Gaming

Marvel’s Spider-Man is the open-world superhero game we’ve been waiting for

A spoiler-free hands-on look

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I can only imagine the excitement the team of developers at Insomniac must have felt when they were given the chance to create Spider-Man’s next adventure. It must have been as much as, if not greater than, the thrill fans experienced when seeing the game’s very first trailer.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is a culmination of three and a half years’ worth of coming up with a whole new universe and building solid gameplay around it. Any hardcore fan can agree that a Spider-Man game’s story has to be handled as well as its web-swinging mechanics — which Insomniac wholeheartedly understands.

I was fortunate enough to play the first three hours of the latest Spider-Man, which is exclusive to the PS4, in an invite-only demo session last month. It was barely enough to fully immerse myself into the newly formed world built by legit Spidey fans, but from what I was able to gather, early impressions are mostly positive.

BOOM! That’s exactly how the game starts. You, the player, are instantly thrust into Spider-Man’s world, filled with action, romance, and constant multitasking. This being an open-world title, there’s so much happening at once, but not without a proper introduction.

Web swinging

Your very first task as the neighborhood’s friendly red-and-blue superhero is to swing all the way to a crime scene using — you guessed it — web. Insomniac made it a point to dedicate so much effort into making web swinging feel like you’re truly in Spidey’s suit. I must say, they pretty much nailed it.

All it takes is some timing on the R2 button, and you’re off. It can be a little clumsy at first (I often swung into buildings and unintentionally landed on taxis), but the game will never make you look stupid. Spider-Man himself makes every flight and landing feel graceful, no matter how noobish you are. The animations are as fluid as the graphics itself, and I’d say web swinging is the early favorite for the game’s best gameplay mechanic.

Like how you’d try to climb every mountain and tree in Breath of the Wild because you can, you’ll potentially spend hours roaming the streets of New York City using only your web and desire to be your childhood hero. Even better: There’s no fast travel to checkpoints in this open world. This encourages you to swing from one building to another and absorb what the lively city has to offer.

But as much fun as this travel mechanic is, the real action starts once you get into battle mode, which is a joy in itself.

Not an origin story

The Peter Parker you control isn’t a newbie superhero; this version of the classic character is already a seasoned veteran, and has the skills on top of all the gizmos he’s blessed with. In other words: No Uncle Ben dying on you and doing the “With great power…” rant in the beginning. You go straight to punching baddies and bringing them to justice in the very first act.

To be totally honest, this was the aspect of the game I was most worried about. Spider-Man games have traditionally been weak in the fighting department, often relying on style over substance. Marvel’s Spider-Man is somewhere in the middle in this regard, but at least for the first three hours of gameplay, there’s enough depth to keep you coming back for more.

It’s pretty simple: You press square to punch or kick, triangle to control opponents with your web, circle to dodge, and R1 to activate one of your gadget’s special skills. Stringing combos together adds to your Focus bar, which in turn provides you with useful abilities such as healing. However, even if regenerating health is at your disposal, you’re better off dodging the hell out of every enemy attack.

Spidey doesn’t have a ton of health to work with, at least at the start. The game has a Bayonetta or DMC vibe wherein you’re rewarded more for pulling off perfect dodges and counter-attacking than kicking ass straight up. Spider senses are around to give you visual cues when to dodge, then it’s up to you how to capitalize on the opening.

A couple of hours in, I thoroughly enjoyed the combat system. It’s straightforward and doesn’t require you to analyze much; at the same time, there’s enough variety to make each fight scene feel unique. But again, this is in the early game, and I can imagine it getting stale midway through the plot unless more gimmicks turn up.

The complexity of Spider-Man

After an hour of going through what feels like a long, story-driven tutorial session, you get thrown into Marvel’s interpretation of New York City. Even though the developers call this an open-world game, don’t mistake this for a GTA or Witcher clone. NPC interaction is shallow; you can only say hi, and if you accidentally attack bystanders, they’ll barely flinch.

That’s not a bad thing, though, because the game delivers a bunch of other things to find and do. On top of the side missions that are mildly related to the main storyline, you can collect items needed to upgrade your arsenal and save citizens from low-level baddies. All these allow you to level up — yes, like in an RPG — to learn new abilities through a skill tree (just like in an RPG).

And those aren’t the only RPG-like elements. Opening the in-game menu reveals the city-wide map, your suits, gadgets, the aforementioned skill tree, missions, stuff you’ve collected, benchmarks for stats, characters you’ve met, and complete moves list. That’s a lot, and I didn’t even mention the sub-menus yet. But, perhaps the most interesting section to check out is Spider-Man’s suits. I’d rather not spoil which ones I earned, although I can say I unlocked five in the first three hours alone.

Is there enough to hang on to?

All that’s left to talk about based on my brief hands-on experience is the story, which I can’t delve too much into. As mentioned earlier, you get to enter the mind of a veteran Peter Parker who’s 23 years of age and has been doing this superhero thing for eight years already. Sounds like there’s a lot of established plot points early on, but that’s far from the truth.

