Spider-Man PS4 Review

Amazing? Spectacular? Even Superior? The answer is none of the above. Before you close this article, I did really enjoy this game. There are just a few things that hold it back that are substantial.  Firstly, this is a fun game. Since playing Spider-Man 2 over a decade ago, I’ve craved another game that provides the arachnid hero’s feel of mobility. Insomniac has done a tremendous job here of make traversal as Spider-Man, the highlight of the game. Swinging around New York is an absolute blast. Even when I had a way marker on the screen, rather than going the direct and quickest route, I would be frolicking all the way there. They nailed what it’s like to be Spider-Man.

But before I get ahead of myself, I should set the scene and talk about the story itself. So in Spider-Man on the PS4, you play as Wolverine. No wait that’s the wrong hero isn’t it? Obviously you play as the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man and Spider-Man doesn’t need to be explained, we all know his powers and who he is. Also, I’m getting sick of typing Spider-Man and when the main character is the titular title it becomes extra annoying so from now on, when I refer to Spider-Man himself it’s SM! SM is the main character, with a few occasions the player takes control of Peter’s ex Mary Jane and newcomer in Peter’s life, Miles. Without giving away too many story beats, I was really surprised by the narrative. It’s not a video game classic but the story is well told and full of nuance. There is a good story here and quite a mature one at that. It’s a classic, good vs evil story but there’s a lot of different threads which weave nicely into a cohesive, well told tale.

Not only does the cutscenes and dialogue fill us in on SM’s life but the oodles of side content help to characterise our hero. It weaves a world that feels lived in by SM/Peter Parker. This isn’t an origin story, in fact SM has been Spider-Man-ing for over half a decade. And through side content and collectables, a life of a web slinger is fleshed out. here is a plethora of backpacks, photo opportunities, combat scenarios and my favourite…….pigeon chases. Seriously a group of side missions have you yanking a pigeon out of the sky. Me thinks using a pigeon’s body weight as an anchor or pulling the pigeon to yourself at high speed would pulverise the winged critter but apparently they’re built to last in New York. Also, just to annoy you, try to get the Hanna Barbera song Stop the Pigeon out of your head next time you go for one of those bad boys in Spider-Man.

You’re welcome.

New York itself is a character and Insomniac has done a great job of creating a large playground. I would have liked there to be more unique buildings for fun traversal but what they’ve created is a very good emulation of the big apple. Which, brings me to the web swinging. I like the fighting of this game, I love the swinging. The way SM moves and flows through the air is something else. I don’t get bored with how it feels. Leaping of a web swing right at it’s highest point or dive bombing from a skyscraper just looks and feels the business. There’s fast travel in this game and I don’t think I’ll ever use it. The swinging is the best part of the game and it amplifies my enjoyment of the rest of the game. There is a ton of side content in this game and actually getting to that content is so much fun. A bit more variety in the side missions would be appreciated but the swinging saves the tedium. In other games I could barely care about finding a backpack or repetitive side missions where I swing through smoggy areas for samples. But most of the side missions involve more opportunities to sling webs and I want to indulge in that. Going to a funeral isn’t fun but if you got to drive a monster truck there then that’s a different thing. The combat is fantastic. It took me a while to get used to it as well as I did with Batman Arkham Asylum but once you get used to the controls it flows really well. It’s very similar to the Batman games but with Spider-Man charm. It’s a delight to watch SM’s acrobatic moves when dispatching thugs and the array or gadgets and suits keep the combat from getting stale. As a quick mention, the different suits in the games are a great addition and look amazing. The fact that most of them come with a unique power as well, it’s these little additions that show that Insomniac know how to make a character fun to play.

Spider-Man-Noir-Suit
Currently my favourite suit.

Which, brings me to which characters aren’t fun to play. And one of the main things that holds this game back for me. The Mary Jane and Miles missions. Not all of them. There’s 1 Miles mission I liked and I think 1 Mary Jane mission but that was because it involved SM and had a nice gimmick to it. But the other times, you have to play as these characters skulking around, looking for information or just trying to evade capture from enemies.  They are just not that fun and I don’t oppose to playing as side characters in games. It gives instances to show unique gameplay or story. But the scenarios they’re in and the tools at our disposal need to be interesting or fun. Most of the MJ or Miles parts can be summed up as *wait for guard to look in opposite direction before moving* or *make a noise to draw attention to a spot and then move towards objective*.  It’s a flow breaker after playing as a fast, capable character. You feel stilted and robbed of more SM time. I wouldn’t mind as much if it was one or two in a 15+ story but it seemed to be every 2-3 hours a slow mission reared its head. To the point where when dialogue started leading to a ‘I wonder what predicament Mary Jane has got herself into this time’, I would start mentally asking the game to just show me a cutscene of what happened to her. Please game, take the control from me and show a brief scene that gives me the exposition!  I was never bored when playing as Peter Parker because they were brief and interesting. Hell I would play as one of the pigeons! That’d be a great introduction to that side mission. Getting chased through Central Park by a man in red and blue spandex.

The game also doesn’t have enough ‘WOW that’s what it’s like to be a hero’ missions early on. The last 4 hours or so of the game are so so good. They have SM, a super hero, doing super hero level things. Saving citizens and stopping robberies is hero stuff but I feel like the grand scale missions were all mostly on the back end. It made for a great few hours but now I’m thinking on my new game plus that those first few hours are going to seem like a bit mundane in comparison. Like I said, the swinging and combat are both excellent so I’m sure it won’t be an issue but a few great missions with bigger scope peppered throughout the early hours would have been appreciated. Instead of the aforementioned Mary Jane and Miles missions. When all is said and done though, Spider-Man is a well crafted, fun game. It has a great story, looks beautiful, the music score is on point and overall it is a fun game. I would very much recommend this one and I just hope that Insomniac rethinks some of their mission choices for the sequel. A fantastic game let down by a few missteps but a fantastic game nevertheless.

