For many Spider-Man fans the PS2 game is a classic. The holy grail of what a Spider-Man game should be. It’s certainly a tough contender to beat, having been put on such a high pedestal by the community. However Insomniac Games, and Sony, seemed confident that they could deliver the fans a modern Spidey game that rivalled the classic.
The story of Spider-Man (which will from now on refer to the PS4 title) is set out in a similar way to the movies and comics. What I mean by this is that the plot doesn’t just follow our friendly neighbourhood superhero, but also follows Peter Parker. It’s something that has been common in Spidey stories; showing the struggle of balancing real-life and the life of a superhero. It’s something that Spider-Man does well. Parker must balance a job with Dr. Octavius, seeing his aunt and helping out at her shelter, girlfriends and more all while stopping crime in NYC. It’s no easy feat, and there is a lot going on in the game. However the game does a good job of pacing all of the intertwining stories, and it does this in a clever way.
Some of the missions will require no real gameplay as such. There will be many instances where the player will swing to their mission, to be greeted with a minute long cut-scene that expands a part of Peter Parker’s life (normally something Dr. Octavius or Aunt May related) and thus progresses the story. At first these scenes will be tedious, and you will feel that you have had your time wasted swinging only to watch a short cut-scene. However, as you play the game more you realise that there is no other way Insomniac could’ve told such a complex story. The plot itself isn’t complex, but there are many parts to Parker’s life. Telling 3 or 4 stories at once couldn’t be done with typical gameplay missions, and I feel that Insomniac made the right call in terms of how to create a plot that brilliantly reflects how hectic Parker’s life is.
The game’s plot itself all begins with Spider-Man defeating The Kingpin and having him arrested. With the king of the underworld behind bars, a power vacuum is created. Enter a gang called The Demons. The Demons begin making moves on The Kingpin’s territory, and you soon learn that a man by the name of Martin Li is behind it all. This is surprising, as Li is the head of a homeless shelter named F.E.A.S.T. Armed with something named Dragon’s Breath it seems that Li has big plans for NYC, and it’s Spidey’s job to stop him.
Luckily this is something made easy by the game having an excellent control scheme, and a very easy to use combat system. The easiest way to to explain the combat system is that is very close (almost identical feeling) to the combat system used in the Arkham games. Square is your light attack, circle dodges. Triangle shoots a web at an enemy and pulls you towards them, and you have the ability to use a range of gadgets to help in your battles. While fighting you build up something called a focus meter which, when full, can be used to unleash a finisher on a single enemy. The focus meter can be used at any time to heal Spider-Man by pushing down on the d-pad, a mechanic that while useful doesn’t seem to fit into the game really. It’s never explained how Spidey heals mid-battle, you’re just told that he can.
Web-swinging is made incredibly simple. Firstly many of you may be pleased to know that if there isn’t something for Spidey to attach his web to you cannot web-swing. A lesson I learnt the hard way while attempting to traverse a lake in the middle of a park. Web-swinging is simple. Hold R2 to shoot a web to a nearby surface. Releasing R2 will let go of the webbing, shooting you forward. Release R2 halfway through a swing to gain speed, release R2 at the end of a swing to gain altitude. Pressing X shoots a web forward that Spidey uses to shoot forward. This is useful when chasing vehicles through the city, as it can be used to quickly turns corners. The swinging is very fun, and something is incredibly easy to pick up. It’s something made even more fun when you unlock the ability to perform flips and such.
There is more gameplay to Spider-Man than just the story. Spider-Man features the vast open-map we gamers have come to expect in a game these days. This open world is filled with extra side missions for you to complete. There are landmarks to photograph, Fisk and Demon hideouts to conquer, street crime to fight, as well as an elusive Black Cat to track down. All of these tasks given you tokens, that you can then use to craft things such as new suits for Spider-Man. These suits each come with their own power. These powers range from increased speed, to the extra arms in the Iron Spider suit seen in The Avengers movie, to (my personal favourite) Web Blossom. Spider-Man jumps up and shoots webbing in a 360 circle around him. A great move for quickly defeating large groups of enemies.
There is however a suit ability which does x4 damage which is also super helpful. Once used the suit power meter slowly refills ready for you to use again. One thing I am thankful for is that, once you unlock a suit power, it is possible to use that suit power on a different suit. For instance you can have the increased speed power from the Velocity suit, on the Scarlet Spider suit. Another nice touch is that should you find yourself in a situation that you feel requires a certain suit power, it is possible to switch to that suit power and retain the full suit power meter making that power immediately available.
Overall Insomniac and Sony have created an amazing Spider-Man experience. It has a smooth easy to pick up control scheme and a plot that, while typical of Parker’s life, is entertaining start to finish. It is admittedly a slow developing story, and that means it isn’t for everyone. However I feel that this PS4 Spider-Man game holds a light to the PS2 classic that everyone loves so dearly. Hell, if you remove the nostalgia I’d say the PS4 game is better. Do you agree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, or tweet us @games_bulletin!
Spider-Man Review (PS4)
The Spider-Man PS4 game trumps the PS2 title (if you remove the nostalgia). Smooth web-swinging and easy to pick up controls are accompanied by gorgeous graphics and a soundtrack fitting of the game. The game is slightly hindered by a slow storyline, but it’s one that is worth waiting for.