Games of 2018: Marvel's Spider-Man was a super-powered swinging treat

Marvel's Spider-Man
Marvel's Spider-Man is out now for PS4

Following our list of the 50 best games of 2018, we are now counting down our top ten releases across the year and reflecting on our time with the game. At ten we begin with Marvel's Spider-Man. Let us know your experiences with Insomniac's web-slinger, if it deserves its slot and what might have taken its place. To join the conversation simply log in to your Telegraph account or register for free here.​

Playing Insomniac’s buoyant spin on Spider-Man for review, I had some reservations that still hold up a few months later. The fast-paced combat, thwacking and thwipping goons on the streets of NYC, is entertaining but loses its lustre as the game relies more heavily on it in its latter stages. While many of Spidey’s activities are often cut straight from a mid-2000s open-world template.

And yet... Once the credits had rolled, the review was filed and usually I would have moved on to the next shiny thing, Spider-Man actually tightened its grip. I found myself often returning to NYC in a rare spare moment, lazily swinging across its meticulously crafted New York skylines.

That swinging, gosh, what a pleasure it is. Squeezing the right trigger to fire out a zipline, arcing towards the ground at speed before, whoosh, kicking off into the Manhattan sky. Graceful parabolas over the Empire State Building, the more experienced Spider-Man pirouetting through the urban canyons or quickly adjusting any fumbled swing to an expert wall run.

That breathless and empowering sense of movement is the fulcrum of the game on which almost everything else relies. Movement defines Spider-Man; be it in his brawling or traversal and it is an essence perfectly captured. Its attention to detail in its character and his world could not be called into question.

The swinging in Marvel's Spider-Man is an enduring pleasure

Hence the irresistible pull of the game. The objectives --clearing out goon hideouts, climbing towers, that kind of thing-- may be a little bit cookie-cutter, but arcing between each icon that the map bristles with is an enduring treat. This may seem like a bit of a back-handed compliment, whooshing between icons and clearing them off a map in some kind of OCD blitz. And maybe it is, but it is something I rarely indulge in, and because of it, Spider-Man became an enduring game of 2018.

I would often fire it up, complete a few missions and unlock more of the ability changing costumes that became a quiet obsession. Video games, after all, are defined by escapism and being able to slip into the spandex has been one of its purest forms.

But enough about my personal life. While I might be suggesting that Spider-Man’s thrilling traversal came into sharper focus once the credits had rolled, that doesn’t do justice to all the other stuff it did so well throughout.

As a game carefully watched over by Marvel, it’s clear much went into weaving its yarn. Its story, perhaps surprisingly, became one of the sharpest and most effecting games told across the year. It took its time to go behind the mask, exploring the tribulations of Spidey’s alter-ego Peter Parker to some success. It also afforded starring roles to support characters in Mary-Jane and Miles Morales in smart ways, and ends with a hell of a gut punch.

While some areas could be found too mechanically safe, that it found such boldness in its tale was Spider-Man’s great surprise. It felt like a statement that Marvel, having conquered the cinematic universe, is turning its eye to video games. And is committed to doing them well. It could be that Insomniac’s Spider-Man could be a vanguard. And its effect and success could have more impact in the months and years to come.

The Telegraph's best games of 2018... and now it's time to have your say

1. Red Dead Redemption 2

2. God of War

3. Tetris Effect

4. Monster Hunter: World

5. Return of the Obra Dinn

6. Into the Breach

7. Forza Horizon 4

8. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

9. Dead Cells

10. Marvel's Spider-Man

What has been the standout game for you this year and why? We want to hear what your top picks are from 2018 and why it made your year. Fill in this form for a chance to feature in our readers' rundown. We will tally up the votes and run a Telegraph reader’s list alongside our 50 best games and our critic’s pick of the top ten games of the year. 

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