PS4 Spider-Man gameplay trailer first impressions


A closer look at the extensive clip from Insomniac’s upcoming Spider-Man game, and how it possibly shapes up as a Spider-Man adaptation.

More from Video Games

Since it was first unveiled at last year’s E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), the Playstation 4 exclusive Spider-Man game was a source of endless speculation and controversy. Questions were abound: Why does the web-slinger’s costume looks different from his traditional red and blue suit? Was this game even open world? When was it’s release date? Folks just started calling it PS4 Spider-Man because the official title of the game was unknown.

But at this year’s E3, the new game’s publisher, Insomniac Games, finally showed almost ten full minutes of gameplay. More importantly, the footage showed part of the game’s story. In addition, the developers gave us more specifics about this particular version of Spider-Man and his world. It even has an official title—Marvel’s Spider-Man—and a release date (sometime in 2018). In other words, we finally have some concrete information.

Now, admittedly, while I like video games, I don’t consider myself a gamer. My Bam Smack Pow colleague, Trey Norwood, does a better job going over Spider-Man’s gameplay aspects in his E3 coverage than I ever could. But I am a comic book fan who also really likes Spider-Man. And since Marvel’s Spider-Man is a comic book adaptation, the question I’m asking myself is how well does this game stack up against the source material.

Insomniac is making much ado about this game having a more “experienced” Spider-Man. During one of their live interviews, creative director Bryan Intihar claimed the game takes place in an “original [Spider-Man] universe” not “tied to a particular movie or comic book series.” This Peter Parker isn’t a teenager, but a 23-year-old college graduate, who, according to Kotau, also works as a scientist. I don’t know about you, but that sounds suspiciously like a version of Dan Slott’s “Big Time” from Amazing Spider-Man.

If that’s the case, this may explain why Spider-Man’s costume looks so different (still not too crazy about the over-sized white spider, though), and why he has such things like the “web-line mine” he uses in the demo. Also, why (just like Tom Holland’s Spider-Man) do the lenses on his mask keep changing size based on his reactions. During “Big Time,” Peter’s new job at Horizon Labs allowed him to upgrade his suit and web-shooters, as well as make other gadgets. So I’m guessing we’re getting that here too.

Yet the gameplay footage itself suggests “Big Time” and the “Brand New Day” era were primary sources of inspiration. Not only does this present Martin Li/Mister Negative as one the game’s major villains, we also see Spidey in radio communication with Captain Yuri Watanabe of the NYPD. She, too, is a Dan Slott creation, very much in the mold of Jean DeWolff. She’s a vigilante called the Wraith with a serious grudge against Mr. Negative. That does make me wonder, however, if that part of the character will be in this game too.

Credit: Insomniac Games, Sony, and Marvel Entertainment

Likewise, Mr. Negative’s making a move on Kingpin’s territory is very much in line with recent comics. Apparently, Spider-Man capturing Kingpin is something that will happen near the beginning of the game. I suspect the “mission” shown in the demo also happens early in the story’s first act as well. As pointed out by the developers, Peter only knows Mr. Negative by his real name at this point, and that his Aunt May works at one of his F.E.A.S.T. homeless shelters. That, too, was also a recurring subplot from “Brand New Day.”

The only thing which does seem genuinely original to his Spider-Man game is Norman Osborn running for mayor. Given that Spidey crashes through one of Osborn’s campaign billboards during the helicopter chase, it looks like this will be a recurring plot throughout the game. And I must say, I think it’s a great idea, especially if J. Jonah Jameson is also running for mayor like he did in the comics.

One thing which does concern me, though, is towards the ending of this demo. Just as Spidey enters the helicopter to see if Li is okay, Li turns into Mr. Negative and grabs him. Those who’ve read the comics know Mr. Negative has the ability of morally corrupting others via physical contact. Looks like we might be getting yet another video game involving a brainwashed Spider-Man.  Just like in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, but without the Venom symbiote.

Credit: Insomniac Games, Sony, and Marvel Entertainment

That said, a corrupted Peter could be this game’s way of paving Miles Morales’ origin as Spider-Man. Hence why we see him show up at the end of this footage and (in another parallel with Peter) taking a photo of Spidey saving the helicopter. It would be interesting if we’re also getting Miles-centered chapters along with the Peter-centered ones.  But if this is all we’re going to get of Miles in the game, it just seems like a pointless tease.

I did have to double-check to see if Yuri Lowenthal was still credited as the voice for Peter. That’s because this Spidey sounds almost identical to Josh Keaton‘s from the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon. That’s not a complaint, as I think this Spidey, as well as the voice actors, sound great in this. Well … maybe not so much the dispatch officer in the beginning of the clip.

Next: E3 superhero game round-up

Overall, this demo, and what we know about Spider-Man, looks and sounds impressive. Even so, it’s kind of frustrating we have to wait for yet another year before anyone can play it. If this is also the average running time for story based missions, I wonder if there’s concern about how many hours of actual gameplay this will have. As an adaptation of Spider-Man, comic or otherwise, I think it will shape out very well.