As I’m swinging through the streets of New York City I see a stolen car barreling towards me. Over the radio, I can hear the police talk about a stolen vehicle in my vicinity. I only have a few seconds to act if I want to intervene and with a quick press of the button I swing over and land on the hood of the speeding car much to the dismay of the criminals in that car. As I hear the criminals complaining about how they need to deal with Spider-Man now, I quickly extricate each one from the vehicle, dodging bullets and pulling no punches in an attempt to stop the vehicle before it hurts anyone. Once I have taken care of the passengers I jump over to the driver’s door and toss him out of the window and then use my webs to try and slow down the car. What follows is a quick sequence where I need to repeatedly hit the button so that Spider-Man can stop the car in its tracks and save the day.
This is just one of the many things you will do in Insomniac’s version of Marvel’s Spider-Man. Manhattan is absolutely gorgeous whether you are swinging through the streets or climbing the Empire State Building to get a nice view of the area. Swinging through the city feels pretty amazing as does engaging in combat with a group of criminals. That hasn’t always been the case with some Spider-Man games but Insomniac seems to really have nailed what a Spider-Man game should be like. The story centers around Peter Parker but there are also some key characters involved that I’m not going to spoil. If you are familiar with the Spider-Man universe you can probably make an educated guess about who is involved. As I got further in the story and events started picking up there were some nice twists that helped advance the narrative which never made anything feel like a chore. Going through the main story missions they were executed so well that I never felt like that I just wanted things to be over. I was always happy and excited to see what was going to happen next and where my travels throughout the city would take me.
As I mentioned up above, Manhattan looks amazing but if you really want to appreciate it, you should stop swinging for a few minutes and walk among the people. The city is bustling with life whether it be all of the traffic on the road, people walking on the sidewalks or criminals engaged in suspicious activity. As you walk (or swing) through the city you’ll hear a variety of comments from people who are adoring fans to those who think Spider-Man is a menace to the city and should go away. You can even interact with a few people by giving them a high five and there is a trophy tied to that as well. In addition to all of that, you will hear radio chatter from police when a crime is taking place, highlighted with an exclamation mark on the map so you know where to go as well as phone calls with key characters involved in the story. The voice work for all involved is really well done which helps make the city feel more alive and the team over at Insomniac should be really proud of what they have accomplished.
Earlier in this review, I talked about one of the activities that you will do in the city but there is so much more. Obviously, there are the main story missions that you will go through. There are also a plethora of side missions that will continue to open up as you progress through the main story. As you progress you will see there are a number of enemy hideouts that you will need to go and clear out. There are also research stations where you will need to help in a project that is supposed to benefit the city. For example, there was one research station that monitored marine life. The only problem was it seemed like the fish were all sick and contaminated with a chemical so I needed to figure out what that was and then try and fix the problem. There are also a number of challenges that you will see across the map towards the second half of the game. There are four different challenges that you will have the opportunity to engage in from drone challenges to stealth challenges to combat challenges to bomb challenges. Each one requires a completely different skill set to be successful. If you are doing a drone challenge you better be good at swinging through Manhattan as you will have to follow a drone as it goes through the city. Things aren’t quite that easy though as you have to pick up spy cams that it drops along the way and you need to catch up with the drone at its base unit before the time on the clock expires. If you only have a few seconds left it can get pretty intense and there were times where I just missed it by a second or two. Those could be fun to do but my favorite would have to be the stealth challenges. I try to utilize stealth when I can anyway so this was right up my alley. During this challenge, there was a hostage that you needed to rescue but you only had a limited amount of time to do it and the enemies couldn’t know you are there or you would fail the mission. You have to quickly and quietly eliminate enemies while at the same time making sure no one saw you doing that. You have to be able to zip to places quickly, silently eliminate someone, and then be at the next target within a few moments. There is definitely some trial and error here as you figure out the best route to take but I definitely had the most fun with these set of challenges.
In addition to all of that there are quite a few collectibles to track down in Manhattan. Fortunately, the development team at Insomniac were kind enough to put these on the map so while you still had to find these collectibles, it wasn’t impossible to do so. I generally enjoy finding collectibles in games and this time was no different. Early on in the game there are a number of different backpacks available throughout Manhattan. The entire city of Manhattan is open to you from the beginning so if you so choose you can have these backpacks be an early priority. Additionally, there is a side mission where you will have to find some pigeons in one of the districts. There are also some stakeout locations that you will need to find and then use a device to scan the city, looking for a particular item. Fairly early on in the game there are a bunch of surveillance towers that go offline so you will want to track those down throughout the city and get those up and running as well.
A lot of these challenges have a mini-game associated with them. One such mini-game has a row of boxes with different spaces in it. You will need to find the correct lines to fill those spaces and sometimes you will have to add lines that aren’t needed in the beginning and then take them away at the end. For example, the first box you place might have four lines in it, even though the one you are trying to match only has three. The next box you place might eliminate one of those lines though so that you are down to three and solve the puzzle. There is another mini-game that deals with voltage and being able to direct electric current efficiently. You will be given a starting point and an ending point, as well as some points along the way that can’t be changed. You then need to work out the correct location for each part so that the voltage can get where it needs to go. As you do more of these they can get pretty complex as you will have to take addition and subtraction into consideration. For example, if the target voltage is six you will need to find some way to pass through both positive and negative charges to get to that number. I had fun with these but you want to be careful with what you see on the screen. There are some puzzles later on that try and trick and you so you will want to watch out for that.
