Spider-Man Part 2: Meet Peter Parker

By Shamus Posted Thursday Dec 6, 2018

Filed under: Retrospectives 71 comments

For the record, I played through this game a total of four times back-to-back. I tried every difficulty level, and I’ve tried disabling some of the optional side elements like quicktime events and puzzles. I’ve fully cleared 100% of all objectives, obtained all the trophies, and I’ve spent endless hours swinging through the Manhattan playground that developer Insomniac Games has built for us. I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on the thing both mechanically and narratively, although I can’t claim I know this game as well as I know Batman: Arkham City.

Speaking of Batman: I’m going to spend a few words in this series contrasting Batman: Arkham Sequels and Spider-Man: No Subtitle. I anticipate the knee jerk reaction will be that they’re different games with a different focus and it’s not fair to expect Spider-Man’s game to simply copy Batman’s games. And just to be clear: I totally agree. Just because I compare the two doesn’t mean that I automatically think Batman did it better. On the other hand, it’s obvious Insomniac Games took a lot of cues from Rocksteady’s Batman formula when designing their Spider-Game. As the two standard bearers of the open world superhero brawler I think the occasional comparison is fair, as long as we remember that Batman: Arkham Whatever had six years and four mainline entries to refine the formula, while this is effectively the first outing for Insomniac’s version of Spider-Man.

The Weird Stuff

This is not the weird stuff yet. We'll get to the weird stuff later.
This is not the weird stuff yet. We'll get to the weird stuff later.

This story does some pretty deep cuts on Spider-lore while also rewriting or altering parts of the mythology. I’m not enough of a Spidey scholar to know if the writer was just trying to make a mixtape of the character’s iconic moments or if there’s some grand design behind these references and changes that I’m just not seeing. Some of the changes strike me as kind of peculiar. Maybe the writer is trying to break Spidey out of his 60-year rut, or maybe they’re just changing stuff to subvert our expectations.

Five people are credited with writing this game. Two of them are Christos Gage and Dan Slott, who are longtime contributors to the Spider-Man mythos. Gage wrote for The Amazing Spider-Man from 2011 to 2013. Slott wrote the final issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, which ended with issue #700 where a dying Doctor Octopus swaps bodies with Peter Parker, and then Peter (in the frail body of Doc Ock) dies, leaving a supervillain inside the body of a superhero. After that Marvel launched The Superior Spider-Man, which tells the story of this new Spider-Man with the mind of Doctor Octopus.


Link (YouTube)

Having the hero die and get replaced by his arch nemesis via brain-swap is exactly the kind of “weird stuff” I was referring to last week when I talked about how I found long-running stories to be a little off-putting. Again, I want to stress that I get the reasoning here. Slott didn’t pen that story for detached fans like me, he wrote it for longtime fans that were looking for something freshAlthough predictably a lot of people really hated this idea. You have to expect some backlash when killing off a beloved hero and replacing him with his nemesis.. Over the previous half century a lot of the old plotlines had been thoroughly worn out and it’s perfectly reasonable to want to shake things up with a fresh status quo.

For the most part, I’m going to keep to my usual habit of referring to “the Writer” as a singular person. Although since this retrospective is a little more positive than my usual work I’m going to break that rule at a couple of points where we see huge shifts in style.

In any case, the spoilers begin now. I’m going to spoil the ending fairly early in this series, so be ready for that.

Meet Peter

Peter Parker has always parted his hair off to one side, and yet in this game he doesn't. I can't handle these kinds of massive shakeups in continuity. I don't know who this character is anymore!
Peter Parker has always parted his hair off to one side, and yet in this game he doesn't. I can't handle these kinds of massive shakeups in continuity. I don't know who this character is anymore!

The game needs to introduce us to this particular iteration of Peter Parker. Is Peter in high school? Post-college? Married? Employed? The Spider-Man name is nearly 60 years old at this point. The character has gone through a lot of changes over the decades and everyone is likely to have a different idea about which one is the “true” version of the character.

For me, Spidey was hermetically sealed in a comic book sleeve back in 1979 and nothing noteworthy has happened to him since then. For other people, the Sam Rami version of the character is the only one they know. Other people are more familiar with the 1990 status quo where he was married to Mary Jane and Venom was his arch nemesis. Still others are hip to the modern incarnations of the character where the Spider name has been franchised similar to how Batman has a sprawling array of Bat-themed allies. Some tragic souls only know him through the lens of the misbegotten Amazing Spider-Man movies.

At some point, it became Marvel canon that Marvel comics existed INSIDE the Marvel universe. I've always wondered how that was supposed to work. Here Peter Parker has an issue of Amazing Fantasy #15, which tells Spider-Man's origin story. If this is the case, how is his identity a secret?
At some point, it became Marvel canon that Marvel comics existed INSIDE the Marvel universe. I've always wondered how that was supposed to work. Here Peter Parker has an issue of Amazing Fantasy #15, which tells Spider-Man's origin story. If this is the case, how is his identity a secret?

The opening shot pans through Peter’s one-room apartment to introduce us to his life. He’s living alone, which means he’s not in highschool and he’s not married. Newspapers on the wall show us he’s already faced off against some of his big-ticket foes like Scorpion and Rhino. A dead plant shows he’s a bit of a scatterbrain who doesn’t really have his life together. Disassembled gadgets show he’s a bit of a tinkerer and an inventor.  This is a really compact introduction and I appreciate how dense Peter’s room is with details. Every time I see this cutscene I manage to spot something new.

Peter’s phone rings with a police scanner messageYeah, that’s a little weird. Get used to it. The game really blurs the line between phone calls, Skype, radio messages, Discord channels, and voicemail. that announces the police are mobilizing for a move on Fisk TowerFun fact: In this game, Fisk Tower is positioned roughly where you’d find Trump Tower in real-world Manhattan.. Peter jumps out of bed and pulls his Spidey costume out of the dirty laundry as he slams down some dry toast for breakfast.

The background of this scene is packed with so many cool details. Broom and mop to remind us of the mundane side of his life. A poster of his public match against a wrestler. Samples of his photography. Picture of Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Picture of Peter, MJ, and Harry Osborn. I'll bet half of those refrigerator magnets are I LOVE NEW YORK style tourist junk. Everything is placed with thought and fills in the scene while also doing some worldbuilding and characterization.
The background of this scene is packed with so many cool details. Broom and mop to remind us of the mundane side of his life. A poster of his public match against a wrestler. Samples of his photography. Picture of Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Picture of Peter, MJ, and Harry Osborn. I'll bet half of those refrigerator magnets are I LOVE NEW YORK style tourist junk. Everything is placed with thought and fills in the scene while also doing some worldbuilding and characterization.

