Yesterday, like many avid computer game and comic book fans, we picked up our copy of Spider-Man for the PS4. While we are still playing it and cannot give it a full review, we wanted to put out our early thoughts on the game and it’s feel and approach to the Spider-Man mythos.
Let’s get the big one out of the way first, the gameplay in this is fantastic. Insomniac have made a game that has tight, yet simple, controls that allow the player to quite quickly pick up and with practice can master relatively quickly. While this is true in most areas, the keys to this game come in the approach towards two areas of play: combat and traversal.
In terms of combat, anyone who has played the Arkham series of games will be somewhat familiar from the start. One button is our melee attack, another for web strike attacks which allow the player to close down on enemies far away almost instantly, and a third to react to our Spidey-Sense and dodge incoming attacks. This simple three-button system can then be added to by use of various gadgets and suit powers, all of which can be customised to suit the situation we are in. While this sounds simple, I have found myself on the medium difficulty quickly being overwhelmed by enemies due to remaining too static, and not using the environment and acrobatics to my advantage, even on the Medium difficulty, showing that there are still areas to improve my own skills in.
Alternatively, the web-swinging is simple in all respects but creates an incredible feeling for the player. The feel is reminiscent of the much loved Spider-Man 2 game, as webs once again connect to our environment, but it goes much further beyond this. Aside from simple swings, we also have a zip line to perch points, which can then be immediately bounced off of for momentum gain, as well as a quick web zip button. Combining this with the Assassin’s Creed-style Parkour button which allows for leaping small obstacles and running up walls, provides the player with a sense of freedom of movement that I have never before found in a video game, but is perfect for Spider-Man.
The side-quests and collectables in the game are revealed over the length of the game, through repowering the police antennae spread across the city. While this point-of-interest style system is a bit odd for the game, there are few enough of these to not make it a trawl, and to be honest it gives us a great reason to web-sling up and down the length of Manhattan, which we are not complaining about. The collectables and side tasks are also nice to find and contain some fun nods for comic book fans, and each type of collectable has its own type of activity relating to it. On top of this, these side quests provide us with the necessary tokens to upgrade our gadgets and to build our new suits. While not all of the suits are ones I would equip, unlocking them is worthwhile purely to pick up the suit powers, as these can be re-equipped to whatever suit you prefer playing in. This ability for customisation makes these side quests not only valuable in terms of unlocks, but these also help out a lot with combat to provide you with an extra edge over your opponents.
The visuals are also stunning, and remarkably impressive even on a standard PS4, and the soundtrack for the game sounds like it could be lifted from the MCU’s Avengers films with its dramatic tones and nature. All of this combined creates a fantastic and enjoyable game set in our typical Spidey-style narrative. While I won’t go into too much detail to avoid spoilers, the storyline starts with Peter once again triumphing over a villain, and shows us aspects of both sides of his life with his links to the supporting cast of the game, including Mary Jane, Aunt May, Yuri Watanabe and his colleagues at work. However Peter’s life is far from perfect, and as Act 1 of the game comes to a close we go from a fun, action style game to a game that fully depicts the dangers and damage the city faces as a result of the masked hero. We will discuss this more in our full review, but the end sequence of Act 1 leaves us in an incredibly different place than most of the missions before this have had.
Overall though, we cannot wait to continue playing this game. In fact, we are going to close of our thoughts simply by advising that anyone with a PS4 should strongly consider picking this game up, as it is an experience unlike any other we have played, with its storyline, gameplay and visuals combining to make an incredibly strong superhero video game. Hopefully Insomniac might get the chance to build more stories in this world they have created.