As long as Video Games have been around, Spider-Man games have promised the feeling of being Spider-Man. With VR coming out in consumer form in 2016, there have been plenty of tech demos or “experiences” that try to replicate being the Web Slinger himself.
When Sony stepped up to the plate in 2017 with there Spider-Man: Homecoming VR experience everyone lost their minds… until they “played” it. Homecoming VR was basically another tech demo with graphics (even for VR) that were abysmal. You assume the roll of Spider-Man and after a quick 30 second speil you are transported to the rooftop to play around with your web shooters in a shooting gallery that is all the rage with VR apps. Then around 3-4 mins later, the demo ends with you going off to chase The Vulture. The coolest part of the whole experience is the last 10 seconds and then it cuts out making you wish you got to experience everything after than rooftop scene instead. It was a big letdown and a bummer to say the least.
So when Sony randomly dropped Spider-Man: Far From Home VR on the first day of Steam’s 2019 Summer sale, I was skeptical at best. I loaded it up and was met with a familiar setting of Peter’s room and his friend Ned calling him. The voice acting is OK but nothing that stands out and “good”. I’m sure they didn’t get Tom Holland for this but it’s not really a detriment. You start out learning how to shoot webs and then run, jump and swing. Once the tutorial is over, it drops you on top of a tall skyscraper and sets you free to swing around a decent chunk of Manhattan.
This is the best part about the app and actually does give you a sense of being Spider-Man for real for the first time. Jumping off the building, picking up terminal velocity and then shooting a web out to slowly bring you into a swing is exhilarating (in part to the Marvel licensed soundtrack that swells up during descent). After a few minutes of having fun, and really feeling like you are Spidey, you see some drones lifting up pieces of the road and then get knocked down and knocked out as well. When you come to, a big robot is on top of you. The drones drop the pieces of street right on top of the robot like armor and then it’s up to you to chase it down.
This is where I stopped having fun. The first time I played this demo, the audio of the game cut out and I was just left in silence. I wasn’t able to hear the voice over telling me the instructions on where to go or what to do. So, I stopped the game and quit out to do something else. I loaded it up a second time later that night to try again. Pulling the armor off is unintuitive but once you realize all you have to do is quickly shoot a web once to wrap it, then hold and pull a second webline to rip off the piece of armor, it becomes a bit more manageable. Once the robot is armorless, it runs away. You run it down and trap it in a web, hit it with webs a few times and it’s over.
I however, got stuck with all the stupid drones and robots shooting me that disabled the webshooters for around 10 seconds and would immediately get hit over and over again. The controls are fairly bad and unintuitive, so even something as simple as turning around to get a better angled jump is nigh impossible. It really goes to show how bad a game can be just because of the lousy controls. I’d suggest this as a good demo to show a younger kid VR, but only do the free play mode. The story mode is worthless. The real joy is swinging around Manhattan uninhibited.
For a 15 min free experience, it could be worse. But honestly I’d rather them flesh it out into an actual game with better controls and you’d better believe I’d drop some cash on this game to feel what my 12 year old self could only dream of.