Games: Marvel's Spider-Man sets a new gaming benchmark
Marvel's Spider-Man (PS4)
FROM Nicholas Hammond's funky 70s telly outings to recent mega-budgeted franchise fodder, Spider-Man has endured more than his fair share of on-screen action since crawling from Stan Lee's imagination in 1962.
But videogames have provided the wisecracking wall-crawler's most fertile stomping ground, with nearly 40 efforts kick-started by a modest, Teletext-quality debut on Atari's 2600. And though it was believed nothing could trump 2004's Spider-Man 2, my spidey-sense must be tingling (or those cold sores are coming back) as Sony's latest sets a new benchmark not only our friendly neighbourhood webslinger, but all superhero games.
While on the big screen Spider-Man has had more reboots than a cobbler's shop, this sensibly draws a line over an origin story most folk know better than their own.
No longer a sulky teenager, Peter Parker has been doing whatever a spider can for eight years, the game kicking off with his showdown against the Kingpin. Unshackled from any movie tie-in nonsense, the game is a giddily original deep dive into Marvel infamy, boasting a rogue's gallery of classic villains peppered with fan-baiting cameos.
Comparisons to Batman's Arkham titles, which raised the bar for videogame superheroics, are inevitable, and Spidey pilfers its unlockable skill tree, swapping cowls for spandex and the gothic Arkham City for a gorgeously realised Big Apple stuffed with sun-baked streets.
The biggest triumph, however, is how they've nailed the motion. While Spidey's web-slinging takes some time to master, his arachnobatics make getting from A to B a joy as you leap from the tallest buildings before shooting a web at the last possible second.
While you can stick to the main plot, its open world offers up myriad off-the-cuff vigilante missions. And though it's a joy to just ride the skyline, terra-firma is where the city's criminals ache for a blast of your liquid silk. With an array of fighting techniques, you'll duff up goons through fisticuffs, web-slinging and using spider-sense to avoid danger – all the while cracking wise as you crack skulls.
While Spidey is the star, it can be as much fun playing as Peter Parker as he investigates dodgy characters and solves puzzles in his work lab. Plus you won't see Superman riding the underground or hunting for a bin-bag full of his evicted belongings – one of the game's many highlight missions.
While simplistic stealth and repetitive crimes make for some flies in the ointment, Spider-Man's latest is a must for both arachnophiliacs and casual gamers alike – and with a main course of 20 hours (if you ignore all the sides) and future chapters oozing down the digital pipes, your spending senses will be tingling for months to come.
Capturing the pulpy energy of classic Marvel like no other game, Spider-Man is hero worship of the highest order and as close as you'll get to playing superhero from the comfort of your filthy couch. Marvel-ous stuff.