2018 had a bunch of fantastic games, and one of the absolute highlights was undoubtedly Peter Parker’s Playstation Party. Well, it’s 2022 now, and it’s time to add another P to the alliterative list, with Insomniac’s modern classic making its way to PC.
If you’re in the crowd that didn’t own a PS4, or indeed a PS5, but have a beefy gaming rig, then allow me to point you to our original review on the site. Needless to say, most of my thoughts from then still hold up today. I would say, however, that 2020’s Miles Morales is a better game, even though it’s much shorter than this one.
The PC release hits a while after the PS5 remaster, and for all intents and purposes, it’s exactly the same game, but with even more bells and whistles. Insomniac did some sterling work on the PS5 to get the game running with Ray Traced reflections and a solid frame rate on Sony’s new machine, but what happens when you throw a ton of horsepower at it to go one step further in the PC Master Race?
Well, for starters, you can achieve full native 4k at 60 frames per second. The specs are punishing, sure, but if you’ve got a machine capable, you can hit the magic number with relative ease. Of course, there are a ton of settings to tweak and tinker with until you hit the target, but in my system (R5 3600 with an RTX 3080), I was able to max everything out bar Ray Tracing and get a smooth frame rate with a native 4k output. Coupled with HDR, and it becomes a visual spectacle all over again. Of course, DLSS works its magic here as well, as does Insomniac’s own temporal injection upscaling (IGTI), which works in a similar way. (RESULTS SCREENS) You can see the results here, ranging from Ultra Quality to Ultra Performance.
It’s when you start flicking on the RT options that you’ll really know that your system is flexing its muscles though. From my testing, it looks like the three options (Medium, High and Very High) primarily apply to the distances that are affected by the ray tracing. Of course, you’ll be able to recreate that moment in Amazing Spider-Man where you leap toward a window and see your own reflection, but unless you turn on Very High, you’ll notice cars popping out of view in mirrored surfaces. The big problem here is that it’s a huge resource hog. I suspect that part of the problem may be that I may be CPU bound in some instances, as even dropping down to 1080p from 4k shows a big dip in frame rates at times. Of course, this could be that the game is simply far too demanding for all but the most expensive of cards on the market right now. Even at the lowest setting, though, the effect is far ahead of the built in screen-space reflections, giving a more accurate sense of depth when you take a minute and stop to smell the roses. Y’know, while you’re 50 stories up in the air.
Jumping back to the gameplay for a moment, and there’s something that does feel distinctly “2018” about it all. When you compare this to its proto-sequel from 2020, there are moments that seemed out of place four years ago, let alone in 2022. The instant-fail stealth sequences are the main culprit here, and it’s an area I picked up on with my original review. When you’re playing as Peter, you can often escape before the enemies fully spot you. However, when playing as MJ and other characters, you’ll probably see the “Mission Failed” screen a few times before you can get the chance to progress. It’s a frustrating blot on an otherwise sterling game. Another nitpick is that some of the side-content feels more than a little superfluous at this stage. On the flip side, the remaster also includes the “City that Never Sleeps” DLC in all its glory, as well as all of the extra suits that were made available throughout the game’s lifespan. So yes, you can play through the entirety of the game in Tobey Maguire’s suit if you see fit.
With all that being said, there is one thing that makes this remaster suddenly seem like a bit of a miracle. Enter the Steam Deck. Valve’s handheld PC is making waves in the hardware space right now, and rightly so as it’s a phenomenal piece of kit. When I got the email to confirm that the latest build was Deck compatible, we jumped at the chance to get it installed and give it a go. And honestly, it’s incredible. You’re not going to get 60fps with everything maxed out, let’s just put that out there, but what you do get is a remarkably playable version of one of the PS4’s crowning achievements. In your hands. On the go. Performance ranges from 30 to 60 frames per second as you play through, but we never saw it dip below 30 during our testing. You can cap the frame rate if you want to avoid the fluctuations, but even without one being applied, it’s a simply ridiculous proposition. Of course, it may tank your battery if you do decide to play it on the bus, but what a world we live in where this is a viable prospect, when four short years ago this was causing people’s PS4s to sound like jet engines.