Historically Superhero games have had a bit of a rough time of it predominantly because, for the most part, they’ve been a bit rubbish outside of the Lego video game series. This generally seems to have been because they’ve been half-arsed movie “adaptations” that have been created for a quick and easy cash in largely. Spider-Man 2 was a noticeable exception here because it was actually a pretty decent game and is therefore quite fondly remembered.
This has slowly changed a little since the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum and nowadays there seems to have been a shift in quality. Superhero games don’t necessarily need to be based around movies and are made with a specific story exclusive to the game. This brings us rather neatly onto the new Spider-Man game on the PlayStation 4, which is getting a lot of love from people and has apparently just become the best selling PlayStation 4 exclusive released to date.
I wasn’t initially going to get it so soon after release due to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 being on the horizon coupled with the load of games I already have to play in my back catalogue. I caved after a week of seeing people going on about how good it was so got it purchased and installed as soon as possible. I was ready to play and see what all the fuss has been about, so I’m going to talk a little about my experiences so far.
First impressions were that the game is incredibly cinematic which I’m naturally a big fan of. The intro level sees you making your way up a tower belonging to the Kingpin in a bid to prevent him from escaping. Throughout this sequence, the game teaches you the basics you’ll need to know and ends with a boss fight against the Kingpin, which is pretty cool and then allows you to start exploring properly.
The map seems to be pretty huge so far, I’ve spent most of the early parts of the game hitting up the police crime towers and making the map fully visible. These towers work in largely the same way as the guard towers in the Assassin’s Creed games. You locate them and then get a little puzzle where you have to line the analogue sticks up correctly to activate the tower exposing the area of the map that surrounds it. It’s a tried and test game mechanic for the most part.
There are loads of things to find on the map too – various crimes to foil, New York landmarks to photograph, bases in which you need to clear out all the bad guys and backpacks to collect, and this is just what I’ve unlocked so far. The backpacks are particularity fun as there are backpacks that Spider-Man has, in theory, left all over New York at various points in his crime-fighting career. It amuses me to think that he’s so careless that he’s left them all over the place and each time has just thought “whatever, time for a new bag”.
Each of these various collectables and challenges yields tokens which can be used to unlock suit upgrades, new gadgets and also new suits all of which help with combat. These suits are taken from various parts of history for the character, I’m currently waiting to unlock the Homecoming suit as it’s my favourite. Apparently, the initial suit takes elements from all three of the cinematic Spider-Man offerings which is a nice little easter egg.
Combat so far has proven to be less intuitive than I’d have liked, I’d like to think it’s because this element of the game has been badly designed and getting swarmed by decent groups is hard work, with the addition of gunmen essentially being a death sentence. In truth, I suspect it’s a combination of me being a bit shite and picking fights I’m ill-equipped to actually win. Basically, I need to practice a hell of a lot more, luckily I suspect I’ll get the chance to do just that.
Overall it’s not a perfect game but it is pretty bloody good, tonally it’s reminiscent of the Marvel films and even comes complete with a Stan Lee cameo. It’ll be interesting to see what follows it up as the game takes place in a world where the Avengers are a thing so there’s scope to have games in the same universe featuring different superheroes, I’d personally love an Iron Man game. The other upshot is that hopefully, this will lead to more superhero games that have a similar production value, there’s a lot of potential for this particular genre.