PlayStation gamers have been rather spoiled when it comes to 1st party titles. God of War, The Last of Us and Uncharted, are all, deservingly, critically acclaimed masterpieces. As such, when Sony started porting their exclusive titles over to PC, I eagerly waited for my opportunity to finally play Marvel’s Spider-Man. And thankfully, my prayers have been answered in the form of Spider-Man Remastered!
Spider-Man Remastered was originally released on the PS4 back in 2018. It was developed by Insomniac Games, and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Now, 4 years on, its available to play on PC via Steam, including both the main game, and all of its additional DLC.
Familiar story, new coat of paint.
Spider-Man Remastered doesn’t waste any time on our hero’s origin story. In fact, it firmly places us 8 years deep into his superhero career. For many of us, including myself, this is a welcomed choice due to how overexposed his genesis story is.
The game begins in proper with our hero capturing and imprisoning Wilson Fisk, a criminal overlord better known as Kingpin. With him out of the picture, its assumed that his gang will diminish, ultimately reducing the number of unlawful activities in Manhattan.
In reality, the demise of Fisk allows a new and mysterious gang called ‘The Inner Demons’ to step up and seize control. Exactly who they are or where they came from isn’t entirely clear. As always, it’s up to our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, and his merry band of allies, to figure this out and put a stop to them before they destroy all of New York.
The narrative rivals much of what you’d see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a standard superhero affair. Not quite on the level of Infinity War or Guardians of the Galaxy 1, but captivating enough that you’ll want to see it through to the end.
Days in the life of Peter Parker.
Of course, there is no Spider-Man without Peter Parker himself. – Yes, I know there are other iterations of the Webhead, but let’s disregard those for now. – We get to explore his career and personal relationships, including how difficult it is to balance it all alongside his alter ego. Narratively, this helps humanise Peter, making you root for his success.
Yet, the way this has been implemented into the game is, mostly, less than ideal. Certain gameplay sequences involve you controlling Peter to explore locations like Aunt May’s shelter, or Dr. Octavius’s lab. In theory, this might seem like a great idea. But in practice, it’s largely slow, boring and pointless.
Why? Well, 50% of these sequences boil down to finding an NPC to trigger a cutscene. Once the cutscene has transpired, the game instantly places you back in control of Spider-Man. Why they didn’t decide to cut the filler sections out and simply play the cutscenes is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong though, I still thoroughly enjoyed Peter’s character progression, and the voice actor portrayal of him was beyond excellent.
Does whatever a spider can!
Combat in Spider-Man Remastered is based around a 3 buttons system. One for striking, one for web abilities, and lastly, one for dodging. Inputting specific button combinations will allow you to perform various special moves. For instance, you can slam into the ground to create a large shock blast, or swing an enemy continuously around you. Many of these are locked behind an upgrade system, but I’ll touch more on that later.
Leaning into Peter’s inventive nature, Spidey also has several different gadgets at his disposal. These allow you to gain the upper hand in tricky or challenging situations. For example, the trip mines come in handy whilst you are trying to be stealthy, and the Concussive Bombs are great as a diversion tool.
Intertwined with all of this is the combo system. Successfully chaining attacks together will fill up the Focus gauge. This is a mechanic which allows Spider-Man to heal on the fly, or, once the Focus bar is full, execute a finishing move which immediately knocks out an opponent.
Altogether, the combat has a surprising amount of depth and complexity to it. It’s astoundingly smooth and robust, sharing a similar concept to the Arkham series. You can spend hours trying to figure out an optimal combo, or try to discover something in the heat of the moment. It’s undeniably a lot of fun, but it did become somewhat samey quicker than anticipated.
More on the man behind the mask.
As mentioned earlier, there are moments in the game that involve controlling Peter Parker. While most of these are a complete waste of time, there are some sequences that actually have a gameplay purpose. These come in the form of minigame puzzles, akin to the Bioshock series. It’s just a shame there weren’t more of these in Peter’s gameplay scenarios.
Fortunately, there are a plethora of extra activities to engage in as Spider-Man, which help to keep things feeling fresh. You’ve got side missions, street crimes, gang headquarters, research facilities, photography tasks, collectable gathering, and, bizarrely, pigeon catching. And yes, the latter of which is as funny as it sounds.
Swinging around the concrete jungle.
Navigating around the map in Spider-Man Remastered is as seamless as it is entertaining. With the push of a button, you’ll be able to launch out a web and start swinging from building to building. Depending on where you swing from will influence the animation that plays, and I cannot begin to stress how awesome it is to see these transpire in real time. Moreover, you also have the ability to perform mid-air tricks, wall run, leap over obstacles, and utilise launching points. These are all particularly useful when trying to garner, or maintain high speeds.
