When Sony came out and said, “We’re doing a Spider-Man game exclusive to the PlayStation”, people took notice. With recent reception of Ratchet and Clank, The Last Of Us, Uncharted 4, and Bloodborne it was no surprise that they could sway Insomniac Games to stick to being a PlayStation exclusive. Insomniac Games is the same studio who made the aforementioned Ratchet and Clank. With this in mind, people are hoping for a fun Spider-Man game like the old game Spider-Man 2 back in the day. Does it live up to the hype for those fans? Does it deserve the praise it has received? Let’s take a look at Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4. [Mild Spoilers Follow]
The game stars Spider-Man who is really Peter Parker. I know we all know this, but they assume you know who Peter Parker is and this is fair. Peter Parker is such pop culture, his name is not mentioned much in the game. The story follows Peter as he stops crime, helps at the community center, and lab assistant. Peter seems to have trouble balancing these things in his life throughout his journey, which is not forced in a harmful way. Sometimes they tell you to be on time or they will get mad at Peter, but the people around him seem to understand Peter’s willingness to help people.
The story does not feel pandering, in fact, it does not shy away from the tough things in life. Good on the people at Insomniac games for doing that. Not that everything is serious, this is Spider-Man after all. He tells jokes and makes fun of the bad guys he is fighting. Even some missions and cut scenes have a lot of comedy and drama to keep you sucked into the story. I don’t want to say anymore, I’m afraid of mentioning spoilers.
The characters are believable and more human, which is good since it’s a very Marvel way of depicting their superheroes and the world. This is reflected in what Spider-Man tries to do for the city but he also must take care of himself. I don’t mean physically but mentally, all this responsibility ways on Peter. Some side characters are developed well and the ones that are not as defined serve a purpose to the story in some way. Rarely is there’s a throwaway character but those are regulated to more side missions, which sometimes make you laugh.
The most important thing in any Spider-Man is how he moves around while web-slinging. This game nails this almost perfectly since there is sometimes human error at play. When you’re near a building or tall structure your web will cling to it off-screen. You can long swing with your webs or perform quick web grabs to go quicker. These controls are easy to handle and you will learn more complex movements later in the game. Still, it feels great to web-sling through the city of New York.
Like other open world games, Spider-Man has things to do beyond the main story missions. Side missions are plenty, plus challenges that act as mini side missions. These side missions or challenges don’t show up for any reason. For example, you go into an enemy stronghold inside a building and you find a map of other strongholds, things like that. There are also collectibles to find in the world of New York. You can take pictures of locations or find backpacks which give you a little story behind it. The only downside is that all the things to do can feel overwhelming at times. It can boggle the mind since after most story missions more pop up on your map. However, these things are optional and can vary in difficulty and length. Also, there are small puzzles to do sometimes during missions which are simple. I will cover the problem with the puzzles later in the interface section.
The combat of the game is like the Batman Arkham games but it actually came from Spider-Man 2 back in the day. Still, it’s a basic beat ’em up where you string combos it different ways. You can punch/kick with the ability to use your webs in those combos. For instance, you can punch someone into the air then use your webs to bring that person to the ground. If an attack is coming your way, a bunch of white lines covers your head which gives you a chance to dodge the attack. There is a dodge button, but this is not always the case. Keeping track of a group of opponents attacking you while trying to take the offensive can be tough but there are ways to gain the advantage. You can upgrade your moves or certain skills when you level up. Plus, you can use gadgets to help you out. In addition to skills and gadgets, you can also build up a meter which once filled lets you do an auto takedown of certain enemies or heal yourself. Combat is fast and can feel overwhelming but these helpful things you can help you get through it.
You also play as other characters, which is the only downside of the gameplay since you are forced into stealth sections. Since you play as a non-super powered person you must get by enemies without getting caught. If you are caught you must go back to a checkpoint. These sections are not bad parts of gameplay but seem pointless and padding at worst.
