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Spider-Man PS4 Review

VO: Riccardo Tucci
Spider-Man on PS4 is a game with a lot to prove and expectations are high. So check out MojoPlay's Spider-Man 2018 PS4 review.
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Spider-Man Review

What makes a great Spider-Man game? Sure, Spidey’s been the star of a ton of mediocre games in the past, but anyone who’s played 2004’s Spider-Man 2 could tell you that the wall-crawler’s power-set provides the potential for a unique and exhilarating gaming experience. Well, Insomniac’s PlayStation exclusive seems to have finally delivered on that potential, but what is it about their version of a Spider-Man game that differentiates it from the rest of the pack?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: web swinging feels incredible, and it’s all thanks to a level of detail and polish never before seen in a Spider-Man game. From the sound design of the webs firing from your web shooters, to the way that the camera provides a real sense of velocity as you swing between skyscrapers, to the brilliant way in which Spidey’s movements adapt to his environment, you can spend hours swinging through the city without a care in the world.

As for the city you’ll be swinging through, Insomniac’s New York is a sprawling Metropolis with tons to see and do. While they’re not essential to completing the story, you’ll be rewarded for exploring and completing side missions throughout the city with tokens that you can spend on upgrades and new suits. It’s the perfect playground for Spidey to swing through, with enough to see and do to keep you busy long after the credits roll on the main story.

For anyone familiar with the Batman Arkham series, Spider-Man’s combat will feel familiar. It’s a simple system that rewards speed, timing, and improvisation, especially when facing larger groups of enemies. But what makes the combat stand out is how great it feels to move around and take on bad guys with the fluidity of Spider-Man.

The animations are what really give the game’s fighting system an unrivaled sense of flow, with each move seamlessly transitioning into another as you chain together huge, satisfying combos. While enemy variety is sadly lacking, the combat is so addictive and compelling that you probably won’t mind. The addition of upgrades, special suit abilities, suit modifications, and gadgets add a decent amount of customization, so you can develop your own playstyle and mix and match the upgrades you want.

Bringing in actual Spider-Man writers Christos Gage and Dan Slott was the right move, as their experience writing these characters and this world comes through from the start. The game’s story feels like it was taken right from the pages of a comic book, with the humor, action, and personal stakes that have come to define the character.

The dialogue and characterization is near-perfect, and the voice acting is consistently excellent. Yuri Lowenthal delivers an all-time great vocal performance as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. If you’re well versed in the Spider-Man mythos, don’t expect too many unfamiliar plot developments as much of the plot is pulled straight from the comics, but the way in which the writers have crafted the story by pulling from a bunch of different classic and modern storylines really gives the narrative an authentic feel.

Where the game stumbles slightly is in the pacing, with many story missions often pivoting to secondary characters. While there’s nothing wrong with these stealth-based missions, they’re nowhere near as fun as playing as Spider-Man. It’s a testament to how great the core gameplay truly is that anytime you aren’t swinging around New York or beating up bad guys, you start to miss the feeling of zipping over rooftops or slipping between an enemies’ legs to deliver bone-crushing finishing move. It’s so fun, you won’t want to do anything else, even though you’ll have to.

Some of the main missions are also very similar and ultimately come down to fighting waves of enemies, but since the combat is consistently fun, it certainly makes up for it. It would have been nice to see more set-pieces, since the ones that are in the game really stand out, even if they are mostly QTE driven. That being said, the moments that are meant to be epic and awe-inspiring always deliver.

Where the game is at its very best, however, are the boss fights, which are sadly few and far between. Each boss fight adds something unique and provides an exhilarating and varied challenge, but there’s simply not enough of these moments throughout the main story.

So what makes Insomniac’s Spider-Man the best Spider-Man game? They didn’t reinvent the wheel, they didn’t try to make any sweeping changes; they took the essential elements of Spider-Man and polished them to near-perfection. It should come as no surprise that the game’s ending sets up a sequel, and we can’t wait to see how Insomniac iterates and builds on these foundations. But for now, we have a near-perfect Spider-Man game on our hands.
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