Spider-Man (2018 video game)

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Marvel's Spider-Man
Spider-Man PS4 cover.jpg
Developer(s)Insomniac Games
Publisher(s)Sony Interactive Entertainment
Director(s)
  • Brian Horton
  • Bryan Intihar
  • Marcus Smith
  • Ryan Smith
Designer(s)
  • Cameron Christian
  • James Cooper
  • Mike Daly
  • Joel Goodsell
  • Mark Stuart
Programmer(s)Joe Valenzuela
Artist(s)
  • Jacinda Chew
  • Grant Hollis
Writer(s)
Composer(s)John Paesano
Platform(s)PlayStation 4
ReleaseSeptember 7, 2018
Genre(s)Action-adventure
Mode(s)Single-player

Marvel's Spider-Man is an action-adventure game developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4, based on the Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man. Released worldwide on September 7, 2018, it is the first licensed game developed by Insomniac. The game tells a new story about Spider-Man that is not tied to an existing comic book, video game, or film, and covers both the Peter Parker and Spider-Man aspects of the character.

Spider-Man was well received upon release. Critics called it one of the best superhero games made, praising its gameplay, particularly the combat and web-swinging mechanics, graphics, narrative, characterization, and design of New York City, though felt it lacked innovation in its open-world design. The game became a commercial success, selling 3.3 million copies in its first three days of release, and broke several sales records.

Gameplay[edit]

Spider-Man is an action-adventure game set in an open world modern-day New York City and played from a third-person perspective. It features combat systems such as aerial combat, Spider Sense reflexes, web-shooting, and finishing moves. Spider-Man can push attacking enemies off of buildings, though Spider-Man does not let them fall, webbing them to the side of the building.[1] The player is able to use Spider-Man's abilities such as web slinging and wall-crawling as well as other gameplay elements such as the ability to traverse using parkour, and the crafting and use of gadgets and alternative suits with special powers.[2][3][4] Environmental combat, quick time events and stealth are also featured in the game.[5] Peter Parker (outside of his Spider-Man identity), Miles Morales, and Mary Jane Watson are also playable in certain parts of the game.[6] Peter's sections often involve solving puzzles, while Mary Jane's and Miles' segments involve using stealth to get to certain positions.

Synopsis[edit]

Characters[edit]

Spider-Man features a large ensemble cast of characters from the history of Spider-Man comics. Peter Parker (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal)[7] is a 23-year old research assistant,[6][8] who gains superhuman abilities after being bitten by a genetically-modified spider. Employing a secret identity, Parker uses these abilities to protect the citizens of New York City as the superhero Spider-Man.[9] Eight years into his superhero career, Parker has become an experienced and masterful crime fighter, but struggles to balance his superhero and personal lives.[8][6] He is aided in his fight by intrepid Daily Bugle reporter Mary Jane Watson (Laura Bailey),[7] his ex-girlfriend,[6][8] and NYPD Captain Yuri Watanabe (Tara Platt).[7] In his civilian life, Parker is supported by his Aunt May (Nancy Linari)[7] who volunteers at the F.E.A.S.T. homeless shelter run by philanthropist Martin Li (Stephen Oyoung).[7][6] Parker is employed by his friend and mentor, the respected scientist Dr. Otto Octavius (William Salyers).[10][8] Spider-Man's adventure brings him into contact with other characters, including Miles Morales (Nadji Jeter)[7][8] and his parents, NYPD Officer Jefferson Davis (Russell Richardson) and Rio Morales (Jacqueline Pinol), OsCorp CEO and New York mayor Norman Osborn (Mark Rolston),[7][11] and Silver Sablinova (Nichole Elise), leader of the private military company Sable International.[8]

Spider-Man's mission to protect the city brings him into conflict with several supervillains. The story opens with Spider-Man taking down his longtime foe Wilson Fisk (Travis Willingham),[12] the Kingpin of crime in New York.[6] Fisk is sent to prison, but warns that he was the only person maintaining order in the city. Fisk's absence gives rise to a supernaturally powered, demonic-mask wearing gang called the Demons who begin carving up the city for the powerful Mr. Negative, who can corrupt people through his touch.[6][13][14] Spider-Man must also confront Electro (Josh Keaton), Rhino (Fred Tatasciore), Scorpion (Jason Spisak),[15] Vulture (Dwight Schultz),[11] Shocker (Dave B. Mitchell), Taskmaster (Brian Bloom), Screwball (Stephanie Lemelin), and Tombstone (Corey Jones).

