Could Spider-Man on PlayStation 4 Pave the Way to a Marvel Video Game Universe?

These days, the super heroes of Marvel Comics are everywhere you look. There are the comic books which serve as the foundation for everything else to follow, of course, as well as the hugely successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. Then there are the cartoons and television shows, action figures, clothing — even Avengers slots. Am I forgetting anything?

Oh yeah, video games.

Here’s the thing: For the longest time, video games based on licensed properties have typically had more of a tie to the source material — typically as “adaptations” — than being distinct entities in their own right. One can see and readily identify a version of a character as being “the comic version” or “the movie version” or “the cartoon version,” but you seldom — if ever — see a readily identifiable “video game version” of such a character, largely due to the fact that if there is a video game based on said character, it’s usually tying in with one of the aforementioned, rather than standing as its own entity.

Not too long ago, however, Rocksteady Studios defied convention. Rather than adapt Warner Bros. The Dark Knight theatrical version of DC’s iconic Batman, they instead created a version of the character with his own distinct look in his own distinct universe. Only the most passive fans might possibly confuse the Arkham version of the Caped Crusader for one of his other incarnations. As such, they created an iconic version of the character that can readily stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other interpretations, rather than merely recreating another to forever live in the shadows.

Unfortunately, at the moment, it seems that neither Rocksteady nor Warner Bros. are interested in fanning the flames they’ve sparked. That said, it seems that Disney’s Marvel is ready to follow their lead with none other than Spider-Man.

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Announced recently at Sony’s 2016 Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference, an all-new video game starring the web-slinger is headed to the PlayStation 4 courtesy of Insomniac Games. Little is known about the title thus far, not even the proper title or release date, but PlayStation.Blog does reveal some telling information just the same:

…we’re thrilled to be given the responsibility to create a brand-new, authentic Spider-Man story. Nope, this isn’t the same Spider-Man you’ve met before, nor is our game based on the upcoming movie. This is a more seasoned Peter Parker who’s more masterful at fighting big crime in New York City. At the same time, he’s struggling to balance his absurdly chaotic personal life and career. All while nine million New Yorkers depend on him for their safety… no pressure indeed.

By the sound of things, they may very well be taking a similar approach as their contemporaries in creating a Spider-Man that can distinctly be referred to as “the video game version” of the character. Heck, just look at the all-new and unique costume they’ve created for their take on the alter-ego of Peter Parker:

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Should this take off, then the big question becomes “what’s next?” Marvel is already heavily involved in the development of this title, and if they maintain that level of involvement, perhaps they could find other studios to bring us distinct video game versions of other mainstays, such as Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, and others.

And if you think back, it wasn’t that long ago that each of these heroes was being drip fed to us in all-new cinematic offerings that led to them coming together in The Avengers, thus solidifying the concept of a full “Marvel Cinematic Universe” that every other executive in Hollywood has been trying to chase and create their own version of, from DC to Universal Monsters to Hasbro and, beggaring belief, even Transformers (yes, just Transformers, separate from the rest of the Hasbro universe).

But since Marvel has already staked its claim and has movie releases plotted out through the end of 2020, why not try making lightning strike twice in the video game world?

Incidentally, it’s worth noting that even if Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man should fail to create the spark needed for such a venture, there may still be a Plan B. Telltale Games has been quiet since the announcement of their own mysterious video game partnership with Marvel; perhaps their own developments could provide a separate foundation, or even weave some characters less suited for a more action-oriented game into the grand scheme of things?

Only time will tell, but hopefully Spider-Man will mark the beginning of bigger and better things for Marvel video game fans.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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Today marks the release of Insomniac Games and Microsoft Studios’ new Xbox One-exclusive title, Sunset Overdrive. We’ve played the game (and been left wanting more for the past month), we’ve laughed at the tragic glory that is the live-action trailer for the game, and when presented with the opportunity to ask a creative director Marcus Smith a few questions about surviving and thriving in the Awesomepocalypse, we leapt at the chance.

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Q: Sunset Overdrive is a lot more colorful and cheerful than a lot of other games on the market now, especially those with an M rating. What influenced/inspired this direction?

A: The central theme for Sunset Overdrive is “fun in the end times”, the idea being that we take the classic post-apocalyptic setting and turn it on its ear– instead of everything becoming desperate and every man for himself, like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or Mad Max, the hero of the story recognizes it as a new beginning. Overnight, societal norms and laws are gone and they are free to be who they want to be and do what they want to do. It’s liberating and exhilarating. This central idea dictated everything about the game, including the look. What better way to illustrate exhilaration with vibrancy? What better way to differentiate ourselves from the classic post-apocalyptic genre than being bright and inviting?

