Marvel's Spider-Man looks set to be yet another incredible PlayStation exclusive, fantastic news not only for PS4 owners but also fans of Insomniac Games who have for some time amazed gamers with their incredible assortment of titles.
Need names? Ratchet & Clank, Resistance: Fall of Man, Sunset Overdrive and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
But Spider-Man is a much different beast, something on a completely different level for the famed California based developers to tackle.
Naturally, the weight of expectation looms large on an IP with such a huge fanbase. But likewise, it's also an IP which fans have been desperate to see come to the video game space.
Even today, Neversoft's Spider-Man game from the year 2000 still ranks as probably the best example of a Spidey game to date.
And that's not because of a lack of titles, you can count 10+ Spider-Man games which have tried and failed to capture the essence of what it means to don the red suit.
Intriguingly though, Insomniac is taking a more methodical approach, and whilst the snippets of gameplay and trailers might lean heavily on action, this game looks set to give players a healthy dollop of Peter Parker and Mary Jane too. In short, it's not all action, there looks to be a lot of heart here too.
Thankfully, at E3 we were able to revisit the demo in the company of Insomniac Games Creative Director Bryan Intihar, a self-confessed Spider-Man fanatic who's been central to creating, arguably, not just the best Spider-Man video game to date, but potentially, the best super-hero video game full stop.
And best of all, he was on hand to answer some of our questions. Lots, of questions.
In return, we've learned a little more about the games missing villains (Green Goblin), How Insomniac intends to raise their Photo Mode game, the importance of Mary Jane and how they're laying the foundation for future titles.
The game is set many years into Peter's life as Spider-Man, does this mean you had to cull certain tropes or villains that Spidey fans are familiar with for the sake of your original story? Because, for instance, when I think of a Peter Parker starting out, I think Green Goblin, because he's always felt like a villain at the early part of his career.
Well I mean our goal is always to make the Spidey universe our own. So in our world. There is no Green Goblin. There is no Green Goblin, yet. In our world, The kingpin has been his big bad that he's been dealing with and the game actually starts out with him taking down Fisk, the first mission in the game is defeating Wilson Fisk. So there is no concept of Green Goblin, yet.
I know and I think fans of the game will know that you are a massive Spider-Man fan since you were young.
I'm curious how difficult does that make development when say, there might be something you knew was integral to the character, but say, other team members might have wanted to remove from the game because either it was too tricky or didn't gel.
I think for us, we knew swinging around New York had to be great. We knew combat had to be fun. But to me, it's been ultra critical to deliver on the Peter Parker side of the game
Like we really wanted to deliver that Human story and not just do it in a cutscene. Like we have cutscenes with Peter but I also wanted player to BE Peter Parker. Be him at work. Be him going to visit the Aunt May at Feast. Be him when he's not Spider-Man. So, I think that was a challenge to make those moments entertaining.
They're obviously very different, they're very different to swinging around New York City. But it's very important to the character and the story development.
I guess one of the fears fans might have is that when you are playing as Peter and Mary Jane, it's not Entertaining and that it's just walking simulator from A to B with nothing in between.
It definitely not a walking sim in those moments. You know, if you're looking for a kind of action you're not going to get it. It's a change of pace. It's to show a different side of the character.
We want to deliver that 360 degrees experience of being a superhero, of being Peter Parker. We want people to see what it's like for the superhero when they ain't wearing the tights or if you're playing as somebody in a superhero world that's not a superhero, like Mary Jane. It's just a different perspective on the game and the world.
Are you going to be trying to do anything different with Photo Mode?
Well, apparently every first party Sony team sets a new standard. So we better bring it!
But will it be quite conventional or do you have anything special planned?
Oh, we will! There's definitely an 'Insomniac Spiderman twist' to our photo mode.
I remember watching a GameInformer video and you were saying how years back, whilst at Insomniac, you were constantly saying that someone needed to do what the Arkham Games did, but for the Marvel Universe and Spider-Man.
