New Spider-Man video game impresses

by Angelica Wallingford, Staff Writer

Coming off the massive hits at the box office, the folks at Marvel decided to dust off the controller and team up with Insomniac Games and Sony PlayStation to revisit the world of gaming. What could have been an insufferable, generic superhero gaming experience was made into an immersive, nearly flawless game that’s sure to be the textbook superhero game for years to come.

At face value, “Spider-Man” feels like just another chapter in the epic of Peter Parker’s life. Donning his signature blue and red suit, you weave through the streets of New York stopping villains and saving civilians from harm.

What the player gets is an immersive experience that just doesn’t compete with any one of the myriad of “Spider-Man” games, or even films, that have been released over the past two decades.

Where this games succeeds the most, and what most of the games and films in the series failed to do, was capture the essence of what it is to be Spider-Man. It takes off the proverbial spider mask and shows the iconic superhero for who he truly is: a guy trying to balance his life out and do the right thing. On one hand he’s a tough crime fighter taking down New York’s criminal elite; on the other he’s dealing with things that everyone struggles with: love, family, career and mortality.

The game starts with your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, equipped with his signature sassy comebacks and a popular social media account, taking selfies at death-defying heights and mingling with the people of New York, all while keeping the city safe. His day job is working as an assistant for Dr. Otto Octavius, a scientist experiencing a fall from grace due to immense jealousy and guilt from his former friendship with Mayor Norman Osborn.

Other well-known characters from the franchise’s past include Peter’s beloved aunt May, former-Daily-Bugle-editor-turned-conspiracy-theorist-radio-host J. Jonah Jameson and Parker’s love interest Mary Jane Watson, who’s a reporter with a penchant for getting caught in Spider-Man’s web of enemies.

The boss fights are something to behold. They don’t feel like a series of standard ones from past video games. It feels like an actual fight, not a series of code that reacts to a particular attack. While the first major boss fight, featuring an angry and charging Kingpin, was a generic combat tutorial at best, the rest bring an atypical experience, which highlights the game’s fluid combat system.

The momentum doesn’t stop when you move from the fan favorite villains to common street criminals. The way the player moves from villain to villain is an excellent exhibition of flawless fluidity that the game captures so well.  This style of combat feels more at home in “Spider-Man” than it did in another stellar superhero gaming classic, “Arkham Knight.” While Batman is just as idolized as Spider-Man, the parkour laced combat moves feel more at home with Spidey than they do with the Dark Knight.

The inclusion of Mr. Negative is a welcome surprise and interesting turn from the usual selection of Spider-Man’s cavalcade of villains. In this incarnation, Mr. Negative, AKA Martin Li, is aiming to take over Kingpin’s territory and using the deadly Devil’s Breath virus to do it. While our web-slinging hero stops him, the effects the virus leaves has consequences felt throughout the rest of the game concluding with an epic rooftop fight against Spider-Man’s mentor-turned-madman Otto Octavius, now known as Doctor Octopus.  

Aside from the main missions, sleuthing with MJ and the next incarnation of Spidey, Miles Morales provides a refreshing break from beating up bad guys. Another high point is stripping off the iconic spider suit and playing as Peter Parker, the scientist. The mini games include gene splicing, chemical arrangement and circuit puzzles that range from absurdly easy to so difficult you’re practically close to throwing your controller across the room.

Where the game falls flat, is when it comes to innovating the open-world format. “Spider-Man” utilizes age-old tropes and while they are familiar to anyone who has played any open-world game, they become repetitive fast. The side missions could become monotonous after a while, but they don’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the game.

However, while the open world doesn’t provide any groundbreaking features, it’s the perfect medium to highlight the stellar web-swinging. It’s your main mode of transportation and it’s the best way to navigate from mission to mission around the vast landscape and tall buildings.

Despite its few shortcomings, “Spider-Man” succeeds in providing an in-depth story which immerses the player in every aspect of Peter Parker’s world.. With the fluid combat system, multitude of mission and stellar graphics, this game is well worth picking up the controller for a few hours and swinging through the city.