One of the most stand out and surprising announcements to come from Sony’s E3 2016 conference was that Insomniac Games would be working on a brand new Spider-Man game. This game, titled Spider-Man PS4 (obviously a work in progress) has a wide variety of Spider-Man games to take inspiration and learn what not to do from. From Ultimate Spider-Man to Web of Shadows, the several titles in the franchise all have done different and great things, paving the road to what could be the best Spider-Man game ever.
Easily the first true success in terms of Spider-Man games, Spider-Man 2 has so many features that Insomniac Games could learn from. The most obvious of these is the fantastic web swinging that is present. Rather than automatically swinging from building to building, the player has to time Spider-Man’s jumps to gain momentum and distance. This was probably the best mechanic of the whole game as it turned one of the central features of Peter Parker’s powers and turned it into a key gameplay mechanic. You could truly fail at web swinging and this made it consistently exhilarating to get right. Another great feature of Spider-Man 2 is the random crimes that happen across the city. Rather than being forced upon you, the player can completely ignore these if they want but they yield rewards and really encourage the player to think like Spider-Man and genuinely help the people of New York. Spider-Man 2 truly got what it meant to be Spider-Man and if the new game can tap into that, it’s sure to succeed.
The next great Spider-Man game was Web of Shadows, easily having one of the most interesting stories out of the bunch. Aside from having another great mechanic with the use of two suits, Web of Shadows also has a great combat system. Whilst it is likely that the new game won’t use this sort of gameplay, the fighting in Web of Shadows is fast paced, flowing and fun. Spider-Man leaps with grace from enemy to enemy and has a skill set for both his normal costume and his symbiote form. The ability to turn into Symbiote Spider-Man at will is also completely unique to this game and made it feel fresh after several entries into the series. The new Spider-Man definitely needs to include a fantastic combat system and maybe even introduce a darker side to Peter Parker.
Shattered Dimensions was another, more recent, success in the Spider-Man series of games. Introducing four different Spider-Men and uniting them against one common threat; Mysterio. The biggest success of this game is the villains and the Spider-Man lore. Each level focuses on a new villain and a new area, allowing Spider-Man to make his way through to a final boss. The boss battles in this game all make use of each Spider-Man’s unique ability and also makes each villain a viable threat. Several times in this game, the boss battles are like set pieces, such as the tornado fight with Sandman. Shattered Dimensions also clearly understands what it means to be a Spider-Man game by including plenty of costumes, heroes, references and humour. Spider-Man PS4 needs to incorporate great villains for Spidey to fight and needs to understand the history of the Wall Crawler.
The most recent Spider-Man game, The Amazing Spider-Man was one of the least well received games so far. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have redeemable features however. One of the coolest features is the costume collection that can be unlocked throughout te game. This showed great attention to Spider-Man’s history and also meant that fans could choose their favourite costume to swing around in. The web swinging also had its own nuances, such as the ability to choose which hand to swing from by using the different triggers. This could be used in the newest game as Spider-Man is seen using both hands at once to swing. Finally, the use of a auto web ability in this game made it easier to perform actions that are typical of Spider-Man.
Insomniac Games are certainly up for the task of making this Spider-Man title great. Their work on Sunset Overdrive especially sets them up to work on such a fast paced character, as Spider-Man is the perfect hero to perform death defying leaps and runs, similarly to the protagonist of Sunset Overdrive. Their most recent Ratchet and Clank title shows that they can efficiently use the power of the PS4 to provide the player with a quality graphical experience. I couldn’t be more excited for Insomniac’s take on Spider-Man and I know that it has the power to be the best in the franchise yet.