When revisiting Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4 this past week. I noticed how great it felt to be the web-head once again. I realized that I never noticed how high the stakes were, or how well pacing was established.
It just went to prove that when you put all those elements together, you get an experience that is on par with a Netflix series.
One thing I enjoy about Spider-Man PS4 was how it’s a fresh take on the character of Peter Parker. For too long we were shown the same formulaic approach when it came to the positioning and marketing of Spidey.
The consumer either enjoyed the direction and hailed it as a hit or the character was shelved and slotted for redirection. I mean the films have been rebooted multiple times.
We had Toby Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and now Tom Holland who is now a major lynchpin holding the MCU together. Of course, each is unique in their own way, but Yuri Lowenthal needs to be added to this conversation. I’m referring to the pantheon of profounding Spidey performances.
Insomniac games had to make a choice, and figure what direction they could take Spidey, and make him feel relatable, and not a pawn of saturation. Thus the studio decided to age Peter up to 23.
I think they wanted to make an experience that would stand the test of time, and they nailed it. The choice of dropping us into a new world where we get to witness a Spider-Man in his prime was absolutely brilliant.
Insomniac was able to make something feel organic, yet stand-alone from the other renditions of the web-head. The execution of the final project could be summed up in one word — passion. The game is creative in style, overall simple and easy to enjoy from the first experience.
The very essence and ideal of showcasing a Peter that resonates with our reality is just ingenious, to say the least. For example, Peter is one of us. He’s left the Daily Bugle, and no longer resides under the jurisdiction of Aunt May. Spidey is finally standing on his own two feet, and for once it feels so good to see him in this position.
However, just because you’re a superhero doesn’t mean life is easy. Insomniac Games proves this conclusion in the first opening seconds of the game. We are tasked with the responsibility of going after Wilson Fisk (Kingpin), but also at the same time the player is stricken with the reminder that rent needs to be paid or you’ll be forced out.
A challenge we all face, but Peter thinks as a hero, and not as a regular person. He jumps out the window, and then the experience starts. We see the first glimpse of the city. You swing and see the camera tense up behind you in the same vein of cinematography from the Raimi films.
Then a wall of consequences hits Peter because of his choice to play as the hero. I mean you play a mission where you get evicted from your apartment and have to hunt down your spidey equipment. It’s the little things about this title that make it feel real and have a weight attached to your choices.
Old Faces, New Style
One thing which deserved praise was the team at Insomniac made Mary Jane (MJ) into a reporter who is similar in the same vein as Lois Lane and Iris West.
This felt like a breath of fresh air because historically MJ is usually perceived as a damsel in distress type. So to see her in a new direction was interesting, but it wasn’t until Laura Bailey gave a spectacular performance that I knew things were changing for the better.
In addition to the newly fleshed-out MJ, we are also introduced to a Doc Ock( William Salyers)who shows up as a mentor to Peter, but the minute you see the chemistry on the screen you start to question why this shouldn’t work because of the established comic lore but it does.
Then it’s only till scenes later in the title when Ock goes crazy, and he goes over the edge. It just builds to the point when playing through Marvel’s Spider-Man that Otto was an extension of Peter.
Insomniac wrote Doc Ock as what Peter strives to be. He is a brilliant scientist trying to do good and change the world. Ock has times of grief and periods where he gets lost and seduced by the malice of revenge.
Peter is then confronted with the choice that he needs to do the right thing and he has to accept that, even though he can shoot webs and pick up busses. He can’t play God and this journey is a humbling experience for the character.
Insomniac illustrates to us that Peter is trying to protect his city and do right because he is a strong person at heart. He cleans up the crime-ridden streets because he felt, in his heart, that New York is his mission.
Hence why Peter always keeps getting back up, puts the mask of Spider-Man on, and dons the colorful costume. He feels that only he’s worthy of carrying this intense burden. Of course, he needs to realize that he lives another life as Peter Parker.
Many forget to remember that Spider-Man and Peter Parker are two sides of the same coin. Even though some moments do allow both lifestyles to bleed through and assimilate into one.