I love details like this, and it’s one of the things that makes the character so “real” for me. Steve Rogers never has to worry about paying for repairs on mundane items around the house. Clark Kent isn’t constantly running late and letting people down because of his Superman duties. Wonder Woman doesn’t spend a lot of time agonizing about losing her job. Thor never has to resort to a junk food breakfast because he slept in. Batman doesn’t have to constantly placate Alfred to keep him from worrying like Peter does with Aunt May. Tony Stark doesn’t have to worry about hosing the sweat and body odor out of the Iron-Man suit.

Sure, partly this is due to the fact that most superheroes are generally wealthy. Or they’re royalty. Or gods. But Peter’s civilian life and his superhero life are constantly interfering with each other and I think it makes him incredibly relatable. I can’t climb walls or shoot webs, but I know how hard it is to maintain a proper work-life balance. I know what it’s like getting calls from the wife at the office and calls from the boss at home, and how both sides kind of blame you when it happens.

The scene ends with Peter pulling on the Spider-Man costume. He can grab the police scanner and head off to help the police, or he can check out the eviction notice that was just slid under his door. It’s not much of a contest. Spider-Man dives out the window and leaves Peter Parker’s problems behind.

The Swing of Things

The game uses motion blur to create a sense of speed. That's nice, but it also means a lot of my screenshots are going to be mush. Sorry. If this was a PC port I could probably turn that off, but this game is PS4 only.
The game uses motion blur to create a sense of speed. That's nice, but it also means a lot of my screenshots are going to be mush. Sorry. If this was a PC port I could probably turn that off, but this game is PS4 only.

This game starts off strong. It introduces us to this particular iteration of Peter Parker and then it launches us right into the web-swinging tutorial. The developers obviously knew they had a winning traversal system on their hands and they wanted to lead off with it. Compare this to Arkham City, where the combat system is the star of the show and you’ll spend about twenty minutes watching cutscenes and handing out Bat-naps before the game cuts you loose to glide over the city.

I actually got a little emotional the first time I swung through the city. Spider-Man jumped out of his apartment window and as the game seamlessly transitioned to gameplay I was overcome with just how perfect it was. It’s a videogame that feels like it was ripped from my childhood daydreams.

This is it. This is the best it’s ever been. This isn’t just the best web-swinging in a Spider-Man game, this is the best it’s ever felt to get around in a videogame, ever.

I admit I’m biased, but it really is stunning just how much they got right. Getting around in this game involves making constant snap decisions that result in an exhilarating roller-coaster ride through a sprawling and beautifully realized city.

Gah. Somehow we end up with images that are both blurry AND suffer from pronounced aliasing? Damnit. I wish this thing would come to the PC. Still, this swinging is crazy fun.
Gah. Somehow we end up with images that are both blurry AND suffer from pronounced aliasing? Damnit. I wish this thing would come to the PC. Still, this swinging is crazy fun.

You can let go of a web-line at the bottom of your swing, giving up some altitude in exchange for forward momentum. Alternatively you can hold on as long as possible, bleeding off speed but gaining height. You can throw a webline downwards to snap onto a convenient landing point below you. If you get the timing just right, you can launch yourself from that landing point and back into the air without losing speed. If you’re headed towards an opening like a window or the legs of a water tower, Spidey will do a little dive move as he passes through and the camera will give you a little flourish to make it feel like that was something you did on purpose. You can freefall to gain tons of speed and you can do little spins and flips in the air for no other reason than it looks cool.

This traversal system is a lot like the Batman fighting system. Casual button-mashing can look pretty cool on its own, but if you’re willing to put in the time you can improvise to make something fast and seamless that looks like it was meticulously choreographed.

But it’s Too Easy!

One of the main complaints about this system is that it’s “too simple”. It “lacks depth”. That’s technically true. Some people even go so far as to suggest the system should be made more “challenging”. I understand why people say this, but they’re wrong.

One example is this episode of Game Maker’s Toolkit: Does Spidey’s Web-Swinging ‘Make You Feel Like Spider-Man’?


Link (YouTube)

The argument goes that it’s not really rewarding because you don’t have to “work” for it. You can effortlessly swing over the city without spending hours mastering timing windows and input patterns. You can flub a swing without Spider-Man stumbling, falling, or bouncing off a window like an idiot. There’s no fall damage and the game makes no effort to kill you for making mistakes. Wouldn’t it be better if you had to put more effort into it? Wouldn’t it be better if there was a huge learning curve that you had to climb up before you could enjoy an effortless swing across the city?

No. That’s a terrible idea. That would completely break the game in multiple ways.

Not every game needs to be a Dark Souls style crucible of tears and failure. Not everything needs to be “earned”. Not every action needs to be a challenge. It’s okay to have features that are “just for fun”.

Mass Effect wouldn’t be improved if we made dialog selections some sort of quicktime event that required the player to memorize button prompts to get the option they want. World of Warcraft wouldn’t be improved if flying on a gryphon involved a timing minigame that would make you crash if you messed up. Assassin’s Creed wouldn’t be improved if you had to use the stick to keep your balance so you don’t fall off your horse.

WHEEE!
WHEEE!

Spider-Man features a massive open world. If it was a lot of work to get around, then those long swings across the city would become a chore. Mario is a game about jumping so it makes sense for jumping to be challenging. But Spider-Man isn’t a game about figuring out how you can possibly get from Midtown to Harlem. This is a story-based game about getting into brawls with mooks and supervillains. The swinging is just our means of transportation. Imagine how tedious Grand Theft Auto would be if they made the game more “challenging” by having people constantly trying to murder you and ram you off the road Burnout style when you’re just trying to enjoy a drive through the countryside. Maybe there are moments when that sort of excitement sounds fun, but you wouldn’t want that sort of aggressive opposition to be a constant part of the experience.

If you made getting around difficult, then players would lean into Spider-Man‘s fast-travel system. If you change swinging so it’s a challenge instead of a reward, then the vast majority of players will minimize the time they spend doing it. It will make the entire open world a self-defeating design that punishes people for trying to get around.

