Instead of worrying about the cowardly ghoulish Tory cipher likely to be the next PM and how she’ll mug us off even more because pondlife such as this have the right to vote, the rising cost of energy (some help for the little guy please), and contemplating the waning summer days being replaced by the misery of winter – meaning no more of my gonads sweating profusely, a true Curate’s egg – I’ve chosen a distraction of pure affluence. I’ve been burning through loads of leccy (while it’s still kind of affordable) by playing Spider-Man remastered on the PC on my fuck off telly.
With Sony banking the sale of twenty million PS5 units to date (and kicked Microsoft’s arse), there’s no downside to doubling down on that advantage and porting Playstation exclusive titles to the PC. Given the performance heft of the PlayStation 5 (decent, but still not on the level of a high end PC) this can be done at relatively little cost and releasing these games on PC is a nice wee second windfall.
While we’re on the subject I wish to state (and somewhat beg) that Bloodborne be remastered for the PC. I’d love a shot at the Uncharted and Last Of Us titles, and Ghost of Tsushima, but I can live without them. While it’s possible to play a version of Bloodborne on the PC, a From Software title is too precious to rely on the janky code of some autistic seventeen year old. A full remaster with controller and keyboard and mouse support would sell like stink. Trust me. Trust the sample of one here. Make it happen.
Thankfully Spider-Man has happened. Having never played a Spider-Man game before this one I had no idea what to expect. Sure, you play through the story, you get into gang fights and boss fights (and even better you can use an endless variation of strategies to win them), do side missions and mini games (a bit monotonous), craft stuff, max out your skill tree, and do the DLC (and there’s a good amount of that too) but there’s nothing transcendent about any of this. What makes this Spider-Man title unique is a dynamic specific to the Spider-man character and the game’s setting. That being swinging, and by swinging I don’t mean that kind, I mean the using your web shooters to propel your avatar through the air at high speed kind.
The video above shows the developer of Spiderman 2 (2004) playing Marvel’s Spider-Man. It’s neat to see Marvel’s Spider-Man playing clear homage to the swinging mechanics he created in Spiderman 2. He should be very proud that his work influenced what I can only describe as one of the most perfect game mechanics I’ve ever experienced.
Between the intuitive controls and tactile feedback (you pick it up the basics instantly, and they’re not hard to master), the sensation of building momentum and speed, be it diving head first from a great height or after running up the walls of skyscrapers (here the verticality of Manhattan comes into its own), sweeping effortlessly in-between buildings, gliding from rooftop to rooftop or through the air a hundreds of meters at a time, swinging around Manhattan in Spider-Man is a continual dopamine hit. It’s the game’s best facet because it’s a form of escapism perfectly realised. Lest we forget we’re ground bound creatures, and some even suffer from crippling vertigo.
Will Self made an astute observation in relation this – that technological advancement has normalised humanity’s experience of flight. Take commercial air travel, it’s now a mundane experience consisting of airport terminals funnelling us into a fuselage with seats, USB ports and tiny windows, which thanks to mobile phones, we likely ignore looking out of, to arrive at another airport terminal, before being bussed to your destination (likely a resort). All of this is designed to prevent us witnessing there sheer physical scale of the technological accomplishment that requires tens of thousands of pounds of thrust to get a half million pound plane airborne. Spider-Man is not an attempt to redress this balance, but it achieves it anyway. Being able to play as a human figure who betrays gravity with such assurance, and in a visually striking way, is thrilling, a similar cocktail of danger and awe to what I’d assume airtravel had in its infancy.
While the swinging is perfect, Marvel’s Spider-Man is not a perfect game. From a difficulty standpoint this isn’t a From Software or Nier Automata offering – it’s extremely forgiving in comparison, jarringly and laughably so, having played Nier Automata, Dark Souls 3 and Sekiro. Fail, and you start again from a checkpoint, and some of these checkpoints are situated in the middle of boss fights, with no loss of progress, collectables or achievements.
You also need to complete the game on “Spectacular” difficulty to unlock the “Ultimate” difficulty. I get wanting to incentivise multiple play throughs, but c’mon, I paid fifty nicker for this, just give me all the difficulty options from the start. And Peter Parker is just too earnest. If you’re struggling to pay rent and you’re breaking up drug deals, only to be left with bags of cash lying around, you wouldn’t skim a wee bit here and there? Why let bent cops have the lot? I’ll bet Robin Hood paid himself a wage.
Sometimes you feel a wee bit cheated paying a premium for newly released games, and after waiting so long to play it, but not here. Given how addictive swinging around the buildings of Manhattan is, the Spider-Man sequel, arriving in 2023 for the PS5 (it’ll be 2024 at the earliest before it’s reaches PC, if we’re lucky) can wait. I feel pretty confident in saying the sequel will be great too, because they’ll not tinker with the swinging mechanics at all, as they just flat out nailed it in the original.