S is for Spider-Man

Spider-Man, released September 7th as a PS4 exclusive, is an amazing game. This Peter Parker and Spider-Man might be my favorite incarnation that I’ve ever encountered, film, tv, video-game, comic, or otherwise. There are plenty of easter eggs throughout the campaign for longtime fans of the character, but the story is still accessible if you’re a Marvel newbie. Spider-Man is yet another high quality arrow in Sony’s quiver of exclusives, and well worth playing if you’ve got a PS4.

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By now, everyone is familiar with Spider-Man’s origin story, and the developers and writers at Insomniac wisely skipped it. At the beginning of the game, Peter has been Spider-Man for several years already, and has faced and defeated many of his famous foes. He’s comfortable with his superhero alter ego, and with the associated (ahem) responsibilities. Because of this, you get to jump into the web slinging and fighting baddies right away.

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There is a bit of a learning curve to swinging around the city, but once it clicks, it’s super satisfying. There’s not many feelings in gaming that can compare to perching on the top of the Empire State Building, diving off, and swinging out at the last minute. It’s exhilarating, and I could spend hours just traversing the open world of Spider-Man’s version New York City.

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Of course, this being an open world game, there are tons of collectibles and side quests to complete. I especially liked tracking down all of the backpacks that Peter left around the city. It’s something that organically makes sense in the story; of course he’d have to stash changes of clothes in various places. It also allows for opportunities to flesh out little vignettes from Peter’s past; his first date with M.J., his first fight with Electro, etc.

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The story is engrossing, enjoyable, and actually has a few genuine surprising moments. There are characters you meet that may be familiar to you. You might think you know where their story is going, and in most cases you’d probably be right. That being said, the way they get there is moving, believable, and at times unexpected. Insomniac hews closely to the established lore in many ways, but deftly breaks the rules in others, leading to an extremely satisfying whole.

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