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It’s been a while since any other recognizable superhero, besides the caped crusader, has graced home consoles. Or maybe it should be said, it has been a while since there has been a noteworthy video game based on an officially licensed superhero. Either way you look at it, the tour de force known as Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4 is finally here.
From the moment I first took control of the titular web-swinging hero, I was immediately ensnared. Whether it was the swooping score by John Paesano or the breath-taking Manhattan skyline, you can tell every detail of Spider-Man PS4 was painstakingly put together. It’s easy to get lost in the crescendos of Spidey’s swinging, sidetracked by sounds of the concrete jungle and what can be said about looking over your city while perched on the tallest skyscrapers.
It isn’t always pushing the envelope of console graphical fidelity, but Spider-Man maintains a pretty consistent 30 frames per second. Not often did it ever stutter or dip during my playthrough. There was the occasional texture pop on the city streets in later scenes in the game, but nothing game-breaking. There was never any performance issues that took me out of the experience, even when I wanted to blame the game for not hitting my goal in the games many challenges.
You expect great gameplay when you think of Spider-Man, but you never necessarily think you’re going to get the best story. That is where the talented writers at Insomniac really took fans by surprise. At times I really felt as if the struggles these characters faced were my own, like I knew them all too well. This attention to human detail is where the story stands out. This coupled with systems that just plain make sense is why this game works so well. There wasn’t ever a time where I got too hung up on Spider-Man swinging in the direction I intended or overly repeated, out of place dialogue. Even the most Spidey villain, the camera, was not as bad as it could have been. Some sequences and segments do feel a little overplayed and overstay their welcome, but it wasn’t anything that caused me to put down the controller. Minor annoyances pick at you but don’t linger...depending on who you are.
Whether you draw comparisons or not, it’s hard to go onto the internet and not see thousands of claims that Spider-Man PS4 is nothing more than a Marvel clone of the Arkham series. While I find that to be inaccurate, I think it could’ve pulled from it more in a couple of ways but that is not to say that this game doesn’t know who it is. There is a lot here that more games in the future can learn from, one of which would be its tone. It strikes a perfect balance between light-hearted and serious. Spider-Man’s quips, as he is pummeling baddies, are the right dosage of levity. There might not be an Oscar waiting for the entire cast, but their performances are real and believable. I never thought I would be impacted by anything J. Jonah Jameson ever had to say, or that I would choose Mary Jane’s side over Peter Parker’s but I was and I did. They made sure to keep you striving for each story beat, even when you think you might know where it’s going.
After banking a little over 20 hours into Spider-Man on the PS4, I still haven’t removed it from my hard drive. That statement alone should inform you on how good it feels to swing through New York City, how empowering it is to tactfully take down a roof full of highly trained soldiers and just how much fun it is to be Spider-Man. The game doesn’t hold your hand too much either, and even gives you different ways to go about completing missions. Insomniac really encourages the player to find their playstyle. Between various costumes, web shooter tech and skill trees; you could potentially even spend hours building and testing different combinations to see what best suits you. Even with side quests that boil down to tailing missions and fetch quests, things we would’ve chastised another game for, are easily forgotten. The means of transportation and creativity it inspires, washes all those woes away.
Overall after Platinuming Spider-Man of the PS4, I will be returning to protect my city from purse-snatchers and loitering thugs because it’s just plain fun. The amalgam of internet propaganda comparing it to 2004’s Spider-Man 2 video game are just in their creation, because this title successfully steals the throne of the best Spider-Man video game. With the seeds left for future DLC and sequels, the developer has all but guaranteed there will be more to do. Needless to say, this iteration of our favorite masked vigilante is here to stay.
And that’s the Borderline Bottomline for Spider-Man PS4.
Review Written by Asa GreenRiver