E3 2018: Hands-on – Spider-Man

What is the most important aspect of a Spidey game? The swinging mechanics. Since Spider-Man 2 launched in 2004, we’ve not seen any Spider-Man game come close to the feeling of complete freedom and swinging down the streets of Manhattan quite as he made us feel back then. It’s time for Spider-Man to receive a new benchmark, because this game promises to be absolutely brilliant.

Insomniac has managed to do what so many recent Spider-Man games have failed to do – to make you feel like Spider-Man. Swinging feels so natural that it’s nearly a little scary. Jump off the ground and follow that with a press of the R2 trigger to get Spider-Man swinging. As soon as he’s reached the end of the arc, let go of R2 and press it again to zap out your next web to continue swinging. With each swing, you can feel your confidence growing and before long you’re swinging through Manhattan as if it’s always been your home. You’ll never crash into buildings or feel out of control either. Should you hit a building by accident, Spider-Man will instead continue the move by running up the building. It’s like the city is his playground and, you know, it’s exactly what it is. Press the X button and a direction and he catapults himself in any particular direction and continues swinging towards a new objective. It’s just very, very natural.

Press R3 at any point in the game and Spidey will get a look at available quests and points of interest in his nearby surroundings. In the demo, I was tasked with making short work of some pesky foes who posed as a workforce on a building. Oh boy, the combat system is something else. Yes, it’s very much got a Batman-style going for it, but it’s so much more fluid and with Spider-Man’s acrobatic antics it’s a joy to see it unfold in front of you. Press L1 and R1 to use your webs to swing nearby items and smash it down on your foes, follow it up with a powerful uppercut, dodge an incoming attack by sliding under his feet and batter him in time to combo the rifle-wielding goon on top of the roof. The combat is frantic and you’ll have to deal with several enemies at one time. As soon as I had a grasp at what I was doing I nearly felt like Neo in the second Matrix movie fighting Agent Smith. It’s just one big combo of awesomeness that makes you feel incredibly powerful.

Next in line was a heist that had to be stopped. I perched on a building to find the direction of the heist and then promptly swung there as fast as I could. As soon as you’re within reach you can press the triangle button to land on the van, though it doesn’t end there. Move down the left and right of the van to dispose of some mandatory gun-wielding goons and then move to the driver to quite literally kick him out the window. Everything Spider-Man does in this game is exceptionally stylish – in line with what you would expect in any top class Marvel movie. Finally, once I brought the car to a halt, I pressed L1 and R1 together to swing the bomb up into the air and shot it with webbing not to harm any citizens.

Spidey also never shuts up. He is constantly chirping some cheesy one-liners or talking to himself. It’s very ‘Peter Parker’. Whether it’s in the thick of battle or while swinging up through the skyscrapers, he just never keeps quiet. I did find that I heard several repeat chirps while in battle, so I hope it’s not something that becomes annoying and repetitive as it could dampen an otherwise exciting prospect.

Unfortunately, my time playing the game came to an end at that point and I walked away a believer of what I had just played. Spider-Man doesn’t just have the opportunity of being the best superhero game ever made, but like the Arkham series, this could very well be one of the best games to ever grace our industry. Keep an eye on your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. We have a good feeling about this one.

Married to a gamer and she kicks my ass at most shooters. If the game is enjoyable I'll play it, no matter the format.

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