Several other characters—including Parker's and Watson's childhood friend Harry Osborn (Scott Porter),[12] who has disappeared on a long European holiday,[16] and anti-Spider-Man podcast host J. Jonah Jameson (Darin de Paul) have voice roles in the main game.[7][8] The game features several references to the Marvel Comics universe, including Avengers Tower, the Wakandan Embassy, the Sanctum Sanctorum,[9] Nelson & Murdock Attorneys at Law, Rand Corporation, and Alias Investigations.[citation needed] Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee cameos as a short-order cook.[17] The game's downloadable content features appearances by master-thief Black Cat (Erica Lindbeck) (who has a voice-only role in the main game),[18][19] and Hammerhead, leader of the Maggia crime family.[20]

Plot[edit]

Parker is late for work helping Octavius demonstrate his advanced prosthetic limbs for his government financiers, who are left concerned by the demonstration's failure. Meanwhile, the Demons begin seizing Fisk's illicit resources and assets.

Watson investigates an auction of Fisk's goods which is then attacked by Demons. With Spider-Man, she learns that the Demons are seeking something called Devil's Breath. Spider-Man is able to stop a Demon attack with the aid of Officer Jefferson Davis. Davis is lauded for his heroism at a re-election event for Mayor Osborn attended by Parker, Watson, and Davis' wife and son, Rio and Miles Morales. Osborn receives a call threatening to punish the city for his sins, and flees the event. The Demons then attack, killing Davis and many attendees. Parker witnesses their leader, Martin Li, transforming into an inverted form dubbed Mr. Negative, but he is knocked unconscious before he can intervene. Following the attack, Osborn hires Silver Sablinova and Sable International to supplant the police, and Parker befriends Morales over their loss, and convinces him to volunteer at F.E.A.S.T.

Parker and Octavius continue their research, but Osborn withdraws government funding in an attempt to force Octavius to work for Oscorp. Spider-Man's search for Li uncovers that Devil's Breath is a lethal and virulent bioweapon inadvertently created by Oscorp while developing a cure for genetic diseases at Osborn's behest. Li locates and steals the only sample of Devil's Breath and threatens to release it unless Osborn surrenders to him. Li is foiled by Watson and Spider-Man, Devil's Breath is secured, and Li is incarcerated at the nearby maximum-security prison, The Raft.

Meanwhile, Octavius obsesses over creating enhanced limbs that exceed the limitations of the human body, creating four mechanical tentacles operated from his back and mentally controlled via neural interface. He reveals to Parker that he is suffering from a neuromuscular disease that will inevitably immobilize him, and that enhanced limbs will allow him to continue his work when his body fails. Parker warns Octavius that the interface could impact his mind and personality. Octavius continues its use in secret, overcome with anger at Osborn; the pair were once friends who founded the mega-corporation Oscorp before Octavius left due to Osborn's unethical experiments.

Spider-Man is drawn to the Raft by a prison break. He learns that some of his greatest enemies—Li, Electro, Vulture, Rhino, and Scorpion—have escaped. They subdue Spider-Man and present him to Octavius, now calling himself Doctor Octopus. Octavius warns the beaten Spider-Man to not interfere before retaking the Devil's Breath and releasing it in Times Square, causing a mass outbreak; Aunt May is among those infected. New York descends into chaos while Octavius and his subordinates attack Osborn's properties. Osborn declares martial law and blames Spider-Man for the incident, branding him a fugitive.

