Marvel’s Spider-man

Marvel’s Spider-man

 
 
00:00 / 0:28:21
 
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Episode 014

A Review

2017-2018 were years of plenty when it comes to open world, sandbox-y, AAA action adventure games. Amidst this sea of excellence, we were hit with Insomniac Game’s take on Spider-Man. A game I didn’t know how much I needed until I finally got my hands on it.

Much like the Arkham series before it, and from which many of it’s designs cues are taken, you are granted the experience of being Spider-Man. I mean, in the Arkham games you are Batman but in Marvel’s Spider-Man, you feel like New York’s friendly neighborhood do-gooder.

Spider-Man is a game that feels like something new, even though it’s filled with mechanics and set pieces that we have been playing with for a few years now. How it achieves this for me is through polish and pacing. Polish in the views of the city, the ease at which you can swing around building, toss bad-guys in combat, web darn near anything and transition from roof top to black top without breaking a sweat. Pacing in story beats, combat encounters, and character perspective swaps all working in concert to tie you the player to the great characters in Spider-Man’s world.

What rocks

  • You feel like Spider-Man.
  • Swinging through Manhattan is fun and kinetic. Easy to pick up but takes some practice to master.
  • Unlock-able costumes add a real motivation to collect all of Peters junk.
  • Script, story, and voice cast/performance was amazingly top notch.
  • The music in the game feels so full and connected to your actions. Everything feels connected and cohesive.
  • Good re-writes or re-working of core characters to make them more believable and engaging.

What fell flat for me

  • In lower difficulty, the gadgets feel like insta-wins.
  • The DNA puzzles.

Based on my notes, the game earns a solid 3 out of 3 stars. Which means you should go and get it ASAP. As open-world games go, Spiderman synthesizes all the great things from its Arkham parents, and then adds a levity and charm that only one web head can. If you want to really enjoy yourself when sitting down to your PS4 you really can’t pass this adventure up.

This is Zach, keep playing.

Listen to the show on:

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Special Thanks

GuestDanh Hoang

Original Score – Artist: John Paesano

Music & Audio ConsultingJosh Hunt

IllustrationEvan McIntyre

Just Cause 3

Just Cause 3

 
 
00:00 / 0:37:06
 
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Episode 013

Howdy friends, this is Zach, with a Single Player episode in which talk about my 10 glorious hours with the zipline, sandbox, explosion factory Just Cause 3. So let’s take a second to appreciate Rico Rodriguez’s talents as a wire-fu demo man of the people.

Avalanche Studios has been making Just Cause games since 2002, but JC3 I think marked a crucial turning point in the serie’s cycle where a form of stunting became the primary goal of the mechanics presented to you for getting around the islands of Medici.

Sandbox and or Open World games have, what I like to think of as, gift wrapping mechanics. They  But unlike many games where you have to wait for story beats to have access to the full range of traversal tools that are available, Just Cause 3 suits you up right away. The only thing the game does, in terms of upgrades, is amplify the already absurd level of versatility that your movement possesses.

JC3 wants you to get into the action immediately. In fact it seemed like every story mission was just a whip lashing me to blow up more stuff. I’m surprised they hadn’t added a DMC style grading system to rank your destruction style. Oh wait, they did think of that. Destruction challenge modes let you revisit demolished enemy strongholds and start a fireworks show that ties time and destruction into a scoring system. Seeing how I ranked against my other destruct-ologists was fun and leads players to experiment with the options without the reprisal of enemy troops.

JC3 is only the second title in the series I have played, however, for 10 golden hours I was totally hooked. This game is a rollercoaster conducted by Michael Bay’s dreams. Even the driving outperformed my expectations, a feature that frequently slips past the hardworking teams of code machines spinning magic out of thin air.

Sadly this is the part of the review where I need to explain why there wasn’t an hour 11 or further. Avalanche made a truly entertaining and hilarious game. Unwrapping the carefully folded paper and peeling back the tape on this gift of a game was amazing.

The wind got pulled out of my sails around the chapter titled A Terrible Reaction started and the plot jumped into the driver’s seat. And to be fair, Just Cause games are not about the plot. The plot isn’t good or bad, it simply exists to tie things together and give you context for blowing things up.

Just Cause allows for ample amounts of freedom and creative problem solving, but this level asks you to be stealthy while you blow things up, and while I am not against stealth in games, it really doesn’t make any sense in a game where one of the primary movement mechanics is used offensively ( eg zip-lining into an enemy ). I honestly could have done without the interruptions and exposition about what this paper thin dictator was trying to pin on our heroes. Just let me get back to destroying bases ala your favorite 80’s era G.I. JOE.

One way I would have solved this, would have been to create a popularity meter. Rico can cause destruction, and if he blows up civilians his popularity plummets and the regime rises, however, as he destroys the dictator strongholds his renowned grows. And you could tie that into NPC aggression, so in less pro-Rico areas he gets the cops called on him more often for being a disturber of the peace.

At the end of my time, I really enjoyed JC3, for what I played of it.

What rocks

  • Rico’s voice work was fun but he could have delivered even more 90’s era action quips.
  • The visuals are dialed in in such a way that I never felt lost navigating Rico or knowing the direction of incoming fire.
  • All the vehicles are intuitive, easy to learn, and met my expectations.
  • The enemy NPCs are appropriately bad at catching Rico, but on the hard difficulty they become excellent marksman which makes movement even more essential to survival.
  • The XTREME sports angle adds something fun to the traversal of Medici that really doesn’t exist in any other titles.
  • Hijacking enemy missile turrets creates excellent chaos opportunities.
  • Parachute/grapple gun physics are amazing.

What fell flat for me

  • Story beats, other characters are all completely boring and border on annoying.
  • Most of the guns feel the same-y, the weapons either have exploding rounds or they don’t.
  • Forced “sneaking”

Based on my notes, the game earns a solid 1 out of 3 stars. If you are looking for a fun but shallow distraction and you see it on sale, pick it up. It is easily the best action movie you will play. But if you want to be “invested” in a title for longer than that you may want to look to a different sandbox.

So what do you think? Are you into the Just Cause series? Have I got it all wrong? Have I got it all right? Let me know but hitting me up on Twitter or sending an email to howdy@betweenplayers.com

Until then, this is Zach, keep playing.


Listen to the show on:

Spotify
iTunes Podcasts
Google Play Podcasts


Special Thanks

Guest – Robert Meyer

Original Score – Artist: Henry Jackman & Zach Abramson

Music & Audio ConsultingJosh Hunt

IllustrationEvan McIntyre