In an open world game, it’s good to make your world look different at every turn or people will experience déjà vu. Even if you see the same locations over and over. So it better look good or at last interesting…and does it? For the most part yes, after all, it is a city that can look the same. However, each building is different and reflects the part of the city that they are in. You can even see inside of a building if the window is not covered. Some of them are detailed but most are just the same looking, depending on where you are in New York.
When traveling around the city or web-slinging, the webbing you cast can be thick or thin based on what you do. When you swing the webbing must support your weight for a long time so it appears to be thicker while quicker webs are thinner and disappear faster. This small detail adds to the fun of swinging through the city. If you have webbed up a person enough he will appear to be stuck in webs. Effects of different kinds of weapons are easily noticeable in combat from looks or sound alone.
Sound Effects and Music
I can’t say much about the music since it’s more of a background element, this doesn’t make it bad at all. The music sounds like it comes from the latest Avengers movie but not as epic. When you web swing it will play some exciting track and when you stand still the music will get quieter or stop. This is a cool thing and again makes web swinging more of an event.
The sound effects lend themselves to the game well in every situation. When you shoot a web it makes a thin zippy sound that is unique. Rather when swinging or in combat, you know when you use a web ability. This counts also for moving or jumping, the sound effects of jumping, for example, has a woof sound effect like the wind. It’s obvious that the body does not make this sound when moving but this adds to the superhero experience by making a little more dramatic. The sounds of combat are also the same and over-dramatic in a good way. The sounds of your hits are louder than the music playing making it feel good when you make contact.
During puzzles, the music takes a calmer tone making you feel like you are safe and smart. What I mean by safe is that during a puzzle you are not in a hurry and you won’t get attacked or talked to. The puzzle sound effects are low-toned making Peter’s comments and music more noticeable. This lets you focus on the puzzle at hand without being distracted.
Speaking of dialog, the voice acting is great with Spider-Man having a good voice for being a college student. During combat, he will remark on what’s going on and or what enemies are doing. He will make some bad puns or jokes in cut scenes or in open world phone calls. Bad guys and super villains have good inflections just like Peter and will yell or be calm based on the situation or character.
This game has a simple to understand interface with every menu type it has. The main menu shows off every option the game has. The menu that you will see the most is the map screen and you move the right analog stick to direct a dot like a mouse pointer. You can use other buttons to zoom in and zoom out. The other menus can be viewed also from the map screen.
When you gain enough Experience Points you level up and every level up you gain Skill Points. You usually gain one Skill Point per level but sometimes you can earn more than that. This leads you to the Skill upgrade screen, which has a skill tree that goes up to down with locked upgrades until you buy the ones above. This works well enough since you always have something to look forward to. There is a small window where you can see the thing you want to buy. This does let you think about what you are going to pick, but some skills are clearly useful than others. Still, most of the skills have a use in the game even the ones that just let gain more speed while traveling.
Sometimes during any mission, you can do a puzzle, which is a good change of pace. The puzzles come in two forms. The first one is a rotating box puzzle, in which you take mini-boxes on a grid and direct a path to the end. It’s easy enough to move them and see where the path begins and ends, however, it’s how it gets there. The other puzzle game is matching boxes with lines in them. There are a couple of rectangles above some empty slots and you must fill those slots by matching the ones above. These puzzles are easy to look at and figure out based on the interface. However, it has a pass anyway option. The pass anyway feature is not needed with these puzzles.
Spider-Man on the PS4 is a really fun game with many things to do in the open world of New York. There are crimes to stop and puzzles to be done. Combat is fun and grows in difficulty as the game goes on. Sometimes traveling can be difficult but that’s only when you want to slow down. The story is great and takes things from life but also forces stealth sections that seem sort of pointless. With all this said it is an excellent game that proves that single player never died and I would give it a 9/10. Another thing I really like about the game is that they go there and hold nothing back in the story, props to Insomniac Games for that.
Thanks for reading this and I hope you like the game,
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