Review: Spider-Man Remastered for PC and Steam Deck

Wonder‘s Spiderman (2018) has already received a remaster for PlayStation 5 in 2020, and now it has also been remastered for Windows PC with spinoff game Miles Morales to be released on PC later this year. And despite its lustrous shine on two new platforms since its release, it hasn’t aged well. In fact, his celebration of both the police and surveillance states is nothing short of pathetic today. Newcomers could expect a surprise ending in which Spidey discovers and exposes systemic corruption. but Spiderman is still just as superficial as the new coat of paint offered by this remaster: there are criminals and there are civilians, heroes and supervillains and nothing in between.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of Spiderman‘s arrival on Steam storefronts is that it is also playable on the Steam deck. I’ve played it three ways – natively installed, streamed via Steam, and streamed via Moonlight (an app that tends to work better than Steam’s streaming service). Each worked well – even Steam’s streaming option, which hasn’t been as reliable on other games I’ve tried on the Steam deck since I got them a month ago.

Spider-Man swings through Manhattan during sunset in Marvel's Spider-Man on PC

The city skyline might be low-res on Steam Deck, but swinging the nets still pulls it off.
Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Most of the time I chose to play the installed version of the game straight from the Steam Deck so I could play it in offline mode and not have to worry about maintaining a good connection with my desktop PC for streaming. (The Steam Deck doesn’t have an Ethernet jack, so I use a USB-C adapter, but there’s only one USB-C jack on the Steam Deck, and that’s for the power cord.) Few people will be surprised, to experience this that Spiderman can be a battery hog on this device; I mainly played while plugged in. The game also causes the Steam Deck to heat up quite a bit, forcing its fan to compensate. With headphones, however, I hardly noticed the loud pulsing of the fan. I haven’t experienced any crashes or significant lag either.

What I noticed on both Steam Deck and my PC were audio sync issues. I’m not talking about consistent audio lag; That would indicate a problem with my hardware, not the game. Instead, the audio issues were occasional, but just frequent enough to be irritating. For example, Aunt May once asked Peter to do a chore for her—but she asked after Peter had already responded to her request. In another example, I saw Otto Octavius ​​scream silently in frustration, then heard his voice actor scream a full second later, unintentionally making a serious moment funny. Almost every cutscene had at least one audio hiccup along those lines. The game received several updates over the course of the pre-review period. The update released on August 7th included a fix for “Audio syncing, stuttering, and performance issues in cutscenes,” and I haven’t noticed any issues since.

Spider-Man faces a malfunctioning surveillance tower in Marvel's Spider-Man

Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Spider-Man stands next to an undamaged surveillance tower at sunset

Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Another bug I only experienced in the desktop version of the game concerned the watch towers that Peter unlocks throughout Manhattan. On three separate occasions, Peter went to one of the towers and it didn’t trigger the button prompt for me to decode the signal. The third time, instead of giving up and trying another quest, I reloaded my save to see if that would help. After reloading, the entire tower fell out, becoming a terrifying piece of abstract art in the process. As I investigated further, I saw that every single watch tower was similarly mangled. The only thing that fixed it was a full restart of the game. Luckily my entire save file didn’t get corrupted by this bug as unlocking these towers is a basic progression mechanic.

Apart from these small problems, Spiderman plays like a dream and looks good doing it. Swinging through the streets of virtual New York City as Spider-Man feels just as breathtaking in 2022 as it did in 2018 (and 2020); It’s amazing to visit places I’ve been to in real life, recreated here in detail with just a few fun changes (Fisk Tower instead of the Time Warner building and so on). On my desktop with full graphics settings, the city skyline sparkles almost as beautifully as it does in real life, with sunlight dancing off reflective surfaces and between skyscrapers. Even the smaller details make a difference, like the high-definition sweat on Miles’ forehead and the tears welling in his eyes during a crucial scene. (Unfortunately, Miles’ hair doesn’t look as good in this game as it does in Miles Moralesbut the remaster is still on the way.)

