'Marvel's Spider-Man': A Game Like No Other
Do players have a choice or does the game choose for them?
In the new Spider-Man game for PlayStation 4, players cannot finish the campaign without completing some side missions first. As gamers get deeper into the game, the main character, Peter Parker (Spider-Man), demands that gamers, “See what is happening in the city.”
As we traverse the city, every swing is an opportunity to rescue civilians or an opportunity to shoot for some pictures of “landmarks” in the city. These landmarks are buildings or monuments with significance in important episodes in Peter’s life. However, some of them—for example, the replica of the Empire State Building—are simply recognizable landmarks of real New York City locations, while others are there for other purposes.
Landmarks: The Empire State Building
Nevertheless, all the landmarks serve some essential purpose in the game. In the beginning of the game, Spider-Man is thrown into the city with no reception over the same. This means players have to uncover the city limits and features themselves. Additionally, the police frequency towers Peter used as pinpoints are all damaged in the game. Taking pictures of any landmark allows players to map out a location. Not to mention that players earn landmark tokens after each picture is taken. These can be used to upgrade gadgets, suits, fighting techniques, and more.
The mapping system in the game is so rich that, as a matter of fact, in it players can see various signs other than the recognizable yellow rhombus representing the main mission.
A truly mesmerizing characteristic of the map is its large size. Though not an exact replica of Manhattan, the map is about four and a half square miles. The recreation of a fictional New York City that's about one-seventh the actual size of the real Manhattan is impressive.
The familiarity of the city is seen swing after swing. Those who have been to New York, or live in this city, can certainly agree that many of the building and street details are, in fact, that of the buildings and streets of New York nowadays. To illustrate, Central Park was designed so as to represent New York City's iconic Central Park. Despite the fact that this is but a representation, with many details were left behind, developers still managed to make the player feel the authentic Central Park ambiance.
'Marvel's Spider-Man' vs. Real-Life Comparison
Not only do we as players get to seek out the many events the city has to offer, but we also get to upgrade our character by completing any given event. Players are given tokens after the completion of each side mission. Eliminate the thugs or rescue civilians from being kidnapped and you will be rewarded with “crime tokens.” Complete some of Harry’s research and you will be rewarded with “research tokens.” More challenging yet, achieve one of the Taskmaster’s challenges, and you will be rewarded with “challenge tokens.”
All of the tokens players earn throughout the game are to be used to upgrade their character. These upgrades include suits, gadgets, and skill, all of which contribute greatly to different gameplay features, and the feasibility for players to make of their Spidey the most powerful hero.
The Different Tokens
In addition to the map, original features, and the array of events to take part in, the game is full of well-timed conversations—from the dialogue between the main characters to the mundane comments of pedestrians. For instance, after the completion of any mission, the game throws at the player a critique on one’s actions during the mission. This is focalized through J. Jonah Jameson's lenses.
As a renowned journalist of this fictional New York City, JJJ comments on every action done by Spider-Man. This tends to be criticism of your actions—JJJ is not fond of Spider-Man and he has never been. On his arguments, he speaks of conspiracy against the city and he embellishes Spider-Man’s actions, but he does so in a very realistic way, as would another real news reporter do so after a hideous crime.
As gamers, we always want to reach for an end. With that being said, however, we never want that end to come. It's always up to us to fully “beat the game.” It's up to the player to skip the side missions and move onto finishing the campaign. In Marvel’s Spider-Man, this was no longer the case. There is no possibility to move from one mission to the other without interruption. This is not a downside or weakness of the game, but rather, it is a clever technique on behalf of the developers. They know what is coming, they know we must upgrade our inventory, our moves, and our gadgets. Failing to do otherwise would impede players to move past a certain point. Frustrated, then, the player goes on to seek out upgrades. This frustration vanishes, since the game itself directs us towards the path it wants the players to take: Ultimately, the path towards completing the game… fully!