New York City is a big place. Take that from someone who’s lived there most of his life. This massive, sprawling metropolis is home to over eight and a half million people, and that number doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller anytime soon. The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Manhattan are all boroughs teeming with landmarks to explore and stories to experience from the perspective of absolutely anyone. Taking this into consideration, Spider-Man has enormous potential to not only serve as a gateway for those who have yet to experience what the Big Apple has to offer, but become one of the PS4’s most enjoyable exclusives.
Earlier this week, the game’s art director, Jacinda Chew, described what it was like to don Spidey’s suit and swing carelessly above the traffic jammed streets of the city. Indeed, players can swan dive towards the street like a maniac from the top of their favorite building, then swing back up at the very last minute and give themselves the feeling like their stomach’s about to cave in. Though this isn’t exactly uncharted territory for video games, one can’t help to imagine what it’s like to do that with thousands of people walking on the sidewalks below you, living their lives as if it’s just another day.
Should you have been lucky enough to witness the great views of a city through the windows of just one skyscraper, imagine what the sensation would feel like if you were swinging amid dozens of more, climbing to the tops of New York City’s Freedom Tower, Empire State Building, or Chrysler Building just to plot how effortlessly you’ll glide through the streets below you. It’s definitely a prospect that makes Spider-Man’s thrilling, daring stunts all the more exciting to look forward to.
But there’s more to New York City than just big buildings. What lies inside these edifices and that which dwells underground make for entirely new worlds to explore. Consider the last trailer eager fans of the game were treated to back at Paris Games Week. Though the video gives us very brief glimpses, you’ll be able to notice some signature landmarks throughout, including Grand Central Station and the New York City subway.
For those unfamiliar with the latter, Grand Central serves as the hub for which people from all over the tri-state area travel to every day. It’s a high-ceiling, massive columned area filled with Spider-Man gameplay potential. Those takedowns that Batman typically used in the Arkham series, for instance, would make for great use here. There’s also an entire basement section to explore, one that traditionally serves as a cafeteria in real life but could be a hideout for the villains depicted in the trailer. Overall, the building itself feels unlike other modern places around the city, as its architectural design oozes a romantic feel. Should Insomniac feel dedicated to recreating Grand Central as meticulously as possible, get ready to be taken somewhere markedly different from anywhere else in the game.
When taking New York City’s subway system into consideration, the network is so complex and interesting to explore that it can easily justify a game in its own right. With nearly 24 train lines leading to hundreds of stations scattered across those aforementioned boroughs, the player can travel from the open air, above ground rails of Brooklyn to the underground depths of Manhattan with ease, all while combating foes in tight subway cars where the only means of escape is punching your way forward. This only shakes up Spider-Man’s gameplay even more, forcing the web-head to not always rely on the environment around him to save the day. In this way, as interesting as it may be to explore and discover, the subway could prove to be just as much an enemy to Spidey as an ally, too.
Above ground can prove just as challenging to navigate as below when taking into account Manhattan’s downtown area or any of the suburban boroughs, as these areas typically have fewer tall buildings. Yes, that adrenaline that comes with swinging up last moment before hitting the ground is gone in these places, but that doesn’t mean that gameplay has to be any less engaging. Soaring right above the hoods of cars as horns sound off below or giving chase to a high speed robbery could be made more compelling should Spider-Man’s swinging ability be a little more limited, thus giving the player more incentive to experiment with the spider’s vast array of web abilities. If you recall from the title’s gameplay reveal, Spidey was able to prevent a helicopter from falling into a crowd of people by casting the aircraft in a net. Imagine being able to pinpoint where a moving car is going and have it steer right into a net of the very same kind. The tactical possibilities are there should Insomniac choose to implement them.
Spider-Man’s gameplay potential is phenomenal if only because the city the hero swings in is equally as phenomenal, if not more. New York City is so architecturally rich and designed with so much input from people all around the world that it’ll be hard not to notice the innovation etched into each building’s facades when flying in the air as a human spider. Though the web-head has seen his fair share of games, none in recent memory have come close to faithfully rebuilding the greatness that makes up the Big Apple, at least not since Spider-Man 2 released on PS2 nearly a decade and a half ago. Spider-Man is unapologetically a New Yorker. It’s time for the gaming world to realize exactly what makes this city so special.