Sony has done it again.
After delivering on several exclusive PlayStation 4 hits over the past few years, including “Horizon Zero Dawn” and this year’s “God of War,” the studio’s collaboration with Insomniac Games has yielded yet another must-have game for any PlayStation 4 owner.
I’d argue “Marvel’s Spider-Man,” which arrives this Friday, is also a great reason to own a PlayStation 4 in the first place, if you don’t have one already.
After playing “Spider-Man” for about a week now – Sony PlayStation was kind enough to provide a review copy – I’ve really begun to appreciate several aspects of the game that will make playing other video games without these features very difficult.
Here are 5 ways the new Spider-Man game for PlayStation 4 raises the bar for all other video games (don’t worry – no spoilers here):
1. Traversal feels the best it’s felt in any video game.
Getting around in big video games with open-world maps can feel like a slog sometimes.
Often, the best your video game character can do is sprint or ride in a vehicle. Lots of games add fast-travel systems so you can teleport around the massive maps to your liking.
“Spider-Man” manages to make getting around not just quick and painless, but fun.
Swinging around New York City is what you want to do when you buy a Spider-Man game. But NYC is full of buildings and obstacles. In past games, you’d slam into them and maybe start crawling on the wall. You’d lose your momentum, and the sense that you were really this acrobatic superhero.
In this new game, you’ll automatically parkour – run, swing, or jump – when you hit the side of a building or a random obstacle. Even though “Spider-Man” offers a fast-travel system via the city’s subway, I rarely want to use it because getting around is half the fun.
“Spider-Man” makes traversing in other video games seem downright slow.
2. “Spider-Man” for PlayStation 4 respects the player’s time.
Insomniac Games clearly loves its players. Here’s an example of some of the features that improve the game’s quality of life:
– You can save and quit at any point in the game, even in the middle of a cutscene or fight
– You can abandon any mission, or skip any cutscene, at any point
– You can change your suit at any time, even in the middle of a cutscene or fight
– Loading times are blissfully quick
– Navigating your menu is fast and easy to understand
– You can retry some missions for higher scores, or reload from past checkpoints if you feel like you screwed up
– The game provides plenty of fast-travel checkpoints in case you don’t feel like swinging
All of these features prove one thing: “Spider-Man” for PlayStation 4 respects players’ time.
3. “Spider-Man” raises the bar for alternative costumes for your character.
Unlocking new costumes for your character is often one of the best parts of any video game. This is especially true for “Spider-Man,” where the suit is such a central part of the experience, because it reminds you, “Hey, I’m playing as an iconic superhero.”
Without getting into spoilers, I’ll say this about the costumes: Insomniac Games ensured that each costume that you unlock is better than the last one.
Every Spider-Man fan gets his or her due here: If you love the comics, or the movies, or just want your webslinger to look like a lunatic, you have options here. And the game even includes a few “hidden” suits you can unlock, and even more are coming with the downloadable content dropping later this year.
4. The game constantly gives you new powers and tools so you can customise the way you play.
“Spider-Man” for PlayStation 4 is very generous with giving you tools and powers that are actually fun to use. This should be no surprise, considering Insomniac Games is the same studio behind “Ratchet & Clank,” which features tons of over-the-top gadgets and weaponry.
But the implementation is what matters here: Having dozens of tools is no fun if you can’t find them all, or don’t like using them.
Thankfully, the gadgets in “Spider-Man” are intuitive, fun to use, and replenish themselves often, so you don’t have to feel bashful about using them. And all of your gadgets can be upgraded.
The game also throws even more abilities at you, since your suit also features three slots for modifications for upgrades that you can choose to purchase, and each suit can also be imbued with a special ability that powers up over time, like adding an electrical charge to your punches.
5. The story is well-written, and makes you care about the characters.
Video games are not often known for having great writing. Oftentimes, the stories are hard to follow, or the plot is nonexistent entirely.
In “Spider-Man” for PS4, the narrative only adds to the level of immersion. And it also makes playing the game more satisfying, because the characters actually have some stakes to them.
Without spoiling anything, a big part of this game is playing Spider-Man’s true identity, Peter Parker. He’s so wrapped up with work, friends, and family, that he doesn’t focus enough on himself. He can’t afford an apartment, and he’s constantly late to engagements or has to cut them short. This is a major theme throughout the Spider-Man comics and movies as well, but the game does a great job of making you care about the characters that rely on you.
In this game, every character has his or her own motivations that are made very clear to the player, but every character also shows multiple dimensions to them. Not all good characters are perfect, and not all bad guys are totally evil. The plot itself may not take many risks, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great time. Plus, it’s the character work that really shines.
“Spider-Man” for PS4 arrives this Friday. You can watch a trailer for the game below.
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