Marvel’s Spider-Man Review

Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4 is one of the most highly anticipated titles of this year. Shown off at E3 last year, fans have been itching for a new Spider-Man game of this caliber since 2004’s Spider-Man 2.  Though it has a few short-comings, Spider-Man is solid in all aspects.

Story

The story takes an interesting approach to the Spider-Man mythos. Warning, if you have not yet completed the game this section will include spoilers. Do not click on the spoiler tags unless you want to the story spoiled for you.

Story Contents

The story begins with your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man on his way to take out Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin. After a lengthy battle with Fisk’s men, and then Fisk himself, Peter makes his way to see Aunt May who is working for F.E.A.S.T., an organization that helps the homeless in the city.  We also see the rest of his day-to-day struggles involving making rent, his work with Dr. Octavius, and his relationship with on-again-off-again love interest Mary Jane Watson.

The real story begins to take shape when a mysterious group of masked thugs, called demons, show up and begin wreaking havoc on the city. Their super-human abilities make them formidable adversaries for Spider-Man, but he’s able to stop them at every turn. Things really take a turn at a rally for Mayor Osbourn, where the leader of the demons, called Mr. Negative, launches an attack that kills dozens of people, including the father of Miles Morales.

Eventually, we learn that Martin Li, the owner of F.E.A.S.T., is actually Mr. Negative. Peter tries desperately to reason with him but, in the end, is forced to take him down. However, after being put behind bars, he and several other big Spider-Man villains escape and it turns out Dr. Octavius, now called Doc Ock, was behind everything. They beat Spider-Man nearly to death, and Doc Ock tells him it’s his one and only warning to stay out of their way.

It turns out that Doc Ock and Mr. Negative have personal vendettas against Mayor Osbourn. Doc hates him because the two of them used to be scientific partners, but Osbourn stole his ideas and founded a successful company before booting Octavius to the curb. Li wants Osbourn dead because of an experiment conducted on him as a child in order to control his negative abilities. The resulting blast from the incident leads to the deaths of Li’s parents. The two of them release a virus on the city called “Devil’s Breath” that Osbourn was developing to cure his son of an ailment he was suffering from. The virus runs rampant, and in the end, thousands of people become infected, including Aunt May.

The final arc of the story involves taking down the Sinister Six as they attempt to destroy the city. Four of them work in pairs, and the resulting fights take place as Spider-Man must use all of his skills to take them down. He enlists M.J’.s help by having her slip into Norman Osbon’s private penthouse to find out where the cure for Devil’s Breath is being created. While she’s peaking around his secret lab, she finds some equipment such as a battle helmet and bombs that foreshadow Norman building his weaponry and armor to become the Green Goblin, one of Spider-Man’s biggest foes.

At the climax of the arc, Li is defeated once again which leaves Peter to fight Octavius alone. It turns out that the machine Octavius created with Peter was done due to a disease he has which is killing his nervous system. However, the neural arms are also corrupting his brain and causing him to seek out his homicidal plans of taking down Osbourn.

In the end, Peter takes him down but it is revealed that Octavius knew he was Spider-Man all along. This hurts Peter because he can’t believe a dear friend would use so much deadly force to stop him from interfering. Octavius says he’s disappointed because he saw Peter as a son, but Peter fires back that he too saw him in similar admiration. He goes on to say that he worshiped him and all that he was trying to accomplish. Instead of choosing to help him, he pulls the device out of its neural station and destroys the arms; leaving Doc Ock to be arrested.

Peter rushes back to F.E.A.S.T. to administer the anti-virus to Aunt May. However, it turns out that it would be hours to be able to develop more, and if he uses it on Aunt May there won’t be enough to save the rest of the city. He goes to Aunt May’s side, who asks him to remove his mask so she can see her nephew. Surprised that she too knew he was Spider-Man, he obliges her request as she tells him how proud of him she is while telling him that his Uncle Ben would also be proud of him. He momentarily decides to use the antidote on her, but then realizes that saving one life was not worth allowing thousands to die.

The cure is administered, and the city slowly goes back to normal. Aunt May passes, and Peter attempts to get his life back together. M.J, confesses that she has always had feelings for him, and the two finally kiss.

Norman goes back to his lab, in defeat, and observes Harry who is encased in a giant tube of green liquid. He’s covered in black tendrils, and one of them reaches out to touch the glass. This is a possible hint that Harry will become the Symbiote Venom in the sequel or future DLC.

While Miles helps Peter move into his apartment, he reveals to him that he too has similar abilities as him after being bit by a spider that M.J. accidentally brought back with her from Osbourn’s personal lab. The last moment in the game is the two of them on the ceiling as they give one another a knowing smile.

The story is solid and that was a pleasant surprise. With some video games, the story can suffer in exchange for good gameplay. We don’t see that here, as the writers did a good job including an original storyline within the Spider-Man universe.  Many of the characters from the comics were utilized in interesting ways so that it didn’t feel like the developers were just shoving them all in there just because. It’s both a thrilling and heartbreaking ride.

Characters

As mentioned before, there are quite a few popular characters featured in Spider-Man. There are the obvious choices like Spider-Man, M.J., J. Jonah Jameson (who is heard throughout the game on this podcast, but never shown), and Aunt May. We also see a great line-up of the rogues’ gallery like Scorpion, Shocker, Vulture, Doc Ock, Rhino, Tombstone, and of course Mr. Negative who we saw in the trailers.

Some surprising inclusions were characters like Black Cat and Miles Morales. Although we didn’t actually get to see Black Cat in the main game, she is supposed to play a bigger role in the upcoming DLC.

