Spider-Man has been swinging around television with numerous animated series for the past few years, and he recently made his triumphant return to the big screen with Spider-Man: Homecoming. With all of that success, our beloved web-slinger is setting his super-human sights on video games next with Spider-Man PS4.
Here's the thing: Spidey hasn't had a good streak in the video game market for the past decade (with the last critical debacle being 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Taking that into consideration, there are a lot of expectations riding on this particular project, which is being handled by #Insomniac.
Insomniac has traditionally stuck to small-scale projects (in comparison to a superhero) like the Ratchet and Clank series, Sunset Boulevard and Spyro, so while there was a lot of excitement from long-times fans of the studio to see it tackling the wall-crawler, there was also curiosity: What exactly made Insomniac the right company to take on the daunting task of making the first great #SpiderMan game? (I see you, Spider-Man 2 fans; settle down.)
Now we finally know. Creative director at Marvel Games, Bill Rosemann, and Insomniac's creative director, Bryan Intihar, took the stage during this year's #D23 to show off their highly-anticipated project. While we didn't get a trailer to answer the burning questions we have about the game (mainly, what's going on with Miles Morales), they did bring on behind-the-scenes footage of the game. Check it out:
After watching the video, the element that makes Insomniac the best developer to take on Spidey and his sprawling world was something that Intihar made clear during the D23 panel: That they're fans, first and foremost, and that they truly understand how much the character means to people.
Insomniac's love for the character has been palpable in two pivotal aspects, the first one being the sheer scope and open world gameplay. Let's face it, when a Spidey video game is being developed, one of the most exciting things about it is the prospect of being Spider Man. To get to web-sling through NYC, crawl on buildings until you're too high to look down, and have a whole city full of life and movement to use as your playground.
And while there are a few elements reminiscent of the Amazing Spider-Man series' style (mainly its web-slinging), there's a new and dynamic fluidity to the character that's much more similar to Spidey's live-action versions. Overall, #SpiderManPS4 promises an immersive experience that will allow us to feel the thrills our beloved wall-crawler experiences on a daily basis.
Now, having the action down is amazing, but that needs to be elevated by something Insomniac is also paying attention to: Giving the story and character a heart –– something that, sadly, very few Spidey-centric games have paid attention to. During the panel, Rosemann quoted Stan Lee about what makes a superhero experience compelling:
"Hey, you can have a character in a cool costume on the edge of a building, and they can jump off, and you can look and say, 'Oh, that's a pretty cool costume.' But if you can get the people to care about the people underneath the mask, if you get to know who they are, who they're fighting for, what they care about, then when that character jumps off the building, you are with them, jumping off the building."
That sentiment was echoed in the behind-the-scenes video above, as art director for the game, Jacinda Chew, agreed:
"One of the most compelling things about Spider-Man, it's just when Peter Parker and Spider-Man's worlds collide. And we've tried really hard to weave the two stories together, to create a story that is not necessarily just a superhero story, but a human story as well."
That sounds like the perfect balance for #Spidey. It's ultimately not about favoring story over action, it's about having a human component that connects players to the character and gets them to care about the journey they're embarking on. As a long-time Spidey fan, after learning these things from the video, I couldn't be more excited for the game.
So far, it looks like Insomniac is nailing both the action and character elements that make #PeterParker such a great immersive character experience. We'll get to see the results of this awesome project in the making once Spider-Man PS4 gets released sometime in 2018.
How do you feel about Insomniac handling Spidey? Let me know in the comments!