By Evan Calderon,
The world of Spider-Man has always been a favorite amongst the many different mediums since the wall crawler’s creation. While each brings something unique to the table, the games based around the famous character are often the closest we get to stepping into the life of Peter Parker. Granted some attempts in getting Spider-Man haven’t always gone well, his varied past in gaming have presented us with some high highs, and rather bad lows. With Insomniacs take on the character however, we may have our new gold standard for how a Spider-Man game should be.
We start our Spider-Man journey with an experienced Peter Parker, having been Spider-Man already for 8 years. This jumping point for the story was a great way to have the world feel already established in order to save time introducing us to characters and plot threads we may already know. Instead of covering the passing of Uncle Ben, as seen many times before, we can see this Peter learn new life lessons these new villains leave him with. In taking this approach we can also see slight differences in these established heroes and villains in order to make them feel fresh for those well versed in this world.
The story itself is truly one of the greatest Spider-Man stories told outside of the comics themselves. It’s respectful to its source material, each of these characters behave true to themselves, and has a real emotional weight to it. The very well written story overall makes you feel invested. Throughout the story you really get a good sense of how well executed each aspect is, from the cutscene animations to the voice acting, and so on. The story presented is able to fully engross you because of how well these aspects work together. From the lead voices like Yuri Lowenthal as Spider-Man, to the multitude of actors playing supporting cast all giving life into the characters, alongside the stellar facial animations, you can’t help but forget you’re even playing a game when you get control back.
When the game does give you control it’s an incredibly satisfying system, that is about as perfect as Spider-Man can get. There’s plenty to get right about Spider-Man’s movement and yet, Insomniac nails all of it. The swinging is immensely satisfying, and what I appreciated the most about it was that it actually took learning the inner workings of swinging to be as fluid as possible. The same can be said from its combat, which at its surface may seem very similar to that of the Batman Arkham franchise, but it has its own identity to it. You want to be more up in the air and avoid direct attacks, but also use your gadgets to the fullest. Alongside the multitude of gadgets are suit abilities you get when buying a new suit from with tokens you earn for completing activities around New York.
While you swing around New York there’s plenty to do beside the main story mode, most of which are some fun distractions. The city that never sleeps is riddled with crimes to stop on a nearly constant basis, and as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man it’s up to you to stop crimes like break-ins, and drug deals across the map. Progressing through the story will open more activities to do such as criminal base camps, Oscorp research labs, and various side missions helping out fellow New Yorkers. Not all the optional missions are hits, but you won’t find yourself bored doing them either. As with most open world games, you do have various collectables in the forms of bookbags from Peters high school days, and photos you can take of landmarks from the Marvel Universe version of NYC. All these together make the city really feel alive, and if you fail to do some of these heroic deeds, your old pal J. Jonah Jameson will be sure to scold you on it.
The Spider-Man experience provided by Insomniacs newest title really does the character justice. It’s how everyone envisions a Spider-Man game to be, and goes beyond that. My biggest issue with the game is that I wanted more, and while there will be in the form of DLC, I feel I’ll never be left with a full stomach when it comes to this new franchise. While there is always room for improvement, Marvel’s Spider-Man will be for me, the definitive Spider-Man experience for a long time to come.