You could say that I embed myself in a wide array of action games, including the Batman: Arkham series.
I tend to notice little nuances of combat as they evolve over time, and it’s crazy to see just how much of an impact that the first Arkham and Assassin’s Creed had on the rest of the genre. That simple “attack incoming, counter” symbol above enemy heads is pretty much a staple now — even MMOs are utilizing telegraphed attacks more in recent years. But not every project draws from that same well.
I managed to get my hands on Spider-Man‘s E3 build by way of an event hosted by Sony, and I have to say: any comparisons to Arkham (which I’ve seen quite a bit of in the past year) are surface level at best.
You really have to play Spider-Man to get a sense of its flow. Sure he can web-swing and get around larger locales faster (which no doubt makes things harder to design when you have to account for a giant hub), but the key difference between Spider-Man and Batman is that the former has a general sense of speed at all times — including combat situations.
Even the simple act of walking around is quicker than most action games, and I was amazed at how differently I approached those aforementioned counter symbols with Spidey (which fit in with his Spider-Sense). Instead of instinctively pressing triangle to do a cool looking choreographed counter, I was flying all over the place and found myself in a completely different area within seconds, able to freestyle my own tactics. Or, more effectively, you can just attack them with any ability you want (gadgets, web shots, punches/kicks) and you’ll get it out before their attack hits. He’s that fast.
Insomniac Games has a respectable background in platformers having crafted the best years of Spyro’s life and Rachet & Clank, but they’ve really outdone themselves here. While Rocksteady’s Batman is stylish as hell in his methodical approach to taking out droves of baddies, Spider-Man is equally sharp in his own way. Even if there are too many cooks in the kitchen in regards to its winding story packed full of Spidey-verse characters, Insomniac managed to nail what it’s like to actually control Spider-Man. And that counts for a lot.