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Marvel's Spider-Man Preview - E3 2018

We get some hands-on time with the upcoming superhero game

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It can be hard to believe that superhero films have been dominating cinemas for years. A genre that used to be relegated to the corners of DVD shops back in the day has now become an unbeatable, record-breaking attraction. Video games, on the other hand, have always been a great place to tell superhero stories, accompanied by imaginative gameplay and a sense of great power. The Spider-Man franchise is no stranger to video games – since the 80s, there's been a ton of games based on the Web Slinger, across a multitude of genres and consoles. The next such entry is coming later this year, titled simply as Marvel's Spider-Man. This PS4 exclusive title looks to reboot the franchise which has been quite stagnant and disappointing in its most recent entries. We had a chance to play a demo of the game at E3 2018.

Marvel's Spider-Man PS4

The game is set in an open world, where players are free to roam and swing between buildings, completing dynamic objectives as they appear on the map, and engage in more story-focused missions. One of the chief concerns with the game would be the movement mechanics – something that many consider to be great during the PS2 era Spidey games, but have been on the decline since. In the hands of Insomniac Games though, who are known for creating franchises like Spyro, Ratchet & Clank, and Resistance - where gameplay mechanics are at the core of the experience – fans can rest easy. Based on the 20-30 minute demo of the game, the controls felt quite great and the movement looked even better. Swinging around the city was effortless (X to jump, R2 to swing), and transitioning from surface to surface (from wallruns, to swing, to web zipping) flowed very well. If at any moment you want to pause, there is a Perch button combo that lets you stop and take in your surroundings/assess the situation.

But a superhero's day is never easy, and soon we observed various icons popping up on the city map. You can look at the map, or just swing towards the vertical beams of light shooting up into the sky that indicate an activity. We could go towards a research station, bomb challenge, or find collectible backpacks. But our attention was grabbed by a nearby drug deal in progress. Spidey made his way down to street level and began to beat on a few thugs standing around. The combat is fairly fluid, and certainly comparable to the Batman Arkham series, though with a ton more verticality. You could deliver attacks from the air, or bring enemies up and juggle them around. Your web abilities also come into play, of course, as you can pull down environmental objects like scaffolding to crush enemies, or just wrap them in a web and slam them into surfaces. If you're about to get hit, the Spidey sense activates with a classic visual indicator around the superhero's head. With the bad guys dealt with, we moved on.

Marvel's Spider-Man PS4

Next up, the nearby objective had a somewhat larger icon, which indicated it was a little more involving. The goal was to clear an enemy stronghold on a rooftop of a skyscraper. Having made our way up, the game brought up a few bonus objectives (as it does for all missions); here, the goal was to take out 3 enemies in stealth, get 3 trip mine hits, and perform 3 takedowns. Tripmines are one of the items that Spidey can craft to help out in combat; you'll also be able to craft other things like web bombs, but we did not explore the menus too much. With a stealth approach, Spider-Man behaves again similar to Batman, defeating his foes from above and quickly disappearing, sometimes leaving them suspended in his web. The stealth works, but for the purposes of limited demo time, we went in with our fists and feet after the bonus objectives were fulfilled. This fight was a bit more challenging as enemies called for reinforcements as we broke stealth, but Spidey managed to prevail. We finished the fight with a big takedown move that damaged all remaining foes – for this you need to fill the Focus Bar by fighting. Having lost a little health, we could heal by pressing down on the D-pad; this too requires Focus Bar.

Spider-Man got a call on the radio, instructing him of a major robbery in town. This was the start of a story mission, so we headed to the bank. Upon entering, a cutscene played – it was Shocker. Following an intense conversation and a few quips by the two characters, it was time to rumble. The fight took place inside the bank's main lobby which was a circular arena. If there's one thing Insomniac Games aren't afraid of doing, it's creating rather typical "game" experiences. In this arena fight, there was no room to perform any web swinging, so Spidey could only run around the outside, as the Shocker unleashed a flurry of powerful attacks from the center. The villain was too much for Spidey to take on directly, so instead we had to dodge his large electrical and wave attacks and wait for the lobby to take damage. As it did, large debris fell from the ceiling; we grabbed on to it with a web and slung it right at the enemy. In hopes of ending the fight early, Spidey threw a few web bombs and tied up Shocker.

Marvel's Spider-Man PS4

But, as the cutscene revealed, that was hardly enough, so we went back for another round. The Shocker's attacks became more powerful, but the goal remained the same – dodge, and wait for falling debris to use against him. After another round of punches and unsuccessfully trying to subdue the villain, we had one more round to go – this time though, the entire large lamp-like structure that hanged above began to shake. Spidey had to dodge the huge Shocker attacks and bring down the support columns around the room – this caused the ceiling to collapse and it crushed the villain. With this, the demo concluded.

One of the chief concerns for Spider-Man fans has been the recent decline in the quality of games that we've gotten from the superhero. But in the hands of Insomniac Games, and with the backing of Sony to make this another great PS4 exclusive title, there seems to be little doubt that the game won't at least be well made. From what we've played, fans can rest easy, and those looking for an enjoyable open-world action game should also keep an eye on this title.

Marvel's Spider-Man is set to launch this September.

Marvel's Spider-Man
Marvel's Spider-Man box art Platform:
PlayStation 4
Our Review of Marvel's Spider-Man
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Marvel's Spider-Man is ranked #317 out of 1889 total reviewed games. It is ranked #9 out of 148 games reviewed in 2018.
316. Rakuen
317. Marvel's Spider-Man
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