Spider-Man

A rare harmony of developer and licence makes Insomniac's open-worlder a total treat.

Key events

Remember Spider-Man PS4's "puddlegate"? Ahead of the game's release, people got hot under the collar about an adjustment in puddle placement in a scene which sees far less water coverage. There was a kerfuffle but, inevitably, when the game came out and people started playing and enjoying it, the kerfuffle evaporated (Digital Foundry debunked the whole thing, too).

A while ago I've had a discussion with a certain Spelunky-loving editor of this website in which I argued that most roguelikes, Spelunky in particular, were too chaotic for me to handle. I like the orderliness of a JRPG or a round-based strategy game, games where after a while things follow a reliable pattern.

Games get really interesting, I think, when designers start to think about what the player won't be able to do as much as they think about what they will be able to do. It's all a bit topsy-turvy. In my head, at least, games start with lists of possibilities and positives. What if you could eat a mushroom and grow really giant? What if you could move in every direction and shoot in every direction at the same time? But there are games out there that I really suspect were built in a very different way. And it turns out I've spent the last month playing one of them, and the last week playing another. They are both rich in joy, and they're both by the same developer. Jeepers!

Shadow of the Tomb Raider physical sales down on Tomb Raider reboot

Shadow of the Tomb Raider's launch week physical sales were down 70 per cent on those of the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot. Lara Croft's latest adventure failed to top the UK chart, too - held off by another amazing week of sales for PS4 exclusive Marvel's Spider-Man.

Of course, Shadow will likely have sold more digital downloads now than 2013's game did (as ever, UK numbers company Chart-Track does not count these). But Shadow also only posted a meagre gain in sales on the more recent Rise of the Tomb Raider, which unlike Shadow was initially released only for Xbox One.

On the topic of console exclusives, Spider-Man continues to sell phenomenally well. It is top of the chart again this week, and in its two weeks of release has already almost matched the lifetime sales of this year's God of War - which didn't do shabbily either.

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Spider-Man PS4 is a great game (check out Christian Donlan's Spider-Man review to find out why), but there's more to it than web-slinging and punching up bad guys. It's also a game packed with Easter eggs, many of which revolve around characters and events from the Marvel universe. And there are even hints at the future.

A lot of scriptwriting lore has pretty much gone mainstream by now. We're all supposed to know that good writers show and don't tell - so much so that it's enough to make you ask, reeeeeeally...? - and if you hang about around the local cinema you'll probably hear people coming out of screenings talking about delayed third acts and all that kind of densely technical stuff. (Also you'll go home smelling of popcorn, which is always money in the bank.) One of the most interesting things that scriptwriters like to talk about, though, doesn't seem to have broken through in quite the same way. One of the most interesting questions scriptwriters often ask themselves is also one of the most fundamental. Whose story is this?

Spider-Man is getting a New Game Plus update

Spider-Man has been out for a mere five days, but many enthusiasts have already speedily completed the game and are hungry for more. These fans will soon be able to swing back into the action with some new challenges, as Insomniac has announced a New Game Plus update is in the pipelines.

The news spread across the web after Insomniac replied to a fan question on Twitter. There isn't a solid release date, but it sounds like it's currently in the final stages of production.

New Game Plus modes typically provide extra challenges to give games added replayability. God of War's recent New Game Plus update, for instance, made end-game weapons available from the start, but enemies more challenging to deal with from the get-go. We don't yet know exactly what Insomniac has in store for Spider-Man's new game update, but it's likely to be along these lines. One thing is certain: if you found your first playthrough to be a walk in the park(er), the New Game Plus mode will provide something different for your second playthrough.

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Insomniac offers to patch out the ill-fated marriage proposal in Spider-Man

Insomniac offers to patch out the ill-fated marriage proposal in Spider-Man

"The Easter egg is probably the saddest Easter egg in a game."

Insomniac Games has offered to patch out an in-game marriage proposal after discovering the relationship concerned broke down just a few weeks before Spider-Man's highly-anticipated release.

Tyler Schultz approached Insomniac back in May, asking if the developer could help him propose to his girlfriend "in a big way". Amazingly, Marvel agreed, and the words "Maddie, will you marry me?" are indeed included on a movie theatre marquee in the final game.

Sadly, it seems the proposal did not quite go to plan, though. According to a video blog by Schultz - which also gives instructions on where to find the sign - Schultz's girlfriend allegedly left him just a few weeks before the game was released.

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FeatureThe fast travel in Spider-Man is touched with genius

And a bit about the Morellian method.

There is little reason to use fast travel in Marvel's Spider-Man. Manhattan, as Insomniac Games draws it, is a sparkling but compact metropolis: no two points are far apart. More importantly, getting from A to B is an authentic delight for this particular Spider-Man. The web-swinging is endlessly enjoyable with its lullaby see-sawing between the city streets and the wild blue sky. Why would you want to skip all that just to get to your destination a few seconds sooner?

Marvel's Spider-Man review - a classic hero gets the game he deserves

Can you truly say you have lived until you have lamped someone with a manhole cover in Insomniac's new Spider-Man game? Sure, you may have known happiness to a certain degree. You may have known love, even. You may have rolled the dice, as the saying goes, and landed a few sevens. But lamping someone with a manhole cover? It's top-tier. Top of the shop, as an older generation might put it. Bam!

Marvel's Spider-Man

Developer: Insomniac Games

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Digital FoundryMarvel's Spider-Man - Insomniac's technology swings to new heights

PS4's latest technical marvel under the microscope.