Spider-Man gradually takes back the city, defeating Electro, Vulture, Rhino, and Scorpion. Watson infiltrates Osborn's penthouse and learns that Devil's Breath was developed to cure Osborn's terminally ill son Harry.[16] As a child, Li was a test subject for the cure, gaining his abilities in an explosion of energy that also killed his parents and caused both his hatred for Osborn and the split between Osborn and Octavius. She also learns that an antidote exists and Li has taken it. Spider-Man defeats Li and recovers the antidote, but Octavius arrives, brutalizes Spider-Man, and escapes with both it and Osborn. While Spider-Man recovers, Morales is bitten by an Oscorp genetically modified spider that escaped on Watson.[16]

Wounded, Parker builds himself an armored suit and confronts Octavius atop Oscorp, liberating Osborn. Octavius reveals that he has known Parker's secret identity, and the two battle. Spider-Man recovers the antidote and defeats Octavius; his artificial limbs are removed and he is sent to the Raft. Parker is faced with using the limited antidote to save a near-death May or allowing doctors to use it as a chemical base to develop enough cure for everyone; he chooses to save everyone. Before dying, May reveals that she knows he is Spider-Man and that she is proud of him.

Three months later, New York has returned to normal, Osborn has resigned as mayor in disgrace, and Parker and Watson rekindle their relationship. Morales reveals to Parker that he has gained spider-like powers, prompting Parker to reveal his own. Osborn enters a secret laboratory where Harry is kept in stasis with a black web-like substance. As Osborn places his hand on the tank, the substance reacts and copies him.[16]

Development[edit]

Marvel Entertainment approached Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE)[when?] wanting them to publish a Marvel game and to treat the game like a first party SIE title.[21] Sony discussed with Insomniac Games which Marvel property they wished to adapt, and both agreed on Spider-Man.[22] The game was the first licensed game developed by Insomniac Games after 22 years of developing original properties, such as Spyro, Ratchet & Clank, and Resistance. Bryan Intihar, the producer of Sunset Overdrive and former community manager of Insomniac Games, served as the lead creative director, with Ryan Smith serving as game director. The game uses a modified version of the game engine first used in Sunset Overdrive.[23] The game features the largest production team for an Insomniac game.[24] The game was announced during Sony's E3 2016 press conference on June 13.[25] It was the first in a series of games made by Insomniac and Sony and marked the start of Marvel Games' new strategy to work with the "best game companies" who are passionate about their characters.[26]

In April 2017, Ryan Penagos, vice president and executive editor of Marvel Digital Media, stated that the game would be released in 2017.[27] At Sony's E3 2017 conference, the first gameplay demo was shown and it was announced that the game would be released in 2018.[28] The game went gold on July 30, 2018, and was released on September 7, 2018.[29][30] In addition to the special edition, a limited edition PlayStation 4 Pro bundle with the game was released on the same day.[31]

Yuri Lowenthal is the voice and physical actor for Spider-Man in the game.[32] In early 2015, Lowenthal gained the role after some initial pushback within Insomniac due to him voicing one of the main playable characters for Insomniac's most recently released game at the time, Sunset Overdrive, but ultimately the game's lead writer Jon Paquette convinced the studio to cast him in the role due to his trust in Lowenthal's acting ability.[32] Lowenthal worked with two stunt people throughout the game's development.[32] He tried to differentiate between his voices for Peter Parker and Spider-Man but thought that they could not be totally different and as a result spent a large amount of time "finessing and massaging" his performance to achieve a balance.[32] Jon Paquette, Christos Gage, Ben Arfmann, and Dan Slott wrote the game's script, while John Paesano composed its original score.[33]

Release[edit]

