I flag this post with many spoilers, because I’ve been obsessively playing this game for a week now and have very nearly completed it 100%, so one last time:
What a stunning game – seriously. This sets a whole new bar for Spider-Man games, one that I feel Insomniac plans to keep raising in the years to follow. There’s so much about this game that exceeded my expectations. A couple nitpicks, but easily forgot in the grand scheme of things. This is a masterpiece.
Through the gate I’ll say YES, this game follows in the footsteps of the Arkham games (which I played equally obsessively for years) in the nature of its gameplay and progression, but hey, IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT, RIGHT? Insomniac caught on to that, and they struck gold.
Next up, the campaign in this game is on point. They really made a Spider-Man (possibly Marvel) universe of their own, shaking up the status quo while adhering to the mythos in the best ways. It takes place 8 years into Spidey’s career where the Kingpin is finally being brought to justice after a long tenure as the thorn in the webhead’s side. As we come to learn Spider-Man has faced a handful of his iconic rogues, but there’s been no Green Goblin or Doc Ock or anyone like that… cool stuff. I dig it. It feels very grounded, nor does it short-change the grand horizon that is the Marvel Universe. They’ve set themselves up for a Spider-Man that can actually age – like who knows, three games in we could be playing as a 33-year-old Spidey fighting somebody like Kraven for the first time…. Game 3? Kraven’s Last Hunt? YES PLEASE #moreKraven
The game is split up into three acts. The first consists of Spider-Man taking down Kingpin and the rise of Mister Negative. The second follows the prolonged struggle to stop Mister Negative, but ultimately resulting in the birth of DOCTOR OCTOPUS!?! WHAT!?!? (yes, it was spoiled months ago, but it’s still incredible that it actually happens when you play the game). The third is basically Spider-Man battling the Sinister Six to save the city from a deadly toxin that Ock unleashed.
That’s putting it briefly, but there’s so much more depth to this game. There’s Peter being Otto’s research assistant, and his relationship with MJ (who’s an investigative reporter) rekindling. There’s the origins of Miles Morales and the decline of Norman Osborn’s reign as mayor. There’s also a slew of other characters involved and voice actors that bring so much emotion and intensity I never expected from a Spider-Man game. Seriously, by the end it’s almost Academy Award-worthy. You can say what you want about everything else, but the end of the game is a hell of a spectacle that really pulls you in.
Web-slinging has never been better. The parkour flow and the rapid web-slinging from chimney to wall to parapet and so on is so smooth that once I found my sea legs it’s been the most fun I’ve had traversing the concrete canyons in any Spider-Man game. I find it a little iffy when trying to break a chain in the web-zipping to land on a rooftop without perching, but that’s about it. The combat is on point, too. There’s a plethora of gadgets and moves that, again, once played a couple days becomes quite fluid and not so imposing.
To say nothing of the customization. SO MANY COSTUMES (and more to come in DLC!). I love it. My personal favorites are Last Stand and Noir, but I like a lot of them pretty closely … though I find Spirit Spider a little weird (but nothing short of entertaining). Each costume comes with a special ability, very few of which compare to the one you start with, but still nice for the customization, especially the fact that they can be intermixed between suits.
This game is perfect (no, not perfect perfect, but the perfect we all know). It’s so good I’m trying to convince people that aren’t even Spider-Man fans to try it, because it is such a great representation of the character that I’m proud of. The thing I keep talking about is how it perfectly juggles the heart and soul of these characters while also placating to the tongue-in-cheek and bizarre (particularly the villains). It was never once cringe-worthy, which is saying something. I love Spider-Man, I do, he’s my favorite, but there’s a lot of cringing that comes with him, notably in video games. None of that whatsoever here though, and it’s awesome.
TL;DR Score: In a lifetime of Spider-Man games I was willing to classify as great for the sake of my own sanity, this is beyond being a masterpiece.