Superhero movies are a dime a dozen, but superhero games are still a rare breed. As of August 2018, the Batman: Arkham games were about all we could look to for modern superhero games. Insomniac, the studio behind Ratchet & Clank and Sunset Overdrive had other ideas, though, and after years of previews Spider-Man finally dropped into our laps.
There may be spoilers ahead.
This is part of our "Best of" series. For more, check out our Best Videos Games of 2018 and Best Movies of 2018.
As a reviewer, I complete many more games than most people, but it's rare that I get to spend extended time with a game I like, pushing it to its limits. Spider-Man was one of the few. After I finished the story, I went through and got 100% on the game, including gold medals on every event, as well as taking the time to unlock every collectible. And then I started it over again on the next difficulty up and tore it to pieces a second time. If we could get trophies twice, I would technically have double-platinumed Spider-Man.
This game captures the essence of what it should feel like to be a superhero and to be Spider-Man in particular. Simply navigating the world is exciting and exhilarating. I wasted hours just swinging around the city. Insomniac found the perfect balance that makes it hard to screw up but easy to feel like a master. I could drop down to swing fast, or climb high to pull off sick stunts. Slipping through alleyways was immensely never ceased to be satisfying. When I got into a groove, combat was no less acrobatic, and I was making use of almost all the techniques and moves Spidey had available.
Underpinning all of this was a great story that rethinks some aspects of the Spider-Man story. Good writing and voice-acting gave us two awesome villains and a great rendition of ol' Webhead himself. Doctor Octopus is a classic villain, but Spider-Man made him tragic. It managed to turn Mr. Negative into a top-tier Spidey villain, too, when Spider-Man's rogues gallery is already topped only by Batman.
I'd also be remiss in not mentioning the game's excellent photo mode, which had me pumping out enough pictures of Spider-Man to please even J. Jonah Jameson himself:
If Insomniac can build a follow-up that compares favorably to this game, I'll be impressed. Spider-Man is the first big Marvel game in a long time, and I'm hoping it'll act like Iron Man did for the MCU, kicking off a series of very playable games that will release of the next decade. I'm kind of looking forward to getting older when I think of it that way.
If you own a PlayStation 4 and you didn't pick up Spider-Man this year, you're missing out.
Make sure to check out our original review of Spider-Man from September.
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