More importantly, the world of Sunset City is designed to not only to look fun and inviting, but to play that way, too. The city needed to be like an amusement park, offering interesting places for people to explore and exploit. It’s a game, like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, where the player will be using the environment to get around, using objects in the world to gain height and move quickly, so the city needed to be built to support all the player’s available move options in mind. What we ended up with is visually unique and works super well with moving around (or getting into combat!).

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Q: A number of aspects of Sunset Overdrive feel reminiscent of Ratchet & Clank, such as the variety of wild and wacky weaponry. Was this a deliberate choice, and if so, are there other elements which carry over?

A: It was. Originally, Drew (Murray, Game Director) and I had in mind a much more ‘straight’ zombie apocalypse type game and part of that idea was to move away from the wacky, inventive weapons. It would have been awful. In fact, we moved away from that direction even before pitching the game internally. But, I think we just wanted to not perpetuate the idea that Insomniac *has* to do crazy weaponry. However, as we moved on with production and figured out the proper pace and feel of the game, it was clear that more exotic weapons were required. Our ‘normal’ weapons got phased-out and now we only have a couple. Of course, with our weapon upgrades and Amp systems, even the normal weapons become extraordinary, so we can’t even do that right!

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Q: In my preview of the game, I noted that playing it made me feel like a teenager again. Granted, I was a teenager back in the 90’s, while the game is being released in 2014 and takes place in the not-too distant future of 2027. As such, I was curious if there was a certain sense of time period that you were trying to evoke in the game– then, now, later, or just an overall sense of timelessness?

A: Indeed! To a lot of us, the general sense of ‘fun’ and ‘unexpected’ in games has taken a back seat in console games. We’re in a period where reality is all the rage. And while that’s great as a part of the spectrum, many of us here at Insomniac miss those games that were just fun/funny/exhilarating as games. SEGA games of the 90’s (especially the Dreamcast era) like Crazy Taxi, Jet Grind/Set Radio, Sonic, etc. were just nuts! So fast and frenetic. Hell, no matter your age, you probably played some form of Mario Bros. in your formative years– those games taught us all that games should be fun and don’t necessarily need to be grounded in reality. Mario’s universe is like one big acid trip, but people don’t sit around picking apart the mythology (This is where I would have lowered my head, avoided eye contact, and slowly sidled away… –Ed.)! Anyway, philosophically those games were a big influence on us, but so have more modern indie games. We’re just looking to make something interactive and fun and not necessarily an interactive movie, which so many modern console games feel like. So, yes, we want to be timeless. 😉

With that, we’d just like to thank Mr. Smith for taking the time to answer these questions for us! Sunset Overdrive is available now, both a la carte and as part of the Cirrus White Xbox One Sunset Overdrive console bundle for $399.99!


Following my hands-on with Sunset Overdrive, it should be little secret that I am in love with this game, and pretty much anything referring to it is going to grab my attention. So naturally, when Topless Robot (one of my top daily stops for all things nerdy and cool) posted this trailer from Microsoft titled “The Live Action Trailer for the Game Too Big for a Live Action Trailer,” you know I immediately took notice.

Please note that this trailer is Not Safe For Work (NSFW). I haven’t been keeping track, but it might even be the most NSFW trailer I’ve ever posted on this site, at least since the last one. That probably isn’t saying much, but I’m just saying that “Get ready to die, @$$hole!” being repeated in an electronic voice is probably bound to attract unwanted attention in certain places.

But enough of that; on with the show!

If there’s ever been a game that couldn’t be translated into a live-action trailer, Sunset Overdrive is that game. With its unique blend of hyper agility and inventive weaponized destruction, Sunset Overdrive is the one game that would be disastrous to attempt to make real.

So that’s what we did.

Stay to the end (or just click here to experience an interactive version of the trailer above.

Sunset Overdrive arrives on Xbox One on October 28th, 2014.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to get to attend Microsoft’s X14 event. Unfortunately, due to only having so much time to play so many games, I didn’t get to touch on nearly as much as I would have liked (sorry, Forza Horizon 2 and Fable Legends). But aside from a couple of rounds on Killer Instinct (now with Fulgore for the win– literally) and checking out Skylanders: Trap Team, I spent most of my time focusing on the game I wanted to see most: Sunset Overdrive.

Not only did I come away satisfied with what I had played, but it has left me hungry for more.


Note: This trailer is probably Not Safe For Work.

At first, things were a bit shaky. Part of this is due to my first experience actually being in the cooperative/competitive online multiplayer mode, where you and a group of others have to keep the oncoming waves of mutant hordes away from the batch of energy drink Overcharge Delirium XT that they so desperately crave.

Truth be told, it was sort of a case of running before I could walk, but it wasn’t too difficult to figure out. The biggest problem came from the fluke camera, which would constantly raise itself upward slowly– I figure someone was pressing the stick up when the machine was turned on, as that sort of thing tends to happen as a result. I was quickly swapped out after bringing it to a representative’s attention, though, and it largely went well after that.

