Updated: Jul 26
WOW boys and girls we got a winner here. Everything from the Arkham like combat system to the well paced narrative is done with precision and love for the source material. Seriously this will be less of a review and more of a love letter to Insomniac as I have only minor nitpicks as my source of complaint.
Let's talk web swinging. Now it’s a good physics engine yes, but dear god I didn’t know a pendulum had this much fun. Just the basic timing on the swing and release of the right trigger mechanic is memorizing. Now tie in the simple x button for a quick pull forward… it’s a simple but magical formula. It has enough complexity with the tight timing, you’ll need to make a hard turn between buildings but still carefree enough that when you’re just getting from point A to point B it's a treat. You will find that some times when you get to your destination, you won’t be done just swinging about. Traversall through the city is whimsical perfection in transit and extremely precise when you need it to be.
Your web swinging fun doesn’t end there. In combat your web shooters are just as useful. Not only is Peter firing webs off in his instant knock out finisher moves more often than when he is day dreaming about MJ, but the triangle button is all that separates you from a far-off rocket launcher wielding baddy WHOM I WILL FIND AND CRUSH INTO DUST. Yet despite my surprising salt at an NPC enemy type, the game at a normal difficult will be a perfect challenge for most players. It is challenging without being unfair. O is your "need to get out of the way of danger" button and although the timing is tight you will soon be reading the enemy moves and developing your own in-house spidy sense to augment your on-screen dodge prompts. I will say the gadgets for the most part do the same general thing, i.e. cover people in webs, but they are varied enough that certain ones work better in different situations. Although the end result is leaving combatants cocooned in webs, I found myself using all of the gadgets to weasel my way through situations. The only thing that was missing was a quick swap between gadgets, currently the only way to swap what tool you're using is hold L1 and select from a wheel. This system is far from broken and is quite user friendly, but a quick way to swap between gadget types would have been nice. Combat is still fast, fluid, and really makes you feel like the Spider-Man (don’t forget the hyphen).
You will also find that the narrative has woven itself into almost all parts of the game as side quests are typically helping the locals with something that ranges from missing people to catching pigeons(?!?). The best part is that even the pigeon mission is framed in such a way you want to do them and as you run them down you learn about the fellow you are scooping them up for and you want to help this man. Even with this personal feel to the side quest exposition, the game has the delivery and bravery to frame this as something Arachno-lad wants to do to help this man. They don’t force the missions and try to make pigeon catching something that MUST BE DONE…” the pigeons are evil and are in league with Fisk and have been outfitted with chemical weapons designed to cause massive chaffing to the citizens of NY!”… I won't spoil the story for you but it is a sad story of a man who has a reason to care for his winged friends and I found myself just wanting to help the guy out. On the flip side of that are the challenge quests posed to you by one of the more intimidating and lesser used baddies in the MCU. These are good challenges that require near perfection to get the highest rank in and vary quite nicely from combat to follow the leader web swinging missions where you're following a drone whom I can only assume has a severe case of robot ADHD. All of them feel like that. They have a place and some are tied very closely to the main story and really feel like good work for your friendly neighborhood Spoodermin. (say it with a Russian accent it's good fun). I found myself knocking out the side quests because I had fun doing so not just because your gadgets and suits need the tokens you get from the various crimes to unlock or upgrade. Seriously, the fetch quests in this game are fun to do and actually have an in-game purpose… and I have been wanting that, for I don’t know how long now, and insomniac gets a hug for making this happen. (And yes, I mean the whole building.)
Now the back drop for all this indescribable control… it's majestic. Honestly, I don’t know what all to say here outside of the city is beautiful. The first time you're swinging around at dusk and Parker Von Web Head launches himself into the sunset and the stunning lighting effects steal your vision in the brief period of a majestic view of the twilight laced city. Your jaw will simply drop. I have never been to New York but I fell in love with Time Square and the city in general. Also the new spider suit is probably my favorite of all time. Seriously they did a great job of giving a modern take while still keeping it spidy #keepingitspidy (… can I still make hashtag jokes… is that still a thing …NGN, I need a ruling here) I know I haven’t said much here but there really isn’t much to say about the looks except “Wow”.
In tandem with the absolutely stellar graphics is the spectacular story-man; it's a master class in storytelling (spectacular Spiderman… get it because it the same word structure… what ever the editor thought it was funny). I was just blown away by the pacing this game has. So many games and movies will throw everything at you from the start but then the frantic pace has nowhere to go. This game takes its time to let you get to know the city and care for it. And the random crimes that pop up are no longer an extra thing I do until I get the achievement for and then ignore. I found myself thinking “Not in my city” in my grizzliest spider cop voice and swooping down to save NPCs I cared about far too much to claim I’m wholly sane. What this game does best is the story between Peter and one of his mentors. I won’t say who, why, or how (although you’ll know who I am talking about shortly after you start the game) but you are in for a true display of dramatic irony. The game knows when to crescendo and how to get there in a fashion that is not just noise.
This game is greater than the sum of its parts… and that is saying something because each part of this game is near perfection. Everything from the travel, to combat, from story to the fast travel are just amazingly well done… seriously take some time and fast travel as well because the load screens when you do are one of my favorite things ever. I will be swinging around the city awaiting the DLC and new game + to drop. This game made me laugh, tear up, and grit my teeth in white knuckled fights. Any game that gets you emotionally involved is good; any game that makes you go WEEEEE out loud in your basement is good. A game that does both of these things better than almost any other game out there today is an absolute treat. So, get out there, swing about, save some NPCs and try to buy a spider suit online because this game will make you think you’re a super hero.
Score: 9.75\10 – Well done Insomniac. Let's all give them an unheard round of applause. This game is for people who love super heroes, smooth combat and controls, and fantastic stories.
This game is not for people who….like if your dead you might not like it. Or if you’re just boring and lame.