As you go through the game you will unlock a number of different suits for Spider-Man. In fact, there are 27 suits altogether. Each one has a different look and different capabilities so you will need to decide which one suits you the best. In addition to the suits themselves, there are different suit powers that you can utilize and different suit mods. You can use up to three mods at a time and my favorite combination was the long-range scanner where I could see enemies who were farther away, first aid which increased how much I was healed when using focus and silent step, which made it harder for enemies to detect me while I was in stealth. There are over 20 different mods that you will unlock over the course of the game so you will want to mix and match to see what works best for you. Some other mods include “gel padding” which reduces melee damage you take, “ballistic inserts” which reduces the bullet damage you take, “combat analyzer” which increases the XP you receive from defeating enemies and much more.
Alongside the suits is all of the gadgets that you will have at your disposal. There are the standard web shooters along with a spider drone, an electric web, trip mines and more. You can use all of these during the heat of combat which will help you gain an edge over a group of enemies that is trying to take you out. In addition to using these gadgets on your adversaries, you can also take them down through good old-fashioned melee combat. The combat in this game is fluid, works well and can flow really nicely if you can get in a rhythm. There were many times where I might be fighting one guy but then I see that a projectile is headed my way. I quickly disengage from the guy I am fighting, perfectly time dodging the aforementioned projectile, and then shoot a spider web at that guy’s face so he can’t shoot at me again for a few moments. Then utilizing my web I zip over to him and take him out before he even knows what happened. At that point, I see an enemy with a shield coming after me so I slide under his legs and attack him from behind and then utilize one of my finishing maneuvers to DDT his face into the pavement. The combat can be fast and frantic if you have a large group of enemies in the area but it can be extremely satisfying if you can get into that rhythm and systematically eliminate them one by one. There is even a skill you can learn where if a rocket is headed your way you can catch it with your web and throw it back to the person who shot at you. Of course, there is the stealth approach as well which I almost always employed initially to try and quietly eliminate some enemies before jumping into the middle of everything. I did this by either hanging out in the rafters of a building or on top of a light pole when I was outside. Doing that I could grab someone with my web and essentially wrap them up so they were stuck there or I could do a diving kick and eliminate someone in one fell swoop. You need to be careful that no one is around when doing this though or the other enemies will be alerted and you could find yourself in a big battle before you are ready.
As you play the game you will earn XP points. These can be earned through battle, by completing missions or by simply swinging through the city and doing some tricks in the air. There are three different skill trees to spend these XP points on with “Innovator,” “Defender,” and “Webslinger”. These are essentially offense, defense, and adding to your capabilities with Spider-Man’s web. As you go through the missions and different objectives in the game you are also going to want to pay attention to the optional objectives. In addition to gaining XP, you will get other rewards that you will need to craft upgrades whether it be a new suit altogether or unlocking a new gadget. Throughout the game, you will need to acquire research tokens, landmark tokens, base tokens and more. There are six different types of tokens and if you are someone who wants to do everything, you will need an adequate supply of each. Marvel’s Spider-Man does indeed have a platinum trophy for those who are interested. If you do plan on going for that though, one of the trophies is to unlock all of Spider-Man’s suits. To do that you will need the right number of tokens. So if you are clearing out a warehouse or whatever the case may be and you see optional objectives, I highly suggest you do those to get the maximum amount of reward you can. These objectives can range from anything such as hitting ten enemies with a swing kick, taking out five enemies quietly, electrifying five enemies at once and things of that nature. If you aren’t sure what your optional objectives are you can press R3 on your controller and they will pop up on the screen. If you do that and they don’t pop up, then you don’t have any optional objectives for whatever situation you are in at that moment.
During my time with Spider-Man, I had a tremendous amount of fun traversing Manhattan. The game isn’t perfect though and there were some minor issues I encountered. While swinging through the city there were a few instances where Spider-Man would stick to a wall when I didn’t want him to do so. It is easy enough to jump off the wall and continue what I was doing but if I was doing an activity where I needed to follow that drone or race against the clock it could be the difference between victory and defeat. I will say this is much better than previous Spider-Man titles though. I doubt this is something that could ever be truly eliminated due to the nature of the game but still a bit annoying nonetheless. There were also a couple of bugs I encountered where after I earned a base token it didn’t register. For example, I could have had five base tokens before starting an activity but after finishing that activity I would still have five base tokens, despite the game saying I had earned an additional one. That only happened to me a couple of times but it was a bit irritating, especially if I was close to my goal and I really needed that extra token. There were also instances where I would see a crime pop up and I would mark it on my map to head over there but then all of a sudden it would disappear without a trace. It was very strange and a bit annoying since crimes in the city are random so I wanted to take care of them whenever the opportunity presented itself. I should say that I probably spent over 30 hours with this new Spider-Man game prior to writing this review and in that time frame the instances I just mentioned above only happened on a few different occasions. So please keep in mind that they were few and far between but I did feel like I needed to mention them. Spider-Man ran the way it was it was supposed to for 99% of the time I played it and Insomniac should be commended for accomplishing that with an open world like this.
Marvel’s Spider-Man was an ambitious undertaking for Insomniac. The last two “amazing” Spider-Man games I played weren’t great but they were also made by a different studio. Spider-Man is definitely back here and I loved damn near every second I spent with this game. The combat flows really nicely and the city is a marvel (no pun intended) to look at as I swing through the different districts. There are a number of different activities spread throughout the city that should keep you busy for a little while. I enjoyed the story that was told and everyone that was involved. I will say that after you beat the game there are two different sequences you will want to watch. The first set of credits is flashy and features Spider-Man and images from the game that you just played. Once this set of credits is done there is a scene that you will want to watch. Once that is over you will see more of a traditional credits screen start rolling. At the end of these credits, there is another scene that you will want to watch, potentially helping to set something up for another game. Insomniac has created a great adventure here and it is something that everyone should play. Even if you aren’t into comics or superheroes per se, you will definitely want to experience swinging through the city of Manhattan as Marvel’s Spider-Man.
Originally posted on Gaming Target