It’s been two weeks since the launch of Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4, and I haven’t been able to put it down, even after finishing the main story. The dust has already settled and the city is safe, yet it always calls me back, begging for me to swing around in it. It’s a calling I can’t deny, and one I will answer to with glee, especially when the first batch of DLC drops on October 23rd, next month. Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4, is a game for both Spidey and passerby fans alike. But going in, as a huge fan, I was ready to seek out the flaws and head in with the most critical perspective.
Of course, like many other PS4 owners, as soon as the game was announced, I was immensely excited, especially as a Spider-Man fan. However, from the reveal, I did have a few dislikes and skepticisms. I wasn’t a big fan of the suit designed for the game, with the huge white spider logo and the running shoe look of the feet. As for the gameplay, I wasn’t sure what was real or if any of what was shown would be in the final game, especially with the parkour-esque movement section that was initially revealed. All of which was addressed with the launch of the game, of course.
As the days grew nearer, my excitement went through its ebbs and flows; from a constant fear of it failing to meet how I felt when I played Spider-Man 2 on the PS2, to utterly drooling over the game whenever more gameplay was revealed. It came to the point where I just wouldn’t think of the game at all, so as not to go in with impossible expectations. Alas, the game launched and I dove straight in with the most critical eye, which is something that couldn’t be helped.
At first, I was immediately thrown off with the swinging mechanics and physics. The physics and movement of Spider-Man 2’s swinging is still burned and etched into my muscle memory 14 years later, so I was forcing the game to play how I though it should. As for combat, I was going in with the mindset that Marvel’s Spider-Man was emulating the Batman Arkham trilogy gameplay. As soon as I’d see Spider-Man’s spidey sense go off, I’d immediately hit the dodge button, as if to parry. Instead, I’d just get a punch to the face. My Spider-Man experience was off to a rocky start, to say the least.
As I pressed on, not wavering to my immediate experience of the game, I learned I was just playing the game wrong and had to stop forcing my expectations, but instead learn how to play Insomniac’s game. After getting over the learning hump and going from learner to master, the game become’s a masterpiece of Spider-Man gameplay. Swinging has never felt better, with the thrill of gaining momentum and keeping it, where you’re just blazing through the streets of New York. It’s the biggest draw of Marvel’s Spider-Man, as it should be. Web swinging is Spider-Man’s trademark super power — besides him being able to stick to any surface — and Insomniac have done an amazing job improving on it and making it the best to date. I highly expect many people will come back and revisit the game to just swing around New York city, even after completing everything the game has to offer.
Marvel’s Spider-Man’s combat is a different story, however. I love how it’s unique from the Arkham games, despite having similarities from a surface level. It’s more aerial-based and focuses on the gadgets at Spidey’s disposal, providing for a lot of variety. Sadly it didn’t exceed my expectations for what Spider-Man combat could be. It’s close, but lacks the further depth and challenge I was looking for. I want to see more variety in combos, something more akin to the Bayonetta or Devil May Cry series. I don’t think combat greatness is exclusive to those types of games. It’s a lot to ask for such a big game, but perhaps Insomniac will be able to improve in the possible sequels.
Marvel’s Spider-Man on PlayStation 4, definitely met and surpassed many of my expectations. It’s the best iteration of Spider-Man perhaps in any medium, but most definitely within the gaming sphere. It provides the best swinging mechanics and physics to date, a unique take on a, personally, stale style of combat, and, best of all, a gripping Spider-Man story. Insomniac will be a developer constantly talked about by many gaming and spidey fans for the coming years, more so when a sequel gets leaked or teased. I can’t wait for the inevitable sequel, but I can only hope it exceeds my expectations just like how Spider-Man on PS4 did.