The game’s story is well executed for the most part and features several arcs and narrative viewpoints. You’ll play as multiple characters in the Spider-Man universe who help to flesh out the story from a different perspective. Marvel’s Spider-Man skips the origin story and follows a Peter Parker with eight years of experience behind the mask. The game is successful in highlighting Peter’s struggle with balancing personal responsibilities and relationships while carrying the weight of knowing that the fate of New York City rests on his shoulders. The story’s central plot centers around Peter Parker’s relationship with Dr. Otto Octavius and his inevitable fall into madness. If you know anything about the Spider-Man universe you’ll recognize the road that Peter’s brilliant mentor is headed down, but it’s that journey that makes this the game’s most compelling storyline. Spider-Man isn’t afraid to shock; there were several catastrophic events featured during my 30-40 hour experience, including a terrorist attack and the death of several characters leading up to a climactic ending. While there are multiple interesting plotlines that are intertwined throughout the story, it can get a little overwhelming at times and there are a few that I could have done without, including the entire Silver Sable arc. It’s a minor gripe for what otherwise is a story that is on par with the best of the Spider-Man films.
There has been a surprising amount of controversy surrounding the graphics featured in Marvel’s Spider-Man and I’m happy to report that the game is absolutely gorgeous. While it may not quite live up that now infamous E3 trailer, it’s pretty damn close. Spider-Man is a massive game that takes place in a fully realized New York City full of character, charm, grit, and violence. The city looks fantastic whether you’re perched atop the Empire State building or in the streets of Times Square. Admittedly, there are some NPCs that look as though they were plucked from GTA IV and some lower resolution textures scattered throughout the game, but nothing that takes away from the overall experience. This is the first game where I’ve actually been looking forward to using the “photo mode” and capturing the beauty of the in-game universe.
There are also several dozen suits that Spider-Man can adorn throughout the game and each one provides a unique visual experience alongside special abilities. Swinging through the streets of New York, I find found myself on autopilot at times while I marveled at the beautifully rendered suits as Spider-Man navigated through the sea of skyscrapers. The game’s voice acting is also fantastic, with the work of Yuri Lowenthal as Spider-Man stealing the show as the wisecracking web-slinger. In a game that relies so heavily on narrative, it was of vital importance that the main actor is believable as the iconic hero and Insomniac made the correct choice with casting Lowenthal. Overall, the visuals and sound in Marvel’s Spider-Man rival the best of anything we’ve seen on home consoles to date.