And here we are and you can see the similarities for sure. But is there anything about those Arkham Games, which to your mind just wouldn't work in this Marvel Spider-Man game you've created?
I think it's more just like the characters. Spider-Man is such a different character. Bruce Wayne is a very different character to Peter Parker. I think for us it was completely about making sure that we're being authentic to the character and the universe that we're building.
"We always think of Spiderman as the acrobatic improviser." Your words! How much improv are you giving fans in terms of move sets and how flexible players can be when approaching combat and all-around gameplay?
Pretty flexible! You may go more melee or maybe you want to do stealth. Maybe you want to use more of the environment or your gadgets. But which suit to wear or upgrade and what suit powers do you want to use.
We also try to make sure to really reward players who are able to use the acrobatics. For example there's a momentum meter. The more crazy stuff, the more acrobatic you are, the faster that builds up. So we often want to push as much as we can in any situation your in.
Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)
Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)
James Stevenson the Community Director at Insomniac was mentioning that it's 100% a Marvel City and you do feel that because you see Stark Tower, The Sanctum Sanctorum and much more.
Are they all just visual and written cues for players to see or do we get to interact with any of it?
So I will say that Peter will comment on them but if you're expecting Iron Man and the guys you won't see that here. it's hard enough to nail Spider-Man. I don't want to take on the Avengers just yet!
Not to mention I'm sure Crystal's going to do amazing stuff too.
We've heard so much about how the game hinges on Peter Parker as much as Spider-Man. Does that mean the story is fairly dynamic? Like can we choose to not do things with either side of his character, and as a result see a tangible impact on the city or characters?
I think it's more about. I mean there are moments where Peter succeeds and Spider-Man fails and vice versa.
But players don't have any choices to make? Story-wise, it's fairly linear?
No, there's no big choices. Not with this game we're not doing that right now. There's a very specific story we wanted to tell and how you get there. But there will be moments where it plays up to that.
I thought everything was good but it really isn't and I should've thought of this I should have thought of that. So we do kind of twist that back and forth.
Are you able to say in what sense Mary Jane is going to surprise people?
Quite frankly I think for many years she was a damsel in distress. She was Spider-Man come help. And I think it was more about making her a much more capable contributor to the story. She's asking Peter 'hey, listen I'm going to be OK, let me help you!' And there will be moments where she does help Peter/Spider-Man
I think in this game you're gonna see, she wants a certain amount of respect, and he wants a certain amount of 'listen no matter what you do I'm still going to be there for you' and they both accept it.
You've not touched on where Peter Parker works? Any Clues?
Is that like a launch day secret?
I will never tell anybody till they play the game.
So in the game, at the start, Mary Jane and Spider-Man haven't spoken for six months. Is that an integral part of the story or just a jumping off point?
Yeah, actually where they are in the relationship they haven't spoken for six months. But there's an event that happens where they coincidentally they are in the same place and that's what brings them back into each other's lives.
Are you leaving any easter eggs or breadcrumbs for things that could happen in the future?
I'm very much concentrating on nailing this game. I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch. But, yeh! I have a long commute to work every day I think about the future a lot.
Presumably, though, you haven't come into the game thinking 'Oh we must add that Kraven mission or cameo' … like, you're allowing yourself the opportunity to not use characters or storylines, so that, we imagine you can approach them in a more fleshed out way at some stage, maybe, in the future?
I mean, if you're asking me do I have a long-term plan for the game, then yes, yes I do.
Costumes! How many we talking Twenty plus? Thirty plus?
A – LOT
Lastly, since your GameInformer cover, they released a new trailer for Venom – actually showing Venom! – So, is he still a cool character?
He's still a very cool character!
But Carnage is cool too right…
Carnage is cool, absolutely. Why do you like Carnage so much?
I think it's awesome to see that even Venom has a duality.
That's a good answer…
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