‘Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered’ PC Review: The Ultimate Port Of An Amazing Game
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Featured Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment / The Author
From the top of the Empire State Building, New York City stretches out invitingly, practically begging me to leap into the air. As I descend into the gaps between the countless buildings, I shoot a web into an unseen support, and make Manhattan my playground just like we’ve seen Peter Parker do a million times. There’s something about being the Webhead that has always appealed to me, and Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered channels that perfectly.
See the trailer for Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered on PC here:
It’s been four years since Marvel’s Spider-Man first released on the PlayStation 4, and Insomniac Games’ superhero title is even more fun in 2022. Thanks to features like PC optimised graphics, ray-traced reflections, improved shadows, ultra-wide monitor support, customisable controls and being Steam Deck verified, there’s never been a better time to dive into what arguably should’ve been 2018’s Game of the Year.
Of course, as amazing as all these enhanced features are, it takes more to make a spectacular game. At its core, Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered is the first title that truly makes the player feel like Spider-Man. It starts with the web-swinging mechanic and, let me tell you, there is no better way to traverse an in-game world that I’ve experienced in my 32 years on this planet. The ease and fluidity of it all make for a simple learning process, with enough additional skills, like point-launching and pulling tricks, to add a welcome sense of development and mastery.
However, it takes more than satisfying web-swinging to really put you under the mask, and Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered understands that all too well. In addition to giving us the upsides of being Peter Parker - webs, speed, strength, brains, an assortment of costumes - we also get the struggles that come with being this particular hero.
Spider-Man has to balance his life as a vigilante extraordinaire with being a lab assistant who barely earns enough to afford his rent. There’s also his love life which is in disarray as he and Mary Jane Watson split up some six months before the start of the game. Then there’s Peter’s habit of being late everywhere because of his Spider-hijinks.
This balancing act between Spider-Man the wall-crawling superhero and Peter Parker the apparent slacker forms the backdrop to a story that reveals just how heroic our protagonist really is. Spidey is pushed to limits nobody should have to face, and Peter’s life is changed forever, and he responds to it with astonishing bravery.
The game begins with Spider-Man taking down Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin. This thrilling introduction teaches you the basic controls and sees the organised crime tyrant locked up. As he’s hauled away to prison, he warns our hero that without him there will be nobody to keep order in New York City.
It turns out this wasn’t an empty threat from Kingpin, as the city is now overrun with criminals at every corner. This means that you’ll almost never swing from A to B without coming across a mugging, carjacking, burglary, armed robbery, drug deal, or some other form of lawbreaking, all of which demand your intervention.
Despite the ceaseless interruptions these felonies cause, it’s always fun to swing in and mess some thugs up before getting back to your primary objective. As the crimes become more numerous, and you find yourself less enthusiastic about stepping in because you’ve got other things to do, it feels more like you really are Spider-Man. You stop the bad guys because you have the ability and, therefore, the obligation. In other words, with great power comes great responsibility.
It’s not just crime that will keep you busy in Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered. New York City is full of things to do. There are side quests all over, collectables like backpacks and pigeons, and sights to capture with your camera. These are only some of the activities to be getting on with in the game, so getting that 100% completion is not a foregone conclusion, although it’s not a difficult game to get every achievement for.
Speaking of cameras, though, Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered still boasts one of the best photo modes in a video game. The ability to pause play at any moment and jump straight into the detailed menu in order to capture the perfect action shot is excellent. You can move the free camera (out of cutscenes), add filters, change focus, apply frames, change Spidey’s costume, and more. During the 17 hours of playtime it took me to beat the main story, I must’ve spent at least two in the photo mode.
Of course, the photo mode wouldn’t be so superb if it wasn’t for the fact that Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered is absolutely gorgeous. Playing on PC with headphones and an Xbox controller, I was in awe of the visual fidelity the entire time. The game is as beautiful as ever, and it’s even more impressive given the size of the in-game world. I haven’t been this blown away by a game’s visuals since playing Lost Judgment on Xbox Series X.
These stunning images add a sense of reality to an otherwise fantastical game. After all, you’re a radioactive fella who can stick to buildings, swing through the air, spin a web any size and catch bad guys just like flies. Making something this absurd feel real is remarkable, and the graphics play a huge part in that.
It’s not just the visuals that are responsible for this, though. There are little details like J. Jonah Jameson’s podcast where he sows misinformation and yells at anyone who dares cross him. Then there’s Mayor Norman Osborn, a politician with a dubious corporate interest, to put it lightly. Hell, the game even shows peaceful protestors being arrested. The searing reality of Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered is terrifying because it’s relatable. If only we had someone as heroic as Spidey in real life.
