Monday, September 17, 2018

Marvel's Spider-Man! Initial Thoughts

I've been playing Marvel's Spider-Man for the past few days, and it is blast. Some quick thoughts:

  • While the web-swinging dynamic remains a little opaque to me -- I rely on button-mashing more than I'd like, and precise landings on small platforms is a skill I've yet to master -- swinging around New York is still an exhilarating experience.
  • It also helps that it is New York. Not "Gotham", not "Bew Bork". Spider-Man as a character really is tied to a sense of place (for good reason -- as one wag put it, if Spider-Man lived in, say, Greensboro, he'd be restricted to fighting crime in a 3-block radius downtown) and the game is perhaps the best representation of a real-life city that I've ever experienced.
  • The combat system, which emphasizes getting and staying in the air, represents an actually fresh take on the fun but somewhat-worn Arkham/Assassin's Creed/Shadow of Mordor beat-em-up model. Still kind of button-mashy, but I feel like I've gotten the hang of it and am dying a lot less frequently than I did in the early going.
  • The game mostly looks beautiful -- occasionally I saw some rough textures on some cut-scene characters (Mr. Li, to be precise), but overall it is very sharp.
  • J. Jonah Jameson is now a right-wing talk radio host, which is a good spin on his character. One of the most interesting parts of his portrayal is that his (expressed) beef with Spider-Man is basically that his presence as a Superhero is directly responsible for criminals escalating into supervillain-ery. Why do I find that interesting? Because it's, more or less, the posture the Christian Bale-era Batman films took towards that character, to much critical admiration.
  • While there is plenty of similarities to the Arkham games, the tone is so different (understandably, Spider-Man and Batman are very different characters). In particular, this game has a brightness and cheeriness to it that Arkham could never have sustained. Ironic, given that Bruce Wayne is a billionaire and Peter Parker is teetering on the edge of homelessness (and Peter can see your dead parents, Bruce, and raise you a dead uncle, so don't even try to play that card).
Anyway, the game is a ton of fun, and I highly recommend it.

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