Despite being a headlong engine of triple-A entertainment, Spider-Man has no shortage of impromptu moments of wonder and welcome slivers of quietude. Insomniac's PS4-exclusive chucks a little bit of everything into its towering New York, a dazzling - often literally, if the sunset or sunrise catches the glass-skinned skyscrapers just so - simulacrum that feels near-mythic. This NYC manages to seem hyper-real even while allowing your Spidey to rather implausibly survive ricocheting off walls and (a few skill tree unlocks later) do some unnatural roly-poly charged jumps along the ground. It's not so much a sandbox game as an airbox: a crash course in physics, momentum, stickiness and gravity.
Spoiler Alert: This piece discusses the ending of Marvel's Spider-Man.
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!
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?
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 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.
One of the very first things you'll do as the amazing eponymous webslinger in Marvel's Spider-Man on PS4 isn't defy gravity to swing from a skyscraper or to pick up a freight train with your bare hands or even to trade blows with a deadly villain in a life or death clash of titans.
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.
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.