Marvel's Spider-Man: The Complete Digital Foundry Analysis!
Spider-man. As, a concept, the webslinger is and always has been a perfect fit for games the, idea of swinging, freely across the vast City while vanquishing foes, remains, as appealing today as it did in his earliest appearances, in, the digital realm over. Time Spidey, has starred in more than 35 games, some. Of these managed to perfectly capture the essence of spider-man while others fell, a tad short but, all hinted, at something greater. Enter. Insomniac. Games latest. And perhaps most ambitious, project, to date spider-man. From PlayStation 4 with. A generous, budget, a large, very capable, development, team and the backing of Sony this latest take on the webslinger promises, the most complete spider-man, experienced to date today. Then we're going to examine spider-man. And the engine powering it while checking out its performance, on both models of PlayStation, 4 and discussing, the design of the game itself we'll, also address the comparisons, being made with the e3 2017. Build of the game so, suit, up and join me as we enter, the world of spider-man. When, it comes to spider-man it's fair to say that Sony is no stranger, to the webslinger its, Columbia, Pictures, subsidiary, was responsible, for the release of Sam Raimi's original spider-man, film after all and it was successful to the point that Sony branded the PlayStation, 3 console, and it's games with, the spider-man, movie font and featured spider-man, related materials, and many of its presentations. During. This era however it was Activision, which possessed, the rights to create spider-man. Related video games thus Sony's, tie-in with the franchise remained, firmly rooted in the hollywood, space that. Is until this contract, expired, in 2014, it. Wasn't long before Sony, and Marvel started, hashing, out an idea for, a new spider-man game then and their, choice of developer, couldn't, have been more perfect I'm. Talking about insomniac. Games an experienced. Independent, studio that has a strong working relationship. With Sony Computer Entertainment and. A, lot of expertise, across multiple genres it. Makes them a great fit for spider-man, by. Marrying, the vast selection of gadgets, and action driven gameplay of the recent Ratchet and Clank reboot, with, the open-world traversal. Systems of sunset, overdrive and, the storytelling. Of resistance, spider-man. Feels like the apex of everything, insomniac, has worked to build over the past decade or two and this. Extends, to its technology, as well over, the course of this generation insomniac. Has continued, to refine its in-house technology, suite producing. Some of the most visually striking games, across. Multiple platforms and, spider-man. Represents, the next major leap in technology, it. Starts with the character, models spider-man. Takes a stylized, approach, to character design as you'd expect from something based on a comic book character but. That doesn't mean the level of detail isn't, exceptionally. High, spider-man. Suit stands out with superb, texture, work the, material reflects. Light properly, and small, details are visible throughout. Enclose. Ups with various characters, throughout the story there's a lot of detail revealed, subsurface. Scattering is, used during cutscenes, allowing light to penetrate the skin and scatter about, realistically. Beneath the surface, texture. Detail is also superb, during the sequences, as is, the eye shading. So if you've been concerned, about the detail, of the texture work on the characters, based on compressed, video pre-release. There's, certainly nothing to worry about this. Also brings us to our first talking, point in regards, to the e3, 2017. Demo with. Various screenshots, floating around some folks question, whether spider-man's, final, suit was, a match for the e3, demo in terms, of detail upon. Close examination this. Is what we found, take a look the. Texture, resolution is virtually.
