Swing when you’re win­ning

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTENTS - @IanDean4

Hello New York City, how I’ve missed you. The city so good they named it twice, and then set a gazil­lion games in its griddy streets. Marvel’s Spi­derMan puts the gam­ing mecca back on the map, and it’s a tri­umphant re­turn. Not only is this a vi­brant space to swing through, it’s a beau­ti­ful one too, with sun­sets pierc­ing its con­crete canyons while traf­fic buzzes at your feet. It’s a Spi­der-Par­adise of ran­dom crimes, psy­chotic su­pervil­lains, and quick cos­tume changes. And you won’t want to leave. Let’s get right to it, you will love web­bing your way around this city. The swing me­chan­ics are per­fect. Yes, bet­ter than you re­mem­ber Spi­derMan 2 be­ing. There’s a phys­i­cal mo­men­tum to In­som­niac Games’ web sys­tem, and it feels con­trol­lable – there’s a tan­gi­ble con­nec­tion be­tween you and the build­ings Spi­der-Man links to. Hold­ing i and re­leas­ing any­where in the arc sends Spi­der-Man for­ward in a smooth mo­tion; you can hook and swing around py­lons, and spin in mid-air to stall the swing or make quick turns. When wall run­ning, tap­ping e en­ables the Spid­ster to hook and swing around a build­ing’s cor­ners to main­tain speed.

Web-swing­ing is pure joy, one of gam­ing’s sim­ple thrills, and in In­som­niac’s hands it’s bet­ter than ever. This largely comes from the new Zip Points fea­ture. Tap­ping q sends Spidey to mark­ers on build­ings. It’s con­tex­tual too, so he’ll dou­ble-web and cat­a­pult be­tween close skyscrap­ers, giv­ing him a speed boost, or he’ll can­non-ball through con­crete pipes hang­ing from


cranes and be­tween scaf­fold­ing struts – when you mas­ter this it feels like you’re re­ally in Spi­der-Man’s snug-fit­ting suit. If you dab p and i you can web to Zip Points, and a timely tap of q sees you power-boost for­wards with a burst of speed. Com­bined, this setup en­sures you can float, arc, and boost through New York City’s sky­line bet­ter than in any pre­vi­ous game.

It can take time to ad­just and learn to use Zip Points to drop onto pre­cise ar­eas of the city, and in the heat of bat­tle re­mem­ber­ing to jug­gle be­tween swings and Zip Points can be a hand­ful, but when you get the tim­ing right no game comes close to em­u­lat­ing the gym­nas­tic thrill of the comic strip quite like this one.


The vi­su­als sell the speed and agility, and the joy of swoop­ing through the city. While it’s dis­ap­point­ing the game is locked at 30fps, that doesn’t de­tract from the pace of the ac­tion. The up­shot of re­strict­ing the fram­er­ate is a beau­ti­fully photo-real world. The skyscrap­ers shine in the sun, and the streets bus­tle with cars and pedes­tri­ans, who re­act to your pres­ence, point­ing and heck­ling, ask­ing for self­ies or hurl­ing abuse.

It’s a cine­matic world, where ev­ery street cor­ner is a film set dressed for an epic fight, where the game cuts seam­lessly from sky-high high jinks to brawls on mov­ing trucks. It looks spec­tac­u­lar. And In­som­niac isn’t afraid to mess with its city. Over the course of the story it de­volves from a glit­ter­ing, comic book par­adise into a war zone con­trolled by Sil­ver Sable’s paramil­i­taries. Laser sights scour the sky­line, fires burn be­low, and po­lice lights re­flect in the dis­tance – just swing­ing to the next mis­sion be­comes an event in and of it­self.

The web-swing­ing joy and ar­rest­ing vi­su­als wouldn’t mean a thing if the story didn’t hook you in, and in In­som­niac’s hands Spidey’s tale is a roller­coaster of emo­tional notes and dra­matic clashes. It’s a drip-feed of fan-bait­ing teases, a story of ques­tions and tip­ping points, and the de­vel­oper han­dles the pace per­fectly.

The ebb and flow of the main story arc is even more mar­vel­lous given this is an open world game full of side-mis­sions, skill chal­lenges, and hid­den goals. One mo­ment you’re rev­el­ling in the re­veal of Mar­tin Li’s evil per­sona, Mis­ter Neg­a­tive, or deal­ing with the har­row­ing events in Miles Mo­rales’ life, the next you’re chas­ing down Black Cat or go­ing sword-to-web­bing with Taskmas­ter, or a hid­den back­pack catches your eye (col­lect­ing these helps un­lock new suits). At no point do you feel over­whelmed, as the game pulls its threads into a taught, ahem, web of in­trigue.

