Image Source: Marvel’s Spider-Man Press Kit
Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PS4
One year later and Marvel’s Spider-Man on the PS4 has been critically-acclaimed and a massive hit. While it was praised at its launch for its spectacular web-swinging physics, the game is far from amazing. In this short retrospective, I will take the opportunity to discuss aspects of the game I felt missed the mark for the lovable web-spinner.
Open-World Mission Structure
The map itself is a bit dull in content. The size of New York City makes for a nice playground to parkour around but at the compromise of feeling a little empty and barren. Not in the sense of map geometry and a lack of NPCs walking around, but more in the sense of content and things to do. There are many buildings to swing across but the buildings themselves have nothing of interest to interact with except activating towers that clear most of the minimap areas. The streets are filled with pedestrians and cars but there’s about a handful that will actually have mission quests and they don’t tend to be that long or investing. The rest are just generated and dropped in to fill an empty space. This might be personal taste but I much prefer smaller condensed maps with much more detailed and handcrafted areas. It makes the world feel more lifelike and roaming characters are memorable rather than just randomly generated. This might potentially go against the game’s core design structure, but I feel that a map layout similar to the one of Batman: Arkham City might have been more beneficial. More distinct areas and better NPC interactions.
The world also wouldn’t feel as barren if the missions were more diverse. A lot of missions either involve collecting goodies around the map or beating up enemies of different types. There might be slight variation in mission structure, with stealth missions or collectibles that Spider-Man must chase after, but they all remain essentially the same. It gets repetitive very fast and feels outdated in this current generation of open world games. The gameplay structure is reminiscent of Xbox 360 and PS3 open-world games of yesteryear.
Another gripe I have with Marvel’s Spider-Man is the lack in music variation. I don’t think the soundtrack of the game is necessarily bad but nothing about it really stands out. Music in games can usually make or break an experience for me. I felt this was another missed opportunity on the developer’s end. Personally, I don’t find a single generic orchestral tune to be all that immersive especially when its one of the only tracks that play when you traverse the game.
These are the main issues I had with the game. Some of them more major such as the world and mission structure and some less such as the music but I think they hamper on the game regardless. Marvel’s Spider-Man is a step in the right direction for Insomniac and one of the better open-world Spider-Man games since Spider-Man 2. Hopefully, this isn’t the only shot they’ll have with the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. I believe the game is a good benchmark for Insomniac and given the opportunity again, could really expand on what they’ve done with this project.
Originally Published in Bandersnatch Vol.49 Issue 07 on December 4th, 2019