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Marvel's Spider-Man - Video Game Review

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
Published January 4th 2020
Spider Cop Spider Cop Does Whatever a Spider Cop Does
Marvel's Spider-Man PS4
Marvel's Spider-Man is one of the best super hero games of all time

Marvel's Spider-Man is a 2018 action-adventure video game that was developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It was based off the Marvel Comics superhero character Spider-Man. It is set in a fictionalised version of the City of New York and is presented from the third-person perspective of Peter Parker (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal), a mild-mannered, intelligent young man who is secretly the superhero Spider-Man. The game is set eight years after Peter was bitten by a radioactive spider and gained his superpowers. Peter is now 23 years old and an experienced crime fighter, but struggles to find the right balance between his superhero responsibilities and his civilian life.

Spider-Man's adventure starts with news of increased crime activity happening across New York City. His mission brings him into contact with other characters, like his friend and ex-girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson (Laura Bailey), Miles Morales (Nadji Jeter), several supervillains, a supernaturally powerful gang called the Demons, a supervillain called Mister Negative, and a new foe called Doctor Octopus. Will Spider-Man be able to find the strength to be greater than his enemies and save the city from a terrible plague called Devil's Breath?

Marvel's Spider-Man was announced in 2016 at Sony's Electronic Entertainment Expo and was released worldwide on 7 September 2018 exclusively for the PlayStation 4.
Spider-Man has been called one of the greatest superhero video games and one of the best Spider-Man games of all time. It received great reviews from critics and was praised for its gameplay, graphics, narrative, and characterization. It sold 3.3 million copies within the first three days of its release and made an estimated $198 million during this period. Spider-Man became the fastest-selling second-party release in Sony's history and the fastest-selling superhero video game in the US, Japan and the UK in 2018.

The game remained in the bestseller list for weeks and as of August 2019 has sold an estimated 13.3 million copies. Spider-Man appeared on several top video game lists of 2018 and in 2019 Games Radar listed the game as the seventy-fifth best game of the decade.

There's a lot to like about Marvel's Spider-Man. If you have not played this game this review will contain spoilers.

Marvel's Spider-Man PS4
Yuri Lowenthal puts on a great performance in the game as Peter Parker and Spider-Man

Excellent Writing

Before I started playing this game, I wasn't a big fan of Spider-Man. I'd seen the Spider-Man films and had liked them well enough. I knew a bit about the comics, but hadn't read any of them. I liked Spider-Man well enough to want to play this game. The positive buzz won me over. This was one of the most enjoyable games I have played in years. One of the things that impressed me the most was how good the writing was. I loved the creative use of quips that Spider-Man uses in this game when he beats up some bad guys.

Spider-Man has always been known for being sarcastic and telling jokes. I really appreciated the effort that went into making his quips in the game provide some humour, like when he bursts into a room filled with computers and shouts to the men manning the machines, 'Is this tech support? I forgot my password'

And after he beats up some prisoners, he remarks to the police, 'No need to pay me. Action is my reward' as they roll up to the scene, sirens wailing.

A couple of times when I surprised some goons on a rooftop, Spidey would come up with something hilarious like, 'Hey, look, pigeons!' and 'Don't think of it as going back to prison. Think of it as going home!'

One time, when some people started shooting at me, Spidey remarked, 'You know this would be a lot more fun if you guys would say pew! pew! while you shoot at me'

At the start of the boss battle between Kingpin and Spider-Man, Spider-Man tells him, 'Writing memoirs? Don't forget the hyphen between Spider and Man.' This line made a lot of fans laugh because a lot of people forget that hyphen.

One of the best running jokes throughout the game is when Spider-Man keeps referring to himself as Spider-Cop to his police friend and contact Yuri. This exchange sums it up well:

'You're in luck Yuri! Your favourite tough but loveable grizzled seen too much detective is in town.'

What? No, no, no, no, you promised you wouldn't do that any-'

'Spider cop.'


Spider-Man and Yuri

Marvel's Spider-Man PS4
Mary Jane Watson (Laura Bailey) is a playable character and an investigative journalist who is aware of Peter Parker's secret identity and works as his partner in solving crimes.