Note how experienced Dark Souls players usually evade or avoid as many mook fights as they can. They don’t run back and forth over the level mopping up generic mooksI mean, I’m sure SOME do, but that’s not a common behavior and it’s not what fans get excited about., they save their effort and resources for the fights that really matter. Instead of enjoying a gratifying and sensory-stimulating swing, most players would minimize the time spent swinging through the open world. This gargantuan replica of Manhattan would go to waste.

But Does it Need to be Shallow?

I don't know how you JUMP off a web-line, but I'll go with it if it's fun.
I don't know how you JUMP off a web-line, but I'll go with it if it's fun.

I think one of the problems is that people have trouble separating depth from the idea of adversity. If they realize something feels a bit too shallow, then their first instinct is to add constant adversity and danger. But there are other ways to make something deep besides attacking the player or inflicting failure on them. Instead of making Spider-Man a clumsy oaf and forcing the player to master the systems just to get around gracefully, you can make graceful movement the default and allow the player to move more quickly if they get good at it.

Here are some suggesting for how to make swinging more interesting without turning it into a chore:

Right now there’s the point launch system. You can web something on the ground below you, and Spider-Man will pull himself towards it. If you hit the jump button just before you touch down, he’ll launch himself back into the air with additional speed. That’s a pretty good idea, but you don’t have to master the timing. If you flutter the jump button just before you land, then one of those button-presses will hit the mark and you’ll get your speed boost. If the game was a little more strict about these inputs and didn’t allow you to spam your way to victory, then it would be worth learning the timing.

Spider-Man gets a phone call while swinging over the city. Man, I wish I could get a cell phone what would show me a picture of the other person and a waveform of their audio. Why don't we have that yet?
Spider-Man gets a phone call while swinging over the city. Man, I wish I could get a cell phone what would show me a picture of the other person and a waveform of their audio. Why don't we have that yet?

Once you put a few points into Spidey’s skill tree, you’ll unlock an ability to let you do these little flips and spins in the air for trivial little bits of XP. That’s fine, but there’s no challenge to it. You just hold a button and it happens. It would be better if these flips would happen in response to well-timed movements.

As you level up, you occasionally get passive speed boosts to your swing speed. It would be better if these boosts were the result of graceful movement rather than leveling up. Maybe they kick in after X number of swings without “touching down”, so the longer you swing without running along the ground or the side of a building, the faster you go. You can give it an appropriate “wooshing” sound and momentary radial motion-blur like the Fast and the Furious does when someone steps on the gas. Nudge the field of view up a few degrees to make it feel even fasterA high field of view – like a wide-angle lens – tends to exaggerate forward motion. Conversely, peering at the world through a sniper scope makes it feel like you’re inching forward. The important thing is that more FOV = greater sensation of speed.. This will encourage the player to avoid bumping into buildings.

I’m all for making Spider-Man’s swinging deeper, but it should absolutely not be difficult to get around.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Although predictably a lot of people really hated this idea. You have to expect some backlash when killing off a beloved hero and replacing him with his nemesis.

[2] Yeah, that’s a little weird. Get used to it. The game really blurs the line between phone calls, Skype, radio messages, Discord channels, and voicemail.

[3] Fun fact: In this game, Fisk Tower is positioned roughly where you’d find Trump Tower in real-world Manhattan.

[4] I mean, I’m sure SOME do, but that’s not a common behavior and it’s not what fans get excited about.

[5] A high field of view – like a wide-angle lens – tends to exaggerate forward motion. Conversely, peering at the world through a sniper scope makes it feel like you’re inching forward. The important thing is that more FOV = greater sensation of speed.



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71 thoughts on “Spider-Man Part 2: Meet Peter Parker

  1. Jabberwok says:

    If traversal is more satisfying than both Saints Row 4 and Crackdown 2, that’s pretty impressive.

    “The swinging is just our means of transportation.”

    ^ I thought this was interesting, because it’s the exact opposite of the perspective that Mark Brown uses for his argument.

    1. galacticplumber says:

      It’s also exactly the opposite of the case in a good spiderman game. Swinging isn’t just “our mode of transportation.” It’s the entire reason to play the game as opposed to some other brawler/combat/whatever you want to call it.

      For example Spiderman 2 allowed you vast amounts of freedom with what needed to happen to progress the story most of the time. If you’re anything like me, and by reputation the majority of players, you spent 90% of your time pointedly ignoring the ground doing swinging related challenges.

      Fights were hilariously brief, easy affairs with an amusingly overpowered combat system meant to give you something else to do for a bit before slapping you on the ass and telling you to get back to the good stuff.

      How hard was swinging? You very much could screw up. Miss a turn, hit a wall, touch the ground unintentionally landing by letting go too soon, bleed your momentum by letting go too late, and so on.

      Required story swinging had extremely generous time limits such that you COULD fail your way through everything, but if you wanted to avoid losing speed doing all but simple straight lines you’d bloody well experiment for a few minutes/an hour tops to get a handle on things.

      Contrast this with the current system where you can literally hold the swing button and the direction of your objective. Spiderman 2 was no dark souls. You could get competent quite quickly and weren’t even required to do so to win. It did, however, expect you to actually engage with the systems if you wanted the good results.

      1. Guest says:

        You literally cannot do that- have you even played the game?

        And the time trials in this one aren’t messing around “Miss a turn, hit a wall, touch the ground unintentionally landing by letting go too soon, bleed your momentum by letting go too late, and so on.” and you’ll fail.

        Pfffft

        1. galacticplumber says:

          Literally watched it happen. Guy got most of the way to the objective from the kitchen, stopped because he’d asked me to call when he was about to overshoot the objective, then took the last few seconds of course correction when he got back. It was embarrassing.

    2. Guest says:

      Yeah, it’s definitely not, it’s a massive chunk of content that a lot of players focus on.

      Also, it is difficult? Feels like missing the mark to say that because it isn’t punishing. I was definitely rubbish at the swinging at first. Yes, I could get around, but it was ugly and clumsy and dumb, contant running into buildings etc. When I first used it in combat, it was mostly just panic swinging for distance.

      A few hours in, and there’s a marked improvement, I’m making active choices, know what different building heights mean for traversal, I’m throwing in swingkicks. It’s not just coming to terms with the controls, which are simple, I just kept improving.

      It’s really good easy to learn, hard to master gameplay-it doesn’t need to kill you to be difficult, just give you the subtle reminder that you could always do this better.