Where’s My Team Buddies Reboot?!

Has anyone else played this Playstation game? That’s rhetorical, I know others have because there are Youtube videos of it but have you, the reader played it? If you have please message me and let me know because I have never spoken to anyone who has. Whenever I mentioned it to friends in the past and to this day, they haven’t a clue what I’m on about. I had so much fun playing this and its gameplay is perfect for an online team based game. I know there are a lot of games people want rebooted or a sequel, more well known ones than my choice. I loved Timesplitters 2 and Future Perfect but come on, Team Buddies needs some reboot love folks.

Team Buddies grid
Those arrows are confusing. Where can I put this box?

For those of you asking what the hell I’m on about, I’ll explain the premise. So Team Buddies is a game centred around the collection of boxes. Thrilling, I know! You play as these walking pill looking people of all colours of the rainbow. It’s a team based game where you and the enemy teams fight over crates that you then put on your team crafting pad to create weapons/teammates/vehicles. You then use all of what you made to destroy your enemies and to destroy their base to stop their future production. Different layouts of boxes yield different results. Not only that and I may be getting this detail mixed up, but I believe different levels make different types of characters and different types of weapons. So for instance, on one level you place a block down and you create a shotgun. On another level your characters are ninjas and one block yields shurikens whilst 4 blocks, lying flat in a square formation makes a rocket launcher. 8 blocks in cube formation will create a vehicle for your team, these include tanks and planes.

team_buddies_by_flash_gavo-d5ovxly
Look at this! Barely out of the 90’s but still full of attitude

 

What I loved about this game was the tactics you could utilise. You could hurry and make a shotgun and try to take down an enemy’s base straight away. You might succeed and eliminate a whole team but then you’ve just let the other 2 teams gather boxes and create an army. Or do you grab the boxes and launch them in your pads generally direction and hope nobody steals them while you’re away? It makes me laugh because there is an almost eerie calm before the storm in Team Buddies. The average map will have teams in opposite directions and a middle ground where the boxes continuously drop from the sky on to. Usually everyone starts with one person per team and then they have to make their own squad. 4 per team I believe. And so, the first minute of the match is usually a grab and chuck match as each colour pill is lobbing crates to their bases. Then the madness begins. Soon every team has 2 people and some with weapons. Now the fight for the crates turns lethal. Bullets hail across the map and boxes punted out of pill people’s hands. And sometimes, rare blue coloured boxes fall the sky. Manna from heaven! You can bet your bum that if you make a grab for those, you become target numero uno.

Team buddies cat
Silly cat, this is a battlefield! Home is that way!

The game features a variety of modes. Single player has scenario modes and levels and multiplayer has your now standard fare of mode. Deathmatch, Domination, Capture etc. The game featured up to 4 player multiplayer and each player could create 3 additional AI teammates. Not only that but you can swap control to another buddy with the touch of a button. Can you imagine the chaos? I wish I had friends and a multitap back then!  Also, the game featured different personalities for different buddie types. The standard buddies had a cockney accent and were boisterous, while the ninjas had bad ‘engrish’…..maybe leave that out of the reboot. Nevertheless, these quirky characteristics combined with the tongue in cheek humour and film references made me fall in love with the game. Plus,he mild cursing helped. Hey, as a teenager and formally a Nintendo kid at that, swearing was uncommon back then in gaming. My mind was blown the following year when Conker’s Bad Fur Day was released.

I do wish the game garnered more attention and a bigger fan base. From what I can gather the game had a limited release and it’s hard for an IP to make a mark. Especially with how unique and cartoony the game looked, I can imagine that didn’t help it when next to serious looking games like Tomb Raider and commercial successes like Crash Bandicoot. I love team based games and just the idea of this in an online way makes me very happy and sad that it didn’t happen. I know the idea of a reboot or spiritual successor is a pipe dream but I still want to live in that dream sometimes.  The game is pure chaotic fun and its cartoonish graphics have helped it stave off the ugliness of some early 3D games.  It’s not a perfect game but me and my sister used to have a great time playing this together.  If you can, if you have a way to play this game, if you have a copy somewhere or even through emulation, give the game a go. Better yet, give it a go with a friend or friends. I think you’ll enjoy it.

 

Trivia Time: Dead Cells Portraits

You may have noticed that I’m currently loving Dead Cells. I already wrote 2 articles, shill here: My opinion after a dozen or so hoursDead Cells Tips For Beginners and so to complete my trifecta, here’s some cool touches in the game.

So I literally completed my first run today. After many hours of dying just before the final level (at least so far), I visited the High Peak Castle more times than my family. Through it’s lavish corridors and ornate walls, I mercilessly slaughtered many of the kings men. I spared all the king’s horses though. I’m not that sick. Now and then, when I could get a breather and wasn’t too tense to notice, I started to recognise certain gaming icons on the walls. Apparently the king is a fan of fantastic games. Among the elaborate decor you’ll find many portraits scattered around the castle walls. Take a closer look and you may see some familiar faces. The very first one I noticed was from the incredible game Transistor.

Image result for transistor ps4

Among other icons, the always fabulous Solaire was doing what he loves to do. Praising the sun.

Image result for high peak castle solaire

As far as I’m aware these are just references to these games and have no other impact on the game beyond aesthetic. It’s a nice touch though. The publishers, Motion Twin, clearly love video games, not only is it shown in these details, but also in their well crafted game. There are other video game references in these portraits and throughout the game but I’ll leave the rest to be found by yourself. So, next time you’re going through High Peak Castle, take in the artwork when you get the chance.