Need to know
What is it? A fantastic superhero simulator in an underwhelming open-world.
Expect to pay: £50/$60
Release date: August 12
Developer: Insomniac Games/Nixxes Software
Reviewed on: AMD Ryzen 5 3600, Nvidia GeForce 2080 Super, 32 GB RAM,
Link: Official site (opens in new tab)
I was convinced that I’d struggle to play Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered with a keyboard and mouse. The thrilling web-swinging and complex slugfests of Insomniac’s open-world Spidey game feel so specifically tailored to a PlayStation controller that I couldn’t imagine how anyone could feasibly translate it to the PC’s traditional control scheme. Yet not only is Spider-Man Remastered perfectly playable on keyboard and mouse, in some ways it’s superior to the PS4 experience.
Swinging through the New York skyline was always the best bit of Insomniac’s title – with the Ratchet & Clank studio delivering possibly the best movement system in any game of the last decade. Traversing Manhattan as Spidey is equally enjoyable on PC, only now you press and hold left-shift to start and maintain a swing, interspersed with deft taps of the spacebar to add little bursts of straight-line speed. But it’s the addition of mouse control that really gives the PC version an edge, letting you slip through tiny gaps between tenements and skyscrapers in a much smoother fashion than with a pad. Spidey’s web-swinging was designed to make you feel like an experienced superhero in his element, and the mouse makes inhabiting this fantasy that much easier.
(Image credit: Sony)
This isn’t to say that Insomniac’s Spider-Man is a po-faced affair. Spidey is as quippy as ever during fights, and the script is laced with fun jokes, such as an amusing running Spider-cop gag. (As an aside, Spider-Man’s portrayal of the NYPD is very favourable, which can be jarring given the seemingly endless controversies involving US police forces, and the broader debate about law enforcement practices). But the writing is equally capable in the quieter and more serious moments. You genuinely feel for Peter as he desperately tries to hold the city together while his own life falls apart, and although the game doesn’t do enough with Spidey’s enemy roster, the two villains it focuses on the most are both superbly portrayed antagonists.
The story is not without its flaws either, however. The second act is too drawn out, and the third too short. The playable Mary Jane sequences help lend the character greater agency, but Spider-Man isn’t a great stealth game even when you’re Spidey. As Mary Jane, they become cramped, insta-fail stealth puzzles with poor signposting, and are easily the most frustrating sections in the game.
But even when this game is at its most irritating, there is still something irresistibly likeable about it. Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered may not be as well-rounded an experience as Rocksteady’s Arkham games, certainly City and possibly Knight too. But when you’re swinging through Time Square in glorious sunshine as New York’s citizenry gazes agog at you from below, well, it’s a superhero high that even the Caped Crusader would struggle to beat.