Marvel's Spider-Man

I’ve been pushing through the last part of Insomniac’s 2018 open-world game Marvel’s Spider-Man in anticipation for the follow-up Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which is due out next month. I’ve recently hit Act 3, and holy moly, does the game take a turn.

Now, I should warn you that what I’m about to talk about might be considered spoilers to some. I mean, the game is two years old at this point, but I imagine a lot of folks, like me, are rushing through it to see the ending before the next game comes out. There are people who are probably getting close to experiencing this stuff for themselves.

If you want to steer clear of spoilers, play at least the first couple hours of Act 3 before reading the rest of this article. For everyone else, let’s dig in.

Marvel's Spider-Man

So, throughout the game’s first two acts, we’ve been seeing Otto Octavius slowly turning more driven, corrupt, and recklessly incompetent. That’s a dangerous combination, as we learn at the end of Act 2. Otto stages a prison break, which sends criminals flooding into the streets of New York City and allows him to assemble the Sinister Six. All of these escaped convicts are carving out their own sections of the city.

Meanwhile, Silver Sable has the city under a strict lockdown, complete with techno-mercenaries and dystopian military-style checkpoints. Oh, and Spider-Man is somehow framed for the prison break, putting Sable’s troops on high alert for this red-and-blue spandexed “menace.” It’s a vast hellscape, which Spider-Man actually compares to George Orwell’s 1984.

This is actually a bit darker than I expected this game to get. While Marvel’s Spider-Man is not without its moments of violence, the game’s portrayal of Manhattan remains a bright, clean, mostly happy place (though with an undeniably seedy underbelly). Act 3 changes that.

Marvel's Spider-Man

In fact, Manhattan in Act 3 of this game reminds me a whole lot of Gotham City as portrayed by Arkham City and Arkham Knight. You’ve got segments of the city blockaded by criminals, with all-out war breaking out between factions. You have buildings on fire and debris in the streets. You also have snipers on rooftops waiting to plug some lead into Spider-Man’s slender frame.

Plus, Act 3 begins in the dead of night, which really clenches the Gotham City comparison for me (of course, it will become day eventually, and then you’re roaming around in a fantastically gloomy, rain-soaked version of the map, complete with all the chaos I described in the previous paragraph).

I’ve been itching to replay the Arkham trilogy lately in preparation for Gotham Knights (which isn’t technically connected to those games) and The Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League (which actually is a follow-up to the Arkham games). Marvel’s Spider-Man is only making that itch even itchier.

But I’m going to push through this. I’m actually really enjoying Marvel’s Spider-Man, and despite the massive difficulty spike in the third act, I’m having a ton of fun cleaning the streets of Manhattan with the full range of Spider-Man’s moveset at my disposal (now that I’ve unlocked all of his skills).

But I can’t help but feel just a little bit like the Dark Knight as I’m doing so.

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