That was both quick and satisfying.
I wish I could say there are spoilers, but Spider-Man is like 60 years old (1962), and if you don’t know that Otto Octavius is Doc Ock, welcome to Earth. Which in turn means that there are no twists in Spider-Man. Sure, it’s not exactly canon but it sticks with the fundamentals pretty well.
In truth, there are 3 games here. The main game is split into two large parts – pre and post RAFT event. The first part is relatively tame, with exploratory work and some rather minor skirmishes overall. The story progresses in starts and fits, with some main quests simply cutscenes while others are large orchestrated battles. Then the RAFT event, which looks really neat (if for the fact that there’s minimal player interaction). Then the world turns to hell and there are rocket launchers, snipers, tanks and all sorts of killer things on every street corner. For optional difficulty, you can try to complete all the various tasks during this setting, but it’s a good way to die. The good part is that you become ultra proficient at dodging.
The third game is post-credits, where the death world sort of returns to normal, but you still have all those tasks to complete. It’s like a middle ground, but after spending a couple hours in hell, it feels like carebear city a bit.
Enemy variety isn’t the greatest here, but the density of the enemies and the floor layout is the challenge factor. Taking on a few grunts is easy work in the open world, but a robbery where there’s no vertical movement will mean you get hit. Or taking a Sable station where there are 40 guards, 2 tanks, 2 snipers, 3 hover soldiers, and 2 rocket launchers… that’s just a mess of fun.
I found that of all this, the only truly differentiating skill is the perfect dodge. When on the ground, and you successfully dodge an attack, you can counter with a single button to take down that enemy. It sounds simple, but in takes practice to get going. When it works… wow.
There are other skills that are useful, but they are somewhat niche or playstyle dependent. I had a few 100 hit combos because I knew how to link the various attacks and avoid all enemy hits. But that took a lot of practice to develop. I am marginally stronger with hits, but I am empirically more effective with those hits – meaning combat is a fraction of the effort from my first fight. It has nothing to do with muscling your way through combat. You must simply be better.
Gadgets and Suits
This is a neat flavor aspect to the game with some interesting customization options gained while you level and complete tasks. I stuck with the “generate focus” suit skill, since it allowed for free healing. I swapped a few times when I wasn’t experimenting with combat, but always fell back to a solid safety net.
Building suits and gadgets requires various token types. You get them from all the tasks – finding backpacks, taking pictures, breaking up fights, taking out enemy bases. All rather simple items. Then there are Challenge Tokens from the Taskmaster. These come later in the game and are time-measured events – find bombs, chase drones, take out enemies. You need to have most of your skills unlocked and a really solid understanding of the game mechanics to get gold. Fast swing speed is rarely a requirement in any part of the game, but there are quite a few tasks that demand it. How to be fast and how to improve is hard, since there’s no real measure. I do like the concept of the Challenge Tokens, but I found them a bit too much of a gate on experimentation. Most of the interesting suits and gadgets require them.
No real surprise, most people saw the Spider-Man trailer. A few originals are here; Vulure, Electro, Rhino, Scorpion, Doc Ock. Mister Negative is a relative newcomer to genre (2008 I think) and he is portrayed as the main villain for most of the game. It works well enough, as he’s a villain with a complex backstory that is slowly revealed over time. There are two other baddies, but they are here and gone pretty quick.
The fights with the Six are a mixed bag. Vulture and Electro are fought together, through a pretty hectic fight, mostly in the air. Rhino and Scorpion are also together, though that’s more of a quick time event than anything else. Mister Negative has multiple fights, though I think the subway one is the most fun. It’s very claustrophobic, and the style is just spot on. Doc Ock eventually has a fight and a 3 part affair that is quite poignant.
I thought that there was missing an act where you had a better explanation for the fall of Doc Ock. He is one of the nicest people Peter knows, and the sudden swap in character drive is never really justified. Mister Negative has more development. Doc Ock is a genius level intellect here… and the steps he takes are quite mundane and without clear purpose. His fall could have been much more dramatic if it was more in line with the game character, rather than the comic book character.
Still firmly believe that this is one of the best console games this generation. It feels like a Spider-Man game should feel. It’s fun to play, there’s a lot to do, and it tells a good story.