Spiderman - PS4 Review

This is a SUPER quick and absolutely spoiler-free review

As a huge fan of all things comic book and superhero, I wish I could've seen my face when Spiderman on PlayStation 4 was revealed at E3 2016. As an original story featuring one of the all-time great superheroes, I waited over two long years for my chance to play. It was only a week ago, days before release, that I stopped and thought to myself...

"What do I WANT out of Spiderman PS4?"

The obvious one was for traversal to be fluid and exciting - Spiderman is defined by his webslinging abilities. Insomniac Games' previous title, Sunset Overdrive, had traversal systems both silly and engaging, so this was never in doubt.

Secondly, I wanted a new Spiderman story - one unburdened by the well-worn origin story of Uncle Ben's death and spider bites. Initial reveals suggested Mr Negative to be a more than capable antagonist - a character I had no real knowledge of - so things looked rosy.

Finally, I wanted to FEEL like Spiderman. It's difficult to nail the feel of a game, but every now and then something hits the sweet spot - a dipping volley in FIFA, the feel of firing a gun in Destiny. Even the Batman Arkham games hit the nail on the head when it comes to being a terrifying freight train of justice. Spiderman needs to feel strong enough to hold his own but not invincible.

I am so pleased to be able to say, having finished Spiderman on PS4 this week, that it is in fact everything I wanted, and then some.

Webslinging is the most fun I've had in a videogame open world in years, perhaps ever. This is the first game where I actively avoid using Fast Travel systems to get around, such is the fun of webslinging. There is depth here - with the right upgrades you can swing from one building to the next, launching yourself from tops of buildings with ease and precision.

The story may be the biggest reason I fell in love. Between Peter and MJ's believable relationship, to villains with motivations and a couple of surprises, there is so much to love right up until the now traditional Marvel post-credits scene. On top of all of this, there are smart changes to longstanding characters - Mary Jane is just as capable as Peter Parker, and a young Miles Morales provides an interesting perspective on both sides of Peter's life. This is all helped by insanely detailed motion capture and voice-acting, right the way through to the villains.

Special mention to the voice of Peter Parker (and Spiderman), Yuri Lowenthal. His performance is equal parts nerdy and light-hearted, with emotional range in all the right paces. There are parts of his performance that will leave you laughing, and other parts that'll leave you on the verge of tears. It really is something.

Finally, while combat has it's roots in the Arkham titles, eschewing the use of "easy" counters and replacing them with dodging fits the Spiderman character well - his high flying combat options keep him mobile amid gunfire and explosions. Enemies are tough, and I can't tell you how many times I was killed by a gang of thugs I foolishly decided to take on without thinning the herd from the shadows.

There is so much to love here, but those with even a basic knowledge base of the character and his history will find even more to dig into - collecting backpacks that contain tidbits of information on prior adventures, completing sidequests that tease other characters within this new universe or simply smart quips with references to anything from pop culture to other Marvel characters. This extends to the various unlockable suits, delving into a rich history and each adding something new gameplay-wise.

Playing on PlayStation 4 Pro, Spiderman is one of the best looking games I've ever played. The detail in Manhattan is astonishing, with pedestrians going about their business and traffic moving realistically. This level of detail extends to sound, too - the soundtrack soars when it needs to, while there are two different voice tracks depending on whether Spiderman is swinging or perched on a roof top - one is breathless, and one is calmer.

The real star though is the animation on display - while everyone moves like a human being should move, Spiderman himself has a grace to his acrobatics and a fluidity to his motion that feels ripped straight from the movies - somersaults while swinging or luchadore-esque wrestling moves while fighting.

The only disappointment are boss battles - with Spiderman having arguably the best "Rogues Gallery" of any Marvel hero, its a shame so many of his climactic fights become pattern-recognition exercises. Outside of a few standouts, most revolve around the same gameplay premise. For a game that excels at everything else, these feel like all the more glaring disappointments.

So there you have it, a very brief and spoiler free review. In short, buy Spiderman if you have a Playstation 4. If you're a big fan of the character or Marvel, it's worth buying the console for. It's obvious that this was a labor of love for Insomniac, and it stands as the studio's magnum opus.


Thanks for reading,