The web slinging costumed hero has had a mixed time of it when venturing into video games over the past 10 years. After the huge success of Spider-Man 2 (the movie tie in game) in 2004 and the subsequent under the radar release of Ultimate Spider-Man in 2005, video games featuring the red and blue teenager have lacked in the quality that those games delivered.
However, Insomniac games have released this year a product that will likely go down in history as one of the best superhero games of all time. Returning to the physics-based web swinging of those two titles from the mid-2000s, players take control of a 23-year-old Peter Parker as he soars through the beautifully rendered streets of New York in typical Spidey style. The game aims and succeeds in making the player really feel like they have absolute control over Spider-Man’s movements and the result is incredibly satisfying. From swinging through the streets to taking down groups of criminals, Spider-Man hasn’t felt this good in years.
Following a slightly older Peter Parker than we’re generally used to, the game feels as much like a Peter Parker story as it does a Spider-Man one. Excellent performances and motion capture bring all the comic book characters to life in a living breathing city, in which the plot drastically affects and changes the lives of all involved. Furthermore, visually the city changes over the course of the game because of your actions to coincide with plot developments, really solidifying the players role in the story.
Combat is a reminiscent development of what made the earlier titles so successful. Spider-Man leaps around acrobatically as you fight members of Wilson Fisk’s gang or Negative’s Demons. Punches feel like they hit hard, and it never gets old whacking one of the bad guys into the sky only to have Spidey leap up after him and continue to lay a beat down in mid-air. Stealth also makes up much of the combat with the game encouraging you to take down as may hostiles as you can without being detected to make your job easier when you do finally make your entrance. However, on the back of another certain Superhero franchise which heavily incorporates stealth into the action, these moments seem a little tacked on, with very little effort or planning required when approaching these situations.
Unfortunately, the game does suffer from an abundance of fetch and find quests which can become boring, even though swinging around the city is probably the most enjoyable part of the game, but they lack in any kind of real payoff and will likely only appeal to completionists. Furthermore, the game doesn’t offer a huge variety in terms of missions. They generally play out as, swing here, fight these guys, find some evidence, swing to the next place and do it all over again. Luckily however the game is absolutely fun enough that you will want to be doing it over and over again.
For Spider-Man fans this is an absolute must buy. There hasn’t been a game this good featuring the hero since the Playstation 2 era. Video game fans in general should definitely consider picking this game up as it is a high-quality action adventure title with plenty of content to sink your teeth into and one that promises to not get boring after a few hours. Whether you’re swinging through the streets, taking down a gang hideout or simply snapping shots of New York’s landmarks, there’s plenty to have fun with in the world of Peter Parker.