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Marvel’s Spider-Man review: The closest thing you’re ever going to get to being a superhero

Insomniac's web-slinging adventure isn't perfect, but it's not far off

With great power, comes great responsibility.

So you can imagine the pressure Insomniac was under when they were tasked with developing a Spider-Man game.

Thankfully, from the jaw-dropping opening sequence to the beautifully recreated New York City – it’s clear they were the right team for the job.

This isn’t the Spider-Man you’ve met before, or seen in a movie. No, no, no.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is shaping up very nicely indeed

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Marvel’s Spider-Man is shaping up very nicely indeed

This is an experienced Peter Parker (he’s 23) who’s more masterful at fighting crime.

At the same time he’s struggling to balance his chaotic personal life and career – a balancing act that has influenced several key gameplay decisions.

So, how does it play?

Within seconds of booting up the story mode you’ll be thrust into the Spider-suit, swinging from building to building.

It’s actually incredibly easy – simply holding down the R2 trigger will cause Spidey to fire a web.

But, as it’s such an important part of the character – there’s plenty of depth and variation, too.

For one, your swinging ability can be upgraded via a nifty skills tree.

Mary-Jane will be playable at certain points in the game

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Mary-Jane will be playable at certain points in the game

There are even in-air moves, such as swan dives and other manoeuvres that reward successfully-timed button presses with a speed boost.

Obviously, Spider-Man’s web abilities play a huge part in the game’s combat system – which is far deeper than we imagined.

With a press of the triggers, Spidey will fire small web bursts that can neutralise enemies by sticking them to the floor or walls – perfect for handling those with sub-machine guns.

Environmental objects can also be grabbed and thrown – although this can leave you vulnerable to attack.

Add to the mix the ability to bounce from walls, timed counters (in similar vein to the Arkham Knight games) and you very much feel like a super-hero.

It’s fast, fluid and responsive – and the framerate doesn’t really dip despite plenty going on.

Insomniac have handled the hero with care

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Insomniac have handled the hero with care

Oh, and build up enough focus and you’ll be able to perform a brilliant finisher – again, very Arkham Knight.

Along the way you’ll be able to upgrade Spider-Man’s gear and abilities – from new, quirky suits to takedowns and technology.

So, what’s there to do?

Well, the city’s pretty massive so we’d recommend a spot of sight-seeing early on.

The entire city is available to explore from the start – so why not go check out Stark Tower? Or, if you want to chill, take a stroll around Central Park.

A nice touch is that the civilians will stop and greet you should you walk around the streets. You’re given options to high-five them and – every now and then – take a selfie.

As you unlock more missions and crimes, achieved by re-tuning radio beacons (much like Far Cry 3 and 4), you’ll gain XP – which can be used to level up.

The city is available to explore from the off

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The city is available to explore from the off

One of the fastest, and most fun ways to do this, is to fight crime. These range from low-level assaults to full-on bank robberies – complete with thrilling car chases.

As expected, enemies and quests will scale in difficulty – so levelling up will be key.

Story missions, which will feature key characters from the universe – including the likes of Mary Jane (who’s a journalist in this game and playable at some points), Black Cat, Silver Sable and Aunt May, will drive the narrative forward.

To break up the combat, Peter Parker sections where you take on the role of scientist (yes, he’s not a journalist in this) are dotted throughout.

Sadly, these are not much fun at all – and see you rearrange circuits or do crude colour matching tasks to get rewards for your suit.

Graphically the game pushes the console to its limits

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Graphically the game pushes the console to its limits

The theory is sound – and it certainly makes you appreciate the Spider-Man sections – but the execution isn’t quite right.

The same goes for stealth sections with other characters (will keep this vague as don’t want to spoil anything).

These boast incredibly basic mechanics, often involving you to create a distraction to attract a nearby guard.

It’s here where Marvel’s Spider-Man is at its weakest, as enemy AI is brutally exposed as being rather simplistic.

Still, Inomaniac has got a lot mroe right than wrong with Marvel’s Spider-Man, and without doubt it’s one of the finest superhero games of the last decade.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is out on PS4 on September 7.