I finally got my hands on the demo for Spider-Man at E3 and there is so much to talk about. Despite there being a ton of Spider-Man games and even a period when they were almost annualized, this one feels different and special. With the brains behind Ratchet and Clank and Sunset Overdrive, it’s safe to assume we’re in good hands. There’s no doubt that this is one of Sony’s most anticipated exclusives. So, how was the demo?
It immediately started off by having me web-swinging throughout the city, which is a smart move because swinging is one of the most important things in a Spider-Man game. It could have the best writing, best story, and best combat, but if the web-swinging doesn’t feel right, people will notice.
I’m happy to report that not only does the swinging feel amazing, it’s simply the best out of all the games based on our favorite wall-crawler.
If you’ve played Sunset Overdrive (you need to), you’ll be familiar with the sense of constant movement and traversal of the environment; That’s how Spider-Man feels. There isn’t much down-time or loss of momentum. Even if you aren’t particularly good at web-swinging, it’s designed in such a way that allows for the player to always be in motion. That isn’t to say that the game plays itself. Not at all. What I am saying is that the design is intuitive and allows for fluid, constant movement. It’s as if the game is pushing Spidey forward at all times and it just works.
One thing to note is that this game is beautiful. The lighting of the sun reflecting on the buildings, the “whooshing” of the wind as Spidey free falls through the air, and the animations of swinging and zipping around had me floored. The combination of the music and seeing skyscrapers go in and out of sight was a..(no pun intended)… “marvel” to take in. Good looking PS4 games are expected these days, but seeing how far we’ve come specifically with Spider-Man games hits me hard.
After letting me swing around for a bit, a mission objective popped up on the radar. Apparently, you have the ability to fast-travel via subway, but c’mon, it’s a Spider-Man game. I WANT TO SWING. The mission was one we had seen before; it takes place on the roof of a construction site, with numerous henchmen to defeat. It’s tough not to compare the combat to the Batman: Arkham games, but the comparison is a compliment.
There’s a dodge notification in the form of Spidey-Sense, there are gadgets to use, heavy or quick attacks, the ability to tie enemies up with webs, and so on. It started to feel complex and almost overwhelming just from the 20 minutes I played, but I imagine it’s easy to get used to after a couple hours. It was pretty neat to be able to interact with certain objects and use them to attack enemies. For example, if there’s a barrel nearby, a button prompt will appear for Spidey to swing it around and smash it into the nearest enemy. Also, the ability to build up a special meter that allows for healing added a layer of depth that I did not expect. Like web-swinging, the combat feels robust, fast, and fluid. Despite that, I hope it doesn’t get too overly-complicated.
After spending a while defeating enemies on the rooftop, the next mission appeared. For this one, the objective marker pointed me towards a bank where Shocker, one of Spider-Man’s most formidable enemies was wreaking havoc. Contrary to the last mission, this solely focused on fighting Shocker in a huge, open room. It was interesting to see the difference between being in a huge, open city, versus fighting in a confined space. It worked well, though, and just shows how well developer, Insomniac Games was able to pull this off.
The fight with Shocker consisted slinging debris at him to open him up for an attack. It was a tad repetitious, but I had no issue with taking the time to learn the mechanics and controls in this short sequence. What was satisfying was the final part of the fight, which had me knock down a huge chandelier to crush Shocker. This boss fight taught the importance of dodging, because throughout, Shocker throws deadly blasts at Spider-Man that do devastating amounts of damage.
Before getting my hands on this, I was looking forward to it, but now, Spider-Man is one of my most anticipated games of 2018. The swinging is near-perfect, the combat is complex and satisfying, and goodness, it is beautiful. Even to those who aren’t fans of the comics or movies, I urge you to keep an eye on this because at the very least, it’s loads of fun. Stick with Game Savvy for more Spider-Man coverage!