Identical, To the original demo and this is evident throughout these comparable, scenes and the, same goes for the model itself, the. Main difference here stems, from a change in suit material the, e3 suit features more prominent, specularity, it's, basically, the difference between plastic, and cloth. The. Final, materia is simply more diffuse, in appearance while the e3 version is extra. Glossy, so, even though the resolution of the suit textures, are identical. The way light behaves across the surface has changed. When. In shadow the final game exhibits, a softer, more diffuse appearance, which is arguably, more realistic, the e3 demo simply, appears overly, shiny and plasticky, in comparison, in direct. Sunlight the e3 demo gives the impression of a suit covered, in saran wrap look, at the specular, highlights, here across his head in, comparison. The material, in the final game exhibits, more natural, light dispersal, which. One looks better is, kind of a matter of taste though and it does vary per scene but. This is clearly, an artist, driven change not, a technical, one made to save on performance, will, touch on the rest of this comparison shortly, of course but for now know that character, detail is excellent, and consistent. Across, the various versions of the game the, full game is a match in terms of texture and model detail are, offering, more, realistic. Lighting of course. This level of detail also applies to many other major characters while. Secondary, characters and NPCs are excellent. Looking in their own right each. Of these models are appropriately, detailed, and textured, and when, walking around the streets or visible, in large numbers the, density of the crowds is highly variable of course based on your position but, looking close that the characters reveals a high level of detail throughout, in fact, it's surprising, just how much detail is visible, on screen when exploring the streets considering. How much time you spend above them, then. There's the animation, in game spider-man features an impressive range of animation, of applied to major and minor characters, alike players, have a lot of mobility and combat, options in this game sending spider-man flying all over the place and most, of the animations, look brilliant with, smooth blending. The. Game also features a dynamic on-foot. Traversal, system by holding the r2, button while running spider-man. Can flip and jump seamlessly, between both, dynamic, and stationary. Objects across the scene and all of the animation, work is handled very well cutscenes. Also looks superb in action thanks to carefully, crafted, cinematic, animation, smooth. Camera work and insomniacs. Super, impressive per pixel motion blur which might, just be one of the best implementations. I've seen to date this. Technique first appeared, in sunset, overdrive and then again in ration and Clank on PlayStation, 4 and it has returned, for spider-man with a high sample, count and a perfectly, tuned shutter speed more. Importantly, it's tuned for gameplay when, swinging through the city edges, of the screen and objects, are properly, blurred, but the middle portion of the image remains sharp allowing. Players to see what's coming it's, a great effect but it does not obscure, visibility, of course. If you don't like it the options menu does, allow you to adjust its intensity. This. Is then coupled with generally, excellent image quality spider-man, utilizes, insomniac, temporal, injection, technique featured, in Ratchet and Clank on ps4, pro while. There is precious information, available on this technique insomniac. Seems to prefer it over typical, checkerboarding. And the results, certainly, speak volumes completely. Avoiding, the stifling artifacts, that can crop up with checkerboard, rendering, in terms. Of countable, pixel, resolutions, however spider-man, seems to use an adaptive, resolution, technique on ps4. Pro we counted resolutions, ranging from a top end of 1944. P down, to a low end of 2560. By 1368. The. Lowest, value appears to be extremely rare however with the Everage countable, resolution, coming in around 1580. 4p instead what's. Interesting about this is that if you pause the game after a camera switch it is possible, to look at the raw image before the temporal pass kicks in since. These techniques, rely on information, in a previous frame camera. Cuts are great for this since the game will not have this information after a cut this. Shot is 1584. P by the way on, the. Base Playstation 4 then we're looking at a 1080p presentation. Most of the time but we did pixel count some lower resolutions, in certain circumstances, this. Frame for instance taken just after a camera, cut weighs, in at 900 P for instance so it seems to be variable, just like the pro both. The base and pro experience are temporally, stable in motion but the pro exhibits, significantly.