Mary Jane Watson

I really loved the characterisation of Mary Jane Watson in this game. MJ is an investigative journalist for the Daily Bugle and a secondary playable character in Marvel's Spider-Man. She is a life long friend and former love interest of Peter Parker. MJ is aware of his secret identity as Spider-Man and works with him as a partner and equal in the battle against crime.

Mary Jane is a headstrong, confident and courageous woman who is passionate about journalism and is willing to pursue stories wherever they might go even if it means putting her own life at risk. MJ regularly assists Spider-Man in his missions, despite having no supernatural powers of her own, and even sometimes saves him. MJ and Peter dated six months prior to the start of the game, but broke up due to Peter's protective nature. Mary Jane and Peter re-connect in the game and begin a partnership after a rise in crime hits New York City. During the course of the game, Peter has to learn not to be overprotective of her and to let her rely on her own skills and abilities to solve her own problems.

I LOVED that Mary Jane was not a damsel in distress in this game and that the writers wrote her to show that she has her own skills and can be a hero all on her own. She becomes a true partner and a friend to Spider-Man. You even get to control her in stealth missions where she breaks into places to find clues. I adored her character and cannot praise her enough.

Marvel's Spider-Man PS4
Otto Octavius (William Salyers) is a father figure to Peter Parker in the game

Character Relationships

I really liked the amount of effort that went into developing the relationships between characters in this game. One of the most interesting relationships in the game is between Peter Parker and Dr Otto Octavius. Peter works for Otto as a lab assistant. Otto is a brilliant engineer and inventor with a genius-level intellect who was a co-founder of the corporation Oscorp which he founded with Norman Osbourne. Otto left Oscorp after Norman began making management decisions that he felt was unsafe and unethical and started his own organisation called Octavius Industries. Otto is a friend, mentor and father figure to Peter Parker who is secretly aware of his alter-ego Spider-Man.

Together the two of them spend time working on perfecting a new type of advanced prosthetic limb technology, motivated in part due to a neurological disorder Otto is developing. After Octavius Industries has their grant funding shut down by Norman Osbourne, Otto vows revenge and his mental health begins to unravel. He implants neural implants into his brain to help him use the prosthetic limbs, and suffers an unexpected side effect. His mind and personality are warped by the implants, making him angry and violent. He becomes the evil Doctor Octopus and forms the Sinister Six as part of a devious plan to destroy Norman Osbourne and Oscorp.

It was fascinating to watch Otto slowly transform into Doctor Octopus. When Otto loses control completely, it is heartbreaking to watch him attack Spider-Man and shatter the love and respect that Peter had for him. In the final chapter of the game, when Spider-Man battles Dr Octopus, there is a scene where Dr Octopus brutalizes Spider-Man so much he shatters his mask revealing his face. There is a moment where we see a close up of Peter's face and he looks so shocked and saddened that his former idol is doing this to him. It was a great moment of acting, writing and graphic design.

Marvel's Spider-Man PS4
Miles Morales (Nadji Jeter) is introduced as a character in the game and is able to be controlled by the player in linear stealth missions

Miles Morales

Miles Morales is a fictional superhero character who was created in 2011 to be an alternate version of Spider-Man. Miles was the main character of the 2018 animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse. Miles Morales was created to be a positive role model for children of colour. I've been a big fan of Miles ever since I saw Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse. I had no idea that Miles was going to be in this game, so when he was introduced halfway through the main story, I was delighted.

Miles is a fifteen-year-old kid and secondary playable character in Marvel's Spider-Man. He is a brave, selfless and intelligent young man who puts himself at risk to help the people he cares about. He becomes friends with Peter Parker and Mary Jane and the player is able to control him in linear stealth missions similar to the same ones MJ operates in.

We get to see him get bitten by a radioactive spider and gain his spider powers toward the end of the game. I am looking forward to seeing Miles and Peter team up in the next game to tackle crime together in the city that never sleeps.

Marvel's Spider-Man PS4
You can unlock different Spider-Man suits in the game after completing objectives and missions.

