The Biggest Flaw In Insomniac’s Spider-Man

    Spider-Man can learn quite a lot from his past.

    I consider myself to be a connoisseur when it comes to video games focused on the titular web head. I was there when he was not so amazing, and I’ve been with him when his games have been amazing. Shattered Dimensions and Edge of Time were great, straightforward action adventure games that explored some of the more out their concepts of his mythos. Ultimate Spider-Man was a stylized open world brawler that was a perfect adaptation of the comics by the same name. Even Web of Shadows had its moments, along with a stellar combat system that has yet to be replicated in all its mayhem and glory.

    The crowning achievement in Spider-Man’s video game career has been the movie tie in game to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. No other game has perfected web slinging to such a degree where it is fun to control, but hard to master. It had actual tech that you could learn to make web slinging more fun to do.

    Some of you might be thinking, “Spider-Man (2018) and Miles Morales both had amazing web slinging that really made you feel like Spider-Man!” Unfortunately, I full heartedly disagree. This is where this conversation has a somewhat depressing tone, as I feel that the web slinging of the new Spider-Man games is as shallow as a kid’s swimming pool. To explore in which ways I find the web slinging underdeveloped, I will have to talk about the positives of the current game mechanic.

    The Not So Amazing Spider-Man

    Fun, but Shallow Web Slinging

    After recently playing and beating the Miles Morales PC port, I was reminded why so many people like the web slinging in these games. Whenever Spider-man swings, it looks fluid from an animation perspective as you see all the flips and dives that comprise the act of swinging around the city. Tricks while web slinging not only refill your venom gauge, but they all add a bit of flair to your commute to the next objective. Web zips allow you to continue your forward momentum without losing too much speed.

    Now when you are playing for the first time, these elements might be enough, but I found that as the game went on I grew to find the web slinging to be tiresome. The act of swinging around New York never evolved in any meaningful way, and the story missions never utilized the potential that web slinging could have on mission design. Where the racing missions, timed pizza deliveries, and transporting civilians in a timed setting. Miles Morales has one chase section in one of its missions, but other than that, the web slinging feels so separated from the rest of the game.

    The Promise of Spectacular Web-Slinging

    Spider-Man 2 Swinging, green car

    I think the frustrating aspect of the web slinging in the Insomniac Spider-Man games is that while they exude style, they lack complexity and depth. I think of games like Smash Bros. and the Tony Hawk games, where they were designed to be simple games with a fun gameplay loop, but overtime people uncovered the complexities of the systems. Furthermore, I’m advocated for a game that asks from its players to want to learn more from the game and to test those skills.

    For example, Spider-Man 2 had mission design that made full use of the open world to make engaging levels for a Spider-Man game. The Web Slinging was physics-based, so it always felt a little hard to control and made the act of swinging like a pro a victory to the player. The game didn’t tuck you into boring stealth missions because it knew why you were playing a Spider-Man and always put you into the action.

    Sunset Overdrive Did It Better

    Sunset Overdrive Nailed its Parkour!

    Sunset Overdrive is my favorite title from Insomniac games and has a parkour system that has so much complexity to it that every time I boot up the game I just can’t put it down. It has grind rails, bouncy platforms, Traps, and hordes of energy drink zombies. All of these elements create a system that rewards creativity and induces a sort of “the floor is lava” mentality in the player. All the game’s missions take place out in the open world and center around the parkour mechanics. The game would be far worse if they trapped you inside a warehouse and told you to kill waves of goons with zero parkour options.

    Imagine the new Spider-Man games handling more like a Tony Hawk Sport game than a more automated action game affair. You could add a style meter that would make your web slinging faster as you perform tricks and tricky maneuvers. Incorporate a skill tree that unlocks moves and more ways to traverse the city in stylish ways that feel good to pull off. I don’t just want the game to make me feel like Spider-Man, but to make me earn what it really takes to be Spider-Man.

    Spider-Man’s Hopeful Final Swing

    Web-Slinging can be Amazing!

    Even with all the criticism that I have addressed in this article, I still want it to be clear that I liked these games and that I hope they become even better. If you like the web slinging in these games, then more power to you. With the future of Spider-Man still up in the air, I hope that Insomniac Games can really dig deep and make a movement system that evolves with the player. Don’t be afraid to add cool parkour that makes the web slinging fun and involved. Maybe add a more detailed physics system that really rewards the player for being proficient in traversal mechanics.

    Lastly, make more of the game take place in the open and regularly test the player on their web sling around the city. If Insomniac Games focuses on what makes Spider-Man games special instead of boring game mechanics from the Arkham games, then I think that Spider-Man 2 will be the best Spider-Man game ever. Oh also, no pipe puzzles with Dr. Mario.

    Bolt9236 loves video games of all shapes and forms. Some of his earliest gaming experiences was playing CO-OP games with his Dad. Believes that video games are the best art form and loves to explain the complicated history of video games. His opinions are his own even if their not popular.

    Latest articles

    Related articles