With Spider-Man: Homecoming’s debut in July of 2017, Spider-Man was put back into the spotlight. Even those not too interested in the Marvel Universe can see how big Spider-Man has become. And Insomniac’s shot at creating a good game to capture the embodiment of Peter Parker as Spider-Man has only made the web-slinging hero’s popularity grow. According to Tanner Dedmon from comicbook.com, “Marvel’s Spider-Man is reportedly the first game to gain Marvel’s seal of approval with the instantly recognizable flipbook opening featured in the game.” Into the game itself, the opening of the game shows how much Insomniac wanted to do Spider-Man justice. The tiniest details are made so much larger when they’re found. The beginning of the game shows a 23-year-old Peter Parker in his apartment, littered with gadgets, clothes, and newspaper articles about Spider-Man putting away multiple villains over the past six years. Captain Yuri Watanabe, Spider-Man’s friend in the NYPD, tells him about the commotion at Fisk Towers where the NYPD is attempting to arrest Wilson Fisk.
The gameplay begins right out of the cutscene. No fade to blacks are necessary as the game immediately teaches the player how to web-swing through the city and to Fisk Towers. The entire tutorial is part of the story as combat is taught through fighting Fisk’s goons in the middle of the street, the player is taught about rescuing citizens as bombs go off and many are trapped under debris, and various types of enemies are shown at a steady pace.
As a Spider-Man game, there was much doubt as nearly all the games beforehand were poor in one way or another. What makes this game stand out may come from multiple factors. Web-swinging is an important part of Spider-Man. What this game does right is making it simple and easy, but fun. Once I had done the first few missions in the game, I put off the story just to collect everything and finish every task available. I took time to fix multiple satellite towers to unlock more of New York and make the police scanners easier to follow. I wanted to finish the district’s crimes and collect all the backpacks before the story. With enough done, one mission could finish off the xp needed to level up. Leveling up grants skill points, which are used to gain new skills, such as being able to throw webbed enemies, make a perfect dodge that could slow an enemy, or even disarm enemies. Despite holding off on the story, I still found it strong and interesting.
The story sections varied between playing Peter, Spider-Man, Mary Jane, and Miles. Peter’s levels were more about progressing the story through interacting with characters or starting a cutscene. Mary Jane and Miles’ levels involved stealth. Their levels tend to feel poor and misplaced while also lacking fun. Their stealth was lackluster and boring as it became any other stealth game: distract the enemies, slip by them, and find whatever Miles or MJ are searching for in the area. Spider-Man’s levels are where the game really shines. With interesting combat options and the possibility of stealth, there is no single way to play a level.
No game is perfect, however. As mentioned before, an MJ or Miles stealth section tends to be annoying or even boring. It becomes easy to learn an enemy’s route and even easier to disrupt it as to sneak past them. The multiple tasks to complete are clearly to pad out gameplay, although something like research centers does add a few different styles of gameplay, which keeps them original in some way. Even stealth is broken off for taking down bases. For the first wave, it’s possible to take everyone out stealthily. But by the second wave, everyone is aware Spider-Man is present and lock onto him no matter what. It does not exactly change the difficulty, either. With repetitive missions, it makes it simple to complete all achievements on your system, giving a semi-easy platinum trophy to completionists. But despite a repetitive nature, there is more for me to explore in the game. I have bought all Peter’s suits, yet I still have not earned a suit through a secret task. No video game has to be perfect, yet it is important that it is fun, which Spider-Man for PS4 certaintly accomplishes.