Spider-Man Preview: When worlds collide


A Brand New Day.

Back in June at E3 we had the opportunity to get our first handson with Marvel’s Spider-Man. The timed 15-minute gameplay demo featured a look at the movement and combat capabilities of the hero, along with a small range of side content that can be completed within the game. This week however we were given an even deeper dive into affairs as we got to experience the first few hours of what Marvel’s Spider-Man will offer when it releases later next month.

This isn’t an origin story — it’s been eight years since Peter Parker first became Spider-Man. The masked superhero has been fighting crime in New York City and Wilson Fisk, The Kingpin, has been his main nemesis over the course of all those years. The game opens with one of Spider-Man’s allies from the New York Police Department, Yuri Watanabe, explaining that Fisk is about to be taken down by the city’s law enforcement at Fisk Tower, and they’re probably going to need his help in doing so.

On the way to your destination you’re given a quick overview of Spider-Man’s web-swinging mechanics and how to manoeuvre throughout the environment – which feels great. The combat system is the next thing on list you’ll be taught as you arrive at Fisk Tower and start to learn how to deal with different architect types of enemies the game will throw at you. Spider-Man has a range of attack combinations — we counted around 20 — including a variety of gadgets that you’ll need to use on these enemies while also having to dodge their incoming damage.

As you advance through Fisk’s tower Spider-Man is not only helping the police secure the building but at the same time you’re also seeing him rescue civilians from all the chaos – you know, doing superhero things. Eventually you come face to face with The Kingpin in a phased fight that ultimately ends with a short quicktime event cutscene.

After having helped nab the notorious crime boss we are introduced to the other side of Spider-Man’s life: Peter Parker. Insomniac Games has chosen to tell its own story, borrowing elements from popular Spider-Man multiverses which include The Amazing Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man. This is wholly Insomniac’s take on the character, ultimately. Peter Parker isn’t a photographer at The Daily Bugle, a teacher at Midtown High School, or the CEO of a multibillion dollar advanced technology company; instead, he’s getting through life by working as a scientist.

Insomniac Games wants to tell a story where Spider-Man and Peter Parker’s lives come crashing together. In order to do that you’ll experience some of the game outside of the Spidey suit, walking around and completing tasks as Peter. During the story we ended up visiting Aunt May who is working at a homeless shelter that is operated by Marlin Li – a character who will play an important role along the way.

As the story progresses further Spider-Man ends up confronting a group of thugs who have started causing some trouble inside of a museum. It’s at this point where Peter runs into Mary Jane Watson, who in this world is an investigative reporter for The Daily Bugle. She’s also in an on-again, off-again relationship with Peter, and they’ve been in the latter stage for the last 6 months. The game then switches to M.J. as a playable character and we get to see the events that led up to the break-in of the museum.

After the M.J. sequence the game goes back to Spider-Man and we’re again introduced to a few more mechanics the game has to offer. This time we use a different tactic on the enemies within the environment in a more stealth based approach. From up high we can manoeuvre around beams across the ceiling, or even wall crawl along the roof to get a beneficial position above people for a quick stealthy takedown. You can use objects within the area to cause distractions while you rapidly knock out or web unsuspecting people to the walls. It changes the pace of the game and gives you something a little different to do when you’re crawling along walls and inside of vents as apposed to just always going in swinging fists.

We had the chance to check out the variety of side missions again in this playthrough, but this time we were able to see how those end up affecting gameplay. You earn experience and tokens by completing these tasks which allows you to upgrade your skills and craft new gadgets to use.

There are three different categories in the skill tree: Innovator, Defender, and Webslinger. Each has its own unlock branch that can change the way you approach the combat and maneuverability in the game. There are also a large variety of Spider-Man suits which you can obtain, which have their own special ability that can be triggered after filling up a combo meter. Each one of these suits also has mod slots which you can adjust further to enhance your utility and boost your defence.

Marvel’s Spider-Man continues to look very impressive. The attention to detail Insomniac has taken to create this world and going the length to show both sides of this character is exciting to see unfold. Insomniac Games hasn’t been afraid to change up what people know about this superhero and the world he lives in, but also at the same time bring in characters that are only relatively new to the comics. From what I’ve seen so far with Marvel’s Spider-Man I can’t wait to play more. It doesn’t look anything short of spectacular, amazing, or superior to the other Spider-Man games we’ve played in the last few years.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is due for release 7 September, exclusive to PS4.