Much of the fun comes from the va­ri­ety on of­fer. The plot arc breezes through dif­fer­ent ways of play­ing. Like Rock­steady’s Bat­man Arkham se­ries, Marvel’s Spi­der-Man never lets you rest and get com­fort­able, feed­ing you a steady mix of horde fights, stealth take­downs, puz­zle minigames, and crime scene in­ves­ti­ga­tions. There are even a cou­ple of mis­sions that put you in con­trol of a Spi­derBot scur­ry­ing around the feet and car wheels of ev­ery­day New York­ers on the trail of spilled chem­i­cals and other crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.


It’s not just about Spi­derMan ei­ther. The story lets you ex­pe­ri­ence the world as Miles Mo­rales, whose stealth mis­sions en­able him to hack drones and ma­chin­ery to cre­ate dis­trac­tions, and as Mary Jane Wat­son, who is adept at skulk­ing be­hind hand­ily placed fur­ni­ture and crates. It’s Mary Jane who steals many scenes. She’s split from Parker and the pair are strug­gling to find com­mon ground. “I’m fed up with al­ways be­ing the one who gets res­cued,” says the fear­less re­porter, bring­ing her char­ac­ter into the 21st cen­tury.

It’s an ap­proach to the char­ac­ters rem­i­nis­cent of the Arkham se­ries, but it also draws on the real na­ture of what makes Spi­der-Man a great char­ac­ter and comic – the ex­is­ten­tial doubts and con­flict­ing de­sires he has about who he is and where he be­longs in this world per­me­ate much of the game. This Spi­der-Man is web-weary; af­ter eight years of bat­tling su­pervil­lains Peter Parker has lost his girl­friend, his job, and maybe his home. He’s a hero tired of heroics, who has lit­tle to show for his tire­less de­fence of the city he loves.

The cine­matic pre­sen­ta­tion sells the emo­tional com­plex­ity of the story. The pair­ing of ac­tor Yuri Lowen­thal and mo­cap per­former John Bub­niak per­fectly cap­tures the equally smart-mouthed and agile Peter Parker/Spi­der-Man, while Laura Bai­ley does a great job of im­bu­ing Mary Jane Wat­son with a light de­ter­mi­na­tion. But the scene stealer is Wil­liam Sa­ly­ers as Otto Oc­tavius. He man­ages the tragic arc from well-in­ten­tioned science ge­nius to su­pervil­lain with a be­liev­able sub­tlety – you can feel the rage in ev­ery lip quiver and vo­cal in­flec­tion in later scenes.

You’d be wrong, too, if you think play­ing as the sup­port cast is pad­ding to ex­tend the story’s run-time (which comes in around 20 hours), be­cause MJ has one of the stand­out mo­ments of the en­tire game. Not to be too spoil­ery, but for once we get to ex­pe­ri­ence Spi­der-Man’s pow­ers as his voyeuris­tic ac­com­plice, and direct­ing and watch­ing him stealth­ily take down his en­e­mies is a game-changer.



It needs to be said, the spirit of Rock­steady’s Arkham se­ries hov­ers over much of Marvel’s Spi­der-Man, and that’s a good thing. Com­bat is counter-based, and your Spi­der-sense tin­gles to re­veal the per­fect mo­ment to re­pel, vault, and cart­wheel from at­tacks (when well-timed you can stun en­e­mies with web­bing) which en­ables you to con­tinue your com­bos, rais­ing your Fo­cus me­ter to launch fin­ish­ers and suit at­tacks. Mods un­locked with new cos­tumes can be hot-swapped on the go, and in­clude the area af­fect Web Blos­som, tem­po­rary ar­mour, and – a per­sonal favourite – the power to hurl wit­ti­cisms at en­e­mies, which achieves noth­ing but makes you feel like Spi­der-Man. All very Bat­man, but done in a Spidey way.

What turns Sony’s metoo game into a must-have is Spi­der-Man’s free­dom of move­ment. Hold­ing r launches en­e­mies into the air for ex­tended com­bos, handy for es­cap­ing crowds. But it’s more than that: you can web to en­e­mies, and swing around, up and over rooftop snipers and camps, cir­cling your prey and div­ing in to fin­ish them off.

Some en­e­mies can only be hurt with air at­tacks, oth­ers must be worn down with web­shots. You can web-pull weapons from en­e­mies’ hands, and em­ploy Peter Parker’s guer­rilla science to aid your fight. Hold­ing o brings up your web menu, of­fer­ing stun shots, drones that fire elec­tri­cal charges, web-bombs, and more gad­gets to buff your com­bos.

There’s enough give in the com­bat to en­able you to feel

like a su­per­hero, while still leav­ing room for you to per­fect the tim­ing of your coun­ters, punches, and kicks.