Unlock New Spider-Man Suits

The game features several variations of Spider-Man's suit that can be unlocked as an award for completing specific tasks. A number of the suits are based off existing designs that have appeared in Spider-Man before; others are original suits that were created for the game. The suits grant Spidey special powers and abilities that can aid him in battle. The player can purchase new suits, suit mods and gadgets upgrades in the game with tokens which are awarded after completing tasks.

There are Challenge Tokens, which are awarded after completing Taskmaster's challenges; Back Pack tokens are given for finding Spidey's backpacks which contain mementoes from his younger years; Research tokens are rewarded for completing research stations; you can win Crime tokens for solving local crimes; Base tokens are given after clearing out enemy bases and Land Mark tokens are given for photographing landmarks.

Once a suit has been unlocked, players can mix and match suit powers and abilities. I really liked the Iron Spider suit which came with Iron Spider arms. The suit pictured above is the Velocity Suit. The funniest suit in the game was the Undies Suit which is just Peter in his underwear and wearing Spidey undies, his web-shooters and his Spider-Man mask. You can unlock the Undies Suit after completing all the main story missions and all the side missions and city-wide activities on the map.

Marvel's Spider-Man PS4
Swing into action as Spider-Man and combat everyone from big crime lords to street thugs

Combat and Open World

The combat methods and open-world landscape in Marvel's Spider-Man was a lot of fun. You have a huge open world fictional version of New York City to explore. You can web-swing from one end to the city to the other, climb and run up buildings, perch on top of rooftops and then leap off the air and dive toward the ground for the perfect superhero landing.

The open-world is HUGE and filled with so much stuff to do. There is a map that splits the city into different sections and shows you a list of all of the tasks you have to complete in each part of town. There are side missions, things to collect, landmarks to photograph, people to meet, radio towers to turn on, criminals to catch, car chases to stop, snipers to defeat, bombs to deactivate, drones to smash, research stations, enemy bases to defeat, kidnap victims to locate, taskmaster challenges, and pigeons to catch. I had so much fun swinging around the city finding landmarks, defeating local thugs and climbing the highest buildings so I could jump off the top and hurtle toward the ground at intense speeds.

The combat in the game was done very well. Spider-Man has several different moves which are easy to learn and he has a variety of web-based gadgets at his disposal like web bombs, web-shooters, spider drones and impact webs. The more you play the game, the more gadgets you unlock. It's a lot of fun to swoop down on a group of thugs from above and drop a web bomb on them and pin them to the wall with webbing.

I really liked how Spider-Man didn't use fatal force when fighting enemies. He would kick them and beat them up and pin them to walls, sure. But he didn't blow their heads off with a shotgun or pop their eyeball out with his thumbs. When I kicked people off rooftops, I noticed that they didn't fall to their deaths. They would end up getting pinned to the side of a building by webbing so they could be picked up later by the cops. There is even a scene where a para-military officer threatens to execute someone, but is stopped by Spider-Man, who tells him 'That's not how we do it here'.

The lack of over the top violence in the game meant I felt comfortable letting my five-year-old daughter, who is a huge Spider-Man fan, watch me play. She would cheer me on and give me suggestions like 'Mum, web him to the wall!' or 'Mum, kick his butt!'

Marvel's Spider-Man PS4
Marvel's Spider-Man has been praised for its amazing story, characters, open-world design, combat style, and Yuri Lowenthal's emotional portrayal of Peter Parker.

Phenomenal Acting and Character Design

The voice acting and character design in Marvel's Spider-Man was some of the best I have ever seen in a video game. There are several cutscenes and scripted sequences in the game, where each character has a high-quality close-up, making their expressions very realistic and full of emotion. The cutscenes and character designs were so well done, I sometimes felt like I was watching a movie instead of playing a video game. I would even argue that the storyline, characterization, drama and action in Marvel's Spider-Man made for a better film than the 2019 film Spider-Man: Far From Home. The writing and voice acting in this game was so well done I felt emotionally connected to all of the characters. Yuri Lowenthal gave the best performance of Spider-Man I have ever seen. He captured the essence of the character right down to the core. He was funny, adorable, sweet, awkward, sarcastic, brave, loyal and honourable. You couldn't have asked for a better Spidey.
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Why? Marvel’s Spider-Man is a massive, open world style game, that lets you battle crime in New York City as Spider-Man
Cost: $39 - $59
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