Spider-Man PS4 is yet another Sony exclusive that has been hyped to the max. I have to say that usually when a big exclusive AAA licensed game gets this much attention, it turns out to be a disappointment. However, after God of War somehow blew past even my highest expectations earlier this year, I was optimistic that Spider-Man would be just as awestriking.
During this review, I had to continually remind myself to be objective. You see, I’m not a huge fan of Spider-Man as a superhero. Especially lately, the silver screen adaptations have been far from compelling, and if I’m gonna read a Marvel comic there are about a thousand more exciting heroes to choose from, though, I have to say that this game has somewhat swayed me to take a closer look at Spidey. There are also some gameplay elements that weren’t my cup of tea, which I’ll highlight below. However, I also realize that these hang-ups are entirely subjective, so I’ve done my best not to judge the game on how I feel personally, but more with my experience as a professional and long-time gamer.
Spider-Man PS4 Review: Spider-Man’s Greatest Hits
Spider-Man takes place in a reality wholly separate from any other Marvel universe. So, you’ll get to see a ton of familiar faces, places, and hear events referenced that also occurred in different Spidey timelines, but almost everything has a bit of a spin on it.
Spider-Man PS4 features an older Spider-Man, through with college and working as a researcher with Dr. Octavius. Unfortunately, this work doesn’t pay much, and despite his long-time philanthropic work as Spider-Man, Peter Parker just can’t make ends meet. Outside of being Spider-Man, Parker is kind of a loser. He tends to let his personal life stagnate, and because of this most of his relationships are strained.
Without revealing too many twists and turns, the overarching plot of Spider-Man centers around the power vacuum left by Kingpin’s arrest (thanks to Spidey in the opening mission of the game) and the sinister villain that rises to fill the void. Along the way you’ll run into some familiar baddies and allies, but, again, each of them has a slightly different portrayal and history here.
Really, this was the best way that Insomniac could craft the plot. You’re presented with plenty of things that will give you a sense of the familiar, but there’s just enough changed to keep things interesting. Characters still typically have the attitudes that you remember from the comics and haven’t completely changed, but their histories may be different.
The main narrative was an entertaining romp, which if you powered through could probably be completed in 15 hours or so. However, there are plenty of side missions and activities which add another 10 or so hours to the game. Unfortunately, this is where frustration started creeping in for me.
Spider-Man PS4 Review: Collectibles Galore
If you want to unlock everything and 100% the game, there’s a ton of side missions available in Spider-Man. The game takes place in Manhattan, which you’ll have full reign to swing through pretty soon after the game starts. Of course, if you have an open world, then you’ve gotta stuff it with stuff to do.
Unfortunately, a lot of the side stuff gets repetitive after a short time. I liked the landmark collectibles, where you have to take pictures of some of the famous sites of New York, but some of the other activities just got tedious.
There are challenges where you have to defuse bombs, fight enemies, or use stealth to complete an objective. There are research stations that task you with things like swinging through town to take air samples or spread vaccines for pigeons. There are also side quests where you have to solve random crimes or take out bases full of enemy grunts.
Where this all breaks down is in the repetitiveness. There’s just not enough variety in the collectible quests to keep you invested. The fact you have to activate towers to reveal the map also didn’t endear me to Spider-Man.
This is one of those things though that really depends on the person. There’s nothing that’s really bad about any of this content, and it’s made really well. I’ve just got to the point in my life that if things get too repetitive, I lose interest quickly. There’s plenty of gamers though who will play through it and enjoy it thoroughly.
Spider-Man PS4 Review: The Grace of a Spider
Where Spider-Man really just blew me away was with the movement and combat. Zipping around Manhattan feels absolutely fantastic, and I’m not sure if any game has quite captured the feeling of speed and movement quite like this one before. It’s just so consistently good.
I thought I’d be tired at the 20-25 hour mark of swinging between buildings and fighting goons, but it just stayed entertaining. The movement is radically simple to perform and feels somewhat like a refinement of Assassin’s Creed parkour. By holding R2, you can simply run in any direction, and Spidey will jump over or run up anything in your way.
You can use L2 to shoot web with precision, and this is useful for launching Spider-Man at a particular location to either grab onto or leap off of. Once you’re in the air, you have several options for mobility. You can press X at the right time during a swing and gain speed and distance. You can also press L3 to dive while in the air. This can either get you to the ground faster or let you gain momentum to transfer into a swing.
Spider-Man PS4 Review: The Punch of a Spider
The movement feeds into the combat system which allows you to use a host of skills and combos to eliminate enemies. You’ve got stuff like run-of-the-mill punches, kicks, and, dodges, which become more and more impressive as you gain XP to level Spidey up and learn more skills. As you go on in the game you get more abilities, gadgets, and specials that will power you up into a random goon tranquilizing machine (because Spider-Man doesn’t kill anyone no matter what).
Eventually, you’ll be able to take on tens of foes at a time with ease. In the endgame you’ll basically be able to execute the Death Blossom from The Last Starfighter, covering anyone in range with webbing, tasers, spider drones, and all sorts of other goodies.
By unlocking new suits (of which there are quite a few of) using tokens you get from completing things like research posts and landmarks, you can get new suit powers. Not all suits come with powers, but the cool thing is once you unlock a costume you can use its power with any other suit. These powers can do things like increasing your stealth considerably or launch a spider-bro drone that will auto-target and devastate your foes.
Spider-Man PS4 Review: Get Caught in a Web of Fun
Although it has a few flaws, Spider-Man PS4 is another great PS4 exclusive. It doesn’t have quite the staying power that God of War did, but it has some of the best combat and movement I’ve ever seen in a game. It’s also the definitive Spider-Man game, so if you’re a massive fan of the comics or movies, you’ll love this.
Spider-Man PS4 continues the awesome tradition we’ve seen emerge in the last decade or so of amazing licensed games. I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the more repetitive side activities, but I had a lot of fun in general and gained a new appreciation of Spider-Man, enough so that I’ll be checking out the comics when I get the time.