Is Spider-Man the best comic book game ever?

Amazing! Friendly! Spectacular! Superior? Well, it may be.

Amazing! Friendly! Spectacular! Superior? Well, it may be. 

I spent countless hours playing the video game tie-in to SPIDER-MAN 2, the Tobey Maguire sequel that pit the web-head against Doctor Otto Octavius – Doctor Octopus – when it came out in 2004. The mission-based, open-world game blew me away as I swung through a lovingly-crafted New York City and battled Spidey’s biggest foes. 

I think I may have even beaten the game before I saw the movie, so I experienced the story in game form first. Until Batman: Arkham series came out, it was easily my favorite superhero game – and I’m not a big Marvel fan at all. 

It’s been a long time since I bothered with a game based on Spider-Man, but the Playstation 4 exclusive that came out on Friday had me pretty excited from the moment it was announced. I had pretty high expectations for it, because it looked like a spiritual successor to the 2004 game, with 14 years of improved graphics and console processing power. 

Admittedly, I’m only a few hours into the game after downloading it first thing Friday morning. I have a wife, a toddler and a job, after all, and they take precedence of my time. But the new SPIDER-MAN game certainly took precedence over sleep, so I’ve been sneaking in an hour or two here and there when I can. 

The game not only lives up to the high expectations I had for it – it may have exceeded them. 

Let’s get the obvious praise out of the way first: this game is beautiful in every single way. From the New York City skyline and streetscapes to the to the controls, everything about SPIDER-MAN works magnificently together. I find myself getting Peter Parker as high up as I can go in various parts of the City, just so I can have him look around and we can both take in the scenery. It’s fitting that one of the minigames is to find landmarks around Manhattan to get selfies, because everything about the game looks so good. Admittedly, I haven’t gotten the hang of the Landmark minigame, but I’ll pick up on it eventually. 

The fighting system, too, is a great part of the game – simple to understand while allowing for more complexity as you gain experience. It reminds me a lot of the way fighting is handled in the Batman: Arkham games, only with less batarangs and more shooting thugs with webbing. 

I have to remember, though, that I am absolutely terrible at video games at this point in my life, and I probably should have started the game on the easiest setting – I get killed by random thugs way more often than I should – but that hasn’t hampered my enjoyment. I dust myself off and get back up to swinging around Manhattan to find the next part to play. 

I’m also enjoying the options to change Spider-suits. Each suit – representing a different costume Spider-Man has worn since he debuted in the 1960s – unlocks different powers, giving options to aid with different missions. So far, though, I’m just switching things around when I get bored. The game debuted a new costume, with a giant white spider in the front, that had people going back and forth about whether they liked it or if they thought it would ruin the game entirely. But there’s no need to wear it if you don’t want to. There are several options – especially if you pre-ordered the game and got the Infinity War suits and the Spider-Punk costume. 

While I will continue to shower the game with praise as I play it, it does have the same foibles as many other open-world beat-em-ups: a LOT of repetitive gameplay. In just a few hours of gameplay, I’ve had to pull thugs out of cars and save folks from an exploding accident scene several times. I imagine it won’t get any better as I continue on my experience. For a game that’s so beautifully crafted, it’s admittedly a minor quibble, but it was noticeable to me. 

At least I haven’t been tasked with running up the side of a building to save a kid’s balloon – one of the more annoying repeated missions in the Spider-Man 2 game adaptation. 

If you’re a fan of comic books and games based on comic books, I assume you’re already playing this. It’s wildly fun and an almost necessary addition to any PS4 library.