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.
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.
We’ve been calling PlayStation’s X button wrong all this time
Regardless of which gaming console you have, the X button unites us all. Every console available today — the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch — has some form of the same button. That said, what do you call it? Both the Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch use other letters — Y, A, and B — for their other buttons. Naturally, majority vote calls for pronouncing it as the “ex” button.
However, Sony doesn’t use the same letter scheme. Instead of letters, the PlayStation’s DualShock controller uses shapes: Triangle, Circle, Square… and X? Do we still call it the “ex” button? According to the official PlayStation Twitter accounts, absolutely not.
In a now-infamous series of tweets, Sony has laid down the verdict in an argument we’ve probably never even thought about. Apparently, PlayStation users should pronounce each button according to their respective shapes. According to that logic, the X button should be called the Cross button.
As you might expect, the revelation didn’t go well with the gaming community. Twitter users have outrageously and creatively expressed their dismay.
What do you call it?
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) September 7, 2019
In response to the outrage, the PlayStation account posted a three-option poll asking what gamers call the controversial button. The more traditional X button won by a landslide: 81 percent. Meanwhile, a joke answer — “+ rotated 45°” — got 11 percent of the votes. The “correct” answer — “Cross” — got only 8 percent.
That didn’t stop the memes. Twitter user @TheDrencom posted a more hilarious compromise. PlayStation even retweeted and allowed the weird alternative. Should we call it the “no pizza” button?
The actual names of the PS buttons pic.twitter.com/pCK0RK3cPB
— Drencrom (@TheDrencrom) September 5, 2019
The Cross button’s supporters also had a few things to say in their defense. Based on the actual geometry of the icon, it’s more accurate to say “Cross,” rather than X.
Because this debate grinds my gears, I'll finish it once and for all:
– Crosses have the same distance between each stick.
– Crosses form a square.
– Exes don't have the same distance between each stick.
– Exes form a rectangle.
Basic geometry. pic.twitter.com/gz8jCJd3Bn
— nєrσ αgєnt crímsσn (@SIECrimson) September 5, 2019
Of course, Sony owns the PlayStation. They can call it whatever they want. Still, the console already has a massive following calling it by a more ubiquitous name. Are you going to call it the Cross button now?
Apple Arcade aims to make your iPhone a gaming phone
100+ exclusive gaming titles
Apple is known for its hardware lineup, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. The iPhone accounts for a huge chunk of the company’s revenue and has been the sole product to propel the brand towards a trillion-dollar valuation.
But with changing times, it’s essential for every business to slowly evolve. And, we’re witnessing this change with technology companies around the world. Instead of relying on first-hand hardware sales, brands are now monetizing virtual data.
Arcade, which was demonstrated during the unveiling of Apple’s latest iPhones on Tuesday, is an attempt to turn the mobile gaming industry on its head and add an extensive new revenue stream to the company’s books.
It boasts over 100 unique titles, including Beyond a Steel Sky, a sequel to the classic adventure game Beneath a Steel Sky, with art by Watchman comic book legend Neil Gibbons.
Apple said games will be exclusive to Arcade and not available on other services. The subscription service will be available across Apple devices, and, which should make for more varied gameplay.
The gaming subscription service will release on September 19 and costs just $4.99 / £4.99 / INR 99 a month. This is automatically a Family Sharing plan, allowing for up to six family members to share the same subscription for just one monthly fee.
For iOS devices,. Apple Arcade will be available Sept. 30 on and and in October on .
From Jedi to Avenger, Lenovo announces AR game Marvel: Dimension of Heroes
Your turn to save the world
dLenovo made us live our Jedi dreams in 2017, now they want us to be an Avenger. Announced at IFA 2019 is the company’s follow-up to fan favorite AR game Star Wars: Jedi Challenges — they’re taking us to another universe with Marvel: Dimension of Heroes.
The hardware you’ll need
Much like Jedi Challenges, you’ll need nearly the same hardware to make Dimension of Heroes work. There’s the Lenovo Mirage AR headset, the Tracking Beacon, and instead of a Light Saber replica, you get a pair of Universal Controllers.
Of course you’ll also need a compatible smartphone to run the game. Basic requirements are as follows: Has to be larger than 4.3 inches to align with phone tray display cutout. For iOS devices, it has to have at least a 1.4 GHz Dual Core chip along with 1GB RAM. For Android phones, it needs at least a 2.0 GHz Quad Core chip with 2GB RAM. You can check the full list of compatible devices at lenovo.com/miragear.
Play as your favorite Marvel Superhero
There aren’t a lot of details available as to how the game will play out. The only clue so far is that you have to “defend your reality” as any of the six superheroes headlining the game. The six are original Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Avengers Captain America and Thor, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy.
Fans of the MCU should easily recognize the mentioned superheroes as they prominently feature in the last two Avengers films — Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
In early 2018, I had the chance to speak with some Lenovo Executives and they did mention working on a Marvel AR game. More popular characters like Iron Man and Spider-Man were mentioned but they’re noticeably missing in this lineup.
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