  2. JDMM says:

    The other thing is sometimes they give skill mastering systems but the results are just stupid to look at

    CounterStrike bunnyhopping, Ocarina of Time side jumping, rocket jumping (although…)

    These games are about being the Superhero, if the superhero obtains max speed by, say, going backwards that breaks the feel of the game

    Anyway going from the Matthematosis video on Mario Sunshine the terms are looking for are skill floor (how good you need to be to do something/be good at it) and skill ceiling (the point at which your skill plateaus, play any better and it just doesn’t matter) with GMTK arguing to heighten the skill floor (for satisfaction or some such thing) and you arguing for a skill ceiling approach due to it being an open-world game

    Thinking on the Raimi movies something you might add is if you go close enough to some particular building or particular structure at some particular point you can do what the Raimi Spiderman did and torpedo through the structure like what happened in the Doc Ock fight in part 2

    1. Hal says:

      Thinking on the Raimi movies something you might add is if you go close enough to some particular building or particular structure at some particular point you can do what the Raimi Spiderman did and torpedo through the structure like what happened in the Doc Ock fight in part 2

      I think Spider-Man’s interaction with fire escapes is my favorite little variation on that.

      Although it has to be said that sometimes you can get stuck on features (like fire escapes) because the game is doing those little flourishes and you’re just trying to get around the dang things.

    2. Mephane says:

      CounterStrike bunnyhopping

      Oh how I loathe bunnyhopping in shooters, and not just in PvP. The mere sight of some soldier or whatever hopping up and down every second is, even for a more lighthearted setting (like Overwatch), just to silly to watch.

      And considering how little jumping is actually involved in reality; a soldier would vault on top of or over an obstacle, not hop on it like Super Mario.

  3. Kdansky says:

    I think the argument is splitting hairs at this point. Both Mark and Shamus argue that swinging should be something that a player can get better at. The only difference is in the minute details of where we put the baseline for incompetence. The problem with this Spiderman game is that the skill floor is incredibly low (everybody is very competent with zero investment) AND the skill ceiling is also very low (there is nothing to get good at). Of course you can have a higher delta between the two by lowering the floor or raising the ceiling. That much is obvious. What isn’t so obvious is *how* to raise the ceiling, as the character is already about as competent as he could possibly ever be.

    Mark Brown in particular is all about making games easy for people who don’t want (or cannot) deal with difficulty, like his videos on accessibility where he praised Celeste for having a full-blown cheat menu (infinite double jumps and slow motion in a platformer is about as unbalanced as it could possibly be) – Framing his argument that he wants every game to be Dark Souls is a bit of a strawman.

    And lastly, Swinging is not just “a means of transportation” – It is the major game defining mechanic, and it’s shallow like a Bethesda game. If you take it out, Spiderman is just another mediocre Ubisoft Collectathon. That is why it should have some meat to it (and have both a low floor and a high ceiling), and not be as easy as holding forwards. If I want to hold forward and watch cutscenes, I can pick up a controller while I watch Netflix.

    1. Shamus says:

      “Framing his argument that he wants every game to be Dark Souls is a bit of a strawman.”

      I was offering up Brown’s video as an example of the criticisms thrown at the game. He’s not the only one and my arguments were not aimed at him exclusively. I’m not going to find some long forum rant and single out some rando, even though there were a lot of randos in a lot of forum threads.

    2. Hal says:

      The only difference is in the minute details of where we put the baseline for incompetence. The problem with this Spiderman game is that the skill floor is incredibly low (everybody is very competent with zero investment) AND the skill ceiling is also very low (there is nothing to get good at).

      I kind of disagree with this assessment.

      Yes, everyone starts out basically competent, in that you can swing around the city. Frankly, I’m glad this part is easy. The game simply wouldn’t be fun if you couldn’t pick up and do that. And basically competent will do just fine in the beginning of the game, when you’re just moving from one part of the city to another. It took me quite a while to where I wasn’t just running up the sides of buildings for half of my traversal.

      The skill threshold is in moving about quickly, efficiently, and being able to build Focus while you do so. The first two are rewards in their own right, but they’re definitely important as the game moves on. You can’t really succeed at many of the challenges if you don’t get better at those elements. You’ll struggle with the chase sequences if you don’t improve at that, either. And later on, once all the criminals break loose and the city is a warzone, you’ll be very well served being able to swing about efficiently, and having Focus built up will be extremely handy.

      Given how complicated that last part gets, I’m not sure what more you want out of the swinging.

      1. Blake says:

        I tend to agree. By the time I 100%’d the game I felt way more efficient in my movements but still felt like there was room to grow to use more of the movement abilities (like the hold square while running around a corner).

        I also got annoyed enough when I failed at something without the game making me lose life or whatever.
        Could you put in a higher skill ceiling? Sure, and maybe that would make sense for a sequel, but there was plenty to play with for a first game.

    3. Daimbert says:

      I think the big difference in arguments here is this:

      Shamus: You’re going to be swinging a lot and its your main way of exploring the world, so it had better be enjoyable to do that, and making it too challenging or tedious gets in the way of that.

      Mark: It’s a major part of the gameplay, so it shouldn’t just be something that you just pick up and do and never have to think about.

      To make another link, think of running in Oblivion. I ran everywhere, and so making it so that you had to learn skills to run properly, like up hills and the like, seems utterly ridiculous. And yet, you could argue that since running increases stats which can lead to level up and so more power, there SHOULD be some kind of mechanic that you have to master to do that really, really well. I think it clearly wouldn’t be a good idea for Oblivion and what’s supposed to be running, but swinging seems like a more skill-based element and so it would make sense to have skill really matter there.

  4. Bloodsquirrel says:

    It seems to me that the obvious way to add challenge to the web-slinging would be to add chases or other movement-based action sequences.

    I think the idea of adversity and depth being linked is basically correct. Without challenge, the natural tendency is to use whatever methods are lowest effort, and there isn’t even a good measuring stick to separate masterful from non-masterful play.

    1. Hal says:

      Those do make an appearance in the game. There are timed challenges that require you to traverse parts of the city ASAP, as well as opportunities to stop criminals in fleeing vehicles or dodge bad buys on buildings with sniper rifles and rocket launchers.

      But those aren’t ordinary. For most of the game, you’re going to be swinging about Manhattan without having to worry about those things. (And I’m not sure why you’d want those parts of the game to be hard.)