I mean there is a cutscene where Pete is texting MJ but feels scared about how she’s going to respond. All realistic events that everyone has endured. It just adds to the premise that even though video games or media are coined as fictional, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have connections that merge into our way of life.
In addition to the levity of consequences, and fresh new takes on old characters, Insomniac doesn’t hold your hand and it shows because the studio just throws you into a story that kicks off and doesn’t let you go, up until the second you finish, and then when the credits roll. You feel that need to immerse yourself in the amazing fantasy of Spider-Man lore. A few things which need recognition are the “Raimi respect”, and “Miles Morales”, and how seeds of the future have been planted for the longevity of next-gen from the minds of Insomniac.
Spider-Man PS4 is full of so many call-backs to the glory days of the web-head. Before the days of overdone CGI, and muddled direction.
Bryan Intihar, creative director of Insomniac Games made it seem like every ounce of the character from every corner of Spidey mythology was on the table, and once this game nailed it.
It just adds to my experience and why I enjoy this title because of evident passion, respect, and intense set-pieces.
I know the future is gonna be so bright going forward for this character. From the way the team at Insomniac built up the character from the introduction when we first met him up to after he gets spider-powers, it’s a rich example of superb character development.
I think the scene from season one of this franchise that made Miles stand out was the one featured at City Hall. In said scene Miles is caught in a cross-fire and he is powerless to lift a piece of a car to save his mom but he goes for a pipe for leverage.
The pipe is symbolizing, in this instance, how human Miles is. But when he gets bit, and he jumps on the ceiling with Pete, it’s a 180. When the change occurs Miles gains confidence and realizes Peter has dealt with a serious amount of grief but he stays, fighting and persevering by being Spider-Man! Just genius and absolutely brilliant.
Now sitting here with less than a month until the release of his stand-alone title, the hype for the new side story or season two in the Insomniac universe is bigger than ever.
So no need to worry, I will be covering that title when it drops on Nov. 12. Of course, with respect to fans of the franchise, and our followers, I won’t report any spoilers until the embargo has lifted.
The Soul of Peter Parker
I’ve seen a lot of discussions from fans about how a new face model has been cast for the franchise going forward. Now that the series has transcended to next-gen with the PS5, Ben Jordan will be taking over the responsibilities of Peter Parker’s face model from the previous holder John Bubniak.
However, fans seem to forget that this version of Pete was brought to life through a mixture of working parts. This is why I need to give praise to the Emmy worthy performance by Yuri Lowenthal. Lowenthal brings a sense of charm and flair to the role. He puts his entire life into Pete.
In the final scene, Yuri turns up the acting chops dial up to 11. You can feel the disparity and pain in his lines, and the tears dripping down his face are from Yuri, not just Pete.
Insomniac made one of my favorite characters feel like he was part of our world, and for that, I give ultimate respect. It just fuels my passion and hopes for when I can next see and experience what Yuri, Bryan Intihar, and the entire team at Insomniac have in mind.
One thing that needs to be addressed is that people don’t like change. Insomniac did receive a bit of criticism about the choice. At first, it was an influx of tweets, but then it blew out proportionally to death threats which aren’t warranted and are over the top.
On a positive note, the studio did explain to fans that they are still on track of delivering an experience like no other. When it comes to my thoughts about the recast, I’m ok with it because I know that the team behind this passion project franchise only has our best interests at heart.
My faith and trust have never been higher when it comes to a series.
I want to say Spider-Man PS4 made a huge impact on my life, and I still remember starting up the experience the first time and hearing the magnificent score from Daredevil alum John Paesano.
I was just mesmerized by the title screen and then you start and just embrace the reality while falling into what makes Spider-Man a hero like no other. Every time I beat this game and see the credits roll, it just puts a smile on my face.
It makes me realize that Marvel’s Spider-Man was the beginning, and Insomniac is gearing up for a future like no other. So thank you Insomniac Games and Marvel for making a masterpiece that is filled to the brim with passion.
Bring on Season 2 with Miles Morales which will is slated to drop on Nov 12th this year on PS4, and PS5.