Marvel's Spider-Man, Marvel's Spider-Man, does whatever a Marvel's Spider can... Aside from the license-dictated need to refer to everyone’s favourite wallcrawler not just as Spider-Man, but Marvel’s Spider-Man, there’s not a lot to dislike about Insomniac’s comic book epic.
That point – comic book epic – is important. This game is a love letter to fans of the print material, rather than modelling itself on Tom Holland's Spider-Man. It expects you to have been keeping up with the comics too, dripping as it is in niche lore and populated with supporting characters relatively new to the wider Marvel universe. Be it police captain Yuri Watanabe as Spidey's contact and confidante, supervillains like Mr. Negative to take on, or just the simple fact that we meet Peter Parker as an established crime-fighter years into his career – rather than re-telling his origins yet again – this is the freshest take on the web-head's mythos in years.
Perhaps that's unsurprising, considering the writing team for the game includes long-term comic Spider-scribes Christos Gage and Dan Slott, who nail the feel of the character and his world. What a world, too – Insomniac has created a vision of New York City that's breathtaking in scale and detail, filled with regular folk going about their days, and so beautiful that it more than justifies the photo mode (available as a day one update).
This captures the feel of the comics better than any Spider-Man game before it.
The finest achievement of the game though is Spider-Man's movement. Be it web-swinging around the city, nimbly darting under enemies' legs to web them from behind, or flipping out of danger's path in response to a Spider-Sense warning, Spidey is as lithe, agile, and fast as you'd ever hope. His athleticism extends to combat too, with flurries of fists, web moves, and wall rebounds making him feel like the frenzied, hyper-kinetic figure he should.
As you gain experience, you'll be able to improve his abilities further, with skill trees focused on web, melee, and stealth moves taking him from an already formidable fighter to a force to be reckoned with. You'll also be able to acquire new costumes and create mods for them, allowing a nice level of customisation in how you choose to play.
It's not flawless. The boss fights are formulaic, relying on predictable attack patterns or even dated quick time events to move each encounter forwards. Navigating New York also feels a lot like exploring the Gotham City of the Batman: Arkham games, with Insomniac peppering its own urban metropolis with collectibles to find, minor crimes to stop, and secondary objectives to complete. Marvel's Spider-Man very much follows the template Arkham laid down for modern superhero games in that respect.
Yet with as much focus on Peter's life as Spider-Man's, this captures the feel of the comics better than any Spider-Man game before it – a web-slinging wonder.