Can Marvel’s Avengers do Spider-Man right?
Before the game even launched, Marvel’s Avengers courted a pretty big amount of controversy. Whether it was that the cast just looked like bad stunt doubles of their MCU counterparts, the self-praise over the voice cast that while good, is just the usual suspects you hear in 90% of video games these days or the confusing system of resources and microtransactions. One of the bigger controversies still is the matter of Marvel’s most popular hero, Spider-Man.
Promised as a PlayStation exclusive (and this isn’t because Sony owns all rights to Spider-Man, they don’t they own the film rights, that’s it. Anything else still has to go through Disney/Marvel), fans were rightfully upset that the wall-crawler would only be available on one platform for a game available on many platforms. Now here we are a year after the game’s launch and we still haven’t seen anything on the web-crawler, but with a recent promise that he’s still on track for release this year, and an updated roadmap presentation planned for September 8th, we should get some idea of when to expect him to arrive at least.
But this column isn’t really about that, but the question of whether a game built like Square Enix’s Marvel’s Avengers is even a good fit for someone like Spider-Man. One of Spider-Man’s coolest and most unique traits is well, traversal. The guy swings around all the time, despite not being able to fly, he rarely touches the ground even in combat. He’s sort of an in-between of someone who is good with a grappling hook and someone who can straight up fly.
And while traversal in Marvel’s Avengers is handled pretty ok with the cast on hand (with the exception of The Hulk, as I’ve mentioned before he’s just bad), there are basically three types of characters; the couple that can fly, which is Iron Man and Thor, the ones that basically have to double jump and can’t actually get around as well like Captain America, Hulk, and Black Panther. Then there are the ones who have something to make getting to high spots a little easier like Black Widow, Hawkeye, Kamala Khan, and Kate Bishop.
But none of these characters gets around like Spider-Man does, and I also worry about well, just the environments in Marvel’s Avengers. They are extremely wide-open areas for the most part (except when you are specifically going into, for example, an underground lab) and that’s an environment that historically doesn’t suit Spider-Man’s abilities super well.
There are two types of ways Spider-Man and his web-slinging in video games has been historically handled in video games: either he can just latch on to something invisible in the sky and pretty much swing forever, or he has to actually attach to something or he can’t swing. That’s fine for a densely packed city with lots of tall buildings, but not more open areas and spaces obviously.
I’m hoping Crystal Dynamics chooses the former, which can still have it own issues, but it’s certainly better than having to run on foot for long periods of time as a guy who specifically does not do that. But given how traversal has been handle thus far, it’s hard to see how that can translate into a Spider-Man that’s true the character and fun to use in the game.
And that’s just traversal, Spider-Man is generally not a guy who just goes toe-to-toe with enemies, he jumps around a lot, uses his web-slinging abilities to get behind guys etc. Marvel’s Avengers is much more of a straight-up brawler. Even heroes who generally don’t do close combat like Hawkeye and Kate Bishop are given swords because you still have to do a lot of close combat and just pounding away on enemies in a style that Spider-Man really doesn’t do.
I don’t expect Marvel’s Avengers version of Spider-Man to be any sort of definitive version of Spider-Man. But I still want it to be one that represents the character well and is fun to play, otherwise what’s the point? Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics clearly have taken their time with the character taking as long as they have so hopefully my fears are for naught. We might very well find out on September 8th with the new roadmap presentation. That’s all for now but I certainly will have thoughts on the roadmap and possibly other stuff this week so see ya real soon!