Finally, we have something amazing from Marvel that has nothing to do with their comics or the MCU. Marvel’s “Spider-Man” game was released worldwide in September and has very quickly garnered some well-deserved popularity.
“Spider-Man” is hands down the best game I have played this year. It went way beyond my expectations. I am blown away. Where do I even begin?
This game’s plot is multilayered, so I can’t reveal everything without giving spoilers. But the basic premise is Peter Parker, here an adult in his late 20’s, has just busted his enemy Fisk who promises that the worst is yet to come. His threat rings true when the Demons, a Chinese criminal organization led by a leader with horrifying superpowered abilities, carry out terrorist attacks meant to target Mayor Osborne and the rest of New York in the process. Spider-Man and his friends must face these enemies while dealing with a plethora of other growing problems.
“Spider-Man” is an amazing game for many reasons, but I would narrow it down to four things: the story, the design, the gameplay, and the Easter eggs.
First, the story is complicated in a good way. Peter Parker has a lot to deal with in this game. On top of all the problems brought on by the main supervillains, Peter has to deal with the problems of everyday adult life that make him so relatable in the comics. He’s broke. He has to juggle other responsibilities on top of being a superhero. He has strained relationships. We get to see him interact with many other people, and it all feels completely natural. Although I have not read that many Spider-Man comics, I felt like I was watching one.
The game’s writers somehow managed to make the characters and the story as natural and accessible to newcomers as it was to diehard fans while still being true to the source material. Because of that, every funny scene, every amazing fight sequence, every heart-wrenching cutscene, and every mundane moment felt engaging. When you play the game, you will be as invested in every second as you would be reading Spider-Man’s best comics. I can’t go into the best parts without going into spoiler territory, but it’s the best adaptation of lore I’ve seen in a while.
On a side note, the voice acting is spot-on. That’s normally something I don’t comment on, but everyone was just so perfect. They’re all good, but my favorite without a doubt is Spiderman’s voice actor, Yuri Lowenthal. From the sarcastic banter to his near psychological meltdowns, he showed every nuance of Peter Parker perfectly. I pray all these people get rehired for the sequel. They’re just amazing.
Second, the game’s design is unbelievably beautiful. The character models are great. The city itself is so meticulously-detailed I found myself wondering if I could use it as a map in real life. But where it really shines are the action sequences.
The way everything is animated during fights, especially with the main bosses, is quick, smooth, and absolutely exhilarating. The “Spider-Man” game animators effectively use a variety of cinematic film angles to portray the action in these fights. The result is so stunning, so thrilling, and so awe-inspiring at times that you will probably forget you’re playing a video game.
Without giving too much away, my favorite example of this is during the fight with Shocker. When I pressed the dodge button at the right time while swinging, Spider-Man would swing in between two massive electric bolt attacks avoiding them both perfectly. That animation of Spider-Man avoiding the bolts of electricity in slow motion while the electricity lights him up on either side is just breathtaking. It only lasted a few seconds, but it’s a masterclass animation that I did not expect to see in a superhero video game.
There is a lot of animation like that in this game that goes above and beyond to give the player an exciting and jaw-dropping experience. It is just fantastic. It is the most cinematic superhero video game I’ve seen since Batman’s “Arkham Asylum” series. Speaking of which…
Third, the gameplay in this game borrows a lot from “Arkham Asylum.” The fights, challenges, and controls use many of the same mechanics, which makes sense considering Spiderman and Batman fight similarly. Of course, the games are not the same, but the gameplay for “Spider-Man” is similar enough that it might bother some people.
Fortunately, though, the game is not just Spiderman beating up bad guys. He also investigates and solves puzzles. Then occasionally, the story changes to Mary Jane or Miles’s perspective and you get to play as them for a while. The game is really good about switching perspectives every once in a while to avoid having the gameplay get too redundant and to make the story more interesting.
In addition, because New York City is the location, the game is very much open world while still having a central plot. There are many places to explore and side missions that can give you more XP. If you get tired of the main mission, there are side plots and missions you can easily do as a break.
Fourth, I loved all the Easter eggs. I know it’s a random thing to comment on, but I loved them. There are so many of them. Jameson has his own podcast. Spiderman can unlock suits from multiple comic series. You can find the Avenger’s Tower. Stan Lee makes a cameo. It’s all these little touches that made me realize just how much hard work was put into this game.
Overall, “Spider-Man” is a fantastic game. Whether you’re a fan of Spiderman or not, this game has something for everyone. I can’t recommend it enough.