With E3 looming like the bulging behemoth of gaming goodness it is, one thing you can put your money on is more info on Insomniac’s Playstation 4 exclusive Spider-Man game.
Since it was announced at last year’s E3, we’ve had barely anything else revealed to us – leaving Spider-Fans chomping at the bit for more details. Before all is revealed in just a few short weeks, here are five things we’d love to see in the new Spider-Man game.
1. Adult Peter Parker/Spider-Man
This one is fairly safe to assume due to the synopsis on Insomniac’s official site – “This is an experienced Peter Parker who’s more masterful at fighting big crime in New York City”. Taken at face value this could just allude to the fact we’re not getting an origin story (excelsior!) but Spidey’s voice in the trailer doesn’t seem to have much adolescence in it.
What is so exciting about this prospect is that outside of the comics, and to a certain extent the original Raimi trilogy, we’ve not seen a lot of Parker balancing his crime-fighting habits with the pressures of adult life. I’m not saying that I’m hoping for a bonus game involving Spidey’s mortgage application, but we could see a Spider-Man that has more emotional depth and a lot more to lose should he fail. Given that the developers have categorically stated this will be completely unrelated to this year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, an adult Peter Parker gives them a much broader canvas to differentiate themselves with.
2. Realistic Web-Swinging
This one is make or break for me. In the game-of-the-movie: Spider-Man 2, one of the main selling points, other than the open world, was that when you fired out a line of webbing to swing from, there had to be a building there for it to attach itself to. In previous games, your webs would cling to an invisible ceiling in the sky but Spider-Man 2’s introduction of ‘real’ web-swinging added a fantastic physical element to an otherwise rudimentary way of traversing the game.
The feature was highly praised, but inexplicably removed a few games down the line and has yet to resurface. This could be down because the rights to the game have changed hands multiple times over the years, but the feature was only added to the game by developer Jamie Fristrom because he thought it made more sense. And it does. Forget about the dated graphics, play Spider-Man 2 or Ultimate Spider-Man and just swing through New York, then try and tell me I’m wrong.
3. Crimes That Mean Something
Part of what makes Spider-Man such an endearing character is how relatable he is. He’s not an all-powerful alien, nor is he bestowed with infinite riches to buy hi-tech gadgets; he’s an everyman, just like you or me. Part of his appeal is that when he isn’t saving New York from one of his many nemeses, he’s stopping bank robberies, muggings and other petty criminal acts.
In previous games, such as the aforementioned Spider-Man 2, random cries for help could be heard allowing you to swing into action (pun fully intended). However, the ‘crimes’ would either involve repeatedly punching a car roof to stop a getaway or retrieving a balloon for a whining brat. The lack of variety gets very old, very quick and given the lack of consequence you start to ignore them. But what if when you ignored these crimes, the level of injustice in the city rose and therefore made the over-arcing story more difficult? Morality systems are nothing new in videogames but never has it been more thematically appropriate than with Spider-Man.
4. Less ‘Button-Bashy’ Combat
Spidey loves getting stuck in and having a good old-fashioned punch-up. But the combat in some of his past games has been so overly repetitive, you just end up hammering the attack button and moving on. In some instances, as you progress through the game you’ll unlock new and exciting combos to use against your foes. After a while though, the complex button commands become too much and you find that mashing the same button again and again provides the same results.
It’s been well-documented how Arkham Asylum redefined the superhero genre and how other titles have copied the blueprints it laid down and rightly so – it’s a phenomenally well put together game. The new Spidey shouldn’t be afraid to borrow from Arkham, especially in regards to its combat system. The ‘free-flow’ combat system introduced in Arkham, or something in that vein, would lend itself to Spider-Man perfectly. One attack button, one dodge/Spidey Sense button and a ‘takedown’ button allowing for an elaborate ‘webbing-up’ of your enemies. Simple, yet effective. Don’t overcomplicate this please, Insomniac.
5. An Engaging Story
As mentioned earlier: Insomniac stated from the get-go that this will be completely detached from the cinematic Spider-Man. Having no movie studios to appease, the developers have the freedom to pick and choose from Spider-Man’s extensive comic book history and draw (pun intended, again) inspiration from. Kraven’s Last Hunt. Maximum Carnage. The Gauntlet. There are so many iconic Spidey moments to choose from that can be adapted and manipulated to fit the videogame medium but Insomniac needs to do more than just that.
Using Arkham as an example again (because why wouldn’t you?) the narrative played such a huge part in the game’s success. Using the asylum itself as a plot device allowed new characters and gameplay mechanics to be introduced as the player progressed to new areas. Spider-Man has arguably as great a rogues gallery as Batman does so there stands no reason that Insomniac can’t flesh out their characters as much as Rocksteady did. Doing so makes the story mean so much more and gives the player a reason to care which, in turn, makes the game infinitely more enjoyable.
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