At Sony’s press conference Monday night, Insomniac Games gave PlayStation fans a special look at a slice of their Spider-Man game. It brought in Marvel’s incarceration staple, The Raft. A prison island that houses some of the most heinous villains. We got our first glimpse of quite the sinister bunch from Spider-Man’s rogues gallery; Electro, Rhino, Scorpion, Vulture. After downing the helicopter Spider-Man rode in on, Electro freed a bunch of prisoners, Rhino and Scorpion among them. Spider-Man proclaimed that he was “trapped in a prison with every villain he’s put away in the last eight years.”
The demo showed off a particularly intense wall run chasing Electro. It really gave you a feeling that you won’t be able to simply rely on your Spidey sense to mash a button at the right time. It’ll only be a tool in the game that helps players perfect the timing of dodging attacks. Spider-Man makes it up to a helicopter landing pad, where Rhino, Vulture, and Scorpion joined them. Mister Negative then showed up in a helicopter. This led to a wild cut scene brawl where you get the snot kicked out of you only to end on a cliffhanger of Spidey nearly fading out and glimpsing a mysterious figure saying “Wait… You?”
We talked to Marvel Games head honcho Bill Rosemann after the event and playing Spider-Man. The team at Marvel were blown away by Insomniac’s level of creativity in giving classic characters new looks while still keeping them grounded in Marvel lore. Rosemann pointed out how Insomniac incorporated Electro’s mask look from the comics through the scars on the face of the character in the game version. They form the lightning style mask we know and love but serve to make the character look like someone you don’t want to mess with.
That’s where the presentations demo ended but we got a bit of hands-on time with a different special made E3 demo after the presentation. Our demo literally drops players in mid swing around New York City, holding down the R2 button, while tapping X would give Spidey a speed boost for even quicker traversal. It’ll take you a second to get into the rhythm of holding the R2 button during a swing then letting go to release the line and quickly hit it again to shoot your next swing web. Simply holding down the button only makes you look as ridiculous as Toby Maguire learning to swing in that first movie.
You’ll notice Spidey can only swing in places where buildings are so players can find themselves in a park or other low ceiling areas having to huff it on foot. Though it doesn’t mean you’re grounded for long as you can zip web to the top of a street light or traffic signal while simultaneously pressing x at the right moment launches Spidey back into the air.
Combat is the other big part of the Spider-Man experience. Throwing hands is as simple as mashing the square button to begin with and occasionally hitting triangle to web kick thugs. It’s in how you incorporate Spider-Man’s web gadgets which gives you that bad-ass feeling. I got to do the section of gameplay we first saw one year ago at E3 where Spider-Man has to take down a group of Kingpin’s mercenaries. You’ll be able to go full action hero or stealth approach, for the sake of looking at combat I went in webs blazing. There’s a Todd McFarlane fluidity to the character during combat. One enemy tries to bash you with a shield and we used the dodge button to slide under him and web kick him in the back of the head. Even the environment can be utilized as a weapon by web lining scaffolding and bringing it down on a group of opponents or web throwing back stun grenades tossed by the mercs.
The boss battles are what’s going to define this game when it’s released and so far their off to an awesome start. Towards the end of the demo, we interrupted The Shocker in the middle of a bank heist. Like any boss should be, he can’t simply be punched into submission. Spidey has to use his agility to dodge a barrage of rapid attacks until you find an opening to lob a heavy projectile your opponent’s way. Insomniac mentioned, each boss battle in the game would be unique and some would not adhere to a simply figuring out the pattern fight.
Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4 is a cocaine-fueled kinetic level of fun. Not only do you move and fight like a Marvel Comics splash page but the game is nuanced to put you in the dichotomy that makes this character special. As we moved through New York, some of the bits of dialogue were about stopping crimes in progress while other bits were clues into Peter Parker’s jumbled life. Insomniac and Marvel Games are on the right path to delivering a game that can only be described by using some sort of chef kiss rating scale.
Marvel’s Spider-Man launches for exclusively for PlayStation 4 on September 7, 2018.