Reviews

Spider-Man Remastered Review: As Good As The First Time Around

Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man Remastered is a must-play for anyone with a PlayStation 5 and well-worth the investment for those with a PlayStation 4. The graphical enhancements and finely-tuned gameplay are complimented by the already-established stellar voice acting and brutally emotional narrative. Spider-Man Remastered is still one of the best games out there.

When I got the chance to replay Insomniac’s Spider-Man title, I was beyond excited. I don’t usually enjoy replaying games all that much. I admit, I find that once I know a narrative and the story beats… It gets a little boring to me. If the gameplay is fun, there’s enough to do in the end-game of these titles for me.

But, there’s something about Marvel’s Spider-Man that draws me in. Perhaps it’s the same concept as why I continue to enjoy going back to rewatch MCU movies? It’s the perfect balance between spectacular super-heroic action and down-to-earth heartwarming interactions that makes Spider-Man… Well, Spider-Man.

Wouldn’t be a Marvel Production without this legend. / Credit: Insomniac Games

Marvel’s Spider-Man is arguably the best Spider-Man story outside of comics we’ve had. If not, it is definitely one of the best.

Spider-Man Remastered Features Next-Gen Graphics

If there’s any reason to play this again, it’s the next-gen graphical overhaul. Spider-Man Remastered offers players two graphical modes: Performance, and Fidelity.

Performance mode ensures that the game runs smoothly in 60FPS, but without the larger graphical updates of the Remastered edition. Sure, the textures will be cleaner. But, I wouldn’t expect to see Ray-Tracing or a 4K display in performance mode.

Performance Mode is in no way a bad way to play. I played through about an hour and a half of free-roam activities with Performance Mode selected. It was surreal to see Spider-Man Remastered so smooth. As someone who doesn’t often play games that operate on 60FPS ( I know, I know. Console Gamer, much?), I found it a spectacle in it’s own right. I didn’t even mind the lack of real graphical advancements while I was playing. Performance mode is all about appreciating the chaotic action and it is well-worth looking into.

Spider-Man Remastered
The “Big Time” Stealth Suit / Credit: Kyle Wilson

Fidelity Mode, though, is the better choice. In this mode, Spider-Man Remastered is locked at 30FPS, much like the original game, but features the full-extent of the next-gen graphical updates Insomniac has brought to New York and it’s Web-slinger. I don’t own any fancy HDR, 4K-enabled TV… But Spider-Man Remastered is stunning. I was, and continually am, blown away at how great it looks.

Ray-Tracing, of course, is perhaps the biggest improvement to the title. When you switch between Performance Mode and Fidelity Mode, you really notice the difference it makes. Without it, surfaces seem dull and the lighting is less than dynamic. With it, Spider-Man Remastered is one of the most graphically impressive titles out there.

Then, there is Insomniac’s general improvements to textures and character models. It’s hard to describe, exactly, but looking at any comparison video will show you what I mean. It’s just cleaner, more-detailed, and pulls you further into the concept that you’re watching a superhero epic and not playing a superhero epic.

The highlight of these improvements is the updated facial model for Peter Parker. We all know that this was met with a lot of friction and some unnecessary abuse from fans when it was announced, but you don’t really appreciate the change until you’re playing the game. The expressions Peter Parker has are more natural, nuanced, and compelling emotionally. They reflect the finer details of Yuri Lowenthal’s stellar voice-acting performance perfectly.

In relation to the other characters, the difference isn’t as noticeable. I found Miles Morales and Rio Morales were noticeable improvements, perhaps due to the fact Insomniac has updated their models for Spider-Man Miles Morales. However, Wilson Fisk, MJ, Otto, Norman, Aunt May and Martin Li… They all seemed refined but not in any drastic capacity. However, this is in no way a bad thing. Their updated visuals, combined with the exemplary voice acting from the wider cast, make them the perfect compliment to the updated Spider-Man.

These Are Complimented By An Updated Photo-Mode

One of the only actual new additions to Spider-Man Remastered is the inclusion of a “Light Section” on the game’s photo-mode. With the other options in the Photo-Mode having been refined, the ability to add and alter player-controlled light sources is game-changing. If you’ve read any of my reviews before, or any entries into my Through The Virtual Lens series of interviews, you’ll know that I believe lighting is one of the most important factors in Virtual Photography.

The inclusion of Light Manipulation in Spider-Man Remastered raises the ever-popular Photo-Mode to the next level and pushes it to the forefront of this niche sub-section of the industry alongside Ghost of Tsushima and Days Gone. It may not have “Time of Day” controls like Ghost of Tsushima, or as much detail regarding colour balancing like Days Gone, but the lighting control makes it one hell of a Photo-Mode that you can easily spend a long time playing with.

The Gameplay and Gadgets Are All The Same: Excellent

When you look at the rest of Spider-Man Remastered, there isn’t a lot that’s changed. But, this is a good thing. Why change something that’s not broken, right? Spider-Man Remastered‘s gameplay is still as smooth as it was the first time around, it just looks a lot better.

Spider-Man Remastered
Thugs and Henchmen are more detailed than ever before! / Credit: Kyle Wilson

I admit the process of having to unlock all the combat-based Gadgets was a little tiresome, as I was so used to jumping into a New Game+ save and having them all available. However, it did provide a nice sense of accomplishment as I began to get back into the swing of things. ( Sorry! )

One thing which Spider-Man Remastered really makes you appreciate ( again) is the traversal mechanics Insomniac Games have developed for their Spider-Man titles. It really is insanely smooth and, with the added graphical enhancements, makes it all the more breath-taking. The web-swinging also utilises the Dualsense’s haptic feedback and reactive triggers to add that subtle, but important, additional level of depth. You feel the tension with each swing… Every impact.

