It’s been a couple of years since we saw Sony reveal Marvel’s Spider-Man to the world. Received to mainly high praise and excitement, the PlayStation 4 exclusive felt the pain of a delay or two and is now mere weeks away from release. Finally.
In development since 2015, Spider-Man sees the return of veteran PlayStation game creators Insomniac Games (Ratchet and Clank, Resistance) to the platform after having spent the last few years going somewhat rogue. From everything we have seen, and what those that have been lucky enough to get their hands on early previews have said, it would appear that the fabled developer has a certified fresh winner on their hands.
Jumping into a world where Peter Parker has already been the web crawler for several years, Spider-Man takes a leaf out of last year’s Homecoming playbook and doesn’t give us a tired old origin story. Instead we are thrown into Parker’s chaotic life trying to balance being a crime-fighter with the start of an actual career in a lab. Taking out The Kingpin early on, Spidey finds himself against a world of new faces trying to take over the territory left ripe for picking after Peter beat down Wilson Fisk. Shocker, Rhino, Scorpion, Vulture, and Mr Negative were all on the call sheet for this one.
While trailers and preview footage have been very cut-scene heavy, what gameplay we have seen displays an ease and a fluidity to everything on screen. Now, this might seem like an obvious thing to say, but when it comes to open world games, traversal of the world is just as important as the story or say, the fighting mechanics. And while fine-tuning the Arkham Asylum style combat to fit the far more agile superhero we have on our hands is definitely going to pay dividends; you need to make getting across these huge cities fun. More so today as technology improvements mean that the worlds just keep getting bigger and bigger. Imagine Prototype, Saints Row IV or Infamous without the ability to scale buildings and fly long distances in a short space of time. It needs to be enjoyable getting from A to B, and Spider-Man appears to follow this rule, with swinging between buildings seemingly effortless; with the ability to flick a web and catapult yourself into the mix from almost anywhere – even typing that last line has a smile on this writer’s face.
Insomniac have form though. 2014’s Sunset Overdrive, while a little repetitive and over-long, had one of the best travelling systems in quite some time with its “grind on everything” approach to world building. Couple this with the studio’s 20 year history of stellar story-telling and their track-record for quality (if we can forgive or forget Fuse – everyone gets one mistake though, right?) and Spider-Man is on track to beat down all who came before him.
In a year that has already had God of War, in Marvel’s Spider-Man we could very well be talking about the best game to hit the Playstation 4 this year.