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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (496)

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House Party 3.5/5
Persona 5 Royal 4.5/5
A Hat in Time 3.5/5
Sunset Overdrive 4/5
The Vagrant 4/5
Honkai: Star Rail 3.5/5
MechWarrior 5: Mercenar... 4/5
Rage 2 3.5/5
Alan Wake 4/5
Riverbond 3.5/5
Dead Island 2 3.5/5
Saints Row IV 3.5/5
The Last of Us Part II 4.5/5
Torchlight III 3/5
Wolfenstein II: The New... 4/5
Ghost of Tsushima 4.5/5
Battletoads (2020) 2/5
Danganronpa: Trigger Ha... 4/5
Override: Mech City Bra... 3/5
Maneater 3/5
Door Kickers: Action Sq... 4/5
Spider-Man (2018) 4.5/5
Red Dead Redemption 2 4.5/5
Boot Hill Heroes 3.5/5
Control 4/5

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Spider-Man (2018)   PlayStation 4 

Web-Slinging Perfection    4.5/5 stars

Insomniac Games is responsible for Spyro, Ratchet and Clank and the Resistance franchises - some better than others - but, overall, mostly well-received. After giving Microsoft Sunset Overdrive as an exclusive in 2014 - they released a few more games before they found their greatest success to date in this very game - Spider-Man. While there have been exceptions, for the most part superhero games have been more miss than hit. But with the rise of the Batman trilogy, things seemed to take a turn for the better and after Insomniac's Spider-Man had more in sales than the MCU's own massive hit Spider-Man: Homecoming, the genre has found a new leader and when Sony purchased Insomniac in 2019, it seems the best is (hopefully) yet to come.

Looks and Stuff: The game is gorgeous to swing through from bustling streets to skyscrapers you can climb. It is set in New York City, so you can find many true-life landmarks but, as this is also set in the Marvel Universe, you can also find places like the Avenger's Tower, Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum and the Wakandan Embassy to name a few. One of the many options in the game is to photograph various landmarks and it's actually fun to see all the places they've incorporated. Likewise, the vocal cast is made up of plenty of top-notch talent including Yuri Lowenthal as Spider-Man, Laura Bailey
Laura Bailey as Mary Jane Watson, William Salyers as Doctor Otto Octavius and Tara Platt as Yuri Watanabe (a kind-of Commissioner Gordon surrogate for our hero). I also have to give a shout-out to Darin De Paul as J. Jonah Jameson - who still hates on Spider-Man but here plays an Alex Jones-esque podcast host who has short segments throughout the game and DLC and each one is gold whether he is raving or not. I can't think of a single person who feels mis-cast and the dialogue flows smoothly from Spider-Man's many, many quips and bad jokes to the more emotional connections between him and Aunt May or Mary Jane or even Miles Morales - it all works. The models for the characters look just as good and I have to give props to the costume department - Spider-Man has about 30 different suits and if you change it, it also changes for each cut-scene - including one that makes him look like a comic book Spider-Man and another that has him only in his underwear (too bad this is probably one of the last one's you'll unlock - it would make for a great look early on).

The music is likewise very appropriate - it feels like it would be right home in an MCU film - pumping up when the action gets heavy and dialing things down when needed. I can think of no major issues with clipping or graphics popping in and out. I did have a few crashes but given the auto saves, no major progress was ever lost. No other bugs or mission-related mishaps - this is one of the few games that I felt like I wanted to get 100% on - and I did.

Story: The game skips the origin story and gives us a Spider-Man that is still young, but still has plenty of experience. At the start of the game he's not in the best place - his relationship with Mary Jane is rocky at best, he's still seen as more of a hindrance than help by the police and he's just lost his apartment. When not facing off against the bad guys he's either helping his Aunt May at F.E.A.S.T. (a mix between soup kitchen, homeless shelter and outreach program) or working with Doctor Octavius to improve the world. The game wastes no time in giving you guys to fight as you take on both Shocker and William Fisk aka Kingpin pretty much immediately. But taking down Kingpin only opens the door to more enemies to take control - and soon a new villain, dubbed Mr. Negative, arrives on the scene. And don't think that your employer is going to avoid his fate as one of Spider-Man's greatest villains, either - but how he gets there is well-done.