It’s almost hard to imagine playing without it already and Spider-Man Remastered is the perfect testament to PlayStation’s innovation in this area.

Spider-Man Remastered Features An Incredible Narrative

Spider-Man Remastered is a perfect culmination of decades of Spider-Man storylines that offers fans of the characters a fresh, but entirely comfortable, narrative to follow. It features all the big names in Spider-Man’s cast of characters alongside quite a few of his most-iconic villains.

This section contains spoilers, so if you haven’t played Marvel’s Spider-Man yet, look away now.

The Sinister Six offer a lot of antagonism throughout the narrative, however it isn’t the traditional line-up. Spider-Man Remastered gives players the chance to square-up against Rhino, Scorpion, Electro, Vulture, Mister Negative, and Doc Ock. This is all on-top of a fantastic opening sequence where you go toe-to-toe with Wilson Fisk: The Kingpin.

The Boss Battles are by-far some of the best any superhero game has to offer, but it’s the smaller moments that matter in Spider-Man Remastered. Each interaction leaves a meaningful impression and helps colour the world Insomniac Games have crafted perfectly.

For example, Gloria is a tertiary NPC that appears throughout Spider-Man Remastered and Spider-Man Miles Morales. Initially, Spider-Man saves her from being beaten up by generic thugs. After uncovering that she is homeless, he suggests that she heads to F.E.A.S.T. for aid. Throughout the moments Peter drops by the F.E.A.S.T. Centre, you can touch base with Gloria and find out how her own personal story is going. These moments help you truly feel like Spider-Man while playing. You’re not just beating up Henchman and swinging around New York. You’re helping people, doing real good.

This isn’t it though, Spider-Man Remastered‘s writing team have brought all the nuance and detail you’d hope to their villains too. Sure, Rhino and Scorpion seem pretty one-dimensional while you’re kicking them in the head… But the ones you get to focus on more are developed into compelling antagonists.

For me, the highlight of the games’ narrative comes in the early stages of the game. When Norman Osborn uncovers Octavius Industries’ successes in limb replacement, he is quick to shut Otto’s laboratory down. As mayor, he has these kind of powers to abuse. This initial introduction into the decades-old conflict Norman Osborn and Otto Octavius has is perfect.

Spider-Man Remastered
Consider yourself grounded, Adrian. / Credit: Kyle Wilson

In this scene, you witness the ruthlessly calm Osborn as he effortlessly manipulates the situation to push every button Octavius has. Otto’s hatred for Norman is a huge part of narrative’s more-climactic points, so it’s obviously important that the players understand the relationship between the two. When he shuts down his lab, you feel Otto’s anger. You yourself understand his perhaps-unnecessary hatred towards him.

Will Salyers is the voice of Otto Octavius and, bar Yuri Lowenthal’s Peter Parker, is the stand-out performer in the incredible cast. The way he perfectly balances Otto’s fragile ego with his genuine heartbreak throughout his appearances in-game is exceptional. Mark Rolston’s Norman Osborn is also a fantastic portrayal of this mysterious, yet well-known, villainous character.

In Insomniac’s Spider-Man universe, Norman Osborn’s villainy has only just begun… The Post-Credit’s scenes confirm this and Spider-Man Miles Morales further adds to Spider-Man Remastered‘s cast of characters… This game is just the beginning of a truly wonderful narrative that everyone should experience.

This Version Also Brought Another Three Suits

You may have read about this already, but once-again Insomniac Games has brought new suits to their Spider-Man game and Spider-Man Remastered brings some doozies.

REALTED: Spider-Man Remastered: New Suits Live On PS4 Version

In particular, you can now use the Amazing Suit. This is inspired by Andrew Garfield’s first outing as Spider-Man and it looks amazing in Spider-Man Remastered. This said, all the suits in Spider-Man Remastered look great. Although this is the only real customisation option available, it’s a damn-fine customisation option.

Spider-Man Remastered
The Armoured Advanced Suit, beautiful. / Credit: Kyle Wilson

Once again, I found myself pulled into “Completionist Mode”. Despite having a lot of other games to be playing, I find myself once again stuck into Spider-Man Remastered. But, this isn’t a bad thing and this is why Insomniac’s Spider-Man game is one of the best out there. You want to 100% it, and it isn’t too hard to do either. So, you’re not struggling to find your 100th Odin Raven like God of War. Or, struggling to kill that final Stormbird you need to get rid of on Horizon: Zero Dawn.

In Spider-Man Remastered, enjoyment is placed at the forefront of every in-game challenge and activity. They offer a mild challenge, depending on how good you are, but there’s nothing that feels impossible and each victory leaves you with that perfect balance of accomplishment alongside wanting more.

Overall, It Is Worth Your Time If You’ve Played It Before Or Not

Spider-Man Remastered is one of those games that is, and will be, a timeless classic for years to come. Like The Last of Us, God of War III, and countless others… Spider-Man Remastered joins a whole array of PlayStation Exclusives that are truly fantastic.

Thankfully, though, this game also plays ridiculously smoothly and looks incredible. It’s a masterpiece and a testament to the countless hours the developers and cast have put into it. Even if you’re not a massive fan of superheroes, Spider-Man Remastered has a narrative with story beats that many of you will be able to enjoy and relate to.

I know I haven’t talked about the amount of content Spider-Man Remastered has in this review, amongst other things, because there’s a lot to cover. The City Never Sleeps trio of DLC additions adds a brand-new narrative branch and a whole load more content. Spider-Man Remastered comes with all this, making it well-worth playing… Even if you’ve played Marvel’s Spider-Man before.

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