Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered is without a doubt the definitive edition to play both one of the iconic hero’s best games, but one of gaming’s most fun and enjoyable superhero titles. Insomniac’s outing with the Marvel character has proven that it has stood the test of time, with its debut on PC a blockbuster to rival its live action adaptation. Minor technical issues and lingering issues aside, the game continues to hold up in 2022. Warning for very minor joke spoilers.
A Visual Marvel
While the original PS4 release of the game was an undoubtedly stunning one, this new Remaster perfectly captures the lively city of New York. While some of the character models you can randomly bump into on the street still haven’t seen much improvement, it is in the central cast and the city itself that the game finds its stride. Busy, populated streets give life to the open world, with cars and pedestrians under you as you swing. It is very jarring going from the PS4 to the PC version with Peter’s face having changed to the one seen in the game’s successor, Miles Morales, and it is definitely up to the viewer how to feel about the shift.
For everything else, there is no controversy or questioning how beautiful the game looks. The bright sunny days to the darker, rainy evenings are remarkable, and when the weather matches the emotion of certain story beats, the result is unforgettable. Character models are very carefully detailed and manage to look stunningly realistic without dropping into the uncanny valley. It surely helps that the game’s not too complex and relatively simplistic yet effective Photo Mode showcases the level of detail on Spider-Man’s suit when you take a much closer look. Eerily eagle-eyed players can also catch a glimpse of three extremely tiny chest hairs on the hero. Odd detail to include but good for Insomniac.
Far From PlayStation
As a result of moving to PCs, there is a noticeable change in the technical qualities available and present for the game. With the shift, the game now allows the player to choose from a rather large amount of options to either optimize the performance, or witness the game at its most beautiful while also being harder to run. While I did have a mostly smooth playthrough technically speaking, there were quite a few technical issues that were present. While in the open world, initially, the game struggled to reach 60 frames per second on a Nvidia GTX 1650, though later on after a patch it was able to reach 60 frames per second thankfully almost never dropping under 30. Almost. In one section, shockingly, Peter’s lab, the game took a surprising drop and it was the only truly noticeable performance drop. There was the odd glitch here and there but it wasn’t anything too bad or noticeable, such as a character taken hostage clipping out of the criminal’s arms.
But once getting past all those hurdles, the game performs greatly, being able to push into 60 once entering the more elaborate and tightly constructed missions. Those aforementioned technical issues did not hamper the experience whatsoever, and despite crashing once at the start and a bug forcing me to restart one of the DLC’s missions, I had fun nonetheless. And with a great keyboard and mouse comes great ability to change keybinds. While it is very unfortunate and rather disappointing that you cannot map each of your gadgets to a number rather than having to slow down to be able to use the wheel of tech stuff, every other customizable movement and action can enhance the experience. Also worth noting are the many accessibility options, from skipping puzzles and holding down instead of button mashing to visual aids.
A Spectacular Story
One of the game’s highlights was and still is the magnificently told story. A lot of the story beats are very predictable if you know Spider-Man’s history, even on the most basic level, but the game throws in a nice few twists and turns here and there that genuinely surprise.
While the story of the DLC is good enough exploring some character relationships until the far too out there finale, the base game has one of the most emotionally affecting in any superhero game. Rivaling the spectacle of the Arkham series, it manages to slowly increase the stakes while developing its core cast in new and exciting ways.
Aunt May is one of the highlights of the game. Obviously she isn’t the most important but she plays an important role, and thanks to Nancy Linari’s sweet and loving portrayal not unlike that of the various portrayals in the movies. William Salyers also delivers a heartbreaking
portrayal of a character whose identity is revealed early on, and as such, I will not spoil the reveal of how his tragedy plays out to be saved for a player’s first run of the title. Tara Platt, Laura Bailey and Nadji Jeter do great to compliment Spider-Man with their respective characters, Tara playing Yuri Watanabe, Laura playing Mary Jane and Nadji playing Miles, delivering more great performances.
