Batman: Arkham Asylum was such a gigantic success that many a famous franchise has copied its combat mechanics, from Assassin’s Creed to Sleeping Dogs. The PlayStation 4’s previous web-slinging outing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also borrowed liberally from Rocksteady’s releases, so how does Marvel’s Spider-Man compare? Having played a couple of hours of Insomniac’s attempt earlier in the month, we feel well-placed to discuss.
Regardless of what the developer says, there are similarities. Spider-Man’s iconic spider-sense ability makes him a perfect fit for counter-attacks, and so when you see the famous heat waves emanating from the hero’s head, you’ll have to hit the circle button in order to get out of the way. From what we’ve seen, goons are heavily armed in the outing, so often you’ll find yourself dodging bullet fire and rockets, in addition to the usual kicks and punches.
The Caped Crusader is incredibly mobile in the Arkham games, but Spidey is even more so, flipping and somersaulting his way around the battlefield; in a way, it makes more sense in this game given the inherent athleticism of the web-slinger. Webs mean that you can get closer to your opponents quickly, with the triangle button whipping you closer to targets and allowing you to land a few cheeky hits. Agility is at the heart of the release.
So how do things differ, then? Well, Spider-Man has webs obviously, which means that you can subdue some (but not all) foes by tapping the R1 button and stringing them up. You can also launch enemies into the air by holding the attack button and juggling them like it’s a Marvel vs Capcom game. The neat thing is that there’s a lot of experimentation available: juggling enemies then hitting them with the triangle button will see you slam them back down, for example – or you can stick them to walls.
There are also contextual combat options which depend on the environment. Tyres, plants, and bits of shrapnel can be webbed up and thrown at enemies, serving up devastating finishers or counters when you’re low on other options. Perhaps worth remembering is that you can always swing to different surfaces, meaning that you can thwip out of a pinch in a snip. And while we didn’t get to see many, gadgets will provide unique combat options as you progress through the game.
So yes, at its core, the combat is very much like a Batman: Arkham game – but it’s not exactly the same. Spidey’s athleticism make his fighting style faster and more frenetic, and the webs put a totally different spin on the traditional fisticuffs. It’s decent, and what we liked during our demo was the constant introduction of new enemy types that demanded different approaches; assuming that this continues throughout the full campaign, it’s going to be an entertaining system to say the least.
Are you excited to try out Spider-Man PS4’s combat system? Are you a fan of the Batman: Arkham fighting style? Throw a web into the comments section below.