Review – Marvel’s Spider-Man
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Director: Brian Horton
Release Date: September 7th 2018
Getting to go back and review Marvel’s Spider-man was a dream. I had a great time revisiting one of the biggest games of 2018. Developed by Insomniac Games and following an original story, – not tied in to the any MCU movie, – this release was the most exciting superhero game since the Arkham series for a lot of people. Thankfully, Insomniac did manage to deliver a brilliant game, but not quite a perfect one.
The game’s opening fantastically sets up the tone and energy of what’s to follow and it’s probably one of the best video game openings I have ever played in that respect. Once the rush and momentum of that first mission wears off, you are introduced to the open world that you will be exploring for the next 20 or so hours. Manhattan does look good here, possibly the best it ever had done in a game up until this point . Landmarks like the Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden are rendered extremely accurately to their real life counterparts.
The stuff that they chose to include in the game’s version of Manhattan is great, but the issue is all of the parts that they left out. Battery Park is has halved in size, the One World Trade Centre has changed shape and everything above mid Harlem has vanished, making the district feel stumpy. Hopefully some of this stuff is amended for the sequel, along with the addition of at least a couple of the other boroughs.
Although the environment looks good graphically, as do Spidey’s various suits that can be unlocked during the game, the human character models aren’t the best and are fairly ugly when compared to character models in other 2018 games such as God of War, Red Dead 2 and Detroit: Become Human.
Usually, in cutscenes etc, the game presents these character models well enough that it isn’t too noticeable, but there were a good few times during gameplay that I would catch a glimpse of MJ’s or Miles’ weird faces and scratch my head wondering why they don’t look better. And don’t even get me started on the changed Peter face in the PS5 version of the game where he now looks like MJ’s little brother rather than her ex-boyfriend.
A few other reviews of this game make a point of complaining about the orchestral score that plays in the background as you swing around the city, but I personally really enjoyed it and it made me feel even more like a superhero than I already do when swinging through the middle of Times Square. I felt that all of the musical choices were well implemented and matched the story beats aptly to add impact in the right places.
The web swinging mechanic in this game is extremely satisfying and comes out on top of any other Spider-man game’s web swinging system previous to this. Again, it’s not flawless, there are moments that it will frustrate you and you will web to the opposite side of what you were aiming for. Also, for some reason the wall crawling mechanic is really slow and finicky and can often break the fast paced momentum of the web swinging/zipping/wall running combo that you have going. Most of the time though, it works fantastically and feels extremely fluid and immersive and it was probably one of the most satisfying game mechanics of 2018, along with Kratos’ axe in GOW.
Overall, Marvel’s Spider-man is great, but not perfect. There is definitely room for improvement, but this could be the start of a potentially incredible series of Marvel superhero games and hopefully the sequel, (that Insomniac is undoubtedly working on following the release of the Miles Morales spin-off,) can improve on some of the flaws present in this game and deliver something incredible.
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