You’re re­warded for im­prov­ing, too, with ev­ery fight you en­gage in fea­tur­ing bonus goals – ‘throw five en­e­mies off a roof’ or ‘dis­arm ten vil­lains’, for ex­am­ple – en­sur­ing you’re mo­ti­vated to ex­per­i­ment with the sys­tems. All these goals feed into the XP sys­tem, en­abling you to un­lock new abil­i­ties and com­bat moves.


Un­lock­ing new gad­gets, suits, and com­bos is part of the driv­ing force be­hind the game. The story will en­gage you, but these abil­i­ties and mods en­able you to play­fully tackle the many ob­jec­tives that spring up across New York City.

Ev­ery time you com­plete a side-mis­sion or chal­lenge, pre­vent a street crime, clear an en­emy base, dis­cover a back­pack, or take a photo of a land­mark, you’re awarded To­kens to spend on de­vel­op­ing new gad­gets, un­lock­ing suits, up­grad­ing abil­i­ties, and pro­gress­ing through Spi­der-Man’s skill tree. There’s plenty to work through and ev­ery­thing you pur­chase has a direct af­fect on how you play the game and ap­proach each mis­sion.

You’ll need all of it too, once the third act ar­rives and the Sin­is­ter Six – com­pris­ing no­to­ri­ous scoundrels Doc­tor Oc­to­pus, Mis­ter Neg­a­tive, Scor­pion, Elec­tro, Vul­ture, and Rhino – de­scend, and New York City goes from play­ground to bat­tle­ground. Es­sen­tially this is a se­ries of cine­matic boss bat­tles in which you need to em­ploy ev­ery skill and gad­get in your arse­nal, for ex­am­ple us­ing the en­vi­ron­ment against Rhino or aerial agility to bet­ter Vul­ture. While early boss fights, par­tic­u­larly against King­pin, fail to match those of the Arkham se­ries, by the time the cred­its roll you’ll have sweated through six of Spi­derMan’s best vil­lains, us­ing ev­ery tool in Spidey’s box to swing, web, and science your way to vic­tory. And yes, there are some QTEs in here, but they’re used spar­ingly and seam­lessly to add drama.


Once the main cam­paign is over the game con­tin­ues. New York City re­mains a liv­ing space, and as you read this New Game+ will have been re­leased as a patch, along with the game’s Photo mode, so there’s plenty left to do. You can mop up any re­main­ing side-mis­sions, but there are also ran­dom crimes to solve and in­no­cents to pro­tect.

While New York’s not as large as re­cent open world maps – Hori­zon Zero Dawn’s is roughly three times the size – the ran­dom events cer­tainly of­fer more va­ri­ety than Aloy’s sim­ple hunt quests. There are mug­gings to break up, drugs busts to in­ter­cept, car chases to swing onto and stop, bombs to track and dis­arm, and kid­nap­pings to trace. Life’s


hec­tic even with the main story wrapped up.

In a nice touch the game re­mem­bers re­cent crimes you’ve pre­vented, too. Lis­ten­ing to John Jonah Jame­son’s ra­dio show while scooting be­tween skyscrap­ers, I hear the wife of a man I res­cued be­ing in­ter­viewed; to JJJ’s cha­grin she praises my ac­tions.

If I were to be overly crit­i­cal I could say the game bor­rows too heav­ily from the Bat­man Arkham se­ries, and it lacks the same level of play­ful­ness and depth to the map as, par­tic­u­larly, Arkham Knight. But that shouldn’t de­tract from what an achieve­ment Marvel’s Spi­der-Man is: a dra­matic, open, dy­namic comic book ad­ven­ture with enough depth and sys­tems to keep you swing­ing long af­ter the tears dry on the main story.

As for that map? This is New York City, the land­marks are there to be crawled over, and in a tease for what may come we get to hang out­side the Avengers’ build­ing, Foggy’s Gym, and other places from Marvel’s wider uni­verse. This fan-bait­ing dove­tails into one of the game’s hid­den goals, to pho­to­graph 50 se­cret sights, some of which only die-hard Marvelis­tas will spot. And that’s the real joy of play­ing Marvel’s Spi­der-Man: there’s a clear pas­sion for the source ma­te­rial at play, where ev­ery char­ac­ter is treated with af­fec­tion. Even the un­spo­ken tra­di­tion of New York­ers step­ping up to sup­port their Spi­der-Man is here. It’s a laser fo­cus that lifts the game above its Arkham in­spi­ra­tions.


Be­low There’s more to Spidey than swing­ing.

Above Yuri is your cop con­tact; the pair have some fun ban­ter.

Left Web­swing­ing feels just right, and there’re plenty of chal­lenges to com­plete.

Above Your Spi­der-senses en­able you to see when to take down en­e­mies.

Right Puz­zles! The Arkham com­par­isons keep com­ing.

Above Miles Mo­rales and MJ are more than set-dress­ing for the story.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.