The thing is, this isn’t based on any comic storyline or the Marvel Cinematic Universe — everything you see and play here is unique to this game alone. Because of that, finding out who’s involved in the plot and how they relate to Peter can potentially spoil some key points. What I can say is that Peter works in a lab, wherein you the player get to solve puzzles as part of Peter’s research, and Mary Jane is the primary love interest.

The trailers have already revealed tons of friends and foes, and I barely scratched the surface during my short time with the game. When I asked the team behind Marvel’s Spider-Man how they plan to cram so many characters in a single title and avoid the mistakes of past Spider-Man movies, they simply said the trick is in pacing.

It certainly looks like the developers know how to plan out a game as fast-paced as this. The early excitement and depth are there from the very start, and I could tell that there’s so much more in store for the remaining 90 percent of the game.

Is it good enough to sell consoles? Maybe, but critical and commercial success do seem to be on its horizon.

Gaming

TNC Predator, Afreeca Freecs Fatal win Predator League APAC 2019

For Dota 2 and PUBG, respectively

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After three long days of battle in Bangkok, Thailand from February 15 to 17, two champions have emerged from the two featured games of the Predator League in Asia Pacific 2019.

For Dota 2, it’s TNC Predator from the Philippines; and for PUBG, the champ is none other than Afreeca Freecs Fatal from South Korea.

Their winnings come from a prize pool worth US$ 250,000. Each champion receives US$ 75,000 for their efforts, while the runners-up split the remaining pot.

The grand event concluded after over 3,500 competing teams from 16 countries were eventually reduced to only 26 groups in Bangkok for the finals.

This was the Predator League’s second event in the APAC region. In 2018, it was held in Indonesia. Next year’s event will take place in the Philippines.

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Gaming

Nintendo reveals upcoming games for the Switch

Featuring some old favorites!

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Throughout the year, the world’s biggest tech companies host the most lavish events to promote new launches and announcements. Most of the time, these massive events have redefined their respective industries. Alternatively, some companies rely on subtler means for their launches. Regardless, the industry-defining effects remain the same.

Nintendo typifies this strategy to perfection, boasting their chops through online-only Nintendo Direct events. Today, in the first Nintendo Direct of the year, the company unveiled its slew of strong contenders going into 2019. Here’s a taste of Nintendo’s upcoming heavy-hitters:

Super Mario Maker 2

In 2015, Nintendo released its most revolutionary retooling of the Mario formula — Super Mario Maker. Exclusive to the 3DS and the Wii U, the highly customizable Mario game was a beloved hit. This June, Nintendo finally releases a follow-up featuring new tools, elements, and a lot more playability on the Switch.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

By no means a new game, Link’s Awakening brings the Game Boy classic to the Switch. This time, Nintendo has remastered the game in a top-down, 3D engine. Further, the remastered game features similar side-scrolling segments from the old game.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

The current Marvel fever has also infected the gaming world. The Black Order brings a four-player co-op brawler experience to the Switch. Featuring a wide array of characters from the universe, the game features an original story, pitting your favorite heroes against Thanos and the Black Order.

Tetris 99

Out today, Tetris 99 is the most shocking iteration of the time-honored series. Why? It’s a battle royale. The free online block-building game pits you against 98 other players in a race to become the last man standing.

Besides these four, Nintendo will also launch a flurry of updates and ports. In the coming months, the company will release substantial updates to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. It will also launch Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy IX, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

SEE ALSO: Pokémon: Let’s Go gets its own Nintendo Switch bundles

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Apps

EA is looking into making a mobile version of Apex Legends

To battle with Fortnite

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Image credit: EA

EA‘s battle royale game is a certified hit. Apex Legends, which was developed by Titanfall makers Respawn, has no fewer than 25 million registered players in just one week. The game is playable for free on multiple platforms (PC, PS4, and Xbox One), but why not make it available on mobile as well?

Early reports don’t indicate mobile plans for the game, although during the Electronic Arts Q3 2019 earnings call, EA Games CEO said that they are looking into bringing Apex Legends to mobile devices.

Fortnite‘s userbase ballooned when it became available on Android and iOS, so it’s a no brainer than EA also wants mobile gamers to join the fun.

“We are looking at how to take the game to mobile and cross-play over time, and I also expect that this game will have tremendous value in Asia, and we’re in conversations about that,” EA Games CEO Andrew Wilson said during the conference call.

There’s no definite timeline for the release of Apex Legends on mobile, but it’s certainly on the drawing board. For now, EA plans to introduce direct purchase options for players to buy items and new legends or heroes. They will also offer the so-called Apex Packs or simply loot boxes for more random items.

Apex Legends is not a pay-to-win game, so these items are purely cosmetic and can be used to customize your hero’s looks in the game.

SEE ALSO: Apex Legends hits 25 million players after one week

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