A promotional booth of the game at E3 2018

Spider-Man was released worldwide on September 7, 2018, exclusively for PlayStation 4.[34] Those who pre-ordered the game were given access to some in-game unlockable features from the start of the game, including alternative costumes (Spider-Punk, Iron Spider, and the Velocity Suit), skill points to unlock abilities, and the spider-drone, as well as a Spider-Man theme featuring artwork by comic book artist Adi Granov, and a user avatar for the PlayStation software. In addition to the standard game, special versions were also made available. The "Digital Deluxe" version includes access to The City that Never Sleeps' three story-based DLC chapters, and a limited-edition physical Spider-Man pin for pre-orders of this version (U.S. and Canada only).[35][36] The Collector's Edition includes The City that Never Sleeps DLC, a custom steelbook case for the game, an artbook containing concept and unreleased art, a white spider sticker, and a Spider-Man statue created by Gentle Giant. Sony also released a limited-edition red PlayStation 4 Pro bearing the Spider-Man emblem and including the standard version of the game.[35]

The game has been referenced or promoted in various other media. "Be Greater", a 90-second advert highlighting Spider-Man's battle against foes like Rhino and Scorpion was run during the 2018 NFL Kickoff Game, which had approximately 19.5 million viewers. PlayStation marketing head Eric Lempel said that it was among the most expensive adverts the company had ever ran. In addition, videos were released detailing features of the game narrated by characters like J. Jonah Jameson., and artist Alex Ross was enlisted to draw a custom cover for an issue of Game Informer.[37][38] In New York City, a subway train was fully converted with Spider-Man marketing materials, including a full advert across the exterior, Spider-Man chairs and posters, and adverts for the Daily Bugle.[39] In 2019 Sideshow Collectibles is scheduled to release a 1/6 statue based on the in-game Spider-Punk costume, including a guitar and spider-drone.[40]

A prequel novel, Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover, was released on August 21, 2018.[41] Written by David Liss, Hostile Takeover details Spider-Man's conflict with the Kingpin as he attempts to blackmail Mayor Osborn into making him the city financier, making him too important to be taken down for his crimes. As well as charting the end of Parker's and Watson's relationship due to Parker being overprotective, the story also introduces the game's version of Echo, a deaf, female, martial artist who joins forces with Spider-Man, and Blood Spider, a villain given superhuman abilities by Oscorp, whom Kingpin employs to impersonate Spider-Man and smear his reputation.[42]

The game's Spider-Man appears in the 2018 Spider-Geddon comic book storyline written by Gage, a sequel to 2014's Spider-Verse, which brings together Spider-people from different Marvel realities. Spider-Geddon issue #0 (released September 26, 2018) follows the Superior Octopus (an alternate universe version of Otto Octavius in Peter Parker's body), as he travels to the game's Earth (designated Earth-1048) to recruit the game's Spider-Man. The story of Spider-Geddon takes place after the events of the game, and also introduces the Earth-1048 version of Tarantula. Insomniac artists provided variant comic book covers for the series.[43][44] The advanced suit created for the game is glimpsed in the background of the second trailer of the upcoming film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.[45]

Downloadable content[edit]

A story-based three-episode downloadable content (DLC) pack is in development for Spider-Man, collectively known as Spider-Man: The City that Never Sleeps. The first episode, "The Heist", was released on October 23, 2018.[46] The story follows the return of Spider-Man's ex-girlfriend Black Cat to New York for a heist, which draws him into a conflict with the Maggia crime families.[20][47] "The Heist" DLC expansion includes new story missions, challenges (hosted by Screwball), enemies, trophies and three unlockable costumes (Spider-UK, Scarlet Spider II, and the Resilient Suit, an original design by artist Gabriele Dell'Otto).[48][46][49]

The second episode, "Turf Wars", is scheduled for release on November 20, and the third episode, "Silver Lining", is scheduled for release in December.[50]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic87/100[51]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Destructoid9/10[52]
EGM9/10[53]
Game Informer9.5/10[54]
Game Revolution4/5 stars[55]
GameSpot9/10[56]
GamesRadar+4.5/5 stars[57]
IGN8.7/10[58]
USgamer4.5/5 stars[59]
VideoGamer.com8/10[60]