    2. Christopher says:

      The whole cinematic angle gets in the way of chases during story missions. We’re essentially doing Spider-Man uncharted here, so you don’t get the necessary prompts to land on fleeing vechicles/criminals no matter how fast you are, until a certain amount of time has passed/you’re in the correct location. It’s possible to fall so far behind that you lose, but being better won’t net you any advantages.

      There are some activities to do like races against drones though. They are entirely unnecessary to do.

  5. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Man it drives me insane that this game isn’t on PC!

    1. Grey Rook says:

      Quite. I encountered a Let’s Play that made it look like fun and a few positive reviews, so if it got a port, I’d at least consider putting it on my wishlist. I wouldn’t buy it full price, of course, sixty Euros is just too much for a single game.

  6. Darren says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only person who had issues with Mark Brown’s Spider-Man take. I love his analyses, but he has said before he doesn’t give a flip about story or context and really only cares about mechanics, and it really shows at times. Having said that, when we get to the combat system (which he loved), I will have some serious criticisms not because I think it is too easy, but because it’s easy in a way that makes it kind of boring.

    Regarding the in-universe Marvel comics, I was fortunate enough to attend an early showing of Into the Spider-Verse, and in-universe Spider-Man comics are a small plot point. Is the idea that at some point Spider-Man sat down, described his experiences as Spider-Man while omitting any specific information, such as his name, and those were turned into comic books? It’s weird.

    1. Blake says:

      “Having said that, when we get to the combat system (which he loved), I will have some serious criticisms not because I think it is too easy, but because it’s easy in a way that makes it kind of boring. ”

      My experience was that it was very easy and if you wanted to go for maximum efficiency you’d end up only doing a few things, but I spent my time having fun with it instead, using all the gadgets all the time and it became much more fun when I wasn’t just spamming Web Blossom and Impact Webs.

      1. Darren says:

        I was using all the gadgets all the time, too. My main critique is that the enemy variety is pretty mediocre and as a consequence every encounter just kind of blends together. And the game is far too long to get away with every encounter feeling the same.

        1. Hal says:

          What would you change? I don’t think you’re wrong on that, especially once you get the ability to yank weapons out of enemy hands, they’re all basically the same mooks. But what would you change up?

  7. Decius says:

    It seems insane to me that someone would advocate for the first thing the game does to have a high skill floor.

    You jump out the window: GAME START.

    If you don’t already have the timing good, fall in the street and die? NO. NOT HOW GAME.

    1. Lun says:

      No matter how high you fall, Spidey can’t die by falling in this game.

    2. Blake says:

      This.
      If getting around wasn’t instantly gratifying for new players, then heaps of people would have had a bad and lasting first impression. Not what you want.
      Also: in this game you’re playing a very experienced Spider-Man not a rookie learning how to swing. If the game had you flopping and flailing and failing for the first while it would have felt really disconnected from the story.

  8. MadTinkerer says:

    At some point, it became Marvel canon that Marvel comics existed INSIDE the Marvel universe. I’ve always wondered how that was supposed to work. Here Peter Parker has an issue of Amazing Fantasy #15, which tells Spider-Man’s origin story. If this is the case, how is his identity a secret?

    Simple: Marvel Comics is a real publisher in our world who write fictional stories that take place in the Marvel Universe. In the Marvel Universe, it’s the same thing. The Spiderman of the in-universe comics is another fictional character based on the “real” Spiderman. Same costume, powers described as accurately as the writers at Marvel understood them, many of the same villains, but a completely made-up person for his secret identity. As an example of a major difference, the “fictional” Green Goblin is not Norman Osborn because Marvel can’t afford the lawsuits. Kraven The Hunter is still Kraven The Hunter because he goes around using his real name, but most of the publicly known characters are different because the fictional Marvel writers don’t have all the same info as the real Marvel writers.

    Yes, they did release several spin-off one-shots set in the fictional-fictional Marvel Comics. Because comic book nerds like me will buy that. I think the Spiderman one was the first time they had a black Spiderman. (It was either that or a What If issue. Something like that.)

  9. Christopher says:

    I desperately want more depth out of the system, ’cause I got way bored with it after about ten hours, but I have no real clue how you go about doing that as it is right now, because it really is skill-less. And I wanna stress, I’m usually pretty bad at games. I panic easily, I have a hard time sitting down and work at something till I learn it, and my reflexes, memorization abilities and aiming are poor. And yet, Spider-Man gave me just about zero issues, some frustratingly linear follow the line stealth missions aside. That’s my biggest issue with the game overall – it’s not that you _can’t_ die, ’cause Spidey goes down quite easily. It’s that there isn’t very much to the systems besides “feeling good”. They look good and they feel satisfying to use. Which is a great start, lots of games do worse, but it gets dull pretty quickly ’cause there’s little to master and the variety is lacking. When the game finished I was very hungry for more DLC. Now that I’ve played the first two DLC packs, I’m afraid the story is only thing that might keep me engaged with the inevitable sequels if they don’t increase the depth of these system.

    The blur on the photos surprised me a little. Mercifully you can turn down stuff like screen shaking and motion blur, so I put those at the lowest possible option and wasn’t too bothered by the result, only really noticing blur as impact frames during combat. But then I guess the in-game photo mode kinda pauses the entire action for me, removing whatever blur is still there.

    1. Blake says:

      “It’s that there isn’t very much to the systems besides ‘feeling good’. They look good and they feel satisfying to use. Which is a great start, lots of games do worse, but it gets dull pretty quickly ’cause there’s little to master and the variety is lacking.”

      I guess my experience differs. Everything felt so good I pretty much couldn’t put the game down until I got that platinum trophy. Most games I play I only ever get a few hours in before moving on.

      I also felt that while getting good enough at combat and movement to win the game was easy, I definitely didn’t feel like I’d mastered everything by the end. I was always finding new ways to use the gadgets, more efficient ways to swing, easier ways to stealth-kill entire bases and so on.

  10. Christopher says:

    On a more positive note, I love the Peter depicted in this game. He’s a bit more… altruistic than normal? Not like Peter Parker is ever not about the self-sacrificing, but his contrbution to the community is usually beating up criminals and supervillains. Not helping out at homeless shelters. But that’s the one stand-out difference in what’s otherwise pretty much a perfect depiction of Peter parker, just like I imagine him. They nailed it.

