From video game developer Insomniac Games, Marvel’s Spider-Man, released Sept. 7, delivered on the action-packed experience many gamers expect from superhero products today.
The Batman Arkham trilogy, from developer Rocksteady, set the standard for superhero games for many gamers, and Marvel’s Spider-Man shows other developers can create a unique experience with superhero licenses too.
Previous Spider-Man games, such as Web of Shadows and Shattered Dimensions, have featured original stories, but it wasn’t until the release of Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham Asylum that original superhero video game stories became a sensation in modern gaming culture. The narrative of Marvel’s Spider-Man follows this concept with an original plot using supervillains such as Mr. Negative, Rhino, Electro and more.
From the moment the player takes control of Spidey, they will find the mechanics of the game mold together well. One can transition from exploring virtual New York to fighting a group of criminals seamlessly, which is crucial to making a proper superhero game.
However, there’s more to the puzzle when it comes to making a proper Spider-Man game. There are multiple components that must be balanced, and one crucial aspect that can make or break the experience — the web swinging.
The web swinging is often a developmental challenge for game developers creating a Spider-Man game.
Few games have gotten it right, with Spider-Man 2 considered the pinnacle of what the experience should feel like. After only a few hours of gameplay, Marvel’s Spider-Man proves its ability to deliver and expand on the experience in the 2004 title. Through the addition of brand new gameplay systems, Insomniac has nailed what’s required to make swinging as Spidey so exciting.
The momentum system allows players to build up speed throughout their time swinging. Players can either jump off the top of a building to gain large amounts of momentum quickly, or they can jump off the ground and gradually gain speed as they continue moving.
Players can also catapult themselves off street lamps and rooftop ledges to gain momentum and add an extra boost to their movement.
Additionally, gamers can gain swinging speed power-ups as they level-up, as well as unlock new features which make gaining speed even more streamlined. This streamlined feeling to gameplay applies to the combat as well.
The combat in Marvel’s Spider-Man plays roughly like the freeflow combat system present in the Batman Arkham games, which allow the player to move from enemy to enemy with ease to capture the feeling of being a hyper powerful being.
However, the standout difference between the two franchises is Spider-Man’s ability to take the fight off the ground and into the air using his enhanced agility, something not present in the Arkham games.
Spider-Man’s range of web tricks also set this game’s combat apart from Batman’s. Using his webs, Spidey can wrap an enemy up, pull them into the air or bring an airborne enemy crashing down to the ground. This range of utility allows the player to experiment with different techniques to get the most out of the game’s combat system.
The stealth system has also seen innovation in Marvel’s Spider-Man. If the player feels overwhelmed by the amount of weapon-toting criminals in a room, they can opt to silently take out enemies from a vantage point or drop to ground level and sneak up behind them. As gamers progress through the story, more gadgets will become available, such as the trip mine and web bomb. These gadgets give the player new ways to approach a stealthy situation.
While Marvel’s Spider-Man does offer a variety of ways to play, it poses a problem for some individuals. The lack of options a player starts with might be discouraging for people with limited time to play video games. In order to get the upgrades necessary to add an extra flair to one’s gameplay experience, players must first explore the game content thoroughly, which means straying from the main plotline to explore side activities present in the open world.
Additionally, in order to unlock alternate suits to wear in game, such as the Iron Spider suit from Avengers: Infinity War, the player must gather tokens by interacting with different sections of content. This means to unlock all this game has to offer, one must first play through the less compelling aspect of the game — the side quests.
While the miscellaneous crimes, which sprout up throughout the city, are fun and add another layer to the experience of being Spider-Man, the side missions in Marvel’s Spider-Man offer little to write home about.
The Batman Arkham trilogy featured side missions which would have Batman attempt to track down lesser known villains such as Hush and Firefly while offering unique ways to play.
However, Spider-Man’s side missions consist of catching pigeons and fixing New York’s pollution problem, with a small handful of side missions dealing with smaller members of Spider-Man’s list of villains. Overall, the side missions hardly expand on the idea of being a powerful superhero and instead make Spidey the errand boy of New York City.
Despite the shortcomings of Marvel’s Spider-Man, it’s still a game worthy of being bought from the PlayStation Store or a video game retailer at the price tag of $60. Insomniac has set the precedent of how it should feel to be Spider-Man, while nailing the feeling of being a broke young adult turned superhero.