Last year was so crowded for video games, that not even the best Spider-Man game ever made could dominate the game of the year discussions. Still, at the DICE Awards last week, it had another chance to shine. The team at Insomniac Games took home the coveted award for Outstanding Achievement in Animation.
Spoiler Warning: Below are minor spoilers for the end bosses of Spider-Man.
"I'm sorry, like we finally, we won," Spider-Man creative director Brian Intihar tells USG backstage a bit exasperatedly. "So I'm kind of excited."
There's been a lot of talk about Spider-Man's excellent animations; from previews to interviews to post-review write-ups. For our quick chat, I wanted to shift the focus away from our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and onto an under-discussed topic: the villains of the Sinister Six.
"A big thing for us was to nail every character we wanted to have an identity," says Intihar. "And for us it was about these characters having a sense of expression whether how they talk, but also how they move. [...] I think that comes across not only just from the character's performance, but also just in terms of the animators love of being fans of these characters, so it was pretty awesome. We have an amazing animation team."
There are a lot of villains in Spider-Man, from the small-scale foes like Tombstone and Taskmaster, to the Big Bads of Doctor Octopus and Mr. Negative. Between those are where the Sinister Six round out, with Electro, Rhino, Scorpion, and Vulture finishing the cast.
The latter four end up being some of the biggest boss fights in the entire game, and in a neat twist, Spider-Man fights two of them at a time. In one, Spidey zips around a construction yard as the formidable Rhino charges around and Scorpion leaps across crates; in another mostly aerial fight, Spider-Man challenges Electro and Vulture simultaneously.
"One of the original ideas we had for the game was to actually have Spider-Man fight two characters at once, because we thought that since he is a more experienced Spider-Man—he's been doing it for 8 years—there's no reason that he couldn't," says Intihar. "We wanted to see like at that point in the game, him being out for that long, what would it be like if Spider-Man had to take down two villains at once? It was kind of actually originally just going to be Scorpion and Rhino. And then later on we thought well, since that's a test of him being on the ground, imagine if he had to fight two aerial enemies, and so we did the Vulture and Electro at the same time as well."
Of all the awards Spider-Man was up for, animation is maybe the one it deserved the absolute most. Swinging through its rendering of Manhattan, it often feels like you were the webbed crusader himself. For the team at Insomniac, that was a necessity in its design.
"Honestly, I think it's like one of the things that, you know, we talk a lot about what defines Spider-Man," says Intihar. "And I think that his movement, his agility, his fluidity, his sense of style is such a defining element of his character and thankfully to our animation team and all the programmers, designers, and artists who were involved in that brought it to life."
With Spider-Man's cliffhanger ending and success, it wouldn't be a surprise if we see more of the webhead in the future. As for who Peter (and Miles?) face next, we already have some ideas. Spider-Man is available on PlayStation 4 exclusively.