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Marvel’s Spider-Man
Game Reviews

Marvel’s Spider-Man

A properly licensed open-world experience that lets you do whatever a spider can do.

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We’re coming up on the busy season for games! That’s a good thing for those of us who are always looking for the next big thing. In this case, the next big thing is…well, a licensed game! And not just any licensed game, but a licensed Spider-Man game! It’s a really well-made licensed game featuring the company’s most popular character, one that you should definitely check out.

Since we currently live in a world completely dominated by Marvel, Marvel’s Spider-Man carries a lot more weight than it otherwise might have. Welcome to 2018, folks, I’m wholeheartedly recommending licensed games.

Welcome back, true believers! Though it’s been eight years since he started fighting crime, Peter Parker’s still trying to find his place in the world, both as Spider-Man and otherwise. This take on the character is somewhat different from what you know. For one, he’s no longer a reporter – he’s a lab assistant instead, working for one Dr. Octavius. Yeah, Octavius. This is a Spider-Man story. I think you can guess how this is going to go, but you’re going to have a great time along the way.

The most obvious comparison here is to the Arkham series of Batman games. Spider-Man is a very similar concept: take a superhero and build a game around embracing that hero’s most distinctive qualities. Where Batman has his detective skills and martial arts, Spider-Man’s all about speed, acrobatics, quips and, of course, plenty of web-swinging. This game’s got all of that in spades and it makes for a solid and memorable experience.

Let’s be real: the most important part of a Spider-Man game is the web-swinging, right? It’s fortunate, then, that this title really nails the fantasy of getting around as your friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. Spidey can swing, web-zip and parkour all day long; it’s all got a solid, weighty feel while still embracing that all-important sense of speed.

Swinging is simple but still rewards paying attention to where you’re going and how you get there, while indoors Spidey is able to crawl around on the walls and ceiling with ease. There are even different voice inflections for Spidey’s lines if he talks while swinging around!

New York is packed with goodies to discover and Easter eggs to find, so there’s definitely good reasons to get into the groove and get to swinging around. You’ve even got a selection of bonus challenges to check out courtesy of Taskmaster. Doing whatever a spider can comes with plenty of rewards, allowing you to progress through a skill tree and build new spider-suits that offer special abilities. And yes: Stan Lee makes a heartfelt cameo that totally works.

Combat, meanwhile, owes so much to the Arkham games that plagiarism accusations might be in order. That’s not exactly an issue, though, given how great Arkham combat tends to be. You know the drill: use directional attacks to beat up thugs, dodge attacks when you see a popup noting that they’re coming and throw out gadgets and finishing moves to make fights more manageable.

Spidey can also throw things around and is generally encouraged to knock enemies into each other and various objects, so there’s a strong environmental component to the combat here, which is interesting considering Spidey’s significantly more powerful ranged and aerial attack sets compared to Batman. It’s a lot of fun, but one quirk worth noting is that Spidey’s significantly more fragile than Batman, so there’s a much stronger emphasis on a solid defense.

You’d expect a headlining game for the PlayStation 4 to look fantastic and, well, Spider-Man does – especially so on the PS4 Pro. Swinging around, beating up thugs and laying out some sick one-liners are all enhanced by the beautiful presentation in one of the most beautiful open-world cities we’ve seen in a long time. Did I mention it’s all SUPER fast, like ridiculous fast when Spidey zips and races through skyscrapers and over Central Park? Short of Digital Foundry-style nitpicking it’s unlikely you’ll find much to complain about here.

I particularly loved the audio design and voice acting, from Spidey’s quips to J. Jonah Jameson’s hilarious Alex Jones-styled podcast all help bring this digital world to life better than most superheroes games have accomplished. Well, wait, there’s one complaint worth making: if you’re playing from a physical disc, you can expect a nice, lengthy initial install. Maybe get this one running before you go grab dinner or something.

Hour-long installs aside, Marvel’s Spider-Man is an all-around solid experience that’s well-suited for its role as a marquee AAA game. It’s a great example of how far licensed titles have come since the dark days of…well, even ten years ago. Today, you can expect licensed superhero games to really nail the experience of saving the day. Isn’t that what we all wanted as kids? Well, it’s what I wanted at least. Point being: play Spider-Man.