If you know me at all, you know how much Spider-Man means to me. I’ve spoken here at DualShockers about how excited I was for Marvel’s Spider-Man last year at E3. This year at the show, it seemed like I would finally able to go hands-on with it. When that moment finally transpired, what I ended up playing somehow surpassed every dream that I had for Spider-Man when it was initially announced two years ago.
From the moment I first jumped off of a building and shot my first web with Spider-Man, I knew that Insomniac Games had nailed the web-swinging. The movement and flow of going from one web to another was slower than I anticipated, but it felt so right. Webs felt like they had a tension to them and Spider-Man felt had weight to his character, which is something that previous Spidey games have sorely lacked.
Before long, I was learning how to tie my basic web-swings into web-zips that allowed me to gain more momentum and speed. This eventually then led to vaulting moves where I could zip towards an object — let’s say a water tower –and then immediately hit the jump button to vault off of it to gain more velocity. None of these concepts are all that new for a Spider-Man game but it’s the physics system and the overall subtle heaviness in Spidey’s character that really sets it apart.
I talked in my article last year around E3 time about just how important it was for Insomniac to perfect web-slinging and my early impressions tell me that this is easily the best swinging mechanic we have ever seen from this character in video games. Of the fifteen-to-twenty minutes that I spent playing Marvel’s Spider-Man, I’d say over half of it was spent just putting this mechanic through its paces. By the end of my demo, I felt like I was starting to get a grasp on the system and I was really vaulting around New York City quickly. I can only imagine how much better it will feel dozens of hours into the game.
When I wasn’t swinging around the city though, I decided to put the combat mechanics through its paces. If the Batman Arkham games knew how to make you feel like Batman, then Insomniac has tapped into that same formula and has adapted it for Spider-Man. In terms of how combat controls, it isn’t anything all that unique. Once you start to get a grasp on how you can tie together combos through the use of all of Spidey’s actions, then everything starts to click.
After experimenting for a few minutes, I was starting to tie together combinations that included launching enemies in the air via an uppercut before then web-zipping towards another foe on the ground and punching them, which then led to me rapidly webbing a thug to a wall, before then using my suitability to quickfire webs at every baddie in the room, which subsequently allowed me to gain enough energy to use my special ability that took the form of a cinematic backflipping kick to the jaw of one of the few remaining enemies in the room. All of these actions were carried out quickly, but much like the web-slinging, carried a heft and a force to them that made it clear that your punches carried impact.
Insomniac’s creative director on Marvel’s Spider-Man, Bryan Intihar, has been very upfront about how he and his team more than anything else want players to truly feel like they are Spider-Man when playing this game. Judging off of the web-slinging and combat, arguably the two things that Spider-Man is most well-known for other than his mouth, the team has absolutely accomplished this task.
What’s perhaps the craziest thing about my demo of Marvel’s Spider-Man is that you could engage in a boss fight with the classic villain Shocker, though I never even got that far. I timed out of my play session because I spent so long putting the core mechanics of Marvel’s Spider-Man through their paces that I forgot to even proceed to the fight. Rest assured though, because I’ll absolutely be swinging by the kiosk again first thing tomorrow to see this section of the demo.
Marvel’s Spider-Man left me hungry for so much more. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I played it nearly twelve hours ago. It’s easy for me to fanboy out about this game because of how much I love the Wall Crawler, but I promise you, dear reader, that I wouldn’t be losing my mind over this game that much if I didn’t truly think it played fantastically. While I’m a huge sucker for Spider-Man, I’m also very particular about what I want from my Spidey content. Insomniac has done more here than I could have ever begun to imagine.
It’s probably too early to say this, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway: if Marvel’s Spider-Man turns out to be as good as this demo, then it might be one of my favorite games of all-time. Not only do I think it objectively controls and feels awesome to play, I think that this is the Spidey game that other fans of the Webhead have dreamed of for years right along with me.