I’m not going to slosh out a thousand words on Spidey, as everything that needs to be said is already out there. However, if you are still on the fence, here’s some homegrown, spoiler-free rambling.
Spider-Man is a joyous achievement in physical exertion
Insomniac nailed the three prongs of good Spidey movement: momentum, speed and weight. Swinging the streets of Manhattan is the most fun I’ve had converting energy in a long time. There’s some dark programming magic on display here, too. Controlling Spidey feels both grounded and as if you’re mucking about with a length of jet-propelled elastic. I don’t know how they pulled it off, but it’s very good.
Battering folk is intuitive, layered and fun
Spider-Man (game and bloke) make use of a basic combo system and skill tree. You earn abilities, such as returning an RPG to sender or stringing folk to lampposts, but the ‘throw’ mechanic takes it. There’s no greater joy than lobbing a motorcycle at some yobbo, turning around, and leathering his mate in the teeth with a manhole cover.
The story is familiar and surprising
More in-tune with Homecoming than the Raimi efforts, it’s a delight to meet with Insomniac’s spin on Spidey’s friends and foes. Most even have a few new twists! There’s Arkham DNA riddled all throughout Spider-Man. It’s breezy and fun with moments of genuine pathos and horror, one set piece in particular.
In terms of fidelity, the city itself looks incredible, as do the cutscenes. 10 minutes of watching a dinosaur-man do a perfect caterpillar on the dance-floor, the motion capture here might be the best in any video game to date.
Spider-Man, the game, has a TONNE of open world fluff
Thug hideouts, pigeon chases, swinging through clouds of smog and hacking unironic radio towers, there’s a lot of filler in virtual New York. Fair play to Insomniac for at least giving these things context (collectable backpacks are entrenched in Spidey lore from the 8+ years he’s already been smacking the crap out of animal-inspired criminals) but there’s no hiding how dull it all feels after your tenth, identical car chase.
In the 25+ hours I’ve spent flitting about the mega borough of Manhattan, context-sensitive actions twice blocked my progress, requiring a whole lot of err… forcing to get through. I also had an issue with sticky UI elements from a recent battle carrying over into cutscenes. It’s hard to invest when you’ve eight reticles and four Triangle + Circle combo indicators hanging about like flies.
Watch ya’ mouth
In Spider-Man, any character, outside of cutscenes, has atrocious lip-sync. Mass-Effect-Andromeda-dodgy-ventriloquist bad. It’s distracting, and unless its inclusion is some weird homage to the god-awful NPC lip-sync from the Spidey games of old, it needs to be addressed.
Q: Should I buy Spider-Man?
A: Yes, it’s amazing and the good far outweighs the bad. Yes, you bloody well should.
You can find out more about Abe Foster, our guest reviewer from Overcast Gamer here:
Have you played Spider-Man on PS4? What did you think of Spidey, let us know below?