Comic books and video games go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Now that Insomniac Games got their hands on the iconic Spider-Man franchise, does their interpretation of Spidey's world live up to its legacy?
I must admit, I'm not one for comic books, graphic novels, or whatever you want to call them. However, I sure loves me some Insomniac Games. When I first saw footage of Marvel's Spider-Man in action, I was blown away and after Insomniac's logo showed up at the end, all I could think was, "I need to play that game!" So, here we are a couple of years later and I'm glad to say that the end result is fantastic!
For starters, traversing New York City as Spider-Man simply feels incredible. He moves lightning fast as he swings between buildings, scales walls, and performs all sorts of acrobatic moves. This is one of those games that utilizes every button on the controller and it takes quite a while to learn the complexities of its gameplay but once you get the hang of it, you'll be delighted to watch Spider-Man swing through the city only stopping to thwart criminal activities and find all sorts of goodies scattered around.
Speaking of thwarting criminals, the combat in Marvel's Spider-Man is downright intense. I definitely wasn't expecting such a high degree of difficulty when it came to beating up crooks. You may have to fight a dozen or so baddies at a time and they'll happily gang up on you, shoot you from a comfortable distance, and even throw a few surprises your way. Luckily, Spider-Man has a large arsenal of moves at his disposal such as various melee attacks and he can use his webs to tangle up foes and stick them to walls, pick up and smash certain items, and quickly escape combat to recuperate. I found myself doing the latter quite frequently because you can perish rather easily for a superhero. Thankfully, you can restore some health by performing combos then using some of your stored focus energy.
Aside from beating up bad dudes, you can spend a lot of time freely exploring New York City. One of the first things I did was go around the entire city to repair police radar towers in order to complete the map. As you progress, you'll be able to collect backpacks that contain memories and such from Peter Parker's past, snap photos of landmarks, infiltrate enemy hideouts, clean up the environment, and search for Black Cat toys in a hot-and-cold style mini-game. Meanwhile, nogoodniks will try and break into stores, mug innocent people, and steal cars so it's great fun to prevent their criminal plots. You could spend hours aimlessly wandering around.
As you complete objectives, you'll earn various currencies such as skill points and tokens that come in research, landmark, base, crime, challenge, and backpack varieties. Skill points are earned when you level up and you use them to improve Spider-Man's abilities within three skill trees while the tokens are used to craft different suits that have their own powers, suit mods which provide boosts, and gadgets that feel a lot like the weapons in Ratchet & Clank although not as crazy. In fact, you even select them with a very familiar wheel. Anyway, there's a ton of cool things to unlock which adds a lot of replay value.
Although there's a ton to do in the open-world city, there is a story campaign, too; believe it or not. Obviously, I don't want to spoil anything so I'll keep this high level. I will say that you'll be impressed by the length of the main campaign as well as the variety of activities that you'll end up accomplishing. There are scenes that involve detective work, puzzle solving, stealth, and of course, oodles of action-intense sequences. There are a few quick-time events, too, but there aren't many at all which is good news for those who dislike that gimmick. You'll eventually meet a somewhat large cast of characters as well and perhaps even play as a few of them. Overall, the campaign is lengthy, offers a surprising amount of variety, and is full of memorable moments and awesome action sequences.
I've already touched on how brutal combat can be and I'm not kidding around. Once I got accustomed to how to take out enemies effectively, new enemy types were introduced and my ass started to get kicked all over again. Even after switching to easy difficulty, I found some encounters to be exceptionally brutal so if you're thinking of buying this for a kid then maybe you should change your mind. It is rated Teen, after all. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the puzzles and detective sequences are painfully simple and tedious. Anyone should be able to easily breeze through these segments with very little effort. This contrast creates a rather conflicting formula because you need laidback moments to break up the combat but you also want to give your brain a workout, too.
My only other complaint is that New York City is pretty samey throughout. I loved how the weather and time of day gradually changed which ushered in a great deal of visual variety but there aren't any particularly memorable areas and it all blends together to make a mostly unvaried game world. To be fair, it looks absolutely fantastic. I just wish more areas of the city stood out.
Insomniac Games created something very special with Marvel's Spider-Man. Controlling Spidey to swing through NYC and beat up criminals while experiencing a memorable story campaign makes for one of the most satisfying experiences in modern gaming.
- + Whipping around New York City while finding loads of content feels awesome
- + Intense and challenging combat
- + Lengthy and varied campaign
- - Combat can get too relentless and frustrating even on easy difficulty
- - Puzzles are too easy and simple
- - The city is fairly samey