- Genre: Open World Action
- Platform: PS4
- Best example of web slinging that we’ve seen, backed by a gorgeous version of New York City
- Good use of stealth segments with other characters to break up the pace of the story sections
- Combat that ranged from frustrating to fantastic, depending on where I was in the skill progression
The obvious indicator that I really liked the game is that I got a platinum trophy. Granted, this was an easy platinum to get in the grand scheme of things. However, the fact that I wanted to literally do everything to unlock it is a clear sign that the game was pretty damn good. That’s not to say I didn’t have my issues with it here and there, but being able to web sling around Manhattan was often more than enough to just keep me playing.
I start with a video of swinging because quite frankly that is the draw of the game. Even going back to Spider-man on the PS1 you just wanted to swing around, and this game is as good as it’s ever been. The base swing is extremely fluid and easy to pull off, but it’s the additional maneuvers that really flesh out the experience. There’s little web pulls that give you speed boosts and a bit of extra distance while gliding. There’s diving to build up speed when dropping down off buildings. There’s points you can latch onto then leap off of to quickly gain height and scale over the top of buildings. The entire thing is basically all on the shoulder triggers as well, so it’s incredibly easy to pull off the entire time.
If this was the entire game on its own I would still have played it. The joy of swinging through Manhattan never diminishes as you play the game. Using it in combat is also a lot of fun, and can be used offensively and defensively in fun ways, particularly in boss fights where rapid movement and quick succession of strike and run maneuvers becomes key.
However, the rest of combat was at times more inconsistent, but in ways I wasn’t really expecting. I went through periods in this game where I hated combat, then loved combat, then went back to hating it, and ultimately really enjoyed it at the end. The entire wave here came down entirely to the growth of the skills available to me as I went through the game.
Through about the first quarter of the game, I found combat largely annoying due to its early dependence on dodging. The control scheme has dodge in what I felt was a weird spot on the circle button, placing it furthest away from camera movement. The quick timing necessary for a lot of dodging meant that I generally either missed dodges or couldn’t really see where I was attacking. However, as I gained some more offensive abilities, such as improved enemy juggling or electric webs, I found myself not really caring about looking around, and more focusing on controlling the larger enemy group and taking out enemies one or two at a time. At this point combat felt really fluid and it clicked in a way that made sense given how much emphasis there was on web slinging capabilities. This continued fine for a while until the introduction of flying enemies and enemies with whips that could pull Spider-Man out of the sky. For a bit, combat was kind of annoying again until I gained some more improved capabilities, such as chained finisher attacks or trip mines that automatically grab and web enemies.
Ultimately though combat was a lot of fun, even if I would have preferred a bit of a different power curve given to me. Where it really ended up clicking was in the arenas used for boss fights. Whereas most group combat took place outdoors, boss arenas were generally in enclosed or at least obviously specific arena-style areas. The bosses also generally couldn’t be directly hit with melee attacks without first doing other things. These really emphasized constant movement with webs and the quick use of thrown projectiles to really lock down a boss, enabling you to then web sling directly to the boss for melee chains. This is where combat really came alive for me, and generally speaking ended up being the best show case for the way the fights really felt the best.
The game was also paced really well to not always be high action. There’s a number of segments that rely purely on stealth mechanics. These bring in some well known in-universe characters like MJ or Miles Morales to sneak around. While that may sound a bit fan-servicey, it ends up being a big help in giving these segments a nice change, both to keep the player from always being in high-action stress, as well as to provide a bit of a different voice to the story.
In addition, there’s also a few different style minigames to complete throughout the game. These range from the sort of hacking-style electricity pathing game above to a game that focuses on color spectrum analysis to a game that focuses on intercepting and manipulating radio waves. These all serve an important purpose of giving the player a bit of a breather between combat to keep the game from being all high action all the time.
This game was definitely a pretty special experience though. Zipping around a city as Spider-Man is one of those comic book dreams that people have growing up, and this game is by a long shot the best representation of that. You are 100% Spider-Man in this game, and despite a few hiccups that I think could be improved in combat, this is the way to go to fulfill that dream.