safety webs mean you cannot kill people in marvels spider-man 2 insomniac games

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is at least half a year away, which gives me plenty of time to figure out how to murder people. Admittedly, Spider-Man isn’t known for his body count, but I’m determined to do my best to break this sequel.

It all boils down to the way that Marvel’s Spider-Man webs any would-be corpses to the walls of buildings. It’s possible you haven’t noticed this, too caught up in the joy of hurling criminals over railings. But instead of having their corpses crunch on the pavement, they’re actually webbed to the first flat surface they go past.

Did I actually expect to get away with killing people as Spider-Man? Not officially, at least. Sure, Robert Kirkman’s Marvel Zombies had Spider-Man devouring the Silver Surfer and, off-screen, eating Aunt May and Mary Jane. But that was before Disney took over, and it tends to be more protective of its properties.

But I did hope against hope that, through some oversight or glitch, I would be able to throw villains off skyscrapers. I’m fascinated by the idea of superhero games letting you breach, unintentionally or otherwise, each hero’s personal code.

The earliest superhero games do tend to contain some oddities. Superman, published in 1985 for the Commodore 64, doesn’t turn Superman into a homicidal maniac, but it does feature sections where you control Darkseid and attempt to dispatch the Man of Steel.

But open-world superhero games pose their own challenge. The bigger the game, and the bigger the play area, the more likely it is that players are going to find something you’ve missed — speedrunners are evidence of that.

safety webs mean you cannot kill people in marvels spider-man 2 insomniac games

Take the Batman: Arkham games, both Rocksteady’s trilogy and odd-one-out Arkham Origins. The Return to Arkham reissue seems to have eliminated most of these exploits and bugs, but under certain circumstances, you could send criminals plummeting to their death. You could even yank cops off water towers. Yes, villains are supposed to end up dangling via a length of Bat-wire, but that didn’t always happen.

And this is all on top of Batman’s normal villain-pummeling activities, which, let’s face it, are going to leave them with some potentially life-altering issues. Batman might not kill, but as this study suggests, being hit by a bean bag gun (which Arkham Knight’s Batmobile fires) can have serious consequences.

Batman is, at least, supposed to be edgy(ish), so letting someone plummet to their doom is less out of character. But Spider-Man is so wholesome that making him a murderer or at the least responsible for manslaughter is massively out of character. That’s why I find it so fascinating.

You can already be a menace in Marvel’s Spider-Man (the PS4 disc-based version at least) thanks to the object-flinging mechanic. It doesn’t matter if there aren’t any criminals around; you can web up barrels and the like and hurl them at a crowd of pedestrians. I like to imagine J. Jonah Jameson dropping his coffee as a trash can smashes into the wall, inches from his head.

Did developer Insomniac know people could do this? Certainly. Given that there’s an on-screen prompt to web-grab objects and a crowd reaction, someone spotted this. And while you can’t actually hit people with trash cans, this level of non-Jameson-targeted assholery is out of character and the public let you know what they think of it.

safety webs mean you cannot kill people in marvels spider-man 2 insomniac games

But what was the alternative? Locking down the ability so it was only available in combat? That, in turn, could cause problems when running into Marvel’s Spider-Man’s non-storyline open-world crimes. So the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man can just grab objects off the street and pitch them into the crowd. And of course, that’s what I do any time I hit street level.

But murder? So far, Marvel’s Spider-Man has prevented me from dispatching hoodlums, thanks to its web-based “safety” system. I’ve taken to following villains as they fall, hoping this’ll be the time that the safety system will glitch out and their web-free corpse will end up decorating the street below.

Does this make a terrible person? Yes. Am I going to attempt the same in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2? Also yes. Sure, there are PC mods that remove this feature, but that’s cheating. I’m no speedrunner, but when it hits PS5, my holy grail is going to be glitching Peter Parker into offing someone.

You can bet there’ll be a whole host of new abilities, and I have my fingers crossed that at least one of those, used in the right circumstances, will bypass Insomniac’s magical mystery web mechanic. After all, as Uncle Ben put it, “With great power comes great responsibility to wash all this scum off the streets.”

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