Marvel's Spider-Man continues Sony's winning run in first-party releases, once again combining state of the art technology with well-realised gameplay and a wealth of content. For our money, it's also the best and most ambitious release yet from Insomniac Games, and the most complete Spider-Man experience to date. Our focus here concentrates primarily on the game's technical aspects - if you're looking for the final word on last week's 'downgrade' flare-up, we debunked that yesterday.

Debunking the Spider-Man 'downgrade'

Digital FoundryDebunking the Spider-Man 'downgrade'

What if we told you it's been upgraded instead?

Those expecting confirmation of a downgrade to Marvel's Spider-Man when assessing final code should probably look away now. Having stacked up the final game against the E3 2017 presentation, our overall conclusion is that Insomniac is on the money here - there have been changes, as there are during production of any game - but there has been no technical downgrade. In fact, we'd say that the final presentation is upgraded in key respects, both technical and artistic.

We'll begin by tackling the key change that kicked off the whole episode - an adjustment in puddle placement in a scene which sees far less water coverage. It's the first image in the screenshot comparison block below, and there's no denying that the impact of the E3 2017 image is more striking. But what's more interesting is the composition of reflections in the water itself. Insomniac's Spider-Man uses reflections extensively - and brilliantly - throughout the game, and in the demo, these are rendered using a combination of screen-space and cube-map reflections.

Screen-space reflections are exactly that - elements of the scene that are visible can be repurposed and mapped onto reflective surfaces to convincing effect, but the key limitation is that parts of the scene that should be reflected but aren't rendered can't be included. For this eventuality, there is a fallback - the cube-map reflection. Think of cube-maps as static, pre-generated snapshots of the scene. The E3 demo uses tight, scene-specific cube-maps and SSR in tandem to give an effect so convincing that many even considered that Spider-Man may be using ray-tracing - but that isn't the case.

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Insomniac details Spider-Man's post-launch story DLC The City That Never Sleeps

UPDATE 3/9/18: Ahead of Spider-Man's PlayStation 4 release this Friday, September 7th, Insomniac has unveiled a brand-new teaser trailer for the game's upcoming story DLC, The City That Never Sleeps.

The teaser's notable for the fact that it offers a first look at Insomniac's interpretation of fan favourite character Felicia Hardy, otherwise known as Black Cat. As the developer revealed last week, Hardy's presence will be felt during the base game, but players won't encounter her directly without playing through the The City That Never Sleeps' first episode, The Heist.

That's due to arrive on October 23rd, with later instalments Spider-Man: Turf Wars and Spider-Man: Silver Lining launching in November and December.

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Upcoming PS4 exclusives God of War, Detroit and Spider-Man currently unavailable to pre-order from Amazon

UPDATE 20/4/18: God of War launches today and is now available to buy from Amazon, despite the retailer closing pre-orders for the game earlier this week.

Other upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusives like Detroit and Spider-Man remain unavailable to pre-order, with no explanation given.

Whatever the beef is with PlayStation and Amazon, it appears to relate to the pre-ordering of games only. Happily, we haven't heard any reports that pre-orders sent in before Amazon shut them down were not received as expected.

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Here's the cool new trailer for Insomniac's Spider-Man game

Sony's released a new trailer for Insomniac's Spider-Man game and it looks awesome.

In the video we see more of Peter Parker. With Kingpin behind bars, Parker dares to wonder whether it's safe for him to relax. We also see Peter's "very close friend" Mary Jane Watson and Aunt May.

Of course it's not long before we see Spider-Man do his thing, fighting against a raft of enemies and sorting out a bank robbery. We also see what looks like a playable Mary Jane section.

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Digital FoundrySpider-Man reaches new heights on PS4 Pro

Smart rendering techniques combine for one of Pro's best presentations yet.

Insomniac's Spider-Man was one of the highlights at this year's E3, with Sony showcasing the game running on PlayStation 4 Pro, hooked up to a top-end Sony ZD9 UHD TV - one of the best HDR sets on the market. The extended demo sequence shown off by the developer takes us through combat atop a partially constructed skyscraper to an epic helicopter chase through the New York skyline. It's a carefully chosen slice of gameplay taken from one of the main story missions, giving us a first look of what to expect from the game in terms of sprawling environments, large set-pieces, and how the core gameplay mechanics allow for some impressive physics-based action. It also looks quite stunning - if this is the standard of second-gen PS4 Pro titles in the pipeline, users of Sony's 'super-charged' console have much to look forward to.

FeatureThe big interview: Sony's Jim Ryan

On the competition, cross-platform play, exclusives and more.

It's hard to argue with Sony's first half of 2017. The PlayStation 4 has enjoyed a number of exciting console exclusives, including Horizon: Zero Dawn, Nier Automata, Persona 5 and Nioh. But after watching Sony's E3 2017 media briefing this week, I couldn't help but feel the next six months look decidedly pedestrian in comparison.

Insomniac's Spider-Man debuts gameplay footage

Insomniac's Spider-Man debuts gameplay footage

Miles Morales confirmed, but is he playable?

Ratchet and Clank and Sunset Overdrive developer Insomniac Games' upcoming Spider-Man title finally debuted gameplay footage at Sony's E3 press conference.

As you can see in the sizzle reel below, this upcoming Spider-Man title, which so far just seems to be called Spider-Man, looks like a mix of quite a few recent superhero games.

It's got the sneaky stealth bits of Batman's Arkham series, the superpowered parkour of inFamous, and the pleasant swinging sensation of Bionic Commando. All the while Spidey quips in his adorably obnoxious way.

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Watch Sony's fancy pants PS4 advert

And hunt for video game references.

John Lewis and M&S eat your hearts out. Sony's released a fancy new PlayStation 4 advert just in time for Christmas - and it's packed with video game references.