Insomniac Games may be famous with Sony fans for its platformer Ratchet & Clank and of course, the excellent Resistance Fall of Man series, however, much like Peter Parker, all that is about to change.
If ever there was a studio Sony could turn to when it comes to developing a new and important game, then Insomniac is it. This is a studio that knows how to meet demand, one which can tell a story and meld it all together with fantastic presentation and wonderful gameplay, all of which is a great way to describe the developer’s latest release, Marvel’s Spider-Man.
It’s hard enough to work on a new IP, but trying to tell a story based on one of the most well known characters around brings even more pressure and it’s one that Insomniac seems to have thrived on, because what the studio has delivered with this latest release is one of the best super-hero games ever, it really is incredible.
To be honest, when it comes to Spider-Man I was expecting an Infamous-style game with combat similar to Rocksteady’s Batman game and this is what Insomniac has delivered, but at a much higher quality than even I expected. The game starts off simply enough, introducing you to Peter Parker and Spider-Man, holding your hand as you get used to swinging around the city and taking care of enemies. It almost makes it feel like you are new to being a superhero so need to take it easy, stumbling by swinging from one building to another and sometimes making a complete mess of it. As the game goes on though it becomes second nature and this is when things really start to come together, making for a fast flowing and enjoyable experience which will see you waste hours just taking in the sights.
Grabbing your attention, even more, is the fact there are dozens of side missions and collectables for you to find around New York, meaning your countless trips around the city can at least bear some fruit in the form of collectable backpacks, research station missions and more. To distract you even further, Insomniac has included a photo mode which is so full of features you’ll spend hours sharing screens with anyone who will pay attention. Templates can be added to make your photos comic-like, while you can also add stickers on top of this to really personalise things. Even if you don’t want the comic look, you can go more professional and just take stunning photos of the quite simply breathtaking surroundings.
I’ve not touched on the story, but this is on purpose because you’ll likely spend so much time swinging around it can often take a back step, although it shouldn’t because yet again Insomniac Games has excelled itself here. Things start off slowly with you trying to take down Fisk, sending him back to the cell where he belongs, but just as you take care of him and his goons, yet another villain appears on the scene, although it’s not a case of beat the bad guy and win the day, because as the game goes on things take one twist after another, so much so that you’ll never know what’s going to happen next. If you are after a game with tons of set pieces, love interests, family and plenty of action then you certainly won’t go wrong here, that’s for sure.
There is just so much depth it’s hard to know where to begin. Take the combat. I’ve seen some mention you simply need to mash some buttons, but it is so much more complex than that. Think Batman Arkman but on fast forward. Spider-Man has a vast array of moves which you can utilise in combat, webbing enemies in the face to give you a seconds breather, as you dodge a rocket, before sliding under someone with a shield then taking them down from behind. Combat is chaotic, but you need to think about it, especially when facing multiple enemies at once. Luckily you have plenty of tricks up your sleeves, with special moves, combos and special web shots, all of which are tricky to string together and master but well worth the effort once it all comes together.
In addition to the combat, you’ll also have sections where you have to complete puzzles, this will see you using your brain to work out voltages and fix circuits or match up slides to figure out chemical equations. This offers a nice change of pace from the main game, although doesn’t distract from the story at all.
Elsewhere, as you progress, you’ll earn new equipment and suits by completing side missions and main quests. Each suit unlocks a new special ability, while equipment can also be upgraded in much the same way. You can also learn new skills when you complete missions as you will level up, giving you a path to upgrade your skills depending on the way you like to play the game.
Spider-Man really is a beautiful game, I’ve lost count of the number of hours I have spent swinging around, admiring the sights. There is a fast travel system which eventually unlocks, but so much have I enjoyed getting from A to B, I’ve only used it once. Whether you are standing on top of a building looking around or taking photos, you’ll just spend so much time admiring your surroundings. This is one great looking and detailed game, which makes spending time in it even more interesting.
Away from my drooling over the graphics, Insomniac has also done a stunning job of telling a story too. The acting is fantastic and the animation and facial capture very impressive indeed. Since this is an open world game there is the occasional bug, as you would expect, however, it’s quite a rare occurrence and even when it does happen it rarely takes away from the experience.
Spider-Man was always going to be a challenging game for Insomniac to take on. There were so many ways it could have gone wrong, with comic fans, movie fans and gamers all expecting it to meet their expectations. The good news is, Insomniac has more than delivered. Spider-Man on PS4 is an incredible experience, it’s beautiful, packed full of action and tells a wonderful story. Don’t hang around, grab this game today.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*