What Spider-Man 2 Can Learn From Sunset Overdrive
Insomniac’s Spider-Man games clearly drew inspiration from Sunset Overdrive, but there’s even more the next Spider-Man game can do.
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Marvel’s Spider-Man was a massive exclusive for PlayStation, and Insomniac Games managed to put its own unique spin on the legendary hero. Outside of the original story, the PS4 game was also the most ambitious Spider-Man title on the gameplay front.
Spider-Man fused the melee systems of games like Batman Arkham Asylum, with Insomniac’s trademark gadgets and gizmos. It’s clear that Insomniac’s past games influenced the design of Marvel’s Spider-Man, especially the Microsoft exclusive Sunset Overdrive. In fact, it’s strange to see so many similarities between an Xbox exclusive and a PS4 exclusive.
Despite everything, Marvel’s Spider-Man could stand to take even more from the design of Sunset Overdrive, especially in terms of how that game’s systems all tie together into one cohesive package.
A More Interactive Environment
Sunset Overdrive’s defining feature is its traversal and combat system, which makes use of nearly every object in the world. Whether it’s bouncing off of an air conditioner or grinding on a train wire, players need to constantly stay on the move and use the environment to their advantage. Combat encounters have a rhythm to them as players build up combo meters to unlock perks, and on a sub-level, it’s about analyzing the environment and picking out the best path.
Spider-Man does have a level of interactivity with its environment, like items Spidey can pick up and throw, but it pales in comparison to Sunset Overdrive. At the same time, city traversal and combat feel like wholly separate systems instead of two parts of a whole. Miles Morales mixes this up ever so slightly with Venom powers that oftentimes require players to know how each move works and the area it can hit. However, the next Spider-Man game should try and make the environment more of an active player in things. The game’s traversal already works well, but it can be integrated into combat even better. Maybe that comes in the form of new moves that work for both traversal and combat, like Miles’ Venom Jump, or it could simply mean more interactable elements in the environment. Spider-Man 2 should also add in challenges that deal with both swinging/traversal and combat, instead of separating them into different things.
More Varied, and Useful, Arsenal of Gadgets
Marvel’s Spider-Man has a variety of gadgets for players to use, but more often than not they feel like an afterthought instead of a legitimate way to take on encounters. Insomniac is renowned for the wacky weapons and gadgets in their games, from Ratchet & Clank’s Groovitron to Sunset Overdrive’s teddy bear launcher. Spider-Man’s gadgets are fun but it feels like Insomniac could do so much more, even letting players take on entire combat encounters with just gadgets. To do this, the game needs to make it easier to restock on gadgets, rather than the occasional pickup during battle. One way Spider-Man 2 could go about this is by introducing an entirely new playable character, separate from Peter Parker and Miles Morales. A third Spider-Person, like Gwen Stacy, could make gadgets the focus of their gameplay, with a whole host of options during combat. Insomniac has a serious talent for creating crazy weapons, and it’d be a shame to not see that talent fully represented in the Spider-Man franchise.