Spider-Man on the PS4 manages to beat the Arkham series in one very important way
How does it rank against one of the greatest games ever made?
We know that not every super-hero game should be stacked up against the Arkham series, but this is the way of the world we're afraid.
Especially when Marvel's Spider-Man has so much in common with those Batman games, which in itself isn't necessarily an issue. If you're going to follow in the footsteps of any game, it might as well be Arkham City, one of the greatest games ever made.
However, the issue with Spider-Man is in the way that it follows the Arkham games - it takes the good, and in some ways manages to improve upon it, but it also takes the bad, and multiplies those issues, too.
First things first, Spider-Man is A LOT of fun to play. You'll never once use the fast-travel option because web-slinging your way through a perfectly recreated Manhattan is just too exhilarating. That is where it has a one-up on Arkham, which too often confused darkness with the need to be taken seriously.
Here, the seriousness comes in naturally, as the early scenes features Spidey knocking out as many unique one-liners as he does street thugs, before the plot finally clicks into place with a frankly shocking sequence involving a terrorist attack on New York.
The combat is heavily influenced by Batman too, but as Spider-Man is fundamentally a weaker character, it takes more than just mashing the punch button until everyone else has fallen over. A mix of hand-to-hand combat, different web attacks, and some interactive scenery is the only way to beat the bad guys, because just wading into a group of ten henchmen armed with machine-guns isn't going to cut it here.
It also helps that this version of Spider-Man/Peter Parker is a well-written, well-rounded character, with enough smirk-worthy zingers to make him fun to play.
Additionally, the supporting characters help to flesh out the big story they've all been given, with enough minor changes - Peter and MJ are exes, MJ is an investigative journalist - and some really big ones (which we won't go into here because they're really worth discovering on your own) that mean even the biggest Spider-Man fan will be surprised by the twists and turns in store.
Clip via Marvel Entertainment
Remember the Riddler trophies from Arkham? They felt so insanely superfluous to requirements, that only the most maniacal of completionists would put the effort in to get them all.
Well, Spider-Man is fetch-quest-to-the-max. Some of them are pretty interesting, such as research stations set up by Harry (son of Norman) Osborne around the city, each of which assigns Spidey a different task that will help improve the living conditions for everyone in New York. And then there is the example of a friend of Parker who lost all of his pigeons, and asks him to chase them around the entire city and bring them back to him.
Fetch-quests pile upon fetch-quests until your map is absolutely littered with them, and you might only be bothered to do them if they happen to be in your path on your way to your next main mission.
Despite the appearance of some of his biggest and most famous villains, repetition is Spider-Man's nemesis here. Thankfully, even when you're performing what feels like the exact same car chase for the zillionth time, it is still fun to do, just increasingly less so.
That isn't enough to dent what has been achieved here - a hugely entertaining, visually stunning game - and there is an enormous amount of hidden content to be discovered too. Just be aware that sometimes being a superhero apparently involves doing a lot of busy work...
Marvel's Spider-Man is released on the PS4 from Friday 7 September.
Clip via PlayStation