'Spider-Man' PS4 review: More than a heroic experience

Whenever I think of Spider-Man I think of this youthful, eager superhero who refuses to be haunted by his tragic past. He’s energetic, he’s positive, and always willing to help out everyone in need. He is who he says he is – “Just your friendly neighborhood spider-man.”

And that identity translates through the entirety of Spider-Man for the PS4. From the portrayal to the plot to the cutscenes and even to the gameplay and mechanics of the game, the brand of Spider-Man is thoroughly stamped.

In this adaptation of Spider-Man, Peter Parker is no longer a fledgling in the superhero world. He’s experienced and he’s capable, able to create high-flying maneuvers as he swings with expert ease through the skyscrapers and buildings of Manhattan. And he fights swiftly and confidently, even doing daredevil aerial stunts with a combination of his gadgets and skills.

You could feel this immediately when you first take control of Spider-Man. If I can even describe his overall movement in the game with three words it’ll be “fast and fluid.”

Because to control Spider-Man, you don’t need fancy button pressing to dole out quick combos. It’s mostly a one-button-does-all, but the challenge is how creative can you get when dealing with multiple enemies at once or dealing with a massive one that’s difficult to take down.

Thankfully that creativity is fueled by 3 skill trees. The more skills you unlock, the fancier tricks you can use to your advantage.

And speeding through the gorgeous backdrop of Manhattan is just a matter of pressing or holding R1 near possible surfaces and occasionally pressing X for a bit of a boost. It’s only if you want to get fancy that you pull down L3 to dive. Of course, the fancier you swing, the more the game rewards you.

Over time you also discover just how much of an inventor Spider-Man is. One thing that’s often lacking in movies is Spider-Man’s affinity for creating. The game gives plenty of room for customizing Spider-Man’s suit, giving you a host of Suit Mods and Suit Powers to choose from, all of which you can mix and match without much restriction.  

And this confidence in movement and invention also translates to how Spider-Man carries himself. Though he has his occasional flubs, Spider-Man has a lot more swagger and throws more quips. Yet he does so not to be arrogant. He just wants to keep things light. In fact, making jokes is his default solution to almost every situation – including the tougher ones.

Then there’s the man behind the mask himself, Peter Parker, who, in this game, is now a young adult with young adult problems. He’s 23, a genius but barely-paid assistant to a scientist; a volunteer for a non-profit organization that takes care of the homeless; a nephew to a loving and generous aunt; an ex-boyfriend to reporter Mary Jane Watson; and a late-paying tenant to a harsh landlord. You know, just your regular, old brand of adulthood – but with superpowers. 

Having us see the struggle of Peter to keep everything together is one of the elements that makes this game so compelling to me. He has to keep track of his job, volunteer work, and personal relationships, while also trying to save Manhattan from a host of villains. Peter and Spidey’s lives and responsibilities often collide with one another and you can feel the tension and frustration of keeping them separate.

But it’s not just these that make the story of Marvel’s Spider-Man so interesting. At the risk of sounding cheesy, almost every significant character in Peter’s life is also trying their best to be their own version of a superhero even when not endowed with superpowers. Peter’s boss, MJ, Miles, Aunt May, and Yuri Watanabe all strive to help in their own ways while being weighed down by their own issues.   

And much like all the characters in this version of Spider-Man, the game isn’t entirely perfect. One issue I have with the game is the sheer amount of things to do outside the already many main tasks and missions that I have to go through. While they don’t often feel like a chore, and they have a pretty good reward system in that you get tokens to exchange with Suits and Suit Mods, there are moments in the game where it just feels too overwhelming. Towers, bases, research labs, challenges, photography, backpack hunting, crime-fighting, the list goes on and on. Go crazy, completionists. 

There are also the occasional hilarious bugs that come to play but that’s not much of a big deal.

But, that’s just about everything negative I can say about Spider-Man.

All in all, Insomniac’s take on Spider-Man is still a complete and spectacular Spider-Man experience. It’s fast, fluid, funny and real. It’s a game that stays true to Spider-Man’s character while also bringing more substance to the table, even when it gets a little overwhelming.

So whether or not you’re a Spider-Man fan, this Spider-Man game is definitely worth purchasing and seeing through the end. – Rappler.com