Calling all web-heads out there! A new Spider-Man game exclusive to PS4 draws closer on the horizon each and every day, and the most recent trailer for the game was revealed during Sony's presentation at Paris Games Week 2017. We got a more in-depth look at the characters and gameplay elements that were previously unknown.
I'll be the first to admit that this is one of my most anticipated releases for 2018, seeing as we haven't had a top tier Spider-Man game in a few years at least, and this seems to be aiming toward that high status from its first introduction during E3 2016.
Growing up, my favourite game was Ultimate Spider-Man for the Nintendo GameCube. I spent countless hours zipping through New York City and thought that nothing would ever be able to top that experience or thrill in any game that would follow it. Judging from the looks of it, Insomniac Games' Spider-Man may take that mantle away from my favourite game of all time. But only time will tell.
If 2017 has taught me anything in the gaming world, it is to be cautiously optimistic for any new game that is still a good deal of time away from release. As gamers, we must temper our expectations and not let our fascination with the game oversell us on what it is meant to be! To help temper those expectations, we have gathered eight sure-fire reasons why the game will be a hit and seven examples of why we might want to keep our reservations about this title.
Many of the recent video games that feature Spider-Man have tethered themselves to a blockbuster film that comes out around the same time. The two most recent games, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 were both solid games that were developed by Beenox, the studio behind Shattered Dimensions and Edge of Time, which I think are two of the best Spider-Man games of the past few years — although Ultimate Spider-Man will forever be my favourite game. With that said, the failures of the two games tied to the films came because they were unable to explore the ways the character works since they had a plot predetermined for them. Given a small amount of wiggle room, the developers worked with what they had and put out games to lukewarm critical reception. Since the new game is the start of its own narrative, the only way to go is up, especially considering how great of a production staff Insomniac has, but more on that later!
Anyone who has seen any footage or read any of the interviews for this new saga will take note of the fact that this game's Peter Parker is a stark contrast (pun intended) to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Tom Holland. Whereas Tom Holland's Spider-Man is a fresh-faced, young hero coming into his own, Spider-Man on PS4 introduces gamers to a twenty-three year old Peter Parker who has already had almost a decade of vigilante justice under his belt. What this means for gamers is that we are going to see a duality of the character that is still very young, but is someone who has already endured so much in his short time as Spidey. Since the details are still scarce on the game, it is possible to imagine that this Peter has already loved and lost Gwen Stacy and other friends along his life's journey. I'm glad that we got to see MJ in the trailer since that gives us some perspective on where Peter is at in life, more on that later on down the list.
One of my least favourite video game tropes is when the game opens with the character being fully powered and decked out in weapons and gear, only to have them stripped away and slowly earned back over the course of the game. The biggest culprit of this practice in my mind is the Metroid Prime series of Nintendo games. I understand that from a gameplay perspective, its important for the player to know what they are working toward, but it feels unintuitive to say that the player goes back to square one at the start of each game. Insomniac is seeking to remedy this by giving the players access to Spider-Man's abilities from the start. Now, this doesn't mean that he will be fully upgraded, but it will probably pay off by having a diverse series of upgrades that Insomniac is known for. If you still need a little more convincing, look at The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which grants players access to all of the runes/power ups in the game during its tutorial so that the player learns their skills more naturally as the game progresses.
Whenever anyone thinks about Spider-Man, New York City isn't too far behind on that train of thought. Since his original debut in 1926, Spider-Man has always been one of the sworn protectors of The Big Apple, using the skyscrapers and subway tunnels as a way to best use his unique powers of traversal via web. Insomniac, the studio developing the game and best known for the Ratchet & Clank and Sunset Overdrive game series, has been fairly tight-lipped about their rendition of the city, and I think that's a good move. The little that they have spoken on the subject has done much to calm our nerves, thankfully. They said that they know how important it is to have a fully realized city since it is just as much of a character in the grand scheme of things as our hero himself. Moving forward with that mindset is the best way for this game to be developed.