Spider-Man received "generally favorable" reviews according to review aggregator Metacritic.[51] The game received praise for its gameplay, graphics, narrative, and characterization, while being criticized for familiar open-world tropes and lack of innovation. Critics called Spider-Man one of the greatest superhero games ever made.[61] Mike Minotti of VentureBeat called it "the best Spider-Man game ... and one of the best super hero games ever",[62] while Game Informer's Andrew Reiner wrote "Like Batman: Arkham Asylum before it, Spider-Man raises the bar for one of the world’s most beloved heroes".[54]

The gameplay mechanics were praised by reviewers, with the web-swinging traversal in particular receiving unanimous acclaim. Josh Harmon of EGMNOW called the web-swinging an "absolute blast", describing it as a more streamlined version of the physics-based system used in Spider-Man 2,[53] while Game Revolution's Jason Faulker praised it as "fantastic, and I’m not sure if any game has quite captured the feeling of speed and movement quite like this one before. It’s just so consistently good".[55] GameSpot's Edmon Tran wrote it was "endless fulfilling" and "Spider-Man's greatest joy".[56] Reiner found web-swinging was so fun that he never once used the game's fast-travel system.[54]

The game's combat was praised for its speed and fluidity while presenting a range of gadgetry and environmental options to execute satisfying attacks. Reiner called it "excellently designed", highlighting its efficient use of the environment,[54] while Faulker applauded it as "some of the best combat I've ever experienced".[55] Dornbush found that the combat became "an improvisational delight" after gaining access to more abilities.[58] Harmon wrote it offered "heaps of versatility and expressiveness, if not quite depth", and found his only gripe was using the in-game gadget-select menu that he felt disrupted the flow.[53] He and Tran compared the movement system with the Batman: Arkham series, with the latter writing that the inspired combat "suitably characterizes Spidey's acrobatic nature".[56] However, Mike Williams of USGamer, felt the Arkham comparisons were unfair, writing that the extent and capabilities of the gadgets on offer made it unique to the Arkham series as well as older Spider-Man games. He disliked only the auto-lock system for making it difficult in larger enemy groups to hit the intended target.[59] Dornbush wrote that Spider-Man's stealth scenarios perfectly highlighted Spider-Man’s talents, especially his love for designing gadgets, saying "There’s a methodical thrill to plotting out the order I wanted to web up enemies".[58] Harmon said that while the stealth options were "a bit shallow", they were "never unpleasant and rarely mandatory".[53]

The game's visuals were also well-received. Dornbush highlighted how "gorgeous" the skyscrapers of the city looked, and that "swinging around at dusk as the calm oranges of the setting sun hit the reflective glass ... evoked some of the most calming, zen-like gameplay sessions I’ve experienced in awhile". He found that while the faces of the main characters were "spectacularly animated", those of minor characters were "flat and often out of sync with dialogue".[58] Leon Hurley of GamesRadar called it a "lovely looking game ... It’s rare to see something this big and detailed consistently look so good, with the very final story moments in particular, some of the most spectacular looking stuff I’ve seen in awhile".[57]

The story received positive reviews, and was seen as one of the game's highlights. Williams thought it was the best aspect of Spider-Man and generally praised the handling of the cast, finding that near the end "I was in love with these characters all over again".[59] Hurley called the writing, performance and facial capture "all top-notch stuff", with characters "being voiced and performed with a depth and charisma I wasn’t expecting".[57] Faulkner described the story as "an entertaining romp", and while he noted it presented a lot of familiar tropes, found there were enough new ideas to keep things interesting.[55] Dornbush wrote that, despite having a moderately slow start, the story "consistently delivers that sense of weight and impact". He praised the focus on Peter Parker and highlighted voice actor Yuri Lowenthal of having "an emotional honesty" in this version of Spider-Man that made it one of his favorite portrayals of the character.[58] Similarly, Harmon praised the game's characterization and understanding of Parker, which he found was better than almost any comic adaptation, and commended the supporting cast as having "crystal-clear" motivations and acting "as a foil or mirror for [Parker's] altruistic approach to heroism".[53] Some critics appreciated Insomniac's decision not to portray an origin story in the game.[53][57][60][52] Harmon was disappointed that the side missions did not live up to the "depth, complexity, or fun" of the main story quests,[53] with VideoGamer.com's Colm Ahern writing that many of the side missions felt unnecessary in the overarching plot.[60]

