There aren’t many fictional characters who have become as recognizable as historical figures or Santa Claus. In fact, you’d find more kids aware of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s golden goose than Santa himself! The Amazing Spider-Man swung into comics, and children’s hearts, in 1962. The incredibly relatable Peter Parker had quickly become the most popular superhero! Even overtaking the likes of Sherlock Holmes and Superman!
Spider-Man has had is share of ups and downs, but comics and TV have consistently remained great throughout his history. Peter Parker was the first to kick off the superhero movie boom! Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy became one of the most popular series of the early 2000s. Spider-Man has always had a troubled past in gaming. Many remember the PS1 titles nostalgically, but it was clear they didn’t hold up. When Insomniac Games announced they were working on an AAA Spider-Man title, the world was confused. Batman produced the esteemed Arkham series only a few years before, but could they stand toe-to-toe with Rocksteady’s masterpiece of a franchise?
Peter Parker hasn’t exactly had his life together, but he’s finally accomplished what he thought impossible. Spider-Man had finally put Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of crime, behind bars. In the power-vacuum, many would try to establish superiority. Fueled by hatred for Fisk and Norman Osborn, Mr. Negative, and his gang known as the demons, has begun attacking the city to dismantle their influence. Spider-Man will have to work overtime to see this one to the end, but Peter Parker must help Dr. Otto Octavius at his day job.
You’ll be exploring an open world filled to the brim with missions and activities. Crimes will pop-up randomly throughout the city, but you can decide to completely ignore them and let the police handle it. There are collectible backpacks, hotspots to take pictures of, crime-lairs to bust open, and plenty of people to save. Even when the game slowed down and asked me to go explore the city, I never felt directionless.
Spider-Man can web-sling anywhere he has something to latch onto, and crawl upon almost any surface. The game gives you a good tutorial for the basics of web-slinging, but there’s so much depth and detail to master. As soon as the opening cutscene ended, I felt like I was having fun, but it wasn’t until the end of the story that I felt like I had mastered it. Spider-Man is one of the quickest and most satisfying characters I’ve ever controlled in a game. I rarely felt that I was out of control, but there are a few rough patches while climbing across walls.
Combat is usually the weakest link in licensed games, but it may have been my favorite part. While the Arkham games boil down to “button mash until you’re told to dodge,” Spider-Man focuses on freeform combos. I can cling to a wall and shoot off to hit an enemy extra hard, hit them into the air so I can throw them, or simply web them to a wall. While Batman works best in the shadows, Spider-Man is better in the air constantly swinging around and plucking enemies off the ground.
Spider-Man has access to stealth takedowns. There are many missions where you have to be silent taking everyone out. These sections are easily the worst in the game. Sometimes, you’ll be thrown into one controlling Mary Jane or Miles Morales. You’ll simply have to wait for guards to move and run past. They’re extremely boring. In the final Mary Jane section, you gain access to a stun gun that lets you permanently knock out enemies. It was too little, too late.
For completing missions and quests, you’ll get specific types of tokens. These tokens can be used to unlock extra suits and web-shooter upgrades. There are tons of extremely deep-cut unlockable costumes. You have the simple ones like Spider-Man 2099, but you also have Peter Parker as the Ghost Rider. Each suit has access to a “suit power” that you can activate. I didn’t mess around with the different suit powers. Some are simple and will fill your focus extremely fast. Others will give you the Iron Spider arms. After you’ve unlocked it, you can use any suit power on all of your suits. You’re never locked to an ugly costume for a good power-up!
Spider-Man is my favorite looking PS4 title by a long-shot. The lively New York, the sunshine glistening on windows and water, the rain and fog! It’s all so pretty. I’ve never been more impressed by a voice-cast. Every last actor gives it their best, and Yuri Lowenthal has become the voice I hear when I read or think of Peter Parker. Sometimes, your allies will contact you over the radio, or you’ll just tune in to a podcast by J. Jonah Jameson. These small interactions were some of my favorite parts of the game.
Spider-Man PS4 is one of the best games I have ever played. At each moment, I could tell that Insomniac Games poured nothing but love into the title. I’m shocked by how much effort they put into crafting a cohesive world with an established history. I want to see more of this world, and I’m going to next-gen. If you, like me, have been ignoring this one, go get ’em, tiger.