If you’ve played the old PS2 games, then this will feel very familiar to you. For those that haven’t, be prepared to experience one of the best traversal systems of all time. If your concerned that it sounds rather repetitive, then you need not worry. You’ll quickly unlock the ability to fast travel early on into the campaign. Honestly though, I can’t imagine that anyone would ever get tired of this mechanic.
Taking things to the next level.
There are a lot of ways that you’ll be able to upgrade Spidey throughout the course of your playthrough. Firstly, we have skill trees that are separated out into 3 distinctive categories. Innovator, Defender, and Webslinger. Inside each tree you’ll find perks, traits and extra abilities which you can use to maximise your playstyle. This is also how you unlock the special moves that I discussed earlier on.
Next up are the gadgets. These can be improved upon in minor ways, from lowering their recharge rate, increasing the amount at your disposal, or raising their overall potency. Some gadgets also have to be purchased manually before you gain access to them, which you can do here.
Finally, we have the suits themselves. Unlocking a new suit will sometimes provide you with a unique ‘Suit Power.’ Effectively, these are ultimate abilities which massively impact the course of a fight. There are far too many to mention, but one of my personal favourites was the EMP suit which stuns enemies and disables their weapons. Suits also have special modifiers, called ‘Suit Mods’, which give Spider-Man additional passives.
Truth be told, these systems are ridiculously flexible. Theory crafters will have a great time dissecting these to uncover which paths they’d like to take. It’s also one reason that I’m considering doing subsequent playthroughs, despite feeling drained by the gameplay itself.
New York has never looked so good!
Spider-Man Remastered has a lot going for it in the graphics department. To start with, the entire landscape of New York City has been expertly crafted, from the sprawling skyscrapers, down to the luscious parks. It’s truly jaw dropping just how beautiful the region is, and you’ll find yourself wanting to manual navigate the city to experience it.
Although they largely designed the city after its real-life counterpart, Marvel fans will be happy to discover that it’s also influenced by the MCU. This means you can visit locales like the famous Madison Square Garden, as well as iconic film sets such as the Avengers Tower. There are some structures which have been omitted, such as the Dakota Building, but it’s unnoticeable in the grand scheme of things.
On top of this, the remaster also adds RTX capabilities into the conversation, elevating the visual presentation to an entirely new level. The lighting, reflections, and shadows are all highlighted in defined and lifelike ways. It truly feels like a next gen title when playing this on the highest settings.
Outside the environments, the character models also have a shocking amount of realism to them. The facial tracking on the eye movements and lips are near unparalleled, something that seems to be the norm for Sony’s 1st party titles. Spidey’s suits are another massive high point. Things like frayed and stretched fabrics are all noticeable when zooming in on our webbed hero.
The combination of the environments, lighting and character models easily solidifies this title as one of the most gorgeous games on the market today. Like Parker’s former photography career, Spider-Man Remastered is truly picturesque.
Audio design worthy of a Daily Bugle headline.
As one might expect, the SFX have been recorded and implemented with expert precision. However, it’s the manner in which they’ve been used which really caught me off guard. Whether intentional or not, the audio team has done an immaculately job of portraying the conflicting principles of our hero against his enemies. While this may sound rather pompous, I do have an explanation to back it up.
The cartoonish SFX are solely reserved for Spidey himself. Deciding to forgo any realism serves to substantiate his ‘no killing’ policies, and frame him in a positive light. On the flip side, the villains’ firearms and explosives sound as authentic as the latest Call of Duty release, firmly cementing their cruel and brash disposition.
Although it’s subtle, this audibly showcases the differing ideologies between the sides of good and evil. As a former designer, it’s something I personally found to be truly remarkable, and I commend the developers for their intuitiveness.
The Spider-Man Remastered soundtrack smartly borrows elements from Danny Elfman. For those that don’t know, he was the composer of the 1st and 2nd Sam Raimi films from the early 2000s. The orchestral arrangements, although obvious, embody the superhero ambience to perfection. This is achieved through fast paced percussion, and the bombastic up-front brass instrumentation. It truly makes you feel like you’ve taken over Toby Maguire’s role in the original movies.
Admittedly, I wouldn’t be confident in saying that “I found the Spider-Man Remastered soundtrack to be memorable.” I would however be fine with stating that “the OST works incredibly well within the confines of the game.”
Spider-Man Remastered is another superb PC port from the PlayStation catalogue. Its combat and traversal systems flawlessly capture the feeling of playing as Spider-Man, but it does become somewhat repetitive quicker than you’d expect. Graphically, the game looks absolutely stunning, especially when utilising the RTX options. And while the audio design is remarkably well crafted, the games soundtrack does suffer from being unmemorable. Overall though, Spider-Man Remastered is massively entertaining. If you’re a fan of the Webhead, the MCU, or the Arkham games series, then this is a title worthy of checking out.