Reception towards other aspects of the game were generally positive. Dornbush wrote that the boss fights were "big and exciting ... full of tense action". However, he criticized a few for feeling "simple and rote", and found that because of their focus during the beginning and ending of the story, there were large portions in the middle where they were noticeably absent.[58] Carter called the upgrade system "elaborately done",[52] while Reiner wrote "gaining new toys is an incredibly satisfying element of this experience that Insomniac masterfully dangles like a carrot in front of the player".[54] Tran praised the ability to use different suit powers independently from their original outfit as a "godsend".[56] The stealth sections that included the ability to play as Mary Jane Watson and Miles Morales were described by Reiner to "bring variety in fun ways, including solid stealth mechanics and clever puzzles".[54] Tran said that while he felt the mechanics weren't particularly demanding, he thought the segments featured "some memorably tense scenarios".[56] Conversely, Ahern described them as "a bit hit-and-miss ... and a bit grating at times".[60]

The game world received criticism. Complaints focused on Spider-Man's inability to successfully innovate as an open-world game, instead relying on familiar and repetitive tropes found in other free-roaming titles.[53][54][57][60] Faulker disliked how a lot of the side activities became "tedious" after a short time, and criticized the lack of variety in the collectibles quests.[55] Harmon noted that he was more tolerant than most for collectibles and side-content, but thought there was still too much of it for him in Spider-Man.[53] Ahern disliked that the game incorporated open-world "distractions" that other titles had moved on from.[60] Some were disappointed with the game's inclusion of towers that revealed portions of the map and identified waypoints, which had become standard with a number of past open-world games.[52][53][55][56][60]

Sales[edit]

During its release week, Spider-Man sold more copies than any other previously-released game in 2018, with Chart-Track reporting it was the fastest-selling game in the UK since 2017's Call of Duty WWII.[63] Spider-Man became the fastest-selling video game based on the titular character, as well as the fastest-selling Marvel-branded video game of all time.[64] The game went on to sell 3.3 million copies in the first 3 days of its release, a record as the fastest selling first-party video game release in Sony Interactive Entertainment's history, narrowly beating God of War released just five months prior. The game grossed an estimated $198 million worldwide in the same timeframe, surpassing the $117 million domestic opening weekend box office of the 2017 film Spider-Man: Homecoming.[65]

Upon launch, Spider-Man sold 125,154 physical retail copies in Japan, reaching the number one spot on the all-format sales charts (by the third week it had remained in that position and sold a total of 244,051 units).[66][67] The game also became one of the best-selling Western-developed PlayStation 4 titles in Japan (surpassed only by Call of Duty and Minecraft) and the best-selling Western-developed, Sony-funded title since 1998's Crash Bandicoot: Warped for the PlayStation.[68] Spider-Man also topped the sales charts in both North America and the UK upon release, although during its second month dropped to second place in the UK after being beaten by FIFA 19.[69] The game's first-month sales exceeded those of fellow PlayStation 4 exclusives Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Horizon Zero Dawn, and God of War.[70]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Result Ref
2016 Golden Joystick Awards Most Wanted Game Nominated [71]
2017 Golden Joystick Awards Most Wanted Game Nominated [72]
The Game Awards 2017 Most Anticipated Game Nominated [73]
2018 Game Critics Awards Best of Show Nominated [74]
Best Console Game Won
Best Action/Adventure Game Won
Gamescom 2018 Best Action Game Nominated [75][76]
Best PlayStation 4 Game Won
Golden Joystick Awards Best Storytelling Pending [77]
PlayStation Game of the Year Pending

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