It has been a hot minute since we've seen Mary Jane Watson be Peter's primary love interest on both the big screen and game world. I'm incredibly excited to see how she fits in to the overall story of the game, since the most recent trailer released at Paris Games Week 2017 showed gameplay footage where the player takes control of MJ during what appears to be some sort of heist/robbery/criminal activity.
Miles Morales is uncharted territory when it comes to the mainline Spider-Man video game series, since the character is still fairly new in his own history and journey. Miles' Spider-Man is honestly more interesting and compelling to me as a character because we've seen Peter do just about everything a spider can. I remember when Miles was first shown as the next in line to take the reins of Spider-Man and people were mad. They said, "Why not just create an original character?" and so on and so forth, but that is exactly what his comics tackled. Miles doesn't want to be "the other Spider-Man," he just wants to be Spider-Man, and that is something that I think the game will need to tackle head on and would need to provide for some really fascinating story elements. Does Miles' appearance in the game mean Peter will die? I highly doubt it, and personally feel that this town (or in this case, this game) is big enough for the two of them. Maybe more than just the two of them, but only time will tell.
All eight of the entries on this list could have been based around the pedigree that Insomniac Games carries with them. As a kid, I grew up playing just about every Insomniac game that would come out, from the Ratchet & Clank series, rife with explosions, bolts, and quirky characters, to The Resistance trilogy on PS3, a tense military shooter that reimagined the second world war as an alien invasion. As I, the game industry, and video games as a medium matured, so did Insomniac. In this case, maturity may not be defined as the level of content, but it definitely shows that Insomniac has taken note of gaming trends and found a way to make them uniquely their own. Spider-Man is shaping up to be a true work of art and I for one, am strapping in for the ride that they plan to take us on when the game releases in 2018.
During the late 1980s and throughout the 90s, having the Nintendo Seal of Quality on your game meant something truly special, especially for the first-party games put out by Nintendo themselves. It meant that your gaming experience would be the culmination of work and time by the developer and that Nintendo was proud to stand behind it. In today's age, it seems that Sony has found similar ground for their first-party games. Series like God of War, The Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn, and so many more have proven that Sony is explicitly dedicated to delivering the highest quality gaming experiences on the market. With Spider-Man being a PS4 exclusive, I have no doubt that Sony and Insomniac are ensuring this game will be one worth playing and worth remembering for a long time to come. It seems that their original slogan for PS4 is standing the test of time, because greatness is awaiting.
As with all of the games showcased by Sony during their Paris Games Week conference, the future of PlayStation is seeking to grey the lines between film and game, and this welcome advent of style is the start of a new era of games. From the original Metal Gear Solid on PlayStation, games have begun to show depth and breadth in their cinematic quality. You can even see that evolution in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, where most of the game's cutscenes are "shot" as if they are one long take in a film, with the camera floating between characters without ever changing angles harshly. Quick-time events have been a cheap but effective way to pair power in gaming with elaborate scenes and set pieces, but as games progress, we are starting to see less button mashing and more integrated cutscenes. Look at the original demo for Spider-Man where it ends with him bringing down the helicopter. The falling crane moment is bookended by swinging to it, having a quick time event, and then swinging back into action on a high-speed chase. That is the kind of technique we need to see this game, and others like it, continue to take.
Okay, so I'll be the first to admit it, I am always on the hype train, especially when it comes to characters like Spider-Man or a new Star Wars trailer. Studios nowadays know how to make killer trailers that amp up their audience and leave them chomping at the bit for more. However, I also know how hype trains can derail production and leave its audience unsatisfied and angry (we're looking at you No Man's Sky). I'm worried that since the game still does not have a concrete release date, coupled with the fact that we only know a little about the plot of the game, it's going to give people widely different expectations for what the final game will be. Regardless of that, it is up to Insomniac to prove the naysayers wrong and give us every reason to keep the hype train on its tracks until the game releases — fingers crossed.