    Yuri Lowenthal and Laura Bailey, the voiced of Peter and MJ respectively, used to voice party members Yosuke and Rise in Persona 4, and if I close my eyes it’s like hearing a Persona 4 reunion. But they do good work with those characters even so. If I remember right, Yosuke pretty much just wanted to be a hero. Glad he got his wish at last.

  11. dogbeard says:

    I think spiderman 2 for the ps2/gamecube/probablyxbox is a good comparison to make for the swinging. There was an automatic mode that no one liked, and there was a manual mode that had you shooting and releasing webs from your hands with the corresponding trigger, along with you being able to control your momentum/direction with the stick, with basically no help from the game itself (aside from it exaggerating the physics enough that you don’t just faceplant into every wall you connect with constantly, of course) I think it’s an ideal example for someone wanting something more ‘skill based’, and probably what a lot of people are comparing the new spiderman to. It was difficult enough that you could flub it up and polish the windows with your suit for your entire traipse across town, intuitive enough that most people wouldn’t be stuck at the last part for more than a couple minutes at most, and deep enough that once you mastered it you could absolutely blitz across the entire city while taking all kinds of wild corners and u-turns that would be absolutely impossible if you put it on automatic mode and had the game decide how your swings worked.

  12. Agammamon says:

    Thor never has to resort to a junk food breakfast because he slept in.

    Thor doesn’t worry about that because Thor has magic abs and the metabolism of a teenager.

    And he totally eats junk food for breakfast. At 10:30 in the morning.

  13. Smith says:

    Fun fact: In this game, Fisk Tower is positioned roughly where you’d find Trump Tower in real-world Manhattan.

    I hope that’s not some cringy, tiresome, “orange man bad!” joke on Insomniac’s part. I was leery enough looking at the Osborn campaign signs around the city in the previews and going “boy, those sure look familiar.”

    1. dogbeard says:

      I think it’s probably the best to give some leeway/benefit of the doubt when it comes to that. Regardless of any current political business that tower is certainly a landmark, and it would feel wrong to leave it out, but of course you don’t want to give it the actual name in a setting that’s a fictional facsimile of Manhattan and generally tries not to be 1/1 with real life anyhow.

    2. Hal says:

      I haven’t finished yet, but I never got that vibe. If they make those references, then they were too subtle for me to notice.

      Though now I’m wondering what the Marvel landmarks replace in the real world. What is Avengers’ Tower replacing? Osborn Industries? Rand Tower? The Wakandan embassy?

      1. Ed says:

        I believe avengers tower replaces the MetLife building, just like it does in the avengers movies, but I would need to go back and play to make sure.

    3. Shamus says:

      I think it was just the most obvious answer to “Hey, we have a building named after a famous rich guy in our universe, where should we put it?”

      The game never leaned into it with SEE WHAT I DID THERE? HUH?

      The only reason I know about it is that I watched a video discussing the layout of Spider-Man’s Manhattan.

  14. ccesarano says:

    The game uses motion blur to create a sense of speed. That’s nice, but it also means a lot of my screenshots are going to be mush. Sorry. If this was a PC port I could probably turn that off, but this game is PS4 only.

    I might be confusing it with another game I was recently playing (I jumped from this right into Shadow of the Tomb Raider), but I’m pretty sure there’s actually an option to turn off motion blur in the menu. I turned it off and nothing looked terrible, so I left it without.

    Not that this would help your current screenshots. I was just surprised at how many graphical options this game included.

    1. Doc M says:

      There is a motion blur slider in Spider-Man. I’ve never turned it all the way down so I’m not sure if it completely disables the effect or just sets it to “low”, but it might be worth a shot. You also have options to turn down the film grain effect and disable chromatic aberration.

  15. shoeboxjeddy says:

    Mark Brown’s content is very interesting and engaging but sometimes his views come off as very alien to me. Like, during his Boss Keys series, he CONSTANTLY just rejects even the idea of context. Water Temple is a puzzle box level? Then it’s good. Yeti Temple is a linear hub and spokes approach? Then it’s bad. He disregards why playing the games are even fun or why you’d care about doing it and comes off as a problem solving computer to me. It’s also, more importantly, a shitty way to talk about game design when you just chuck out a massive part of it. In fact… probably the MOST IMPORTANT part of it, which is the context and the flavor.

    1. Blake says:

      Yeah same. I always watch everything he puts out though, because even when I disagree with his assessment, I can always understand his perspective. And that lets me forgive him for not realising that Snowpeak Ruins is objectively the height of the entire franchise.

      1. Stuart Worthington says:

        Seconded. Mark’s takes on game narrative can be frustrating, but when it comes to pure mechanics I usually learn something new from him with every video. Very smart and charming bloke overall.

    2. RichardW says:

      I mean, for me personally there’s good story reasons why Insomniac’s game makes me “feel like Spider-Man” with web-slinging not being super difficult. If this was first year Peter Parker learning the ropes it’d make sense for it to be quite a challenge, but this is like his eighth year fighting crime, he’s a seasoned pro that throws flips and twirls into his regular traversal because he’s that good. Slamming face first into a building because you weren’t good enough on the sticks would completely ruin the fantasy of being that veteran superhero, making the game way less fun.

  16. germdove says:

    Swinging was fine, but I still used fast travel at every opportunity.

  17. Redrock says:

    I think the swinging system could be a bit less handholdy without going full Dark Souls. I don’t see a problem with fall damage, for example. It’s not like the danger of falling was never used as a source of drama in the movies or comics when Peter’s web shooters malfunctioned or his powers disappeared or whatever. Fall damage doesn’t really break the fantasy, on the contrary, it might add extra excitement.

    Same with the weird rubber banding Spider-Man 2018 does when it comes to web line length. As far as I can tell, you can never hit the ground if your line is too short, like you could in Spider-Man 2. In the new game, if you’re swinging, you’re swinging. It’s especially noticeable in park areas. On the one hand, it’s convenient. On the other, it’s where the game’s cheating is at its most patronizing. As much as I love the swinging in Spider-Man 2018, I think they polished it just a bit too much. Some akward running along the ground with a web line in your hands would’ve been a good thing, I think.

    1. galacticplumber says:

      Especially considering we already had a simple, straightforward move designed specifically for situations where good swinging buildings don’t exist. It was called the web zip. But no goodness forbid we have a scenario it’s demonstrated there’s a reason spiderman generally works in the presence of urban super sprawl.

