If you ask most Marvel fans what their favorite Spider-Man game is, most would probably say the Spider-Man 2 game from 2004, and with good reason. The game absolutely nailed the web-swinging mechanic, so much so that no other Spider-Man game came close. That might be about to change though.
Last July 23, UnGeek was invited to Kuala Lumpur by PlayStation to try out a demo of Insomniac Games’ upcoming title, Marvel’s Spider-Man. Also present at the event was Insomniac Games Community Director James Stevenson, who shared his insight on the game’s development process.
One of the first things that Stevenson mentioned is that the team at Insomniac is proud of the game’s story, as it should satisfy Spider-Man fans, all while being a fresh take on the hero as well. Without spoiling anything, the game follows a 23-year old Peter Parker/Spider-Man who works as a scientist. While he has loads of experience as Spider-Man in the story, Peter will still struggle balancing his personal and superhero life, especially later in the game when he faces off against a multitude of villains.
Joining Peter is Mary Jane Watson, who in the game is a reporter for the Daily Bugle (instead of being an actress) and Peter’s on-and-off girlfriend. At some crucial points in the game, MJ will also be playable. Also in Marvel’s Spider-Man are characters such as Aunt May, JJ Jameson, Yuri Watanabe, Miles Morales, the Sinister Six, and many more.
While my time with the game was short, I was very much intrigued by the story, even if I only played through the first few hours. Plus, Insomniac absolutely nailed the characters in this game, especially Peter/Spidey who is still a lovable (and corny) goofball.
So the story is promising, but was the gameplay any good? In a word, yes, you should be excited for this one!
If you’ve seen the gameplay trailers for Marvel’s Spider-Man, you might think that the game will play just like the Batman Arkham series but with Spider-Man. While there are similarities (such as stealth and dodge mechanics), they play very differently. For one, Spider-Man is more fast-paced than Arkham, as Spidey is quicker and more agile than the tank-like Batman. Spider-Man also fights a lot more in the air as he’s able to launch enemies upwards to prevent mobs from swarming him.
Aside from your usual punches and dodges, Spider-Man has a wide range of gadgets at his disposal. Some are combat-focused, while others are helpful for stealth takedowns. All the gadgets won’t be available at the start though, as players will have to unlock them as the game progresses.
Gadgets won’t be the only thing to watch out for, as Spidey can unlock helpful combat, traversal, and stealth abilities. He can also unlock new suits with special abilties; though personally, I found it hard to change from the game’s signature “White Spider” suit as it looks way too cool.
When not in combat, players can explore the game’s open-world with ease thanks to the web-swinging mechanic, which is reminiscent of the 2004 Spider-Man 2 game. The difference between the two games though is swinging is smoother and more fluid this time around. It should also be easier to pick-up-and-play for everyone, though it might disappoint some hardcore Spider-Man 2 fans.
Honestly, I’ll take that trade-off any day. Swinging in this game is a joy; and at some points, I felt like I was watching the original Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies while playing. That’s also because of the amazingly rendered game world of New York City that’s complete with real-world locations such as the Empire State Building, and Marvel icons like the Avengers Tower and the Sanctum Santorum.
Thanks to the exhilarating swinging mechanic, I can see myself just exploring the game world for hours. But of course, there are lots of side quests available. The quests are mostly crimes (robberies, muggins, etc.) happening around New York City that Spider-Man can swoop in and stop. To further reward exploration, collectibles can be found all over the map, which can be exchanged for in-game rewards.
While stopping crime as the web-slinging hero is fun, I initially thought it’ll get old. But I was proven wrong in the demo, as the non-story encounters are unique and have a lot of thought put into them. One memorable instance was when I was just swinging around New York; Spider-Man remarked that a car was going way too fast, moments after I saw a prompt to stop the speeding car. It turns out that stopping the car was a side quest.
So of course I chased after the car, and after some quick-time events and a bit of fighting, I managed to stop it from causing damage to the city. It was a short and fun side quest, but what really wowed me was how organically everything unfolded; it made the game’s world feel alive.
The chase sequence marked the end of my playthrough of Spider-Man, but I didn’t want my time with the game to end there. I still wanted to progress through the story more, and I didn’t want to stop exploring New York City. Sure, the web-swinging might be too forgiving for more hardcore players, but swinging through New York as Spidey has never been this exhilarating and immersive.
To end, I definitely can’t wait for Marvel’s Spider-Man to be released! Judging from my time with the game’s demo, I can say that Insomniac did an excellent job of bringing a unique Spider-Man experience to life, all while staying true to the hero’s identity.
Marvel’s Spider-Man will be released exclusively on the PlayStation 4 on September 7, 2018. Stay tuned here at UnGeek for our full review of Spider-Man!