Spider-Man Remastered PC: Web-slinging masterpiece

PC gamers, rejoice: You can now play one of the best superhero video games around with Insomniac’s Spider-Man Remastered swinging its way onto PC this month.

Spider-Man Remastered was first released on PlayStation 5 in 2020, an updated version of Insomniac’s 2018 PlayStation 4 game. The PC port has been handled by Nixxes Software, a 20-year-old Dutch company re-knowned for its magic touch when it comes to taking console titles and porting them to PC.

Insomniac’s Spider-Man sees the titular superhero have to save New York from Mister Negative, a crime-lord who threatens to release a deadly virus upon the city. As Spider-Man battles Mister Negative and his plans, Spider-Man also faces off against a number of well-known enemies from comic book lore – Scorpion, Rhino, Electro – while also tackling the personal issues facing his civilian identity, Peter Parker.

Sony, clearly impressed by the work that Nixxes was capable of, bought the company in July 2021 and as well as Spider-Man Remastered, Nixxes has been responsible for the PC ports of Deus Ex Human Mankind Divided, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Marvel’s Avengers and Rise of the Tomb Raider.

The PC version of Spider-Man Remastered promises increased graphics performance using dedicated Tensor Core AI processors found only on GeForce RTX GPUs, nVidia DLAA (Deep Learning Anti-Aliasing), an AI-based anti-aliasing mode for GeForce RTX gamers, a wide range of display ratios, including ultra-wide 21:9, panoramic 32:9, and nVidia Surround multi-monitor setups as well as graphical features such as SSAO (Screen Space Ambient Occlusion), texture filtering, LoD quality, shadows, and more. 

It also comes with the City That Never Sleeps additional downloadable content which features three missions (The Heist, Turf Wars and Silver Lining) and the now obligatory – and welcome – photo mode (I’ve posted some of my best images at the bottom of this post).

I played Spider-Man Remastered on a PC that while a good performer on the CPU front (it has a 11th generation Intel i5 11600K) it isn’t packing a modern generation GPU like one of nVidia’s RTX series cards. Sadly, I’m still running an AMD RX580 with 8GB of VRAM, so to say I was a little nervous was an understatement. My monitor is an LG 27GL650F running at 1080p 144hz.

However, dear reader, I am pleased to announce that Nixxes has done sterling work with Spider-Man Remastered as I experienced an almost dream play through of the game, using the high graphics preset across the board (Recommended hardware and automatically selected by the game), returning stable frame rates and only delivering one crash that forced me to restart the game.

The game auto-detected the High graphical settings preset for my AMD RX580 GPU.

I am surprised my RX580 performed so well, to be honest, as I expected it to be like a slideshow at times, with the ageing silicon hampering my enjoyment of the game – but it didn’t. That said, my workhorse GPU can’t trace rays so I couldn’t test out the ray tracing goodness, unfortunately, so if there any GPU companies or PR people that feel like being generous and would like to send me a nice shiny graphics card to test out so I can experience the game how it was meant to be with all the graphical bells and whistles, you can reach me at gamejunkienz@gamejunkienz…

OK, back to the game.

Traversing New York as the web-slinging crime fighter is just as enjoyable on PC as it was when I played the game on my PlayStation 5.

While I could have used mouse and keyboard, it just felt more comfortable using a PS5 Dualsense controller and developer Insomniac has really nailed the sensation of skimming between buildings by a web strand, and it’s probably on par with the excellent swinging mechanic found in Activision’s Spider-man for the Nintendo GameCube.

Footage captured from my PC play through of Spider-Man Remastered (high settings). Captured using Microsoft’s Xbox Gamebar for PC.

According to FRAPs, doing fairly pedestrian tasks like wandering around Doctor Octavius’ laboratory delivered frame rates in the high 90s, while in combat and general game play frame rates tended to hover close to 60 frames per second, dropping to the mid-50s at times.

The lowest I saw the frame rate drop was into the mid-30s but only for a few moments. I experienced the odd stutter from time to time while web-swinging but nothing that affected enjoyment and I’m sure if I had dropped graphical settings to medium frame rates would have been even higher.

AMD’s own Adrenalin software monitoring program advised an average frame rate of 58.1 frames per second (using the latest 22.5.1 drivers.)