    2. Blake says:

      “Fall damage doesn’t really break the fantasy, on the contrary, it might add extra excitement.”
      It might make it a bit less fun when you want to jump off a building and do the square+X slam yourself into the ground move though. Would be a funny way to die, but would probably feel pretty bad.

  18. MetalDooley says:

    Imagine how tedious Grand Theft Auto would be if they made the game more “challenging”

    Which is exactly what happened with GTA 4. The added “realistic” driving physics (I’m putting realistic in quotes because it was anything but) made driving in that game an absolute chore. Every vehicle handled like an oil tanker on ice. It’s the only GTA game I’ve played to date (still haven’t played 5) where I used the fast travel as much as possible unless I was forced to drive as part of a mission

  19. Lun says:

    Aww, please don’t spoil the ending Shamus, I want to read this but I haven’t finished the game.

    Also, WAIT a second Shamus, what is this nonsense about “blurry screenshots because motion blur”? No offense but that sounded like a very poorly done attempt at PC gaming bias, because…… do you know the game has an entire screenshot mode you can enter into any time? With filters?

    Here, look at my HUGE Spider-Man screenshots gallery on my twitter account: https://twitter.com/lunsleid

    (By the way, one of the guys who wrote the story of this game is the same guy who had that ridiculous idea of “Superior Spider-Man”? I guess that explains why there’s strangely a lot of Doc Ock in this game.)

    1. Shamus says:

      “Attempt at PC gaming bias”? Wait, so I was trying to be biased and failed? Anyway, that comment was me anticipating that people would notice that the shots were blurry so I wanted to explain it ahead of time.

      Yes, I know about the photo feature. But I play through the entire game and capture the footage. Later I spool through the video files when I’m doing the writing. I don’t know what screenshots I’ll need until AFTER I’ve played through the game. I’m not going to dick around in photo mode for every stupid screenshot. That would be ridiculously time-consuming. And in some cases, it would be impractical. Like, what if I need a shot from the prison part of the game? You can’t go back there later. I’d have to play through the game all over again.

      1. Lun says:

        And yet, my Twitter screenshots gallery proves that making good screenshots is easy and takes about 10 seconds. Oh, not that I wouldn’t dedicate my time to take good screenshots, but…… I really didn’t need any time to take those.

        Heck, you will notice that half of the screenshots I took required 1 actual second as I merely pressed the “Share” button. Still not much of a motion blur.

        I dunno, it felt like a weird justification you used about the motion blur. Maybe it’s just my wrong impression but you got so defensive about it that it made me feel I was right, but maybe I’m biased myself. Anyway, whatever! Peace bro!

        1. galacticplumber says:

          Yeah which is fine when you know as you’re playing what shots you want. He just explicitly laid out why that was very much not the case.

          1. Lun says:

            All my shots were taken on my first and only playthrough. I’ve reloaded the game only for taking the Mysterio screenshots.
            So I myself didn’t know what shot I wanted.

            1. galacticplumber says:

              Which is great, when you’re taking shots to take shots.

              Not when you’re taking shots to serve as illustration/accompaniment to points you haven’t written, and are unlikely to accurately predict.

              1. Lun says:

                I’ve already explained I myself didn’t know what shot I wanted. So…. Shamus could take a bunch of random screenshots simply by pressing the Share button at random times and that’s it. He’s done. Among them, he’s sure to have good screenshots for the points he wants to make.

                Eh you know what? Nevermind. This is gonna become the usual internet challenge on who gets to have the last word in the argument. But I’ve already made my point and have nothing else to add.

            2. Yes you did…when you activated the option. Whether it was spur-of-the-moment or the result of decades of planning coming to fruition, there was a moment you decided you were going to stop playing so you could use the screenshot system.

              Shamus isn’t using that option because in order to do so, he has to take his focus – however briefly – away from the experience of playing the game and the majority point of these screenshots is to illustrate examples of that experience. While there may be some opportunities for him to go “Hey, taking a screenshot right now will help sell this point I want to make!” it’s no guarantee and even if it we’re, it’d still mean he’d have to constantly spend his mental energy on being aware of the option instead of focusing entirely on the experience of playing the game…which was the entire point to begin with.

              1. Lun says:

                Half of my screenshots WEREN’T taken using the screenshot system.

                I feel like I am talking with people who haven’t even played the game now.

    2. Christopher says:

      I wouldn’t put too much blame or praise on Dan Slott for this game. While he was involved, by most accounts it seems to have been at the concept stage, with brainstorming, because his job kept him extraordinarily busy. Meanwhile Christos Gage was the close collaborator. However, it doesn’t seem like he headlined the project either, he just worked together with the Insomniac devs and specifically wrote almost all the JJJ monologues. That’s not to say Dan Slott’s run isn’t all over this project – it really feels like it is, between the newer characters of Martin Li and Yuri Watanabe, and the increased focus on Doc Ock and his parallells to Peter. But I don’t think that was necessarily Slott’s doing as much as it was 1)his area of expertise during brainstorming and 2)a recent place where Insomniac could go for ideas that haven’t been used in a lot of Spider-Man adaptations yet, to separate their own take on Spidey out from the rest. Mr. Negative, and definitely Yuri, are way more prominent here than in any comic I’ve read even.

      They did a pretty massive PR campaign for this game, so besides Bryan Intihar travelling around doing in-depth video podcast spoiler interviews for every outlet that are out on Youtube, there’s a lot of articles about their process, intentions and influences.

      https://stevivor.com/features/interviews/insomniac-games-on-working-with-marvel-comics-writers-for-spider-man/
      https://blog.us.playstation.com/2018/09/13/inside-marvels-spider-man-the-comics-that-inspired-the-game/
      https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/spider-man-ps4-writers-explain-the-changes-to-spidey-mjs-job-doc-ock-and-more

    3. Redrock says:

      Superior Spider-Man rocked! It was a genuinely great way to explore what it means to be Spider-Man, and also a sober look at Peter’s actual failings and mistakes, as well as what makes him a great hero.

  20. Blackbird71 says:

    Peter Parker has always parted his hair off to one side, and yet in this game he doesn’t. I can’t handle these kinds of massive shakeups in continuity. I don’t know who this character is anymore!

    Ack! That face! I haven’t played the game, so maybe it’s just that particular shot/angle/facial expression, but Peter Parker got real ugly! Is this Peter Parker as played by Steve Buscemi?