SPOILER

Miles is one of the people who takes on the role of Spider-Man in the comics, so the moment he was mentioned it was clear that he would be getting his powers at some point. Although, I felt the way they went about it to be a little too on the nose, in a forced kind of way. It would have been nicer to have it more organically added into the story instead of it being more of a rushed afterthought.

Gameplay

Perhaps the strongest aspect of the game was, unsurprisingly, the gameplay. Although it is common to see some games play out as a glorified interactive movie, Spider-Man did its best to stray away from that sort of trend we’ve come to expect from newer games.

New York, New York!

The biggest selling point that was shown of at E3 was that the map would be free-roaming, and boy was it ever! This map is seriously huge, and what was really impressive is that it was seamless! Aside from story and mission instances, the map is void of any loading screens. There is a boundary surrounding the main map that will warn you to turn back, but the developers did a great job making the world seem vast. What’s even better is that web-slinging is a lot of fun, and most of the time I didn’t mind traversing the city because it was a blast being able to swing myself to my next destination.

Spider-Cop is on the job

Another great aspect is that you actually feel like a superhero. As you’re swinging around town, alerts will pop-up notifying you that the citizens of New York need your help. Whether it be a car chase, kidnapping, or a robbery, you have the choice to jump into the action. These randomly occurring events reward you with crime tokens that can be exchanged for various upgrades such as suits and equipment. There is also a tab for your skills and abilities, but these are tied specifically to skill points that you earn by leveling up.

Collectibles, Come At Me!

The main game only takes about 8-10 hours to beat, but it took me a couple of weeks because there were so many side-missions and collectibles to discover. What’s great is that they’re released in waves so that you don’t collect all of them at once, but you can still collect a huge chunk of them and get ahead of the game a bit, which is great for collectible seekers like me. Sure, I could have rushed through the story, but as soon as I headed to another location, my map was littered with various symbols letting me know there was more to collect! Like the crime tokens, these collectibles all served as ways to upgrade my equipment and suits.

Ready For Some Spidey Justice?

Combat is also a lot of fun and really reminiscent of the Arkham games. There are also several moments in the game where you have to take down enemies stealthily. Your gadgets are a huge asset in these instances, and there’s so many to choose from! There are plenty of combos to learn, but I felt like the combat system to be really fluid. It doesn’t take much to execute a combo, so you’re rewarded for just continuing to hit the enemy regardless of what moves you’re using. Throw them in the air, slip under them, use your gadgets, all of it is fair game in a fight.

It’s Not All Going To Be Pretty

Look, as much as I would love to sit here and sing the praises of Spider-Man all day, it does have its shortcomings. I encountered a lot of bugs whiles playing, and while none of them seemed like they were game-breaking, they were a huge pain to encounter. Like this one, where I was stuck inside a building:

Other ones would occur during fights where I would dodge an attack but the enemy would slide across the ground and land a hit on me anyways. This was especially infuriating when being surrounded as one hit would be all it took for my health to be chipped quickly away by the swarm of enemies. This wasn’t an issue in the beginning, but in late game when the enemies are particularly aggressive it can be a problem. Another bug I encounted in the late game would be enemies glitching into parts of the scenery, making it impossible to complete combat missions. This was during one of the missions where part of the bonus came from doing a 65-hit combo, which is difficult to do on its own. Fortunately for me, I was able to reach the enemy who had glitched into a set of big metal containers using the Iron Spider-Arms. Still, it’s something you wouldn’t expect out of a polished game.

Graphics

Despite the complaints presented during “puddle gate,” the graphics are absolutely phenomenal. New York is beautifully crafted and the small details really take the game to the next level. The world feels like it’s alive and breathing, and the visuals definitely add to the immersive experience.

As a gay man, it was nice to see little hints of LGBT representation in the game. It was something I didn’t even know I needed until I came across it in-game. Greenwich Village is a famous LGBT friendly village in New York, so it’s really cool to see that in Spider-Man’s New York as well. Again, it just makes the world seem like real New York and makes you feel like you’re actually there.

Soundtrack

The music for Spider-Man was another great experience. The various superhero-themed music scores tap into that child within that wants to throw disbelief to the wind and pretend that they’re actually Spider-Man. The transition is fluid, and it just adds to the overall immersion.

Get Ready For The Laughs

Another great audio aspect is the dialogue. Spider-Man is known for his witty quips and banter, and that is captured perfectly through his actions and words. There are all kinds of comical moments like when Peter calls himself Spider-Cop, or when J. Jonah Jameson is getting roasted on his podcast for being wrong about Spider-Man. The comedy is both visual and audio which keeps the game light and fun.

Look Out, Here Comes The Spider-Man!

Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4 is an amazing game filled with hours a fun gameplay, stunning visuals, and immersive music to entertain your inner need to be the superhero. It’s not perfect, and it has its faults with pacing in the instances where you have to play as Mary Jane or Miles Morales which brings the action to a screeching halt.

Come on, I just want to get back to kicking butt!

However, for true believers, Spider-Man will be nothing short but a treat. The fluid combat system, witty comedic aspect, and comic references make Spider-Man truly a game for fans by fans. Everything we love, and hate, about the comics is included for us to have the entire Spidey-package. Sure, the developers could have completely changed the dynamic of Peter and M.J.’s relationship, but I don’t think that’s what fans would want. We love Spider-Man just as he is, and I honestly can say that I cannot wait for the next one. Until then, thanks for the wild ride, Tiger!

Good

  • Beautiful Graphics
  • Hilarious Dialogue
  • Emotionally Driven Story
  • Fun Gameplay

Bad

  • Oddly Slow Parts of the Story
  • Occasional Frustrating Bugs
9.5

Amazing

Story - 9
Characters - 10
Gameplay - 9
Game Mechanics - 9
Soundtrack - 10
Graphics - 10
A writer, video game enthusiast, Halloween nerd, and an author of stories.
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