More Detail as a result of its higher resolution, output. What's. Interesting here is that in terms of resolution the game has been upgraded the, patch notes make mention of this and the earlier III, builds of Spider Man all ran at 1440p. With, the temporal, injection, feature like Ratchet and Clank with. The dynamic, resolution, feature in play though we're seeing resolutions, above 1440p. Most, of the time and sometimes even approaching, 4k, so. Clearly there's a decent amount of performance, Headroom here in addition. HDR, is supported. Across both machines, will. Have a separate HDR, video covering, this aspect, of the game later this week but the key here is that it brings extra vibrancy, and nuance, to the image it's, not the best HDR, implementation, we've seen but, it's solid so. Thus far we've discussed character, detail which is excellent, across the board in addition to basics like resolution, and general image quality but obviously a Spider Man game lives and dies by one important, element the. Environment, in terms, of scale and detail and SAAM niak has done a wonderful job with the game, most. Of Spider Man centers on swinging, rapidly through the environment, but if you stop to look around you might be surprised, by just how much detail is present, at street level building. Facades feature carefully. Modeled details, with a lot of visible geometry and high resolution varied. Textures, some. Shops even have fully, modelled interiors. With people, inside conducting, business, there's. Also just a general level of variety, that's rather impressive, with many different types of areas scattered, throughout the city, secondary. Objects like traffic lights are also supremely, detailed, with a lot of geometry and excellent, texture work applied do. Random objects like this ATM, machine really need to be that detailed or how, about those stickers over there on the door the, closer you look the more impressive, the overall sense of detail becomes. But. It doesn't stop with the city streets, Spider, Man also features a wide selection of uniquely, designed outdoor. And interior. Scenes there. Are scenes like this with a ton of unique character, models and lots of custom, animations, filling the screen the. Amount of detail on display, is rather impressive and it almost winds, up feeling more like a hitman level than something out of Spider Man then. There's the interior, sections like this which are all, highly detailed and offer a lot of gameplay variety if. You prefer to take the stealthy approach for instance it is possible, and in fact the design reminds me of the Batman, Arkham titles, which I view is a good thing the. Point here is that the engine is capable of not only handling, a large city environment, but it is also well suited to bespoke. Mission, design such as this something, I felt was lacking in many, previous spider-man, games you, get both that open-world, experience, and the, polish of a linear single-player, game in one package, it's, also worth mentioning the, water simulation. In this game the. Water encircling, the city is beautiful, with gently. Flowing waves and, a nice simulation, of light playing off its surface and the, way reflections, are handled is really quite realistic, in real, life the amount of reflectance, visible. Across a water surface varies based on the angle of viewing and the turbulence, of the water itself this. Is surprisingly, well simulated, in Spider Man from. Above reflections. Are clearly visible across the water surface, but when you jump down to a lower angle they are much less so it's, a nice touch I think also.
I'd Love the fact that Spider Man can swim it looks kind of silly. One. Of my favorite, details added, in the final game and somewhat, lacking from the e3 2017. Build are building, interiors. Basically. The game features simplistic. Textured, cubes, designed, to represent interior. Spaces of a building while, the limitations, are obvious, up close the rooms seem to exist in their own time and space overlapping, one another in spots and often. Repeat, the, effect is still really convincing, while swinging around the city this, helps create additional depth across the cityscape since, it seems like the buildings aren't just a flat surface anymore, it's. A great touch and something, that's typically lacking, in open-world games like this with a lot of skyscrapers. Speaking. Of skyscrapers. Reflections, are another important, element used, heavily throughout the game without. Dedicated. Ray tracing Hardware the team was limited to more tried, and true methods such as screen space reflections, and cube. Maps on building. Surfaces, these pre calculated reflections, obviously, cannot accurately reflect. The surroundings, but, the textures, used are often, enough high, enough resolution to give the impression, of super, sharp reflections, due. To its vertical nature however the developers, needed to find a way to handle elevation. Changes this, is done by interpolating, between different. Cubemap reflections, based on height as you, crawl up the side of a building a lower, resolution street, level texture, is used here this, is then replaced with another cube map as you make your way up the building. Which. Is then followed up with yet another you, can see here as it transitions between the two. Eventually. After we continue, to crawl up the building side here the game flips to the fourth and final, cube, map you'll. Notice that reflections, at high elevation, are of extremely, high resolution compared. To those below, screen. Space reflections, are used in tandem then to allow more dynamic, objects, to appear in the scene these, are used on building, facades of course which