Publisher: Sony Interactive
Developer: Imsomniac Games
Genre: Open-world Action-Adventure
For the past few decades, Spiderman has reached video game systems from multiple publishers. Most notably Activision from developers like Vicarious Visions to Treyarch(with bit of Beenox). 4 years after their last title; Amazing Spiderman, the mantle has passed to Sony exclusively for their PlayStation platform, did they deliver?
Oh boy, they did. The new iteration has surpassed all the Spiderman games within the franchise, even with a few caveats around. Imsomniac has taken aspects of what was successful from previous PlayStation exclusives and third party open world games, and brought their own implementations to great finesse.
Clocking in around past 20hrs to finish over 70% of the game, it shouldn't take less than additional 10hrs to achieve full completion with variety of challenges, side missions and finding collectives.
The game sets a few years after Parker began his campaign as the caped wallcrawler of New York City. He now works with Dr. Octavius as his partner/assistant. After apprehending Wilson Fisk, things seem to have gone awry in the city, multiple crimes from factions such as The Demons started occurring massively and they've been stealing Fisks property alongside his stash of contraband. Spiderman working with the police investigates to find out what their motivations are leading to far more sinister ploys and a deep secret hidden underneath Oscorp.
Most of Activision's game captured the sensation, breadth of being Spiderman. They never did bring a greater story that matches with all of Spiderman's great tales. The new game brings more depth, intricacies and emotional impact I haven't had since well I was done watching Spiderman 2 over a decade ago. You get around many of the great characters thanks to funny writing, good cheesy one-liners, dramatic chops and of course, Peter's awkward sense of humor. The ending will leave you in tears(yeah it got me) but also a hopeful resolution of great things to come for another Spiderman game.
Though the story had a few pacing issues after the first act, it does well to pick itself up and immediately gets the momentum going. Some of the side missions and activities even to some degree foreshadow of returning characters from the Spiderman universe for the sequel leaving quite a lot to anticipate.
Spiderman takes inspirations from a couple of games. The fighting gameplay from Batman Arkham series, the platforming from Infamous and the versatile open world exploration from Prototype. It does seem by heart Insomniac knew these games very well and had deeply implemented them that didn't cheapen the experience overall.
Web slinging isn't as simple as clicker a button or two as it was with earlier titles. To start, you have to jump by pressing X when on ground then press X again to slingshot himself forward before holding R2 to start swinging again. You can use the analog to change direction, movement is precise and smooth enough to control thanks to efficiency in control responses. Pressing L2 and R2 together at targeted position during web flight allows you to land on objects or boost yourself up when you press X after landing. Though it's difficult to use L2 and R2 since am not a fan of Dualshock 4's triggers, they irritate me. If you feel the same about them, then it'll of little hindrance to you. X also allows you to reach higher once you've reached max altitude as you swing. There are times though I wish the mechanics weren't finicky as I had trouble getting from place to another especially one within close proximity.
Fighting is difficult, as you have to remain concentrated while being surrounded by multiple opponents. Pressing Square is where you pummel enemies, Rectangle is for swinging to them or holding the button drags/swings one around. Circle is for dodging when your spidey sense spots an attack coming and X is for jumping around like a looney(yeah X doesn't help much here). Though the best part of fighting against your enemies is using your gadgets, shooting webs by pressing R1 entangles enemies, cornering them to a wall, objects or ground make them stick with further shots making fights more lenient and easier. You can change gadgets from your inventory via L1, switching up from multiple of them allows you to diversify your tactics especially in tough situations. Lastly but not of least, pressing L3 and R3 activates your suit's super. Fighting ramps up your focus which either by pressing D-pad down heals you or feeling one single bar allows you to knock one opponent easily by pressing Rectangle and Circle together.
They are intense brawls, as you have to dodge thugs shooting rockets, rifles or coming to pummel Spiderman in the face. Dodging is imperative as it can mean the difference between game over and winning over. Making tactical use of your gadgets help a lot, some of them even have pretty funny results too as well as awe-strucking ones. Boss fights are lot of joy, you'll be not only one but two as well. As you progress further through the game, all the combination of baddies ramp up. Though if you do manage to unlock way more stuff than the usual, then the game becomes a bit broken as you're a little more overpowered just like Doom guy was in the last act.
Alongside main missions, there are variety of activities to do and items to collect. From both, you earn tokens which allows you to craft new gadgets and suit enhancements. Even going far as to upgrade some of the gadgets as well. The best part comes with your suit's powers. Unlocking multiple suits allows access to variety of them, including one when you blaze out enemies AoE style from some conjured up guitar.
There also mini-games going from fixing electronics, accessing radio towers to biological compositions. Though these does seem a bit tedium, they are made well intuitive and gives your brain a little exercise from all the smacking on-screen. Did I forget to mention Spidey's a detective here too?
There's a lot to do and enjoy in Spiderman, even achievement hunting doesn't feel poorly trivialized as you discover hints and clues alongside information around certain characters as well as ones outside of the game world. Though the vexing element to this game is the stealth sequences where you play multiple different characters, some sequences can become frustrating to the point of putting you through trial and error phases.
Am not surprised that the PS4 could deliver great visuals, if Infamous Second Son could do it, so could this and it did. Breath taking character models alongside great animation brings them to life as well as adding richness to the world of Spiderman. Details on buildings and skycrappers does make it feel enticing to swing in New York and take a couple of fancy photos using photo mode(just like yours truly). Though I did spot a few compromises here and there like shoddy lighting effects and texture flickering, most of these are little to hamper overall experience.
Though don't get me wrong, there are couple of technical issues with this game. At one point I accidentally swinged out of a battle and all a sudden am falling down way below the level area outside of the realm of the game. I've even experienced frame rate hiccups where the game slowed to a crawl only for a second. It doesn't even very often but at times can be noticeable. Texture flickering is nothing, my character at some point disappeared only to reappear later.
Though it's no surprise for a box office title from a Marvel property such as this gets bombastic music treatment. Imsomniac's take is very dynamic. Sure other games have done it, but Imsomniac creates nuanced moments with how the music plays out from one sequence to another.
Some of the sounds though seem a little derivative, maybe from the previous Spiderman games as well as maybe the Arkham series. Just reminds me a bit more of Arkham when it comes to the combat fights. But then again, there's always the genuine Imsomniac's originality spin to it. Though as I keep thinking about the sound, I can mostly remember web splashing....ughhh
The game isn't technically proficient sure, stealth part sucked. I had problems getting full grasp with swinging at times. But these problems co-exist in what happens to hugely package in abundance of fun factor. The story captures the best essence of Spiderman, the gameplay is sheer fun thanks to intense fighting and you can even wear a costume of Spiderman in undies.
Imsomniac once again delivers with the charm they've had since the Ratchet and Clank series, and Sunset Overdrive. Though it isn't close to perfection, it does remain to be a greater Spiderman game for years to come and hopefully till the sequel supersedes it.
Hello, I've worked hard around reviewing this game with a bit of love of course. It would be nice and appreciative if you could leave a vote and do follow me for more in the near future. Also here's a bunch of my takes from photo mode. Toodlehoo :)