Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Finally had the time to play Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4. Took just a little under two weeks from start to Platinum. Maybe mild, unmarked spoilers somewhere in this review, be warned!

  • Overall: the game was amazing and spectacular and fun, especially for a big comic book fan like me, well worth the buy.
  • Mechanics: Combat felt a bit weird to me at first, mainly because I was expecting it to be closer to Arkham-style combat, and I kept trying to use Spider-Man’s Circle Dodge the same way I use Batman’s Triangle counter, and that got me clocked by the first boss of the game (Kingpin) a few times. Spider-man’s Dodge doesn’t allow you to cancel out of existing animations like Batman’s counter, so I really needed to unlearn that instinct. Once you get a hang of it, it’s pretty good, but feels a lot more chaotic than Arkham style combat. Arkham combat felt a lot more rhythmic where you just tap commands out and point at the baddie you want to hit. Here it feels like you have to be jumping all the time and swinging across the air and moving the camera around to look for objects to throw at enemies.
  • Mechanics: Web-swinging around Manhattan also felt weird at first. Sometimes the command to web swing would be unresponsive, which I would later realize would be because I was at a height that was too high to find surfaces to swing from. Once you get the hang of it, it feels very smooth and fun and you’re zipping around Manhattan like a boss.
  • Story: Peter Parker in this universe is reminiscent of old-school Peter Parker who’s always late to things and always behind on his rent. The early parts have him getting evicted from his apartment (classic Parker!) and looking for a place to crash. (Although after that point, it’s never mentioned where he’s sleeping, if he is at all.)
  • Story: Spider-man here is however, a well-known public figure, a veteran of super-heroing who even gets some assistance from law enforcement primarily in the form of Captain Yuri Watanabe. He’s been webslinging around long enough to build a stable of villains who are constantly referenced about being held in the Raft.
  • Mechanics: There’s actually a lot to do around the city. Not really collectibles, but more like different kinds of challenges and missions. There’s a lot of crimes to stop that you’ll hear on police bands as you’re web-swinging around. More difficult crimes and missions unlock as the story progresses, and they all come with optional objectives (such as perform X type of special move, etc) that give you bonus rewards. There’s also stealth missions reminiscent of Arkham’s predator modes, pigeon chasing, research missions that have you doing all sorts of weird tasks, and so on. Missions typically reward you with some form of tokens, which are used to unlock suits, gadgets and upgrades. This Spider-Man has a lot of gadgets, making him closer to a Batman figure in this universe.
  • Story: In this universe, J. Jonah Jameson is retired from his days at the Daily Bugle and instead hosts an internet radio show where as can be expected, he’s always castigating Spider-Man. His broadcasts come in as you’re swinging around the city, and Jonah will often comment on things you’ve recently done or missions recently accomplished. I especially like it when one of the missions had you doing something ridiculous like intentionally swinging through smog and Jonah makes wild speculations about what the hell you were smoking.
  • Mechanics: The suit selection in the game is fairly good, there’s a lot of suits available and you unlock more as you level up (you need to purchase them with tokens). You can change costumes at any time, and most cutscenes will show Spider-Man wearing whatever suit you have on at the time, which can be sometimes hilarious. I’m severaly disappointed at the lack of the Fantastic Four Amazing Bag-Man costume though. My favorite costume from this game is the classic comic book costume (screenshots below), I really like how well it’s animated so smoothly and gives such a cartoony vibe. I would totally play an entire game rendered in this fashion. It’s also hilarious when this costume is used in cutscenes!

My favorite costume!

Why won’t you take me seriously MJ?!?

Those guns won’t work on me, I’m a cartoon!

  • Mystery: I’m not sure why, but the distance scaling in this game is super-off. In-game measurements tell me Manhattan island is about 4 km from top to bottom, which feels really small. The Wikipedia entry says Manhattan is almost 60 sq km, but in-game it can’t be more than 10 sq km. I’m not sure why it would be like this.
  • Story/Mechanics: You don’t get to play as Peter Parker/Spider-Man all the time, there’s also a few missions you have to play out as one of two side characters. One of them is the lovable spunky red-headed Mary Jane Watson, who in this universe is not a supermodel actress, but rather has a more Lois-Lane like role as an investigative reported for the Daily Bugle. That means she gets herself into all sorts of troublesome situations where she has to sneak around enemies in order to escape. She’s no damsel in distress here, I’m not even sure if Peter ever rescues her directly. I like this MJ iteration, she has a lot more spunk. The other side character you get to play at is young Miles Morales, who enter’s Peter’s life somewhere in the 2nd act of the story. Miles parts consist of sneaking around as well, although he has a different toolset than MJ, mainly consisting of a hacking app that lets him create distractions to bypass guards.
  • Story: One of the best things in this game’s story is the mentorship relationship between Peter Parker and Otto Octavius, although if you know comics, you have a pretty good idea of where this is headed. Unlike the 2nd Tobey movie, the game gives their relationship sufficient time to develop before you start to see signs of trouble. The fall itself is well-executed and heavily foreshadowed and Peter has only himself to blame when he finds out he helped turn his mentor into an insane mechanical octopus.
  • Story: The overall story had some twists and some surprises in the ending itself. At the heart of all the problems facing Spider-Man this time around is the incumbent Mayor Norman Osborn, but who never actually turns into a green villain himself. The game’s ending heavily hints at a 2nd outing, so they’re probably saving Norman for later. Wise decision as well, Spider-Man has a deep bench of villains to pull from, and many of the classic ones haven’t been hinted at yet in this game. Aside from the Goblin, the 2nd game could very well introduce us to the Lizard, Sandman, Mysterio, and maybe even Venom among others!
  • After getting the platinum, I was tempted to purchase the “City That Never Sleeps” DLCs as well for additional content, but I decided to hold off for now. My experience already feels “complete” and just right anyway, and adding more missions might be too repetitive. Maybe if it goes on sale sometime.
  • Stan Lee (RIP) also had a small cameo in this game. For me it’s bittersweet that I got the platinum a couple of days after his death; I consider the game to be a fitting tribute to his life’s work.

As is tradition, here’s a screendump, awash with in-game spoilers! (Mainly because I chose to include the automatic screenshots that came with each Trophy unlock). You can see during the later parts I was using the comic costume almost exclusively!

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