This week E3 2017 belonged to arguably Marvel’s most iconic character. After the exclusive PlayStation Spider-Man game closed out the industry giant’s press showcase Monday night, the momentum continued onto the E3 show floor as more audiences got up close with a slightly different playthrough in one of Sony’s makeshift theaters. After seeing a bit more of the game this week, we can say Marvel’s Spider-Man is already THE front-runner for 2018 game of the year in our eyes. Not because of the fluid McFarlane like action and dramatic posing or a combat system that properly balances challenge with enjoyment for comic book fans intimidated by overcomplex button combinations; we’re excited for this because Spider-Man from Insomniac is a game that captures who Peter Parker is under the mask.
Being developed by Insomniac Games, the same studio whose lineage includes the PlayStation iconic Ratchet & Clank series and Resistance; Marvel Spider-Man is a bustling open world game that will allow you to explore a gorgeous New York City. You’ll play in a developer created Spider-Man universe but, one that respects the legacy without feeling foreign. At the front of this is “With great power..”, as a 23- year old Spidey who’s been at this for 8 years balancing being a hero with a normal life. Traditional to the character, it seldom works out that way. That vulnerability in the chaos of Peter’s life is the core of the character’s sense of humor fans love and something the developer fully embraces.
Spider-Man’s story will not be a slave to any cannon. Peter is chasing after Martin Li, the head of a gang called the Demons and a man destined to one day become the villain Mister Negative. Because a true Spider-Man story has to have a certain complexity that affects Peter Parker’s personal life, this universe’s Aunt May works at a homeless shelter run by Martin Li. Peter throughout the game will be torn between taking down Li as the villain while still being concerned about him as a man who works for his community. We’ve already seen glimpses of other Marvel characters such as Wilson Fisk and Miles Morales being part of the game in some capacity. Insomniac will not divulge whether or not Spider-Man will be the only playable character as they are still in flux about some aspects.
As we once again watched a playthrough that took a few liberties not seen in the Monday night press conference, it was apparent Spider-Man is a game open to your interpretation of the character. Should players want to crawl in for stealth takedowns or swing into battle head on there are options for both. We saw what happens when you miss a timed event or don’t sneak around to initiate combat. While it’s not a fail state situation, it is fun to hear Parker’s dialogue go from smooth quippy action hero to essentially Shaggy saying “zoiks”.
Insomniac’s game nails what Rocksteady did for Batman, the constant state of the character. Spider-Man is a fidgety character by design and the game definitely utilizes an art is motion style. Everything Spidey does has an acrobatic motion to it, we saw the character get knocked down by one of soldiers from The Demons gane and his kip up seamlessly put the player back in combat. From mannerisms to dialogue, there’s nothing about what Insomniac is doing that lacks understanding, design, or fandom of Spider-Man. Personally, I like the costume. In a Spider-Man universe that’s supposed to be different from anything in canon, it’s the right blend of tradition and legacy. Peter is very much the scientist in the game. Sleek design, different gadgets, web ware in the suit all fit the look Insomniac have gone for. Not every super hero game needs to have customizable parts, especially if a developer have a concise vision for the story they want to tell. While we’re certain unlockable variant outfits will be in the game, I’d be perfectly okay with taking Insomniac’s journey under the mask and white spider.
Marvel SPIDER-MAN will launch in 2018 exclusively for the PlayStation 4.