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Soon after, I signed up for a chance to spend some time with the single-player mode, and that’s where the real fun began.

At the outset, you’re allowed to customize your character. Male or female, tall or short, facial features, hairstyle, those sorts of things. You’re limited to one set of clothes at the start, but following the intro where you escape back to your apartment for your life, you get to choose more options.

It’s during the race back to your place that the tutorial occurs, teaching you the basics of moving around. The key thing to remember is that you generally don’t want to be on the ground; bouncing off cars, grinding along wires and rails, and running up and alongside buildings parkour-style are the keys to keeping safe from the mutants on the street below.

The grinding is especially prominent, and reminds me a bit of how it’s done in Sonic titles, but with a greater degree of control and freedom. In addition to speeding up or slowing down, it’s easy to reverse course, and you can even switch from hanging and zipping beneath wires to grinding on them and back at the press of a button. Overall, it’s very well integrated.

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You’ll use a variety of weapons to fend off the mutants, as well as the predatory human “Scabbers,” who basically seem to be the anarchist element taking advantage of the downfall of society.

The big one is the different firearms you’ll get. From Dirty Harry-inspired pistols to fire shotguns to ice cannons to guns that can shoot bouncing vinyl records and more, there are some crazy options which may remind some people of developer Insomniac Studios’ prior work on the Ratchet & Clank series for the PlayStation systems. The shooting itself reminds me a bit of that found in the recent Transformers console games, such as Fall of Cybertron, albeit minus the cover mechanics and with a lot more moving around while shooting.

You’re also allowed to go hand-to-hand with the mutants and Scabbers with your trusty crowbar (the same item you use for hang-grinding). This style feels rather basic, and again, will probably be familiar to fans of the Ratchet & Clank games, right down to the jumping ground-pound attack to clear away foes in close proximity.

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A bit of collecting is going on as well, such as missions in which you have to travel around and pick up the parts required to progress. One such instance opens up the ability to use Amps, which allow bonus stats. One I received allowed me to generate an electric field while rolling, as another added a stun attribute to my record gun. However, in order to use these boosts, you have to maintain a certain level of “style” for it, which is done through how well you move around while grinding or killing foes.

There are a few small issues I found with performing missions, though. The primary one is that the compass is a little tough to read; I would follow it, yet sometimes end up moving further and further away from my objective, fumbling to find a way to make the distance shrink rather than grow.

This wouldn’t be quite an issue were it not for the fact that leaving the mission area results in a failure, and the boundaries don’t seem to be clearly marked. While on a mission, you’re pretty much confined to that particular area, which is kind of an iffy thing.

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I got to play for about an hour, and I have to say, I’m in love with this game. From the moment I laid eyes on Sunset Overdrive, I knew I was looking at something special.

It’s almost like the counterculture version of most big titles on the market right now: Colorful and cheerful, with tongue-in-cheek and irreverent humor spread throughout. One amusing part is where your character makes an offhand reference to “if this were a video game” before having a voiceover narration actually start speaking to him.

Some sound effects actually appear as an onomatopoeia, and while the game features a fair bit of cursing, I found it felt kind of real and genuine; that is, rather than cursing for cursing’s sake, it felt more natural, at least to me.

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In case it’s not clear, with only a few nitpicks aside, I had a lot of fun with this game. For one reason or another, I don’t tend to buy into the “system seller” philosophy, that of one game that a person would want a whole new system for, but while the Xbox One does have other titles that look interesting to me, Sunset Overdrive alone has me wanting the system just so I can play more.

It just feels good to play. I might be dating myself a bit here, but whereas playing Shovel Knight made me feel like a kid again, interestingly enough, playing Sunset Overdrive makes me feel like a teenager again. I can honestly say that’s not the kind of nostalgic sensation I experience often, but something about this title brings it out in me, and I kind of like it.

As I don’t own an Xbox One, I can’t say when or if I’ll get to review Sunset Overdrive upon its October 28th, 2014 release date. That said, I strongly encourage you to keep an eye out for this one, and if you get the chance, be sure to give it a go. You won’t be sorry.

Sony Computer Entertainment America has announced today that a 3D feature-length animated film based on Insomniac Games’ Ratchet & Clank video game series will be arriving in theatres in 2015. Independent production company Blockade Entertainment will be joining with Canada’s own Rainmaker Entertainment (best known previously as Mainframe Entertainment for such animated series as ReBoot and Beast Wars Transformers) to produce the film, while Ratchet & Clank writer T.J. Fixman will be writing the script. Meanwhile, Insomniac will also have a “hands-on” role in the film’s “production, screenplay, character development, and animation consulting.”

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