High-fly­ing fun

Re­view: Our spidey­senses are tin­gling over new PS4 game

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - ENTERTAINMENT - CUR­TIS WITHERS

TORONTO — Comic book icon Spi­der-Man is fa­mous for his un­canny agility and his unique method of get­ting around. So in a game fea­tur­ing the wall-crawler, swing­ing through the city should be as much fun as duk­ing it out with su­pervil­lains.

Marvel’s Spi­der-Man, out this week for the PlayS­ta­tion 4, gets it. It gives play­ers the free­dom to ex­plore an im­pres­sive fac­sim­ile of New York City through web-sling­ing be­tween build­ings, ef­fort­lessly sprint­ing up the sides of sky­scrapers and bound­ing across rooftops.

If this sounds fa­mil­iar, it’s be­cause this ground was bro­ken in 2004’s Spi­der-Man 2, the first game to re­ally of­fer a sat­is­fy­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Spi­der-Man’s pow­ers.

Em­u­lat­ing Spi­der-Man 2 isn’t a bad idea here given the char­ac­ter’s his­tory. Spidey has been the star of more than 30 video games and has ap­peared in sev­eral more, and that list in­cludes more than a few duds.

While re­work­ing a proven for­mula from the ground up us­ing the PS4’s pro­cess­ing power would have been wel­come in it­self, Marvel’s Spi­der-Man weaves an ex­cel­lent su­per­hero tale around those me­chan­i­cal bones. The re­sult is an ex­cel­lent first en­try into Spi­derMan’s mer­cu­rial gam­ing his­tory from pub­lisher Sony In­ter­ac­tive En­ter­tain­ment and de­vel­oper In­som­niac Games.

As Spi­der-Man in­ves­ti­gates with the help of Daily Bu­gle re­porter (and cur­rently “off-again” love in­ter­est) Mary Jane Wat­son and teenager Miles Mo­rales, a tale be­gins to un­fold that fea­tures be­tray­als, hard choices, and ul­ti­mately a show­down with Spi­derMan’s biggest arch-foes. It’s orig­i­nal, well-told and its nar­ra­tive is as strong as many of the films in the Marvel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse (heck, there’s even two end-credit cutscenes).

Com­bat in the game is as smooth and well thought-out as the tra­ver­sal me­chan­ics, and Spi­der-Man has many ways to take down thugs. His spi­der-sense lets him know when at­tacks are com­ing, and his abil­ity to dodge and counter al­lows him to take down many foes at once.

Of course, Spidey would be noth­ing with­out his webs. You can use these in the flow of com­bat to tie up ad­ver­saries, throw them or yank them sky­ward for an air combo. They can also be used to do stealth take­downs from above, hoist­ing up and in­ca­pac­i­tat­ing un­sus­pect­ing en­e­mies. Ev­ery­thing in com­bat has a flow that re­ally cap­tures the essence of Spi­der-Man.

The game is not with­out it’s draw­backs. The New York City of Marvel’s Spi­der-Man has a laugh­ably high crime rate, and the thrill starts to fade a bit af­ter stop­ping your sev­enth break-in or drug deal in the past five min­utes.

There are also a few stealth mis­sions fea­tur­ing Mary Jane or Miles that drag. It’s rel­e­vant to the plot, but in a game where the sell­ing point is how fun it is to be the main char­ac­ter, these mis­sions just get in the way of more web-sling­ing.

But these are mi­nor quib­bles. A good Spi­der-Man story spun around a reimag­in­ing of suc­cess­ful me­chan­ics that have worked in the past makes Marvel’s Spi­der-Man one of the finest games around in the su­per­hero genre.

Marvel’s Spi­der-Man is rated T for teen play­ers and older, and re­tails for around $80.

SONY INTERATIVE EN­TER­TAIN­MENT/THE CANA­DiAN pRESS

A screen­shot from Marvel’s Spi­der-Man for the PlayS­ta­tion 4.

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