Gaming

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

A spoiler-free hands-on look

Published

on

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

Cyberpunk 2077 gets delayed, once again

Fans are fuming with anger

Published

on

Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed again, this time by 21 days. The game was supposed to launch on November 19, but the developer has announced a slight delay, and it’ll be releasing on December 10. Rest assured, fans are furious.

Gamers have had enough of delays and are fuming in anger right now. The game’s initial launch was scheduled for April 2020, but the Coronavirus pandemic radically changed plans. Furthermore, fans are disappointed because the developers had made it certain that the November deadline will be respected.

The reason behind another delay is its compatibility with the next-gen consoles from PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series hitting the markets next month.

“We’re aware it might seem unrealistic when someone says that 21 days can make any difference in such a massive and complex game, but they really do,” director Adam Badowski and CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwinski said in a release.

Keep in mind, the developers are working on the game entirely from the work-from-home model. However, CD Projekt Red is indicating the added development time will be all worth it.

The most frustrating part for fans is, the game has been in development for eight years. Apparently, the game was ready-to-play in January itself and has gone Gold already. Going Gold means that the master disc is ready, indicating it’s also ready for release.

So technically, they’ve already created Cyberpunk 2077, and it’s ready for distribution. But, the game awkwardly still isn’t finished. Let’s hope the game released as planned, and there are no more delays. Because, looking at the anger online, another delay could doom the game even before anyone plays it.

Continue Reading

Gaming

Garmin launches an Instinct smartwatch for esport athletes

Comes with exclusive features too

Published

on

Garmin Instinct Esports Edition

Garmin’s line of Instinct smartwatches traditionally caters to outdoor sports, with variants built for running, swimming, and even golfing. Now, the company is introducing a new smartwatch variant that caters to e-sport athletes and gamers  — Garmin Instinct Esports Edition.

For some skeptics, this is not just another Garmin smartwatch though. It actually comes with a unique set of features for esports athletes and gamers. The most unique feature of the smartwatch is the ability to live stream the health data of a gamer to audiences.

Thanks to a dedicated esports activity tracking function, gamers can keep tabs on their heart rate and stress while in a gaming session. A PC tool called STR3AMUP! broadcasts these data to live stream platforms, allowing audiences to see a gamer’s vital info too. That tool also allows customization so gamers can personalize the data to their own liking.

Now, some might be skeptical about this. After all, health data are sensitive information and some audiences might not really find those data useful.

However, Garmin sees potential with their smartwatch all the more thanks to an exclusive live broadcast feature. During a game, gamers can tune in to the new Body Battery  Energy Monitor reading, which combines heart rate, stress, and sleep data to determine their body’s energy.

Same specs as other Instinct smartwatches

Besides those unique selling points, Garmin Instinct Esports Edition is no different from the regular Instinct smartwatch. As such, it has a heart rate monitor, all-day activity tracking, and some smart features like receiving and viewing notifications.

Unfortunately, there is no support for third-party apps like other Garmin smartwatches. Support for music storage isn’t here too.

On the bright side, the smartwatch can stand the extreme elements thanks to a fiber-reinforced polymer body and a water rating of 10ATM. Garmin’s official battery figures are 80 hours in esports mode and 14 days in smartwatch mode.

As for the pricing, the smartwatch starts at US$ 299.99 and comes in a sole Black Lava configuration. Gamers can now purchase it directly from Garmin’s website.

Continue Reading

Deals

Lenovo Legion: The Empire Christmas Sale

Lotsa gaming treats

Published

on

Have you always wanted to be part of the Legion? Now’s your chance with The Empire Christmas Sale.

The massive promo is open to customers who will purchase qualifying products from October 31 to December 31, 2020.

To enter, gamers must sign up and upgrade their account in Legion’s The Empire websiteLenovo’s exclusive gaming community and rewards program. Members are granted special perks including access to Legion merchandise, VIP entry to Legion gaming events, and more.

Members earn corresponding Empire Points for every product purchase which they can use to redeem exclusive Legion merchandise or products. Points may also be obtained by joining weekly missions posted at The Empire website.

Participating models for The Empire Christmas Sale include:

For the full mechanics, ‘like’ the Legion official Facebook page.

Continue Reading

Trending