The game also gives an origin story for Miles Morales (who, in short order, got his own game) and well as giving Mary Jane something to do (her own stealth missions) besides just be Peter Parker's maybe girlfriend. She is an investigative journalist on her own, thank you very much. Most of the game, however, is Spider-Man simply trying to keep his city from falling apart - something that becomes harder as you go on as a rogues gallery of villains, the over-ambitious Silver Sable and her highly-organized - and heavily-armed mercenaries and a deadly virus all come together to make things extra difficult.

The DLC is a trilogy called The City That Never Sleeps that takes place after the events of the main game and follows the Maggia crime families as they vie for power in the city. It introduces new characters, including ex-flame and thief Black Cat, the hard-headed Maggia Don Hammerhead and the return of Silver Sable - who is none-too-happy the criminals are using her technology to cause havoc. It also expands the story of ally Yuri Watanabe. Oh, and also gives us Screwball - a crazy influencer who makes Spider-Man jump through hoops for likes as her loyal followers attempt to destroy the city.

Gameplay: Much of the game is simply you swinging around the city, a good chunk is you fighting various groups in said city, there are boss battles and even the occasional Mary Jane/Miles stealth-like sections. If the game didn't get the web-slinging traversal right, it would be a different story but the entire way you sling around just feels so smooth. The game has three different skill trees: Defender (giving you better dodge and finisher mechanics), Innovator (better throw and stealth mechanics) and Webslinger (more traversal options and web combat maneuvers). You can spend your points as you see fit but most likely will unlock everything by end-game. Various suits also unlock abilities and you have spider-gadgets you can use on enemies. Despite the vast array of what you have - from web bombs and electric webs to Spider-Bots and drones, for the most part I stuck with the standard web-sling and the web blossom original power. Call me boring, but the classics seemed to work best for me.

Enemies are varied and get more so as the game goes on. You have basic melee, basic guns, guys with shields, heavy enemies, guys with machine guns, snipers and later heavier weapons (lasers, rocket launchers), jet-packs and the negative guys with swords. While some enemies are annoying my least favorite by far are the guys with whips - not only will they block most attacks, they can whip you right out of the air and, when encountered in large group, are supremely the worst. Combat is basic combo - on the ground or in the air - build up your meter and you can do and instant finisher - build it up enough and you can take down even the most annoying enemies. Your meter also allows you to heal and and your focus builds up your suit power. You can switch between web powers at will - though each has a finite number of uses that slowly recharges. Most enemies you face will be in bases or crime activities around the city or story missions, of course. Certain missions require stealth - and Spider-Man is good at taking out enemies without being seen, though it may take planning (and several tries) to get things right. Likewise, the stealth missions featuring Mary Jane and Miles help break things up - these missions are a bit more tense (no web-slinging) but not annoying like so many other stealth game sections. Boss sections are spread out (more come at you near the end game) and usually have you dodging a number of attacks before fighting back and taking down the big bad. While fun to play (for the most part), it's nothing too spectacular.

No open-world type game would be complete without mini-games and collectibles - and you get both there. From backpacks to landmarks, crime and base tokens - you'll have plenty to collect and unlock as you swing around town. There are also science and challenge tokens that can be earned by completing certain tasks, most of which require you to chase things, get to things (like bombs) quickly or perform various other web-slinging talents or just fight guys real good. The mini games come in two forms in the Ocatvius labs - chemical analysis and equipment modification. Chemical Analysis is a puzzle where you have to line up the right combination of lines to create the correct sequence. Equipment is a simple current A-to-Be puzzle where you have to line-up the right pieces (elbow, positive and negative segments, etc) to get the right total. Neither are particularly difficult or really that interesting, but there you go. All these tokens you collect help you unlock more suits or power-up your gadgets to greater effect.

Replay: The game gives you a new game plus AND difficulty option as soon as you finish, so if you haven't had your fill of web-slinging, you can go again and really test your skills.

Final Verdict: One of the best superhero games out there - it swings hard and doesn't just hit a home run, but a grand slam of how you should craft a game around a well-known subject.

Presentation: 5/5
Story: 4/5
Gameplay: 5/5
Replay: 4/5
DLC: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 4.5/5

 

 


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