Thursday, August 02, 2018
For me personally, one of the most iconic PlayStation games of all time – one that stuck with me the most for a long time, was not Tomb Raider or Gran Turismo 2 or Grand Theft Auto III (although that was up there, of course). It was actually Spider-Man 2. As a Spider-Man fan, Treyarch’s 2004 attempt to get Spider-Man right did just that. The game itself wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it did something that no developer in my lifetime had done to that point: and that’s absolutely nail Spidey’s web-slinging traversal mechanics in a rich open-world.
Arguably, no-one has done it since. Not to that level anyway. That is until now, ladies and gents, for Insomniac has only gone and nailed a completely fresh and unique open-world traversal system once again - as it did in Sunset Overdrive - and based on the first few hours, we couldn’t be more excited about the game's impending launch next month.
Insomniac’s Spider-Man game is a Spidey game like no other. The Ratchet & Clank dev's completely fresh take on the Spidey-verse picks up with Peter Parker and Spider-Man as a bit of a veteran, no longer a photo-journalist working for The Daily Bugle, Parker spends his days in a lab and his evenings fighting crime, as he has done for the past eight years. This is a universe where Norman Osborn is mayor, one full of familiar Marvel locations like Avengers Tower, Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum and the Wakandan Embassy. It’s like nothing we’ve really seen before.
It’s clear from the first few hours the amount of effort that Insomniac has put into the game’s combat and its traversal, both of which are deceptively deep. The traversal – which is an absolute delight, by the way – on the face of it is pretty simple, using only one button, it’s actually quite deep, as is the combat. The free-flowing traversal is just a pleasure and so it wasn’t long before I was whizzing around New York without a care in the world, from springing off street lights to swinging around the corner of buildings.
It may be only a single button in essence that controls all of this - R2 attaches a web to the nearest building or object – but there’s a lot you can do to make it ridiculously fluent by using a number of other buttons, like combining the perch grab (L2 and R2 simultaneously) with a dash boost (X).
As for the combat, well, the biggest compliment I can give it is that it’s the best Arkham clone I’ve come across since Rocksteady perfected the formula years ago. And yes, like the traversal, it’s deceptively deep and will almost certainly get deeper later on in the game as you unlock special moves upon levelling up. Whether you’re talking about the environmental objects or context sensitive moves – like kicking off a wall into an enemy – each combat encounter seems to be different from the last. Heck, you can even play it a wee bit stealthily as well, which was music to my ears!
What is also clear is that while Insomniac might have invested a lot of time into the mechanics of the game and its story, the open-world activities leave a lot to be desired. The activities per se aren’t terrible, they seem to just be rather bland. These side-activities come in the form of crimes to prevent, landmarks to photograph, backpacks to collect and more, which are okay, but they are just that: okay.
While the main storyline and its mechanics shine, the open-world activities stick out like a sore thumb. Because of how the upgrade system works – which requires specific tokens from various open-world activities – the open-world filler content actually becomes essential if you want to fully upgrade ol' webhead. It should be mentioned that there are side missions too, but we didn’t happen across any of those during our time with the game. Fingers crossed they’re worth the wait!
The open-world stuff is a minor complaint for what is shaping up to be a most excellent game. Spider-Man's combat is sublime, as is the traversal, and when combined, it’s a thing of beauty. Even the stuff like the Mary Jane stealth section – that we played – just seemed to work and make sense, which I’m not sure how, considering I feared these sections would seem shoehorned in when I first heard about them.
From a story and pacing perspective the first few hours of Spider-Man are extremely strong, and if the rest of the game continues at that pace, PlayStation 4 owners are going to be in for a hell of an experience come September. And I imagine there’s still a ton of surprises coming our way, to boot. Heck, we still don’t even know who the sixth member of Insomniac’s Sinister Six is yet. Could it be Doc Ock? Green Goblin? We can't wait to find out.
Marvel's Spider-Man is scheduled for a 7th September launch exclusively on PlayStation 4.
Thursday, August 02, 2018 @ 07:56 PM
Friday, August 03, 2018 @ 09:26 AM
Saturday, August 04, 2018 @ 10:57 PM