this up when it drops in price, probably Black Friday weekend.

    Comment posted on 04/09/2018 at 15:14.
  2. MrYd
    Member
    Since: Mar 2011

    So the first of the “What’s bad” points translates as “wait until all the DLC is released to buy it” then?

    Sounds like a plan to me.

    Comment posted on 04/09/2018 at 15:17.
    • Tuffcub
      On the naughty step.
      Since: Dec 2008

      I doubt the price will drop by then so not much point waiting.

      Comment posted on 04/09/2018 at 15:30.
  3. Crazy_Del
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    CAN NOT WAIT!!!!! I hope my game arrives on Thursday instead of Friday xD

    Comment posted on 04/09/2018 at 15:47.
    • Tomhlord
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Apr 2009

      Have fun Del!

      Comment posted on 05/09/2018 at 09:53.
  4. Tony Cawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    I seem to be the only person in the world who couldn’t give a monkeys about this game. I’m glad it’s reviewing well but I’m in no rush to get my hands on it. Certainly seems like one I’ll pick up at some point further down the line when it’s a bit cheaper and I’m looking for something to play.

    Comment posted on 04/09/2018 at 15:52.
    • double-o-dave
      Member
      Since: Nov 2008

      Snap! Although it does look amazing & no doubt it is, I think it’s an age thing for me. When I was a kid I loved Spiderman, but seeming I’m now a fully grown adult, I’m not finding playing a Spiderman game very enticing whatsoever.

      Comment posted on 04/09/2018 at 16:11.
    • Adrian Burrows
      Member
      Since: Jul 2017

      Yeah me too mate. No rush to get this one for me.

      Comment posted on 04/09/2018 at 16:25.
  5. Foxhound_Solid
    Is a smart cookie.
    Since: Dec 2009

    As a veteran gamer and veteran comic fan – I cannot wait for this. Friday cannot come quick enough!!!!!

    Great review!! :-)

    #WebslingerForLifeYo

    Comment posted on 04/09/2018 at 16:48.
    • doomsday619
      Member
      Since: Nov 2008

      Same as me big comic book fan and gamer, 36 years old and I’m getting as excited to play it, as my kids are for Christmas.
      I keep looking at my preorder waiting for it to go from processing to sent.

      Comment posted on 04/09/2018 at 17:04.
      • Foxhound_Solid
        Is a smart cookie.
        Since: Dec 2009

        Yeah man!!!

        We have literally waited forever for this. A proper AAA Spider-Man game. I sincerely hope it triggers a chain of events and we end up with a Marvel Playstation Universe with all the characters we love getting AAA games. The best to my mind were Captain America [PS3 which I still have], Spidey 2 and Hulk Ultimate Destruction [PS2]

        DC Sides Batman has always been great. I even liked the Splinter Cell style Batman Begins on PS2.

        This is that big step up. The WebHead has always been my favourite character of all too, so a double whammy!!

        Comment posted on 05/09/2018 at 12:31.
    • doomsday619
      Member
      Since: Nov 2008

      I’m one of those gamers who keep all my games and old consoles going all the way back to the NES much to my wife’s nagging that they take up too much room lol.
      I loved the Captain America game and Hulk Ultimate Destruction also a fan of the Ultimate Alliance games also enjoyed Spider-man Shattered Dimensions.
      But this looks on a whole new level and I’m glad its getting comparisons to The Arkham series for combat.
      With this and Iron Fist series 2 this weekend my wife will be fighting me for the TV.
      And oh PS did you see there maybe a first glimpse of Captain Marvel at 4pm today EW are doing something with Brie Larson.

      Comment posted on 05/09/2018 at 13:55.
      • Foxhound_Solid
        Is a smart cookie.
        Since: Dec 2009

        Shattered Dimensions! I also still have that, great game!! I used to have everything as far back as the NES and Master System but ended up having a clear out of thousands of games and a fair few consoles to boot. You’ve done well to keep yours! I only have PS3, PS4Pro and a Snes Mini now with a plethera of games to cover all bases. Still holding out for MGS rebuilt for Pro with orignal voice casts mind…

        Cant wait for next Iron Fist Series also, wonder if Danny is gonna continually remind us of who he is and who he trained with haha! Only kidding, I actually love the MNU – I think its a great addition with DD2, JJ and LC1 being the stand outs. The villains – Cottonmouth, The Purple Man and The Punisher [who has an awesome debut series too]

        I have three days booked off from the Mrs so I am good to go – webslinging and nerding out this weekend to the fullest!!

        #NerdsAssembled

        Comment posted on 06/09/2018 at 07:45.
      • Foxhound_Solid
        Is a smart cookie.
        Since: Dec 2009

        Captain Marvel snippets look dope as hell also!!

        Comment posted on 06/09/2018 at 07:46.
      • doomsday619
        Member
        Since: Nov 2008

        She looks awesome as Captain Marvel, I know the Kree are getting alot of hate…well on the comic book site I use daily but I think they look perfect.
        The best use to date of Danny was in Luke Cage S2.
        Would love to see more of K’un-Lun this series.
        The Purple Man, Kingpin and Cottonmouth for me were some of the best MCU villains.
        The Punisher S1 was amazing looking forward to Daredevil S3 too as its going to introduce Bullseye.

        Comment posted on 06/09/2018 at 08:17.
      • Foxhound_Solid
        Is a smart cookie.
        Since: Dec 2009

        You just know they’ll get Bullseye right too. Kingpin was awesome in DD1, he really captured the vibe of the character but he is a great actor, always choosing different directions role wise – [Jurassic World, Hateful Eight, Men in Black, Daredevil for example]

        Really looking forward to Reds third outing…..

        Comment posted on 06/09/2018 at 09:41.
  6. badger
    Member
    Since: Apr 2012

    Might get this at some point when it’s cheaper. The next few weeks are all about Dragon Quest for me.

    Comment posted on 04/09/2018 at 18:00.
  7. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Great review sounds like a really decent Spiderman game but i’m still not enticed. The web swinging looks really cool but the overall design of the gameplay simply doesn’t appeal to me.

    Comment posted on 04/09/2018 at 18:11.
  8. Andrewww
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    Very good this reviews well. And even if I find Spidey cool and everything, he’s not my favorite superhero, and I got so much to play and so little time, that I’ll put it on my wish list and will probably play it some other time, much later on.

    Comment posted on 04/09/2018 at 19:22.