Okay, so for this one to make sense, it's time for a little history lesson. Everyone knows that the October-December time slot is a mosh pit of game releases, for better or for worse. Look back at October 27th, 2017, where we saw the release of Super Mario Odyssey, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and Assassin's Creed: Origins all come out on the same day. This over-saturation of games at one time can sometimes spell doom for the fiscal success of a game. Look back at 2016, when EA decided to release Titanfall 2 in between the launches of both Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. It seemed like they literally sent the game out to sea with no hopes of it succeeding and for that reason alone, so many people missed out on a great game. Now the way to remedy this is to do what the zombie-parkour game, Dying Light did back in 2015. The game came out in January, a particularly dry month for game releases, and was the absolute talk of the town because it was released at the right time. It's up to Spider-Man to find the right time to be released, otherwise, it too may get lost at sea among God of War and some other amazing games.
So far, only a small section of the game has been revealed to the public and this seems like it has the potential to be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it is nice that we are getting a very robust and detailed look at one specific section of the game that revolves around Mister Negative. On the other hand, it is starting to become harder and harder to place where in the game these events take place. I have a feeling that Norman Osborn's run for mayor will play a key part in the opening of the game where Mister Negative attacks the rally, but from there, I'm curious as to where all the other sequences of events will come in to play. One of the best things about Spider-Man is his book of rogues which is full of amazingly dynamic and flawed villains. It would be a real shame if we don't get to see more villains in the final game.
Ratchet & Clank has always been the bread and butter of Insomniac Games, and it was great to see them release a reimagining of their first Ratchet & Clank game to coincide with the release of the film based on the game back in 2016. Although the film wasn't very much of a hit, the game proved to be one of the best action platformers in recent memory, and the game was absolutely gorgeous, blurring the lines between a video game and a Pixar film. One of the negatives to the team at Insomniac focusing on a Spider-Man game and new IP means that the Ratchet & Clank series is on hold or could possibly be in development at a satellite studio. Sadly, I think it means that we will still have to wait a few more years to see a followup to one of the best Ratchet & Clank games of all time.
Okay, so lets go through everything we know about the villains of the game so far. As per usual, Wilson Fisk (aka The Kingpin) is running the crime ring in New York City without ever getting his hands dirty, at least in the public eye. This is right in line with The Kingpin's comic book persona. From the latest trailer revealed at Paris Games Week, we also got a very brief look at Shocker as he blasted Spidey away. In most Spider-Man games, Shocker is never really a major threat, and is usually presented as a tutorial boss, so I have a feeling his place in the game will be closer to the start. Norman Osborn is present in the game and running for mayor, so I can only imagine what he has in store. Aside from Mister Negative, that seems to be all of the villains we've seen thus far, and if the final game is bare bones in this facet, then the game may be in trouble.
Spider-Man games can sometimes run into the pitfall of becoming repetitive over time. Granted, this can happen in most games, but the superhero genre is especially prone to this. Even back in the days of Spider-Man 2 on the PS2, hero work would begin to feel like a chore when you had to save the same balloon twelve times in a row. Moments from the trailer seem to echo this idea, especially in scenes like the car chases, which are sure to be abundant in the final game. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on PS4 forced heroism on to the player by having a city meter that must be constantly balanced in fear of Spider-Man being seen as a menace, and that really detracted from the overall flow of the game when you have to repeat the same side mission ad nauseam just so you aren't hunted down. Hopefully Insomniac has taken note of this and knows that for the success of this game, variety must be the spice of life.
I absolutely hate how tight-lipped the studio is being on their version of Miles Morales, and the longer we go on not knowing his role in the game, the more I think it will be a let down. Now maybe I'm wrong, hopefully. I for one, would love to see Miles become Spider-Man at some point in the game and have to go off on his own and face his own trials and tribulations. With modern gaming's conventions, however, that whole story would probably be locked behind a paywall of DLC or preorder content that would spoil the surprise of the character in the game. And I know by saying that I contradict myself, but I am so curious as to how and why Miles and Peter interact that I won't take no for an answer! What do you think Miles' involvement in the final game will be? Sound off in the comments below and thanks for taking the time to read this article.