The PS5 has closed the gap between consoles and PC, in both power and visual fidelity. Marvel's Spider-Man, developed by Insomniac, published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, and first launched exclusively on the PS4 in 2018, is a great example of this. Because while the jump from last generation's hardware to Sony's latest console relevant to this game felt like a significant one – via Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a 2020 spin-off and PS5 launch title – Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, out on PS5 and PC this Friday, August 12, is on a whole other level.
In January, when Sony Santa Monica Studio's esteemed mythology-inspired action-brawler finally made the leap to desktop, GamesRadar+ Senior Guides Coordinator Leon Hurley said God of War is a GOTY contender all over again on PC. With Marvel's Spider-Man now also making its debut on PC, I reckon the very same applies here.
I don't say this lightly either. Spider-Man on PS4 already looked gorgeous. But towards the end of every console cycle, there are a handful of games that crop up, stop us in our tracks, and make us marvel in the moment, all the while appreciating how far the current generation of hardware has come. Marvel's Spider-Man, like God of War, was one of these games four years ago. Today, its remastered incarnation comes almost two years into the current console cycle and underlines just what is possible in technology terms moving forward.
Spider-Man's pseudo slant on New York City looks prettier and larger than life than before, for example. When writing about game worlds, the 'X setting is as much a central character as the protagonist' cliche is overused by writers like myself – but it's absolutely the case here. NYC feels like a living, breathing thing; a landscape which could and does exist independently of whatever we're up to as Spidey in the here and now. Ray-tracing makes the afternoon sky shimmer with character, and the glassy buildings glisten like diamonds; while optimised ambient lighting across Manhattan after dark makes every street light, office block, residential quarter, and neon-doused downtown district glow like a burning beacon. I often worried my PC fan might ignite and light up my room in similar fashion, but it just about managed to keep pace over the course.
Swinging from the rooftops 400 metres in the air is as fun as ever too, but simply faffing about on foot at ground level is more enchanting than I remember, and that's owed to how lively and ramped up everything now is around Peter Parker. Central Park feels moody, Times Square feels gauche, and, much to my own delight, that Rykers Island run-in feels gorgeously chaotic.
I've written before about how Rykers Island was my favourite part of Spider-Man, but everyone will have their own best memories of the base game as they relate to its action and narrative. Reliving these moments has been a total joy, and, given the fact I've replayed Spider-Man twice already – once ahead of the Miles Morales offshoot, and again at the turn of this year – I've been pleasantly surprised by just how much I've enjoyed refilling the shoes of Peter Parker in his bid to beat the Sinister Six.
Primarily, this is, of course, a sign of a good game. But I think it also speaks to the wider expectations the industry has and continues to set with regards to remakes and remasters. Generally speaking, quick reskins no longer cut the mustard, and I'm genuinely still disappointed by how poorly Silent Hill 2's PC port was handled almost 20 years ago. The aforementioned God of War's near-flawless jump to desktops this year, on the other hand, is an especially pertinent example of a PC remaster done right; as is Horizon Zero Dawn's 'Complete Edition' of 2020. The Resident Evil 2 remake of 2019 set the benchmark for horror remakes – which has in turn set the stage for other ambitious ventures such as The Last of Us Part 1, System Shock, Dead Space, Layers of Fears, and Resident Evil 4 to name but a few.
With other modern remasters in mind, I reckon GTA 5 on PS5 has two crowning features: load times and DualSense haptic feedback. The latter is so good that it's sorely missed on GTA 5 and GTA Online's PC counterpart – which is why having it here with Spider-Man on PC feels like a real boon. Feeling the weight of every punch, every web blast, and every manhole cover smashed into the skull of a faceless goon in your hand adds an extra layer of credibility to combat and exploration – to the point where I'm still amazed by how something so superficial can change so much about how a game feels.
The most obvious downside of Marvel's Spider-Man on PC in its current state is how demanding it is. In order to experience Peter Parker's adventure in 'Ultimate Ray Tracing' mode – that's 4K @60fps on ultra settings – you'll not only need a top-tier graphics card and processor, but a sizeable 32GB of RAM. The game's official system requirements say you can drop down to 16GB of RAM for its 'Amazing Ray Tracing' mode, and I reckon that should be your bare minimum for the best experience. In the interest of testing the game across more than one machine, I ran Spider-Man via Steam on my gaming laptop which boasts an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card, but a meagre 12GB of RAM. To be fair, it held its own for the most part in 'Very High' settings (one below 'Amazing'), but this is all stuff to consider before jumping in.
Very similar to the likes of God of War, it really is amazing how little Marvel's Spider-Man seems to have aged. Remastered with a scale and polish – a thorough and technically impressive one, admittedly – it feels as much like a new game than a four-year-old classic, and, assuming you have the hardware to handle it, I really can't recommend that newcomers take it for a spin in 2022 enough. And even if you've soared through the skies as Spidey multiple times before, this is the best it's ever looked. Perhaps it's time to strap on the mask once more.
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