Much like the daily life of everyone’s favourite quick-witted wall-crawler, Marvel’s Spider-Man is a game that seeks to maintain a tricky balancing act.
While Peter Parker struggles to balance relationships and work in between kicking naughty men in the face and zipping through New York City at dizzying speed, Insomniac’s latest outing is chock-full of gameplay variety. What’s most spectacular is that it succeeds in almost all of these endeavours.
First things first, the web-swinging is simply sublime. Satisfying both visually and mechanically, what Insomniac has achieved with its traversal system is what fans have been waiting for, finally surpassing the standard set by Treyarch’s Spider-Man 2 in 2004. Both the physics-based swinging and parkour systems feel great to control, but most importantly they retain a sense of weightiness that’s easily lost when you’re controlling a grown man pirouetting through the air in red and blue tights. This is all thanks to some truly meticulous animation combined with tight and responsive controls.
What Insomniac has achieved with its traversal system is what fans have been waiting for
Another aspect of the game which benefits from this crisp fluidity is combat, which gives Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham series a good run for its money. While there are notable similarities to the Caped Crusader’s own combat system, the differences come from Spidey’s greater agility. While Batman is essentially a human tank, Spider-Man instead bounces from enemy to enemy like a spandex-donning pinball of justice. Adding ariel strikes and web gadgets to the mix results in a combat system that left me with a big fat smile on my face after every fight.
Unfortunately, this is more than I can say for the game’s boss encounters, which occasionally provide a unique challenge but often devolve into webbing up your foe and smacking them around until they fall down.
However, the game’s biggest shortcoming is its over-reliance on a very archetypal open-world structure. While some activities such as chasing pigeons through the air above New York’s bustling streets prove to compliment the game’s traversal mechanics perfectly, you’ll also be completing a checklist of generic open world tasks. Radio towers? We got ‘em. Combat and stealth challenges? Check. Navigation through a series of floating targets? Present and correct.
Also falling rather flat are the sections of the game in which you aren’t playing as Spider-Man but instead as one of his two playable pals. Basic stealth gameplay is used to add a bit of variety, but its simplistic design makes it a slog to play through.
While some activities prove to compliment the game’s traversal mechanics perfectly, you’ll also be completing a checklist of generic open world tasks
But, despite these minor detractors, it is undeniable that Insomniac has more than delivered on its promise in giving us the definitive Spider-Man experience. Slick traversal and combat systems, a gripping and unexpectedly impactful narrative, and gorgeous visuals form a complete package I can’t recommend highly enough to both fans and newcomers to the world of the webhead.
Last modified: 26th November 2019