As a playground for one of the most idiosyncratic superheroes of all time, Marvel's Spider-Man is sheer bliss. It's a sandbox platformer first and foremost, and a damn good one. Throughout playing the game I was constantly hounded by the question of whether this—sublime superhero traversal in a gorgeous, idealized version of New York—were enough. After countless hours later spent cleaning up every last icon on the map, I'm convinced they are.
A worthy successor to the first game, bigger in almost every way but without an inch of space wasted. But as it's grown in size and ambition, so too has the gulf between the herculean feats of strength Juan is asked to perform and the incomplete feeling of the universe he's doing so to save.
Its best parts feel basic in all the best ways, both classic and modern at the same time. It never made good on the dream of seeing another more tragic, more complicated side of Master Chief, but years later, through endless updates and balance patches, it's made good on the promise of its multiplayer. Even if that were all that Halo 5 was, at this point that would still make it a very good game.
Battles were raging and allies were calling for help, but for once the game offered me the option of deserting the fray and contemplating the larger world around it. It's a shame that everything else in the game works so emphatically against it.
Even the most clumsy and gnarled duel will achieve moments of greatness. And when two experienced players operating on the same wave-length begin stringing together slashes, parries and counter-attacks in an unbroken chain, the resulting exchange feels as much like a choreographed ballet as a fight to the death…if ballets ended with severed heads flying into the orchestra.
Instead of surviving Salt and Sanctuary's horrors by obsessively dissecting them, liberation comes as a result of being able to execute ever more deft acrobatics with a few simple twitches. In this way, the game helps us learn to shed the burden of realism by flattening it, reducing its physical and emotional details into obstacles that can be overcome with the flick of a button.