New to Out of Lives as a guest author is Alfred Rome. Here he takes a moment to give us his thoughts on the upcoming Spider-Man game from Insomniac.
So if you haven’t heard the news already, it was revealed at Sony’s E3 presentation that the awesome Insomniac Games (Ratchet & Clank, Sunset Overdrive) are working with Marvel and Sony to bring us an all-new Spider-Man game exclusive to the Playstation 4, a bold move?
Before we jump into the good stuff let’s talk about where Spider-Man has been going wrong with his foray into Video Games!
I’ll put it bluntly.
Activision has been the problem with Spider-Man games, at least in the past few years. I’ve often thought that they didn’t truly value the license, the last decent Spider-Man title was in 2008 with Web of Shadows. I loved this game I thought it was great, the combat was fun, the story was interesting and importantly it was fun to get around the city (you know what I’m talking about).
After WoS the development of Spider-Man games was handed off from Treyarch to Beenox, now Beenox had had some experience with Spider-Man titles, mainly that they would port Treyarch’s games to different platforms… And that’s about it up until this point.
Beenox went on to deliver some perfectly fine Spider-Man games. Well, they did an okay one, a crappy one and then more two crappy ones.
Let’s look at the okay one and the first crappy one:
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (2010) and Spider-Man: Edge of Time (2011)
Now full disclosure I’ve only played Shattered Dimensions and that was six years ago so I’m a bit fuzzy on it, I remember it being fun (I think) but then again it can’t have been that great if I’m not remembering it so maybe it wasn’t that good? Ooo Now that’s a plot twist.
The game focused on four versions of the titular wall-crawler, the traditional Amazing Spider-Man, the Ultimate comics Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099 and an (at the time) new addition to the Spider-Verse; Spider-Man Noir. You would play through various locations relative to the dimensionally separated Spider-Men, facing off against some classic villains from the comics in an effort to acquire pieces of a ‘Shattered’ McGuffin… Or something to that effect. The gameplay was pretty great with each of the Spiders having their own unique play styles, it was also pleasing to the eye as with the gameplay the visuals were suited to each of the Arachnid-Men (bit of a stretch, how many ways can I say Spider-Man/Men?) there was the occasional bug, namely with the camera but it didn’t take away from the fun.
Turning the page we get to Spider-Man: Edge of Time a kind of sequel to Shattered Dimensions, Edge of Time stripped away two of the web swingers, among other things, and left us with the classic Amazing Spider-Man and his future counterpart Spider-Man 2099.
Its plot is something I won’t get into, it’s an odd time travel story and an alternate timeline or two. Edge of Time traded in the cool visuals of the previous title for some a mind-numbingly dull aesthetic, as was the combat and sadly the general gameplay was also traded in for some soul-destroyingly repetitive ‘go here, punch them, break this’ “fun”.
After it got some less that okay reviews, Activision seemed to say “Hey Beenox stop trying to be original and make these movie tie-ins!”
Come to The Amazing Spider-Man (2012).
A seriously disappointing tie-in game to the equally disappointing film of the same name. And then two years later we got the only slightly better but somehow also worse Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). So what went wrong with these games? Well, lot’s of things, I could write an entirely separate piece on the travesty that is The Amazing Spider-Man movie tie-in games but I’ll keep it short. Firstly it has to do with the material that they’re based on those two movies are less than good.
It also comes down to some extremely mediocre and frankly lazy game design; in the first game you simply held the right trigger to web-swing, and while it looked cool it didn’t make me feel cool. The gameplay was dull and repetitive beyond belief (especially side missions) and the boss fights aren’t anything to write home about.
In the second game they attempted something new with the web swinging assigning each of Spidey’s hands to the left and right triggers (pretty clever), however that one innovation doesn’t omit the tragedy that is TASM game(s) the poorly copied fighting mechanics from Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham series and the plot that makes no sense piled on top of some beyond dull Peter Parker sections and probably one of the most important points of a Spider-Man game… The city! New York has no life in these games, the NPC’s are a set dressing to an ugly and boxy imitation of New York and for a Spider-Man game to be great it has to feel like it’s worth protecting the people of the city. After all, that’s what Spider-Man is all about, protecting people.
There are two (maybe three depending on who you ask) Spider-Man games that everybody agrees are simply great. You know the two. Yes! That’s right; Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Ultimate Spider-Man (2005).
Now I’ll be first to admit that the combat, in both games, wasn’t the greatest and the story in Spider-Man 2 was a mediocre telling of the film that it’s based on but the both got the important things right.
First of all the city, now by today’s standards they might not hold up so well, but the New York seen in the two games really felt alive. In fact, they still feel more alive than the attempts at New York we got in Beenox’s Amazing Spider-Man games.
On top of that; the web swinging (especially in Spider-Man 2) was excellent, if fact it has yet to be topped. The immense physics based web swinging might be tricky to get into the swing of (pardon the pun) once you master it you’ll really feel like Spider-Man.
And that’s what those games did so well. The made you feel like Spider-Man. So what makes me think Insomniac can do right by the friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler?
Quite simply Sunset Overdrive.
Yes, I know Insomniac have a truly awesome catalogue of games under their belt but it’s 2014’s Sunset Overdrive that truly gives me hope for the as yet untitled Spider-Man PS4 game.
If you haven’t played Sunset then you either don’t have an Xbox One to play it on or just didn’t want to and to those people I say shame on you!
Sunset not only looks great and plays well but it is genuinely funny and has some of the most entertaining running and gunning that I’ve experienced in a game. This all reinforced by its eye-popping visual aesthetic and most importantly, especially to a Spider-Man game, traversing the world of Sunset Overdrive is an absolute joy.
Movement is fast and fluid, but it provides ample challenge at the same time; never has getting from point A to B been so energising.
Something I’m sure will make its way into Insomniac’s Spider-Man.
And to make things better Insomniac isn’t tied down to an existing story line. This game isn’t based on the upcoming movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, but is its own unique tale following an experienced Peter Parker through a world “who’s more masterful at fighting big crime in New York City” to quote Bryan Intihar, Creative Director at Insomniac Games.
What gives me, even more, hope that Insomniac’s Spider-Man will be a truly great game is that they know that New York is the driving force behind what Spider-Man does, another quote incoming, “At the same time, he’s struggling to balance his absurdly chaotic personal life and career. All while nine million New Yorkers depend on him for their safety… no pressure indeed” you see! I know, I know it isn’t a whole lot to go on but that trailer got me very excited and Insomniac have such a stellar track record.
I’m sure it won’t be long till we know more about the game, perhaps a release date sometime in the coming months.
This might finally be the Spider-Man game we’ve been waiting for since 2005.
-- Alfred Rome
Spider-Man PS4 Trailer:
Playsation Blog: https://blog.eu.playstation.com/2016/06/14/insomniacs-new-ps4-exclusive-spider-man-game-revealed-watch-the-trailer/
Insomniac’s Website: http://www.insomniacgames.com/games/spider-man-ps4/