About a month ago, I was able to attend and cover this year’s edition of Montreal Comic-Con. The videogames side of the event was again very important, and I was able to play many of the exclusives on show. It has to be said, the presence of the highly anticipated PS4 exclusive Spider-Man, developed by Insomniac Games, was not to be understated. It is its first appearance in Canada. I was able to try it, and here are my impressions.
**Disclaimer: I was unable to take any pictures or videos from my playtime, because it was forbidden to do so. The only thing I was able to do is photograph the entry of the booth (see below). All the other pictures in the article are official ones found on the Internet. **
A demo packed with content
The demo is a timed gameplay session of 22 minutes, during which I was in the middle of a mission inside Fisk’s hideout. The goal is to introduce the player to the controls during battle. There is a little traversal to do, but the main part consisted of fighting against a couple of waves of enemies. Many things happened at the same time, but this is what grabbed me.
I loved the fact that you always know what you need to do. The interface is very clear. Your objectives are always visible. I never felt lost during any part of the mission. At the beginning of those events, you have a pop-up telling you that if you do some additional optional objectives (like using certain abilities), you gain extra experience to upgrade your skills. (The upgrade skill was locked in this demo, so I was unable to evaluate it.)
Beating up enemies with style
You basically have two types of fighting styles: good-old hand-to-hand combat, and abilities, which are represented more as gadgets that your suit has. I was able to use a spiderweb bomb/grenade, which is effective against a group of enemies. There was some kind of mines that I could put on the floor, but I was not able to see them in action (my mission ended before an enemy stepped on it). It was really easy to use: just a trigger making a wheel appearing, then just a quick selection. You can’t use them indefinitely though, you need to fill up a meter to a certain level before using it.
The hand-to-hand combat feels awesome. As Spider-Man, of course, the key elements are your speed, agility, and versatility. As a very nimble hero, you must be able to combine combos fast and easy, adding in some acrobatics too. I was able to do so almost instantly. Insomniac did an incredible job with the animations and everything looks just natural. Going from aerial to ground combos can be done seamlessly. There is definitely, in my opinion, an inspiration coming from the Arkham games.
My favorite thing to do though is interacting with the environment. The entire mission is taking place at the top of a building that is undergoing heavy construction. There was a lot of objects, machinery, tools, etc. When you are fighting near them, you can have a pop-up appear and, with a simple button press, use the tools to hit the enemy. I had a lot of fun throwing stuff at them or throwing them on scaffolding.
Almost no story, gameplay aplenty
Save for some interactions via a direct communication device (not sure what it is exactly) with your ally, Yuri Watanabe, there was pretty much no story elements in the demo I played. After the mission at Fisk’s hideout completed, I was thrown into the open-world city to just navigate and do what I wanted. At this point, I only had a couple of minutes left, so I pretty much just navigated through the city to get a feel for the navigation.
I must say that traversal in this game just feels wonderful. Insomniac now has a lot of experience in terms of open-world games and it can be seen. Moving Spider-Man is fast and really intuitive. A push of a trigger and hop! Here you go! You need to walk on the walls? Easy! While you’re in the air, next to the building, a press of a button and it is done! The web slinger’s animations, while you are in the air, are so fluid that it feels like what we’ve seen in the most recent movies. I am really impressed, and I can see myself spending hours just going around the city, which feels very alive.
September 7th is so close, yet so far. Only a couple of weeks before the official release date. I was excited before I played it and now, the game really is in my most anticipated games of the year.