    Some tragic souls only know him through the lens of the misbegotten Amazing Spider-Man movies.

    Those movies definitely had their problems, but I’ll take Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker/Spiderman over Emo McGuire or Tom Holland any day.

    1. Redrock says:

      I have no problem with Garfield, really. It’s just that in those movies he wasn’t really playing Peter Parker. It was a script problem more than anything. With a decent script he could be ok.

    2. Hal says:

      So, the Peter Parker actor (capture, not voice) is John Bubniac, whom I’ve never heard of.

      Kind of looks to me what you’d get if you blended Garfield and Maguire together. (In-game, not the actual actor.)

      I’ll say that these attempts at photo-realistic mocap actors in the games makes for some uncanny valley moments.

    3. CloverMan-88 says:

      Yup. Personally, I think his depiction of both Spider-Man and Peter Parker were perfect. Shame they were use in such terrible movies.

  21. Mousazz says:

    Mass Effect wouldn’t be improved if we made dialog selections some sort of quicktime event that required the player to memorize button prompts to get the option they want.

    Well, to be fair, Alpha Protocol went ahead and did just that. Of course, it was a linear spy-thriller, not an open world sci-fi RPG, but still…

    1. Redrock says:

      Come now, it wasn’t a qte, they just did the Telltale thing where you have a limited time to answer, to make dialogue flow a bit better. Come to think of it, I actually suspect that, shudder, David Cage did it first in Indigo Prophecy.

  22. Jason says:

    I haven’t played the game (don’t have a PS4), but I agree with what you said about the difficulty (or lack thereof) of web-swinging.
    This is not an origin story. If it was, I could see learning how to swing being a good part of the story (such as in the first Sam Raimi movie). It could be really hard at the start, and gradually get easier as your skills improve.
    However, from your description, it sounds like he’s been Spider-Man for a while (possibly a few years). In fact, this sounds like “my” Spider-Man. Mid to late eighties. Pre-Venom, pre-MJ wedding. Still working for the Bugle (I assume – but you didn’t mention that). Maybe a few years earlier (late 70’s, early 80’s)?
    He knows how to swing at this point. He’s good at it. He can probably do it without thinking. He wouldn’t be crashing into walls or the ground for no reason. Making it super difficult to web-swing wouldn’t make sense for a seasoned Spider-Man.

    1. Hal says:

      It’s not really spoilers, per se, but I’m going to throw this in there anyhow.

      Peter doesn’t work for the Bugle, he works for Octavius Industries. I don’t recall if he ever worked for the Bugle; it’s not really important to the story whether he did or not. MJ, however, does work for the Bugle. Jameson left some time ago and runs a radio show/podcast where he’s basically any other angry talking head.

    2. Christopher says:

      I think someone mentioned this further up too, and I don’t agree with the line of thinking that because Spidey is experienced in the context of the story, it’s okay if webswinging is completely effortless. Like is it a failing of immersion if you mess up platforming in a Mario game because he’s been doing it for decades? Is it unreasonable when Bayonetta beats up dozens of angels in the intro right before you take over and sheepishly beat up a couple yourself, maybe even losing ’cause you just started? Or how about Rico Rodriguez, the experienced Spider-Man of non-urban environments, who’ll be fiddly and difficult to figure out for a while and then give you complete freedom as you figure out the parachute/hookshot/wingsuit setup he’s got going on?

      I know Spidey is going for the Cinematic experience here, but even in his own game this experienced Spider-Man can get his ass kicked in three punches from a swole street thug. Earlier this year, nothing stopped killer of all the Greek pantheon Kratos from getting offed by a couple of zombies and a floating eye, and God of War is as cinematic as it gets.

  23. Sartharina says:

    I find your mention of WoW’s mount system interesting, especially when compared to Guild Wars 2’s mounts – Most notably, the Gryphon, and the new Roller Beetle. WoW’s Gryphon is essentially a “Move Freely in all directions – slightly faster forward”. Guild Wars 2’s gryphon… isn’t. To gain altitude, you have to flap, or master pulling up (You can actually go above your starting position if you dive, transition to super-dive, then pull up) – it’s all about maintaining momentum in the air. Sure, anyone can fully traverse any terrain just by double-jumping on it – but actually getting good with it takes a bit of work, and there are Gryphon Challenge courses that really test player skill, requiring the player to fly through hoops without ever touching the ground.

    The Roller Beetle is similar, as a momentum-driven ground-based mount that rolls, and the challenge is in building up and maintaining speed to launch off of bumps and ramps (CURSES ON FALLING DAMAGE!), drift around corners without losing speed, properly navigate the terrain (Watch out for trees and roots!), and properly use the boost and drift controls.

    The challenge of these mounts compared to the simplicity of WoW’s “Walk faster” mounts has led them to being considered the best in the industry.

  24. Kavonde says:

    The moment I jumped out of that window and started swinging, I had the biggest grin on my face. I didn’t realize there were folks who didn’t like the game’s swinging. That’s kind of like learning there are folks who actively dislike Firefly. I could have guessed, intellectually, that such folks might exist, but there’s a visceral reality to really learning it that’s kind of shocking.

    1. galacticplumber says:

      The logic is fairly simple. The swinging is considered the primary, and for some extreme people THE ONLY, draw, and thus they demand swinging as a skill to be mastered as opposed to a gimme.

      The similar equivalent in a different genre would be a mario kart with no need to learn shortcuts, ideal item management, how vehicles handle, and so on.

      All games need some form of primary engagement and if that engagement is a task, surprise surprise, it must be ENGAGING.

      Now you can disagree and say that you consider the primary engagement to be the combat/story/easter eggs/visuals/soundtrack/whatever, but that is the crux of this differing opinion.

  25. Leviathan902 says:

    I have to say that i wasn’t surprised to see that Spider-Man’s traversal is the best it’s ever been in this game. Insomniac proved that they know how to do a good a traversal system in Sunset Overdrive which has probably my favorite traversal system ever. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s deep where skilled players can easily outshine rookies and button mashing through mastery. One of the best parts of that game was the multi-player and one of the best parts of that was where everyone would race to the next objective and got bonus points for arriving in first through third place.

    Sunset Overdrive is a criminally under-appreciated game. Yeah, a lot of the attempts at humor fall flat, but the weapons are amazing and creative and the traversal system is fun as hell. Like Spider-Man, this is a game I occasionally play just to traverse the overworld while firing off at some random goons.

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