helps display traffic, and spider-man. Himself but, it's, also applied to bodies, of water such as puddles, oh did. I just under the magic word puddles. Yes. This brings us to the next part of our e3, 2017. Versus final, game discussion, the, mysterious, vanishing, puddles, in the, demo the scene features a large number of visible puddles in this specific, scene right the, final game reduces, this amount that, much is obvious it. Has been suggested by, some that these puddles were eliminated, from the game due to performance, issues insomniac. On the other hand has suggested, that this is more of an artist driven change so, what's, going on well after, looking closely at this I have a theory so. The first thing you might notice about the e3 demo is that the off-screen, elements, appear to be reflected, something, impossible, with screen space reflections, some. Folks have been quick to throw around terms like ray tracing but no that's not possible here, the, e3 demo was, not pre-rendered, after all instead. What I think we're seeing is simply a rather detailed static. Box cube map used, for background reflection. Mainly. The buildings, and immediate, scene geometry, this, texture, is projected, into a carefully. Aligned box designed. To simulate those reflections, this, becomes obvious, when scrubbing. Back and forth quickly through the video there, are reflections while nice-looking, are not perfectly, parallax, with the scene. Obviously, cube maps have made their way into the final game as well since they're used heavily throughout specifically. For building reflections, now, screen space reflections, are also featured, and overlaid, onto the scene when, objects, are occluded, from screen space they disappear, as expected while, the cube map remains, visible. Now. The final, game works in much the same way but with one major difference the, cube, map texture itself has, been changed, screen. Space reflections, are still in use but, the cube map itself has been replaced with a rather generic, one and the, reflection, of the cube map itself also appears more diffuse, look.
Closely At the reflection, here and you see the sort of blue and white blobs, sort of reflected, in the puddle here that, is the new cube map in use pretty. Different from the one featured in the e3 demo, creating. And aligning all those box cube maps can prove rather time-consuming. And challenging, to implement for the art team especially when considering the size of the world by, slightly altering the way the reflections, work and combining, that with a more generic cube, map like this a lot, of time can be saved, of course, the generic cube map generally. Works pretty well like out on the street here the, reflection, again is rather diffused, but you can still kind of make out basic buildings, and the blue sky above by looking directly into the reflective, surface, but. In the case of the demo room well, obviously it's, less effective than the method featured in the e3 demo the, underlying, texture data was, simply modified, with. The screen space reflections, now doing the heavy lifting in the final game then I can, see why the artists, may have felt it necessary to, adjust Puddle, placement, thankfully. There's still plenty of water throughout the city there, are scenes where nearly the entire road surface is soaked in water and reflective, like this they, are seen set during a light drizzle wear reflective puddles. Appear all over the place and that, building we've been discussing has plenty of other reflections, just, outside the offending room what, all of these scenes have in common however is the, type of cube, Maps that they're using they're, much less specific than the one used in the e3 demo the thing about changes, like this is that in most cases the reason for the change has more to do with manpower than, hardware power and I believe that's the case here. This case reflections, work just as they did in the e3 demo it's, just the underlying, art that has been changed, change, the cube map change the result, now, of course without, talking, to the developers about this issue we can never be a hundred percent certain but that's. My theory and I believe it holds some water, we'll, finish up talking about the e3 demo shortly, but for now I want to talk about the, lighting in the game when, it comes to lighting spider-man, is perhaps insomniac. Games finest. Work to date but. It does have its limits there, isn't a lot of information out there of course on insomniac, Sinjin but the, game does use multiple, times of day and features. Great use of direct, and indirect, illumination, the. Biggest limiting factor stems from those, times of day just as, we saw in sucker-punches. Infamous, second son spider-man. Does not feature a realtime, time of day transition, instead. These, are tied to story events I'd, imagine, this choice was made to support improved, scene illumination, while, it is possible, to blend, between different, bakes it's. Not, always optimal, and may not have worked well in a city environment like this fortunately. The benefit of this approach is that the lighting conditions are always beautiful the scenes set at dusk are particularly. Striking. Spider-man. Also features a robust, volumetric, lighting system, designed, to simulate the scattering of light particles through the atmosphere, look. Closely and you can see rays, of light filling, around the silhouettes, of objects. Placed in the world it looks beautiful. This, implementation, is especially impressive, though due to the resolution, of the effect in many, games it's possible, to make out the underlying, resolution of, the grid but here it's virtually, seamless it's very clean shadow.
