Of all the games shown off at this year’s E3, I have to admit that Spider-Man is the one I’m most excited for.
I hate to be “that guy” who’s annoying in hindsight, but I swear I’ve been saying for years that Insomniac would be the perfect developer for a Spider-Man game. Now that it’s actually happening, there are a few reasons this game has my Spidey-sense tingling.
When I was trying to decide my game of the year for 2016, Insomniac really threw a spanner in the works. Ratchet & Clank was an instant classic to me, so much so that I had no problem playing it three times in a row to acquire the platinum trophy.
Ratchet games were always favourites of mine, but something about the way Insomniac created those games meant that just moving around and using the simple controls felt so satisfying that I could play for hours and not get bored. When you ask yourself what a good Spider-Man game needs, the first thing is probably something to do with the way you control the web-head himself.
To enjoy playing as Spider-Man you need satisfying movement, and Insomniac’s strong pedigree is the perfect evidence that this game should feel great to play. Even the less popular Ratchet & Clank games had great feel to them. 2012’s Q-Force was panned by critics, but I personally loved it. The hover-boots in that game made the simple act of moving around feel like a complete dream; something that kept me coming back even after I’d completed the game. The developers at Insomniac know how to make a game where you feel like a superhero even when you’re playing as a Lombax, so a “wall-crawling Menace” should be no bother.
Secondly, Ratchet & Clank games always have great charm if nothing else. The writing for all the wacky characters in that franchise is something you can always enjoy, even when you don’t know what’s going on. Great writing is also backed up by strong vocal performances that bring the characters to life. What’s more, the revival of Ratchet & Clank last year worked so well in my opinion because they completely re-thought Ratchet’s relationship with his robotic companion.
Anyone who played the first game on PS2 will know how strange it was to have a sidekick duo pretty much hate one another. In the first game, the two main characters work together out of a common goal, not because of their camaraderie. In 2016, the first game was completely re-imagined, and the game worked so much better with the two getting along in the quirky relationship we’ve come to know and love. The writing made it work, and this bodes well for the writing in the upcoming Spider-Man game.
Again, ask yourself about the things that set Spider-Man apart from other superheroes and one major thing has to be his charm. He always has great one-liners to deliver and his somewhat childish naivety is something everyone can enjoy. If you’re playing as Spider-Man and Peter Parker’s having a great time, the chances are that will translate to the player with ease. Humour can go a long way in video games, and Insomniac is so in touch with using it that it’s like a standard gameplay mechanic to them.
Lastly, quite a few studios and developers have done a great job translating their visuals to HD while still keeping their nostalgic art-styles. Nintendo has done a great job of that, as have Playtonic, but I think something that astounded me about Ratchet & Clank last year was how beautiful it was. I didn’t expect to be taking screenshot after screenshot in just the first level of the game, but I was.
It just goes to show that Insomniac has mastered creating visual experiences that keep up with the ever graphically-advancing gaming world. It’s clear to see that while abandoning their Ratchet & Clank art style they can produce the same amount of visual gold dust. In the most recent gameplay trailer for the upcoming Spider-Man game, the visuals looked excellent whether you’ll be in 4k or not. Visuals alone don’t make a game great, but when the rest of the game is working so well, that’s when visuals can make a huge difference.
In the past, Spider-Man games have felt similar to Batman ones; even if they’re not so great, they’ve stll somehow been enjoyable to play. However, I feel like since Spider-Man 2 on PS2 fans haven’t really had one title they can all get behind and be proud of. I really believe that Insomniac could turn that around. Its always made great games, and I’d be extremely surprised if that were to change now.
Spider-Man on PS4 is set for release in 2018, so if you’re a Spidey fan you still have a while to wait. In the meantime, play Ratchet & Clank again just to remind yourself how good that game actually was.