Review by J.T. Johnson
DEVELOPER: Insomniac Games
DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Interactive Entertainment
NOTE: For the purposes of full disclosure, I beat the game’s main storyline and when I started writing this review, I was at 85% game completion. The only things left were some of the side missions, some bases and collectibles.
Sony is having a hell of a year with their exclusives. Earlier, they released the new “God of War” game which exceeded expectations with a fantastic story and beautiful visuals. Then, “Detroit: Become Human” added a whole new level of making choices that affect the outcome of the entire game. Now, Insomniac has arrived with their long-anticipated game, “Spider-Man”.
The game is an open world affair and it has many similarities to Rocksteady’s “Batman: Arkham” series. This proves to be the right direction for everyone’s favorite web slinger, but before I get to the good stuff, let me go ahead and state that yes, the game does adopt some of the more annoying aspects of open-world games.
The first is the use of towers to reveal sections of the map. I don’t know why Insomniac decided to have this antiquated element as it has already gone out of style with more recent games such as “Far Cry 5”, a series that was one of the pioneers of this dated element. Thankfully, there are not too many towers to discover and I would actually recommend that you go ahead and get this out of the way as it also allows you to get used to the game’s controls.
Another issue is the fact that you’ll find yourself doing menial tasks such as taking photos of various landmarks, which can actually be fun when you come across places such as the Avengers Tower and the Embassy of Wakanda. In addition to the photos, you’ll also take on the task of finding several backpacks around the city.
In other games, these are usually optional tasks for those who want to complete the game with 100% completion. Here, though, you have to take part in finding the landmarks and the backpacks because they give you tokens that you need to upgrade your suit. This problem is thankfully shortened by the fact that once you reveal the map through the towers, you can highlight where all the bags and locations are across the entire city.
The only other problem is that there are repetitive crimes that you will be stopping. This was also an issue with “Batman: Arkham City” and “Arkham Knight”, so it is just something that you kind of have to live with in open world games such as this. Thankfully, this is made up for with wonderful controls and a great combat system.
You’ll take part in traditional brawls, but this time you’re Spider-Man, so you’ll use your spider-sense, webs and other gadgets in order to take down the various enemies you’ll come across. The combat in this game never gets old and is always satisfying. The game also provides a fair amount of challenge with the combat and this too adds to the overall excitement.
As with other open world games, Insomnia has given players a decent upgrade system where Spider-Man can upgrade his suits and his gadgets. Each upgrade helps with various things such as more XP or health or more slots for weaponry such as Spidey’s ever dependable web shooters. It is an easy-to-use system as well and every gamer should be able to pick it up with relative ease.
Not surprisingly, the game is also visually stunning to look at. I was staring in awe as I swung around a very realistic version of New York City! As I mentioned before, there are a few landmarks that Peter has to go and photograph and this allows Insomnia to show off the game’s true beauty in addition to throwing more than a few easter eggs in there from the Marvel Universe.
One of the things that impressed me about the “Arkham” games and truly made me come back for more was the engaging storytelling that made me feel like I was playing as Batman. The same can be said for “Spider-Man” as I truly feel that I’ve taken on the role of Peter Parker and his alter-ego. The story is well written rivaling most of Spider-Man’s actual big screen adventures. It is, above all, entertaining and there are also elements that remind you that Peter is not just a superhero, but everyone’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!
The best part of the game, though? Slinging around through New York, of course! There were times where I just couldn’t get enough of simply traveling through the Big Apple as I swung through the air and ran up the walls of the various skyscrapers found in Manhattan. The controls were so easy to handle and it was the sheer simplicity of it all that impressed me as well.
Yes, the game doesn’t really add anything new to the open world formula and it even falls into a few traps of the genre. Still, these are minor complaints for a game that is an impressive feat and another exclusive hit for the PlayStation 4. If you haven’t checked out “Spider-Man” yet and you own a PS4, then you owe it to yourself to get this title as soon as possible!