Not content with that I also monitored performance with Xbox’s PC game bar, which saw GPU usage dropping to as low as 27% during less strenuous moments, going all the way up to 100% utilisation during heavy combat (and the GPU’s fans sounded like they were working hard, too)I. The CPU was clocking in at around 4.10Ghz most of the time.

There’s no new content here just for PC: This is the same game that console players got to enjoy a couple of years ago and if you’re a completionist there is a shitload of collectibles and side tasks to keep you busy while you’re not giving the smack down to crime syndicates and bad guys (backpacks, missing pigeons, photos at landmarks, science laboratories).

You can probably tell by now that in my humble opinion this is an absolutely brilliant port of an absolutely brilliant PlayStation game. Along with the Batman Arkham series, this could quite possibly be one of the best superhero video games of all time and despite having played this before on PS5, I enjoyed the chance to play through it again.

Once again, Nixxes has shown it is masters of its craft and the fact that more PC players can now play some of the best games from PlayStation consoles is nothing but good for the industry. With the RX580, textures on Spider-Man himself and other key characters (not NPCs) were crisp and detailed, especially his suits (as you can see in a couple of the images below), and I didn’t experience any environmental pop-in as I swung around the city.

To be honest, the only thing I want to know from Insomniac, Nixxes & PlayStation right now is … how long do we PC players have to wait to see Spider-Man Miles Morales on PC as I need as much advance notice as possible to ensure I have a new GPU that can trace all them sweet, sweet rays …

A selection of photos using the game’s photo mode

A big thank you to PlayStation NZ for the early review copy of Spider-Man Remastered. At time of writing this review I had put 30 hours into the game, completed 70% of the main story, done several side missions and collected multiple backpacks.

Sunset Overdrive review: grind, baby, grind

sunset-overdrive-e3-rollercoaster-1-jpg

Sunset Overdrive is all about keeping on the move.

It’s about grinding, bouncing, flipping and jumping – and thankfully, the game world is full of rails, fences and wires to help you do that.

It’s also full of cars, canopies and other objects that let you bounce to reach the wires and fences that you’ll grind along. Sunset Overdrive is a game that encourages you to stay off the ground. The game’s disembodied voice announcer reminds you as much several times during the game.

Importantly, though, Sunset Overdrive is fun. Lots and lots of fun.

I mean, how can grinding along a power line, jumping off and bouncing off an umbrella then wall running the side of a building – all the while blowing up mutants with a toy teddy bear strapped with TNT not be fun?

Sunset Overdrive reminds me of lots of other games: Crackdown, the Tony Hawk series, Jet Set Radio, Bulletstorm, even the classic Tower Defence, but it’s tone is dramatically different from developer Insomniac’s last game, Resistance 3.

sunset-overdrive-blower-OD-jpgYeah, both have mutants that are out to get you in it but where Resistance 3’s setting was dark, brooding and scary at times, Sunset Overdrive’s locations are brightly coloured, almost playful environments, and, dear I say it, almost cheery despite the mutated humans taking over the city.

Set in 2027, the game’s mutants are called The OD (Over Dosed) after they consuming a bad batch of Fizzco’s new energy drink Overcharge at a launch party. The OD come in a variety of forms: Poppers have heads that expand then explode, like a pus-filled pimple, when they’re close to you; The Blower has an arm that fires out green acid; the Gunker can freeze its surrounds. There’s also other monsters (a giant one seems to have digger buckets for a left hand), as well as rival human gangs that survived the Overcharge incident, called Scabs.

Sunset Overdrive has a humourous tone to it – it doesn’t take itself too seriously – but it was a bit annoying that the game felt it had to remind me sometimes that it was a video game within a video game. I know that it’s an escape from reality so I don’t need the game’s makers to tell me that.

The weapons are inventive enough, too. The TNTeddy fires, well, teddy bears with explosives attached to them. There’s a weapon that fires old vinyl records. There’s another one that freezes enemies so you can drop down and smash them to tiny pieces. I got completely confused how to use the weapon upgrades called Amps but a nice touch is that sometimes when you blow up something, say a swollen-headed Popper,  the word “boom”or “pop” is spelled out in the orange explosion. It’s a nice touch.

