Spider-Man PS4 Story Is Also Peter's Story, Say Insomniac Devs

Bruce Wayne is boring. Clark Kent is lame. And Tony Stark is basically a bootleg Bruce Wayne. When it comes to iconic alter-egos, few compare to our friendly neighborhood Peter Parker. Marvel's Spider-Man understands this, and the creative team at Insomniac Studios built its PS4 exclusive around a heavy dose of domestic drama. In the two-hour demo we previewed ( which was great ) we spent a lot of time in Peter's laboratory solving puzzles, threw a surprise party for Aunt May and even shared a slice of pizza with a "just friends, right?" version of Mary Jane. So why is Peter so important?

"The experience of being Spider-Man isn't just swinging through the city, it's also the guy who doesn't wear the mask," Jon Paquette, lead writer at Insomniac Games, told Newsweek . "The reason that he is so popular is because it's not just Spider-Man, it's Peter Parker. There's two parts to him."

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Last chance with Mary Jane? Sony

Game Director Ryan Smith agrees. For him, the most fascinating dynamic of the character is a Spider-Man whose life always seems to be at odds with Peter's.

"I always think of it as the human side of the character. Whenever something goes well with Spider-Man, he's late for work the next minute. He's always trying to balance the two parts of his lives," Smith said. "The competent superhero with the underdog, less competent scientist Peter Parker."

That balance is central to Marvel's Spider-Man . Insomniac created more than cutscenes to flesh out Peter's part of the game. Because this is a present-day Spider-Man, a healthy portion of the game mechanics revolve around tech. Smith explained Peter's role of scientist and innovator gave the team a focal point to build upon.

"The lab stuff and the puzzles represent that. Also the suits that you get. Making sure you felt like you were crafting your suit, your gameplay, that it had something to do with that whole lab story," Smith said.

Fixed preconceptions of Spider-Man are another challenge facing the team. Fans have their own idealized version of the character, and nostalgic associations can run deep into their personal histories. With so many artists and influences shaping Spider-Man over the years, Insomniac was left with really one choice: forget it.

"This is a great character that everyone loves. But what I wanted to do early on was read all the comics, watch all the movies, play all the games and then forget it," Paquette said. "We wanted this to be our own universe."

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Spider-Man has a knack for making Peter Parker's life more complicated ... and vice versa. Sony

According to Paquette and Smith, Marvel has acknowledged that the game is it's own universe: an official universe number may be forthcoming. In the meantime, Smith wants fans to experience a Spider-Man who already knows the ropes. Plenty of Spider-Man stories recap his origins, but Marvel's Spider-Man is going a different route.

"We're telling a unique, original story, where Peter is 23 when it starts. He's an experienced Spider-Man," Smith said. "We wanted to make sure that the controls and the experience that you open the game with are action-packed, and it's not your first time web-swinging. We want you as a player to feel in control and in command and find that depth later."

This experienced, battle-ready Spider-Man will have a host of villains to contend with. A unique version of The Sinister Six serve as the main antagonists of the story, helmed (at least from what we've seen in trailers so far) by Mr. Negative, a.k.a. Martin Li. While he may not be as well-known as some of Spidey's other foes, like Kingpin or Rhino, Mr. Negative was a natural fit for Insomniac's theme of powerful people grappling with two identities.

"So we have this theme of Peter Parker's world and Spider-Man's world colliding; Martin Li also plays into that theme. He's got this life at the F.E.A.S.T. center as a great guy, a philanthropist who helps homeless people," Paquette said. "But then there's this other part that he's struggling with that is Mr. Negative, and he's got a plan. Those two sides of him fighting against each other at the same time that Peter's worlds are colliding makes for really juicy drama."

A compelling character from a story perspective, Mr. Negative's got a lot of video-game friendly characteristics too. And showcasing his powers in combat is going to be a great way to introduce him to fans who aren't familiar with his abilities.

"He's got an inner demon and we can introduce his negative powers there. So it's a great way to provide that over-the-top Marvel action in the core combat," said Smith. "Even for people who are familiar with the franchise, Mr. Negative is going to feel new and fresh."

Anyone familiar with the Spider-Man franchise probably wants one thing: to be Spider-Man. But comic books and movies and TV shows can only take the escapism so far. Smith thinks games offer the best chance to actually live out those web-slinging fantasies.

"If people can say 'I totally felt like Spider-Man, even while I was sitting on this couch holding a controller,' that's something we can do as a game that other media can't do," he said. "I would love it if people were able to say that."

Marvel's Spider-Man releases Sept. 7 on PS4.