There’s no denying that Marvel’s Spider-Man swung into the hearts of fans everywhere when it launched last year. Amazingly the team at Insomniac met the sky-high expectations that had been mounting, and delivered something that has been dubbed the best superhero game of all time. From its faultless swinging mechanics to its strong characterisation, you’d have a hard time finding something to fault. Puddlegate aside, obviously.
However, I can’t help but think that the studio may have missed a trick with their latest AAA hit. One that would have got the pulses racing even more. And would have placed the gamer, quite literally, in that Little Red Suit. Bear with me.
The PSVR has recently turned two and a half. And over those last 30 odd months, it has enjoyed a steady stream of compatible titles – some from the big names but mostly from smaller, more independent outfits. Nonetheless, each have attempted, with varying degrees of success, to prove that the device is worthy of our time and theirs.
So far their combined efforts heave shown that it is far from perfect, but does at least possess an unrivaled potential on the future of gaming when compared to other peripherals. This was particularly evident with the release of Farpoint and its bundled aim controller.
Despite the game being less of a traditional shooter, owing to its Sci-fi tendencies, it did at least give us a taste of gameplay unencumbered by the DualShock 4. There is an array of combat games on the market, some that possess a high level of realism and tantalising action, but they all fall short when it comes to the sense of complete immersion. And it’s not so much that we’re not in the “thick” of things, but rather what we’re battling with.
R2 is no trigger button just as square is far from a viable substitution for reloading. It’s as if one minute you’re “in” the fight, and the next minute you’re disconnected from the events. But the ability to literally point and shoot makes the entire game more realistic. And, dare I say it, improves our performance; it is far more natural to aim at the bad guys by lifting your weapon than jostling the sticks side to side. This has only been further confirmed by the latest release to make use of the aim controller – Firewall Zero Hour – which has been depriving sleep from all within our ranks here at Pure PlayStation.
With all this in mind, my idea was for Insomniac to somehow bring the Spider-Man experience to PSVR, and throw in a pair of actual wrist-worn web-slingers for good measure.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that the entire campaign could be played in first person mode through the VR headset; a project of that scale would be a tall order on its own. Not to mention, highly optimistic. But how about a few mini games and an extra chapter that could put our invisible silly string through its paces?
Think about it: You’re surrounded by the City. The clouds and high rises are indistinguishable when you tilt your head back. And up there, somewhere, there’s a rooftop with your name on it. But between you and your destiny there is an exhaustible number of stairs. You could take the elevator, though they tend to be a little gassy. And Ubers prefer to remain horizontally inclined. But fear not, Arachnid Pete, for you have a gift. A gift that will take you to places others can only dream of (or spend a long time climbing to).
With a swift tap of your wrist, your skyward. And those metallic giants are suddenly all at your feet. Restless, you scan the horizon and spot a cosy little cocktail bar on the opposite side of the street. It’s a little too far to jump but luckily for you there is a strategically placed crane between you and that umbrella clad pina colada. Arm once again raised like a boy band grabbing the hearts of their fans, you soar up the platform and down to your drink. It’s been a long day and you’ve earned it, though the barman still expects a tip. And for you to pay, obviously.
There’s only one problem – your face tights don’t allow for slurpies, and you don’t want this to be the day you’re unmasked. Still, any excuse to swing, right?
Or you’re busy tying up loose ends. Namely, your arch nemesis and other critics. But you find button bashing a little brash. Luckily, with your impressive wrist action, you soon have those cronies swinging by their shoe laces and begging for their mummies. You could even sling them up from that aforementioned crane by their ankles and still have time to grab that
drink latest copy of Spiders Weekly. Low and behold, you’re even on the cover! All without lifting that Dualshock 4, which despite is name, isn’t a taser or suitable substitute for full frontal webbing.
I’ll admit that it’s very easy for the writer in me to scribble these words and possibly underestimate the effort that goes into each and every release – great, good or otherwise. But then the marketeer in me things that, sometimes, more is more. And that widening your audience or offering something extra, preferably different to everyone else, can pay off. It’s the reason that we’re inundated by base games, special editions, limited editions and ultimate editions – by throwing in an extra mission, exclusive skin or in-game currency, and charging more for the luxury, publishers are giving the consumer not choice but temptation. And, in doing so, secure an extra 10, 20, 30 pounds off a proportion of their audience.
Win, win? For them, always; for us, sometimes.
But these little extras go a long way at convincing us that a game is worth its RRP on Day One. And they create those very important talking points. Something to get people to comment on, draw comparisons with, rave about in reviews. Because by setting yourself apart from competitors – especially with something that isn’t quickly replicated or countered – you create something that no amount money can buy. A buzz. And a fan base who will talk about your product long after the trailers have stopped rolling. Repaying you, ultimately, many times over.
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Living life one Batmobile chase at a time. When she’s not writing about video games, she’s writing terrible jokes that even a Christmas cracker would be embarrassed to share.