The star of the show above all is Yuri Lowenthal as Spider-Cop. Spoiler alert, Spider-Cop unfortunately drops out of the story very early on, so he ends up replaced by the imitator, Spider-Man. Obviously the story focuses on Peter Parker surprisingly long after he has already begun swinging around New York. It focuses on a more mature and more experienced Peter who has been struggling to juggle his personal life and his superhero life. The game is a practically perfect depiction of the web-head, as he manages to convincingly deliver the many, many puns and quips that the hero throws at his enemies to deal a lot of damage, while also bringing out the emotion in his more tender, vulnerable moments. The climax in particular does a great job at exploring Peter’s morals and his sacrifices to be a hero.
Marvel’s Spider-Man earns the emotional climaxes it brings upon with its very natural sounding dialogue and the chemistry between the cast. As mentioned, some plot points are easily predictable for fans of the character, but somehow, the predictability makes moments that are inevitable land even harder. Peter’s character development takes its time to show itself and it works all the better for it. His relationships develop in exciting ways that show even more potential for what the upcoming sequel can do with the growing cast.
Does Whatever a Player Can
The tight level design (on the main missions) and decently sized open-world are complemented by Spider-Man’s fluid gameplay. Yes, I do miss the vibrations of the controller, and you can actually still connect your PS4 controller to feel them again, but swinging around feels just as great. The intuitive controls allow for smooth traversal across the streets, and combat feels better thanks to key bindings being an option. The controls, like before, did run the risk of feeling like you were mashing a single button, but it manages to keep things exciting with new enemy types and more gadgets and skills to unlock.
The open city presents a large quantity of things to do, and despite the quality not always being up to par with some of the better missions, they still leave things for players to do once they finish the base game. It does feel odd having to stop dead after some missions and be forced to do random open world activities, though it does help that collectibles can be used to access new skills and tech. Clearing out bases, unlocking towers and finding these collectibles does feel rather formulaic and more like a checklist. Additionally, eventually you unlock special missions that allow one to be able to focus on using their traversal abilities to finish them. Crimes can occur randomly in between missions, so things feel a bit more natural, though there is a specific number to accomplish the 100% of each specific district. This lack of organic exploration is fine enough though since players know what they get with the designated activities.
One major flaw from the original that unfortunately is still in the remaster is the choice to shove random stealth sections into the game. These missions do get better when you get tools to handle yourself, but they just feel like unnecessary padding to keep the main story going just a little bit longer. Even worse, these are the kinds of missions that result in an instant fail if you are discovered. These missions are overly linear, and don’t get me wrong, linear level design in games isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the stealth sections force you down a singular path with very little options. I did not enjoy them when I first played the game on PS4, and I still do not enjoy them now, and whenever I realize that one of them is coming up, I let out a long groan. Here’s to hoping that Insomniac continues ditching them after being absent in Miles Morales.
Stealth as Spider-Man is an entirely different story, being far more rewarding and creative despite being very familiar to the Arkham games. It isn’t exactly similar but there is a sense of familiarity as you slowly pick off the hostiles, luring them away from each other to isolate them and get the drop on them. It isn’t the most original system, but the amount of tools and interactivity keeps things very interesting. One big drawback to the stealth system is that it’s also just as efficient to alert everyone and take them all out in a nice big brawl, so it really is just a matter of preference as to how one chooses to proceed.
Speaking of big brawls, the focus meter provides a nice incentive to avoid sticking to the ground to build up the bar to both regenerate health and perform instant finishers. The same tools used to silently eliminate enemies can also be used to take down enemies in combat. The trap web can be used for example as a way to take down two enemies at once if they are facing each other, which is much easier in practice than explained. Occasionally, Some enemies will need to be completely webbed to actually do any damage to them, and as such, there are a lot of options on what to do. Would you take them out first while dodging all the grunts, or leave them be while you knock out everyone else first? There’s a lot of options, and it’s always a good idea to use the different gadgets at hand.
Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered remains one of the greatest superhero games, even after the success of the Injustice and Arkham series. While it has a few flaws in both performance and its game design that hold it back from perfection, it finds its footing with its well-written characters and fun gameplay. More so, its first venture onto PC platforms presents itself with even better visuals, a large amount of content, including all of the DLC, and a variety of options for graphics and controls.