This cleverly-executed realism helps add weight to the more emotional moments in Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered. Sure, it can be funny to laugh at Jameson’s nonsense, but as the game progresses and New York City is ravaged by certain events, the reality of it all hits hard. Perhaps too hard.
[The next paragraph contains spoilers so please skip it if you’re not cool with that.]
A key plotline in Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered involves a virus known as Devil’s Breath, which gets leaked and causes a deadly pandemic. People all over the city fall ill, including Spider-Man’s beloved Aunt May. Seeing Peter’s only remaining parental figure in a makeshift hospital bed with a breathing mask on is a lot to take in a post-2020 world. My eyes were filled with tears as Peter watched on helplessly, having given his all to save the city, and knowing he couldn’t really do anything as May passed away before his eyes.
Despite some serious, emotional scenes, there are plenty of lighthearted moments in Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered. Spidey is full of quips but displays his naivety at times. Seeing Peter and Mary Jane bond is delightful, as is seeing the development of Miles Morales. Then you have a certain cameo that never gets old.
Playing Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, I was fully aware of the qualms people had with the 2018 iteration of the game. Specifically, the segments where you play as Mary Jane and Miles frustrated many gamers. The chief reason, so I’ve been told, is that these parts are stealth-based missions that fail the moment you’re identified by an enemy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the biggest fan of sneaking in games, but I have to say I have no real issue playing as Spidey’s companions.
Sure, I’d rather be swinging through the city as the orchestral score kicks in, but these brief intermissions were never a pain. In fact, I dare say I enjoyed them for what they are, even if I raced through them because speed made it all feel more dangerous.
Another great feature of Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered is it comes with all three parts of The City That Never Sleeps DLC. These extra chapters are easily accessible from the in-game menu and feature the infamous burglar Black Cat, brutal mafioso Hammerhead and master mercenary Silver Sable. The latter we meet during the main game, but all three have their reasons for crossing paths with Spidey in the DLC.
As well as this additional content, there are also plenty of extra suits inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You can dress as Tom Holland’s Spider-Man from all of his movie appearances, right up to Spider-Man: No Way Home. My personal favourite is the red and black outfit from Far From Home, but it’s impossible not to constantly swap between suits, especially as you can take the built-in ability of one costume and apply it to another, so there’s no downside to wearing something else.
As well as suit powers, there are plenty of gadgets and other abilities to unlock as you progress through the game, from the aforementioned tricks you can perform while web-swinging, to enhanced combat techniques. The RPG elements of Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered fit well into Peter Parker’s mindset, because he is always improving with each experience, so his repertoire would naturally grow in size These additional skills add a welcome variety to gameplay, letting you dispatch foes and get around the city in your own way.
Having said that, the game already has quite a mix of different mechanics. We’ve mentioned playing as MJ and Miles, but there’s also the science minigames Peter comes across. These simple puzzle sequences are another fun distraction from the main game, feeling more like a break than anything else. I know not everyone will enjoy them but the mandatory ones are pretty straightforward.
My main complaint with Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered was some cutscene stuttering. There were moments where the audio would continue as usual while the image froze, or vice versa, and while these immersion-breaking moments weren’t dealbreakers, they weren’t welcome either. However, it’s worth noting that these occur with much less frequency after a pre-release patch was rolled out, but they’re not entirely gone. Of course, this could be an issue with my PC, but as no other game has done this on my watch, I’m not confident blaming the hardware.
It’s also worth noting that there were some moments of dialogue and music abruptly stopping while I was traversing the in-game world, and the silence was less than comfortable, but things would resume as normal after a few seconds. This happened three times before the update but not once since, so hopefully it won’t come up again.
My only other axe to grind is the boss fights. I didn’t notice when first playing the game four years ago, but most boss encounters seem to be a case of repeating a specific attack in order to down your foe. This is nothing new to anyone who has played a video game before - franchises like The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario established this formula as a vital component of almost any game - but in Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered it feels a bit stiff and unimaginative compared to its typical combat.
Despite these mild niggles, Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered remains a triumph of AAA video gaming. From the endlessly satisfying web-swinging to the clever RPG elements, from the rich cast of characters to the hard-hitting main story, this is one of the best games I’ve ever played.
Add to that the included DLC, the knowledge that a fully-fledged sequel is in the works, and the existence of a welcome spin-off title in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (which is also coming to PC later this year), and I can say with full confidence that this is a must-play game.
Pros: Incredible in-game traversal, emotional narrative, plenty of replayability
Cons: Some audio/visual images (seem to be mostly patched out), some boss fights get a bit samey
For fans of: Spider-Man, Batman: Arkham series, immersive sandbox games
Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered releases for PC August 12, 2022. Game tested on PC with code provided by the publisher. Find a guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.