Our Friendly Neighborhood Cry-Baby
By: Ricardo Suarez
The Electronic Entertainment Expo ended a couple weeks ago. Now that the dust has settled and all the smoke and mirrors have been tucked away and saved for next year, it’s time to dive into what makes one game at Sony’s press conference stand out over the rest.
Be honest, doesn't that look amazing?
Sony had no shortage of game announcements out of this years E3. Although the conference ended with gameplay of Sony Bend’s “Days Gone”, really the final announcement was of a new Spider-Man game developed by Insomniac. Now being the good friend that I am, I wasted no time in informing my friend who is one the biggest Spider-Man fans I have ever known. His reaction was through the roof, but why was that? What about this short new look at a, as of now, unnamed Spider-man game could cause so much excitement? Well for that, we have to look at the past.
Spider-Man is no stranger to the world of video games. There have been plenty of times a developer would look at Spider-Man, notice that he has arguably the most fun powers out of any hero, and make a game of it. Although there are a few gems out there, most Spider-Man games are terrible mistakes that humanity should forget ever happened. No developer was able to take the fast web-slinging chaos that is Spider-Man and translate it in a fun, playable form.
For many years, Activision had owned the rights to Spider-Man games. Activision was tasked to make these games, usually as a tie-in to a Spider-Man movie and as a result, the product would be rushed and fall short of expectations. A good example of this would be the game developed for the release of the first Spider-man movie in 2002. A game that has the player take pictures of Spider-Man as you swing around the city and perform specific actions is not fun. And speaking of swinging around, there were no rules to where you could shoot Spidey’s web. The player could shoot off into the blue and seemingly grab onto the Lord’s fortress in the sky. At least that’s my explanation for it.
Oh my... Why did I play this?
After the trash that was Spider-Man 2002, Activision developed a sequel. Sounded like a bad idea to me. Except, holy crap it’s actually really good. Spider-Man 2,a game many remember fondly, was exactly what everyone wanted in a Spider-Man game. Never before had a game captured what it meant to be swinging through an open city. There was actual momentum to every action you did. If you tucked in Spidey’s legs, he swung faster. If you jumped off a web at maximum speed, the people of New York would have a flying archnid person over their heads.
The gameplay and feel of swinging around New York was enough to have people gloss over the sometimes mundane sidequests plastered around the city (I mean seriously, how many times can this kid lose his damn balloon). However, there was so much more to this game than just swinging around. A skill tree allowed the player to learn more mobility and more combat option than what the game started out with.
The combat in the game was extremely well executed. Spidey would have a list of combos that the player could execute to baddies, not unlike most fighting games. As the player progressed through the story, Spidey can learn more combos and fighting options in the aformentioned skill tree.
After Spider-Man 2, it seemed that the curse of bad Spider-Man games was broken. Except that it wasn’t and thats a dissapointment. No title since Spider-Man 2 has been able to capture that sense of adrenaline that Spider-Man needs. Sometimes very buggy, unfinished, and rushed games have come out since. Ever since 2004, there has been a huge whole in gamer’s and Spider-Man fan’s hearts aching to be filled.
Insomniac Games, best known for their work on the “Ratchet and Clank” series, is no stranger to open-world action games. Their latest release “Sunset Overdrive” is exactly that. Although the sales numbers seem to indicate otherwise, “Sunset Overdrive” was a fantastic game. Traversal through the city was a blast as the player grinds and runs around building tops. The combat was engaging and had over-the-top weapons and enemies that only Insomniac can deliver.
But what does this mean for Spider-Man? This means that there is no team qualified to handle Spider-Man more than Insomniac. Traversal is a huge part of what makes a Spider-Man game great and they nailed that aspect in “Sunset Overdrive”. Combat going as far back as the first “Ratchet and Clank” has always been Insomniac’s forte and there is no reason to believe that Insomniac won’t nail Spider-Man’s combat as well.
Seeing the Insomniac logo at the beginning of the reveal trailer was probably the most important part of the entire trailer. It signals Spider-Man’s evolution from a rushed movie tie-in joke, to something gamers can take seriously. The news that this won’t be a movie tie-in and that Marvel is starting to treat their gaming IPs seriously is nothing but great.
When I had asked my buddy if he had seen the Spider-Man trailer after I had told him about it, he responded with “Hell yea! I cried!”. He had every reason to be excited for this.
Will this be Spider-Man’s answer to Batman’s Arkham series? Will the game be at least good? It’s more likely now than ever before that Spider-Man can become a relevent gaming figure. But with the game’s release so far out, (I’m expecting 2018) It will be a while before we know for certain. But keep your heads held high web-slingers!