Greetings, true believer! I’ve waited fourteen years for a Spider-Man game to receive Batman Arkham quality treatment, and by golly, Insomanic Games has potentially prevailed to the highest degree. I managed to get my hands on the demo following Sony’s showcase at E3 2018. God as my witness, I nearly shed tears in doing so. I stood in line for an hour to explore Manhattan, web up some goons, and kick Shocker’s ass. Following the conclusion, I’d have waited half a day to have another go at it.
I trust you’re a fan of the character, and by now it’s safe to assume you’ve seen the demo Insomniac showed off at the show all week long. I also imagine we’re on the same page regarding the importance of immaculate web swinging. Friend, it’s glorious. The moment Spidey leapt from the building and dove for the street, my worries were immediately laid to rest. It looks outstanding, of course, and Insomniac’s knack for open world traversal is ever-present.
I mean it with the utmost praise when I say the fluidity nears a point of absurdity. Shooting webs and swinging through the city feels incredibly smooth, and Spidey reacts perfectly to your every move. Having the option to hang onto a web for as long as I damn well please before letting go was one of my one of my highest hopes, and you can do just that. Diving deep and swinging high is my preferred method of traversal. If you have a need for speed, have at it with the ability to charge your swing and project forward. Should buildings or rooftops stand in your way, the simple tap of the R1 button zips you from point to point, maintaining your rhythmic momentum. The transition between deep swings and swift zips is entirely seamless. Should you need a break to analyze your surroundings, aiming toward a perch point and holding the left and right triggers sends Spidey directly to it.
I later found myself on a rooftop surrounded by a gang of King Pin’s thugs. Being the friendly neighborhood I am, I couldn’t leave them to their own devices. I elegantly ended their vices by applying my fists to faces. I managed to squeeze in a few kicks, flips, and web gadgets while I was at it. Whether spamming web balls or tossing web grenades, aiming with the left trigger in the heat of combat felt pretty slick. Having rigorously indulged in the Arkham series, combat admittedly felt a little been there done that. But damn it Spider-Man has never looked and felt this good in a fight. From interacting with the environment to uppercutting an enemy to the heavens, the web-slinger’s combat mechanics reflect the excellence of his traversal.
Prior to dealing with Shocker’s futile attempt at a bank heist, I handled a convenient store robbery and truck carrying a bomb. The convenient store bit naturally resulted in another brawl, but I appreciated the local admiration before I thwipped down the street toward the plutonium on wheels. Stopping a speeding truck is reasonably dynamic. Criminals attempt to shoot you through the roof of the vehicle, and it’s up to you to dodge their rounds in a timely fashion. You remain in relative control of the cinematic sequence, as jumping around the vehicle and throwing punches requires the simple flick of the left stick and the square button, respectively. The final crash through the front windshield that propels the driver into the street is particularly splendid to behold. I slapped the rest of goons around before snagging the ticking bomb and flinging it skyward for an explosion. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about that specific side objective after doing it a hundred times, but knowing Insomniac, I trust the open world activities will be substantially dynamic. In general, New York is rife with objectives in which to engage, and I hardly scratched the surface of what’s out there.
Shocker put up a fair fight, but his powers were clearly inferior to my own. Avoiding his shockwaves proved moderately challenging, and I enjoyed the banter between him and the wallcrawler. Ultimately, Spider-Man presented an unforgettable hands-on experience. Dreams do come true, my friend. Insomniac has my proudest salute, and I can’t wait to enjoy the game in its entirety when it launches on September 7. Excelsior!