Talking of nice touches, I really like the re-spawn sequences when you die. Insomniac weren’t content with just re-spawning you on the same spot, in the same way, no. When you die in Sunset Overdrive – and you will (whether it’s because you miss-timed the jump from one grind rail to another on an apartment building or you’re overwhelmed by OD) the re-spawn animations are different: One time you’ll pop out of a phone box doing a karate kick, another time you’ll be dropped from a UFO, yet another time you’ll rise from a sarcophagus and do a mummy walk. It just reinforces the light-hearted approach Insomniac have taken here.

sunset-overdrive-e3-amusement-jpgIf I have one fear for Sunset Overdrive it’s this: That its multitude of fetch quests and samey mission structure, could get tiresome after after a few hours. I mean, there’s only so much grinding, bouncing, and flipping you can do on the way to yet another fetch quest before you’ve had enough.

To be honest, it’s taken a while for decent exclusives to appear on the Xbox One, but just like the recently released Forza Horizon 2, it seems the Xbox One is now starting to come into its own as a games machine.

Owners of Microsoft’s machine now have something else to cheer about.

Xbox NZ kindly provided a digital copy of Sunset Overdrive for this review. 

Note: I haven’t had time to check out Sunset Overdrive’s Chaos Mode, an online mode for up to eight players but when I get the chance, I’ll give it a whirl. 

Sunset Overdrive launch trailer: Apocalypse in a multi-coloured world

Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive is set for release in a few days on the Xbox One console (yes, Insomniac once used to be a Sony-only developer) so Xbox have dropped the launch trailer for the game.

Taking place in a Sunset City, a brightly coloured world that has gone to hell in a handbasket after the launch of a new energy drink from Fizzco went horribly wrong (not really a spoiler alert: It turned those that drank it into orange mutants called the OD), the game stars you – yes, you – as hero, who can grind, jump, bounce, twirl and flip his way around the city as he gets to grips with what has happened.

Look, check out the launch trailer here to see for yourself.

Be warned, though, if your ears hurt when you hear anyone say the swear word that rhymes with Truck, then best you cover your lugs near the end. That word is said (but only once).

The game’s out next week, I think.

Sunset Overdrive: fizzy drink, exploding teddy bears and explosions

Insomniac – the once PlayStation-only developer behind the Resistance and Ratchet and Clank series – apparently teased Sunset Overdrive – its Xbox One exclusive open-world action game – at last year’s E3. I can’t remember whether it did or not.

It matters not, though, as today it released a game play trailer of its new game – and my ears are perked and my interest piqued.

Yee, haa: Taking the hurt to some mutants with a gun seemingly called the Captain Ahab.

Yee, haa: Taking the hurt to some mutants with a gun seemingly called the Captain Ahab.

Set in 2027, the game details what happens when a greedy company FizzCo inadvertently turns the population of Sunset City into deranged mutants after the launch of its new soft drink, Overcharge Delirium XT. Those that have been transformed are called the OD’D.

FizzCo puts the city under lock-down as more and more people become addicted to the energy drink. Seventeen days after the incident,  you’re still locked in the city, along with other survivors in a variety of factions.

The trailer shows how players can chain together parkour moves, use ziplines and grind on rails to take on the mutant hordes. The world looks bright and colour and it looks like it’s a mix of games like Jet Set Radio, Prince or Persia and maybe Saints Row, especially when it comes to some of the crazy weapons on offer.

Look out, Herker about: This enemy is called a Herker - and it looks angry.

Look out, Herker about: This enemy is called a Herker – and it looks angry.

One weapon fires roman candle fireworks, another fires limited edition vinyl LPs and yet another fires small teddy bears strapped with dynamite. Just watch the trailer: You’ll see what I mean.

Something I liked from the trailer is the way respawns are handled when you died. The video shows the player being dropped from a UFO, tossed from a moving van and popping out from a coffin, doing a stupid mummy walk. There’s a lot of humour going on here.

From what I’ve seen so far, Sunset Overdrive looks like a blast but, of course, there’s plenty of time for it to turn into a generic open-world shooter that we’ve seen too many times before. Here’s hoping not, eh?