Every Spider-man game since Spider-man 2 has been compare to and failed against Treyarch’s amazing title. This PS4 exclusive Spider-man, this time handled by the excellent team at Insomniac Games is possibly the first time a game in the series not only matches up but exceeds the benchmark.
Instead of following any particular Spider-man movie or media version, Insomniac Games have gone with a generic version which works in their favour, not being bogged down by having to fit in with previous storylines and able to feature a huge swath of characters from villains to old friends and some who have yet to become either.
The game sees Peter Parker working for Doctor Octavius after having quit the Bugle but is finding it tough paying rent and saving the city at the same time. His ex-flame Mary Jane Watson is on hand for advice and support, as is Aunt May, now working in a homeless shelter while Norman Osborne runs the city as mayor.
After an early run in with Kingpin, serving as a subtle tutorial, leads to his arrest and the breakdown of his gangs, another mysterious group take to the streets, causing problems for Spidey and his friends. Unravelling the mystery of this group will lead to a few big surprises and some even bigger troubles. It’s a well written story which will have you intrigued until the end, even setting things up for the possibility of DLC based add-ons without you feeling short changed.
The biggest feature this new Spider-man has in its favour is the web swinging. Making your way through the city is a wondrous thing, far more than any Spider-man game before it (yes, that includes Spider-man 2). The developers have managed to create simple but nuanced system for allowing you to swing around, leap and climb with ease. It flows nicely into combat, too, as you come across street gangs and go straight from swinging to webbing up an enemy and hitting them at full force in one seamless action.
Combat feels like a more refined version of the Batman Arkham games, a compliment indeed, with web based moves and close quarters combat seamlessly mixed with stealth attacks. The camera does a good job of keeping up for the most part, though occasional hiccups are expected in a game where you’re just as likely to spend half your time upside down or clinging to a wall.
The wealth of side-quests is so good that it’s often distracting from completing the main story as you come across another rucksack, drugs deal or bomb chase while swinging towards your goal. Yes, there are also towers, this time in the form of police radios, but the city is pretty much unlocked from the start and they just provide more detail on the side quests available in each region when you find and fix them.
With some great visuals, many of which have already found their way online thanks to the photo mode and Playstation sharing, excellent web-swinging and a great story, there’s only one word to describe Spider-man: Amazing.