Last week, the first gameplay footage was released for Spider-Man 2 on PlayStation 5. And let’s be honest: it looked fantastic again. So WANT editor Dennis Mons was eager to speak with the Creative Director and Game Director of developer Insomniac following the trailer.
If you think Spider-Man on the PlayStation 4 and 5 were brilliant, you’re absolutely right as far as I’m concerned. If anything, it is one of the best games on the PlayStation ever. So I wondered how hard it would be to top that with Spider-Man 2, and that’s why I wanted to have a word with Insomniac.
Spider-Man 2 will be another PlayStation 5 gem
Do I worry about any innovation in Spider-Man 2? Perhaps. But Creative Director Bryan Intihar and Game Director Ryan Smith of Insomniac managed to reassure me. After half an hour of chatting, their love for Spidey speaks volumes.
Is it hard to make a sequel to one of the very best PlayStation games, and as far as I’m concerned, the best Spider-Man game ever?
Bryan: “Okay, now I’m getting a little nervous, haha. With the first game, it was already a challenge. It was our first title under a license and of course we knew how popular Spider-Man is. Then you do feel the pressure.
But it was especially when we started working with Miles that we became even more confident. Until then, everything was focused on Peter Parker. Miles was already in Spider-Man, of course, but really making a Miles game was fantastic.
Of course there are huge expectations now, but I prefer high expectations to disquiet. And I think everyone at Insomniac feels that way.”
Brutal new gameplay thanks to symbiote. (Image: PlayStation)
Symbiote has more important role in Spider-Man 2
We see more of the symbiote in the trailer. Was it difficult to bring him to life?
Bryan: “We didn’t want the symbiote to play second fiddle in the first game anyway. So in this game, it’s important for us to properly portray the enormous power of the transformation, but also to show the impact of ‘the suit’ on Peter, and how it affects people around him.
You can also see this in the gameplay trailer: Peter doesn’t sound like Peter and so we take players into a side of the character they don’t yet know.
It’s kind of reminiscent of Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 3. Was that something you guys took away?
Bryan: “Well, we especially want to show that the bond between the symbiote and Peter Parker is really serious and intense. And of course we looked at the comics and the movies, but we want to tell ón our version and how we see that relationship.”
Kraven the Hunter in Spider-Man 2. (Image: Insomniac)
The symbiote (meaning the black suit also responsible for Venom) is definitely in the spotlight in the gameplay footage for the PlayStation 5. But how do you guys decide which other Spider-Man characters should be in the game?
Ryan: “In terms of the symbiote, the decision was quickly made. At the end of the first game, of course, it was introduced. If we didn’t go with that, you’d have a lot of angry fans, haha.
But in addition to that, we just have fan conversations among ourselves: “What characters haven’t we had yet?” and “What are your favorite villains?”. We also look at what story we want to tell and which characters fit that best, including Peter and Miles.
We also think it’s cool to think from a design point of view. Take Kraven the Hunter, for example, who is not a magical character, nor does his power revolve around technology. That’s then precisely a character we want to shape, because it’s interesting.”
New powers and even fatter graphics on PlayStation 5
What is so stunning about the gameplay is that we see many new powers/abilities. How do you find the balance between perfection and implausibility when it comes to powers and gadgets?
Bryan: “Spider-Man 2 is obviously a superhero game, so the sense of implausibility is there anyway. But of course we did keep in mind the limits of the powers of Peter, Miles and the symbiote.
Of course, you don’t want to put certain abilities into the game that make you a wrecking ball and have no challenge. You can also see this in Miles’ powers in the gameplay. From the web grabber to the gadgets: it’s always a balance between fantasy and a challenge.”
Ryan: “What we also want is for players to be able to choose how to use certain powers. Take the symbiote, for example: make your own choice as to whether you want to ‘focus’ it primarily on a particular strong enemy, or whether you want to take on multiple enemies at once.”
Expect lots of cool, new abilities. (Image: Insomniac)
Influences of movies and comics on Spider-Man 2
Is it difficult to work on Spider-Man 2 with all the influences from such things as movies, animated series and, of course, the comics?
Ryan: “It’s not really difficult, but it’s kind of finding the right bits that we wanted to use. Take Kraven or Lizard, for example, they have different backstories in the comics and movies, for example.
Then it’s just a matter of finding out in Spider-Man 2 which stories appeal to the players. But more importantly, what is the DNA of the character, what is the essence? Of course, we have people at Insomniac who love the characters in Spider-Man anyway, and others are more than willing to do a little homework.
But it’s also true that we have a lot of contact with Marvel. Then we just ask if they think a certain character is accurate. But in the end, we just climb into the pen and write the script.”
Flitting around a bit. (Image: Insomniac)
Marvel, of course, is known for being incredibly economical with its IP. Has it ever knocked you guys back?
Ryan: “Actually, not at all. We’ve had an excellent relationship with Marvel for eight years. They are especially enormously helpful. But of course we do a lot of work ourselves.
For example, we read a lot of source material as well. And then it’s really a matter of determining how to keep the core of that and add our own elements to that.
Of course we all have bizarre, cool superpowers and characters in the game, but we’re still concerned with the heart behind all those things. That was true in the first volume, and it’s certainly true in Spider-Man 2. There are wonderful stories to be found behind the masks, and Marvel gives us all the room we need for that.”
Also looking forward to Spider-Man 2? Then you’ll have to be patient for a while, as it will unfortunately not be released on the PlayStation 5 until this fall.