+ The best open world traversal system ever made
+ One of the most mature versions of Spider-Man
- Combat can start to get slightly repetitive
- Side quests aren’t always worth the time invested
Release Date: September 7th, 2018
Developer/Publisher: SIE Santa Monica/ SIE
Spider-Man on the PlayStation 4 perfectly captures what it'd be like to be the web slinging wall crawler and expands and improves upon preexisting mythos to create one of the best games of the generation. From the new story to the absolutley tremendous traversal system, Spider-Man is quite the accomplishment.
Story - Spider-Man Review
Unlike almost every other take on Spider-Man outside of the comics, Spider-Man on PS4 features an older, more experienced version of not only the man spider himself, but Peter Parker. There are certainly many of the same issues plaguing this incarnation but it's nice not to explore the origin story for the tenth time and it affords more creative storytelling and plot points. It's an original story that changes some things for the better and in many ways can be considered one of the best Spider-Man tales overall.
Two of the primary characters that benefit from this change are Mary Jane and Miles Morales. Both are given more important roles, especially Mary Jane, who isn't just a love interest but is deeply involved in uncovering the mystery right along with Peter as a Daily Bugle reporter as opposed to an actress or model. Miles has an entire chapter arc beginning with his father down to his relationship with both Spider-Man and Peter Parker. One common complaint with Spider-Man in general is he has a personal relationship with most if not all the villains and adversaries. It may ruin some of the tension knowing that, but Peter's relationship with Otto Octavius is perhaps the most important aspect of the game and he's seen in a much better and more important light in this telling.
Technical - Spider-Man Review
Spider-Man games usually alternate between comic book and realistic styles, with this entry choosing the latter. Despite the alleged "downgrading" the game looks great, especially in motion. During slower motion (ie not swinging nor fighting), the game looks good, there is strong detail on the primary characters and the streets are busy, but Spider-Man excels during the thrilling traversal in which you speed through the streets and high rises of Manhattan. It's smooth and contains a brilliant physics system that really showcases the momentum of the swings. When Spider-Man hits his apex with the sunset in the background, the game never looks better.
Some of best effects happen during combat with stylish slow-motion moves during a dodge or the numerous finishing moves. Everything remains smooth and clean, which is imperative during such frenetic encounters. Spider-Man doesn't quite equal the stellar presentation of God of War or Horizon Zero dawn, but it's a great aesthetic for the character and environment.
Music - Spider-Man Review
Spider-Man's theme surprised me by its quality. It sounds right out of a Marvel film, lending weight and an epic feel to the whole experience, even though this tale is isolated to Spider-Man and New York. The music never gets in the way of the action and sounds whereas it may have seemed natural for Spider-Man to be swinging about with his IPod, it wouldn't have always set the right mood. When music isn't playing Peter is on the phone with any one of his friends and family or is listening to the J Jonah Jameson podcast. All of these are of value and provide much in the way of world building that a random playlist wouldn't necessarily afford.
Gameplay - Spider-Man Review
By far the bread and butter of the game, Spider-Man has some of the most enjoyable gameplay of this generation. It cannot be overstated how intuitive, fun and enjoyable the traversal system is. Getting from point A to point B has never been better in any open world game, ever. It's never a chore, cumbersome or frustrating to get anywhere with Spider-Man. There is a fast-travel system but I never found myself using it until later in the game once I'd discovered most of the world or I was just keen to complete the road I was taking, but mostly you find yourself swinging and wall climbing through the buildings until you come across a robbery, or kidnapping or any number of things that you'll chose to act on because combat is so fun as well.
Combat starts similar to the recent trend of using timing, specifically for dodging in between smashing the attack button over and over. This is only the case for the first few encounters because of the limited number of enemies to fight at once. Punching, kicking and dodging will only get you so far. What separates Spider-Man's combat from a game like that of the Arkham series or of Mordor is the interaction with the environment and the gadgets all at your disposal. Spider-Man can web up and sling an item from a pallet to a motorcycle. Scaffolding and other similar structures can be yanked down on top of enemies as well as just grabbing and swinging actual enemies around themselves. There is rarely an instance where there isn't something to interact with and there are seemingly endless ways to engage foes. In many cases Spider-Man doesn't have to fight foes head-on as there is a stealth element to combat as well. Rarely are you forced to be entirely stealthy, but it does have its benefits. Webbing up enemies before you're spotted thins out the ranks and definitely makes it easier once you're eventually spotted. It's very similar to Batman in the Arkham series as you perch above and subdue enemies sight unseen. Depending upon how upgraded Spider-Man and his gadgets are at the time, these stealth tactics are a necessary strategy in taking down enemy factions and progressing.
The progression system is based entirely on experience gained by completing the main story (easily the largest amount of XP), the myriad of side missions, not all of them combat, and reaching benchmarks for things such as wall running or using a particular gadget a certain amount of times also gain XP, but at a much lower rate. It’s fairly easy to progress, and the skill tree makes it relatively simple to pick what are most useful. Many upgrades also require tokens earned from challenges and taking down strongholds while performing specific types of attacks, these are used to unlock suits which each have specific skills (although you can wear whichever suit and apply whichever skill you wish) among other abilities. It keeps the game progressing, but you’ll definitely find specific moves, suits and gadgets that best fit your play-style, however they are all useful.
Spider-Man Review Roundup
Spider-Man on the PS4 is a charming and flat-out one of the most fun to play games on PS4. It's never frustrating and only rarely becomes repetitive, and only during combat. The story improves on Spider-Man mythos and provides something new for fans as well as a compelling story for those that just enjoy games. Traversal in the open-world has never been better, ever, which makes Spider-Man an absolute must play.