Miles' eyes fill with tears during a pivotal moment in Marvel's Spider-Man

Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Otto Octavius ​​looks out over the city skyline and wears his glasses, which reflect the illuminated building in front of him

Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Even with the few bugs I’ve encountered, this remaster of Spiderman is simply the best way to play it, especially on Steam Deck. Outside of the main story missions Spiderman is an overwhelming collectible ton with markers across the map denoting side missions, collectibles, and enemy strongholds associated with various Marvel villains vying for dominance in a sprawling criminal underworld. I fell deep down the collectible rabbit hole and put off fighting crime to collect all of Peter Parker’s backpacks across town. These are the perfect quests to complete while lounging on the couch, half-watching TV, or hanging out with roommates between each in-game task. It might be odd to imagine swinging through Manhattan via the Steam Deck’s low-res screen – if you’re doing story missions, the desktop version will make those cutscenes shine – but between the highly dramatic episodes of Peter’s life, the superhero-cleansing To-do list feels just as satisfying on a handheld.

Insomniac Games will likely clean up the few unpolished aspects of Marvel’s Spider-Man on PC. But there’s one big part of this game that’s not going to change – and it might surprise newcomers. Allow me to quote my former colleague Tom Ley, who wrote a blog post at Deadspin in 2018 entitled “They Turned Spider-Man Into A Damn Cop And It Sucks”:

Spider-Man not only helps the cops by catching armed robbers and jailing deranged supervillains, he also helps them maintain a high-tech, city-wide surveillance network. […] This is a game mechanic that will be familiar to anyone who has played an open-world RPG in the last decade. The towers reveal areas of the game map for players to find additional missions and collectibles. But it’s not necessarily a game mechanic, it’s also a narrative choice and one that has some pretty obvious real-life parallels. The NYPD buying state-of-the-art equipment and software from a seedy tech company owned by a billionaire with, uh, insane tendencies in order to be able to monitor and collect data on citizens is a dystopian but sensible video game plot point. It’s also literally something that happened in real New York City.

Ley had only been playing the game for a few hours when he wrote this post, so he didn’t realize how thematically this aspect runs throughout Spiderman would. It’s not just a side mission or throwaway gag (although there are plenty of gags in which Peter pretends to be a hardened police veteran who calls himself “Spider Cop”). Spider-Man works alongside the police throughout the game, and the widespread police surveillance of the city is presented as a useful resource. Spider-Man isn’t a Queens do-gooder helping his community, but a willing tool of the state. That was odd in 2018, and critics pointed it out at the time – then four more years passed of even more public scrutiny and criticism of police forces in America. 2022, Marvel’s Spider-Man feels even more removed from a true version of an American city.

Also, people keep calling Peter. On the phone! 2018! However.

Miles Morales (left) and Mary Jane Watson (right) talk to their pal Spider-Man (center)

Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Although its crisp new coat of paint is an undeniable upgrade, Marvel’s Spider-Man can’t help but show his age. It reminds me of Brooklyn Nine-Nine – cute, funny and finally spreading a series of convenient lies about the NYPD. That’s why I spent so much more time playing on my steam deck doing chores around town instead of advancing the main story. I’ve visited every single Harry Osborn research station that gives Peter the opportunity to use both his superpowers and scientific know-how to clean up chemical spills and right environmental sins.

More than once have I wished the entire game could be as satisfying as these research stations. But those little side quests don’t advance the plot and offer little in the way of story tidbits or character development. They don’t even put a strain on my graphics card. But they do offer a glimpse of what could have been – a version of Spider-Man helping where and when he can, using not the power of a massive surveillance state, but his own eyes, ears, wits and his own Network. Protection. It’s a lot easier to maintain that illusion on the steam deck if I’m only half paying attention to the plot as I swing through Central Park and rescue a homeless man’s pet pigeons. Spider-Man is supposed to stay small. He’s a friendly neighborhood guy, after all.

Marvel’s Spider-Man will be released on August 12th Windows personal computer The game was verified on PC using a pre-release download code provided by Insomniac Games. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions on products purchased through affiliate links. You can find For more information on Polygon’s Ethics Policy, click here. Review: Spider-Man Remastered for PC and Steam Deck

Charles Jones

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