Review: Marvel’s Spider-Man

Could this be the greatest superhero game yet?

Swinging between skyscrapers, webbing up the bad guys and protecting the city… it’s all in a day’s work for Spider-Man.  Insomniac Games took on the daunting task of immersing players in the world of the web-slinging wonder, and the results pay off.  Combining stunning visuals, a masterful combat system and engaging story, they’ve produced one of the best games of the year.

To get into the swing of things (literally) you start the game by making your way across Manhattan.  Web-swinging around, over and between buildings is seamless – not to mention great fun – and there’s a convincing sense of gravity with every dive and swoop.  Even after you unlock the fast travel option between key locations, you may still find yourself preferring to take the swinging scenic route instead.

Swinging through Marvel’s New York is a joy

Soon enough, vigilante duty calls and Spidey has to take on the bad guys.  The game takes place eight years after Peter acquires his powers, so – unlike an origin story – you’re already an experienced crime fighter, and as such combat is fast-paced, fluid and intricate.  This is not a game you can sail through by absentmindedly smashing X.  The list of moves may be daunting at first, but once you’ve familiarised yourself with it, taking out a crowd of goons with perfectly executed combos becomes incredibly satisfying.

Encounters also encourage you to consider different tactics; some situations call for stealth, others brute force or special moves.  A range of different suits, skills and gadgets (which you can acquire and upgrade throughout the game) grant new benefits and abilities.

Take out the bad guys with slick combat sequences

When you’re not saving the day as Spider-Man, you’ll also juggle Peter Parker’s other responsibilities, including his day job at a biotech laboratory.  Peter is a genius scientist and inventor, after all, so it’s only fitting that the game highlights his intellectual abilities.  Being HIW, we particularly enjoyed the scientific angle of the in-game puzzles, which include fixing electronic circuits and analysing spectrographs of mystery compounds.

There are a variety of optional sidequests available to fulfil your role as the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.  These range from stopping crimes in progress to scoping out the city’s landmarks and conducting scientific research projects to combat environmental health hazards.

The success of many missions relies on Peter’s intellect, not just his superpowers

Some tasks can be a bit repetitive if you commit to completing them all at once; it may be better to tackle them sporadically between main story missions.  That said, not only do these tasks earn you collectibles for gear upgrades, they also lead you to areas of the city that you wouldn’t necessarily visit just by sticking to the main story.

As the game takes place in Marvel’s New York, when exploring the city you’ll uncover Easter eggs from the Marvel Universe. This will delight dedicated Marvel aficionados, but casual fans may find these references go over their heads. These moments won’t detract from your enjoyment though, as many such hints are hidden in sidequests or (seemingly) throwaway comments in conversation.

The dialogue and voice acting are natural and entertaining, packed with Spidey’s characteristic humour.  Whereas in other games secondary characters can feel incidental or two-dimensional, here the supporting cast is well developed.  Some characters, such as Mary Jane, take on larger roles and have their own playable chapters, adding greater depth.

Mary Jane – now an investigative reporter – has her own playable sections

Visually, the game is outstanding.  The city is stunning and character animations and facial expressions in cutscenes are authentic.  Combat animations are superb – particularly when performing special ‘finishing moves’ that take down enemies in cinematic style.

The main story takes around 20-25 hours to complete, but will soon be expanded with the upcoming three-part DLC series The City That Never Sleeps (available separately – £15.99 / $24.99).  The first instalment, The Heist, will be released on 23 October, with Turf Wars and Silver Lining following in November and December respectively.  Each will include new missions, challenges and gear, as well as introducing new allies and adversaries… and we can’t wait!


Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Format: PlayStation 4 exclusive
Rating: PEGI 16 / ESRB Teen
RRP: £54.99 / $59.99
Release date: Out now

How It Works received a code to review Marvel’s Spider-Man courtesy of PlayStation. Opinions are our own. We achieved 96% completion on the ‘Amazing’ (normal) difficulty setting before writing this review.