Quality Is also a strong point for the game especially as an open world title world, shadows can stretch out far into the distance with clean filtering, and smooth transitions. Between Cascade, levels objects. Such as trees feature, suitably. High resolution, shadows while characters, and objects sit, realistically. With the environment, ambient. Occlusion is also of top-notch quality throughout, I, also. Love the way that light interacts, with foliage, like the trees here you can see the moonlight reflecting, off the leaves one. Small detail I really appreciated, are the car headlights, the. Artists, considered, the difference in headlamp, technology, when designing these these. Trucks for instance seemingly use an incandescent, style, bulb producing, a soft yellow light while, this car next to it appears to be using an LED, system instead, producing, a whiter, light other. Cars, even seem to use hid, projector lenses. For additional, variety, it's, a small thing in the grand scheme of things but I appreciate, the attention to detail. Speaking. Of vehicles traffic, is ever-present, throughout, the game in up-close. Individual. Vehicles, are richly detailed of course, there is a lot of repetition in, terms of the types of vehicles on display this. Could be a simple memory limitation, or perhaps some manpower one, more. Importantly, traffic, density is reasonably, high in most scenes there, is a point where traffic stops in the distance but the camera work generally. Conceals, this fairly well. In fact if we briefly, jump back to the e3 demo there are points where traffic and pedestrian, density appears. Higher in the final game of course, situations, like this could simply be the result of randomized, traffic, all. Of this ties into the games level of detail, and streaming systems, spider-man. Can transition, from the top of a towering skyscraper. Down, to the city streets in just, seconds, requiring, the engine to rapidly streaming, new data as needed LOD, Management could prove to be an issue in insomniacs. Previous, games sunset, overdrive and while it's not perfect in, spider-man either it is improved, overall city.
Streets Can stretch far off into the distance and there is a point where cars and pedestrians are, either, no longer drawn, or reduced, in complexity, pedestrians. For instance are drawn as non-animated, stick figures at a distance but, while playing normally it's not something you'll notice it simply helps give the impression of motion. In the city the. Game is good about not simply, popping cars into existence, as well instead, they typically drive, into the scene from side streets I was, also impressed with general, crowd and traffic, behavior, when. A random event begins such as a high-speed chase pedestrians. Panic, and jump out of the way or, when Spiderman simply, strolls down the streets it's fun to see their reactions. There's, even events like this where an accident, can result in paramedics. Appear on scene in fact, I used this event to examine, the traffic patterns you'll, notice that cars continue to drive into the scene piling. Up behind this event and this, causes traffic but how persistent, is this traffic what. I found is interesting, so, as long as the accident, remains in view this, situation. Remains active at least, within a reasonable distance traffic. Remains backed, up and the ambulance, continues, its business, turn. Away and look back briefly however and you might actually catch the ambulance, respawning. In place just as a few cars sneak through before. Traffic backs up once again the. Game seems to keep this event in memory provided, you stay within a certain distance but. Stops tracking, it if you look away now. As long as the accident, remains in view and you start swinging away you'll notice that it's. Is active, for quite a while but eventually disappears. And, doesn't. Return it's. An interesting insight, to how the game manages, such bespoke. Events on the ground level, you. Can see though that the traffic remains relatively, thick and headlight, codes are drawn way out into the distance so. In that sense I'd say overall the system is a great success, and there isn't a lot of visible popping during normal traversal.
The, City feels busy, of course. I think now is probably a good time to finish up our examination. Of the e3, demo, firstly. The water room has remained a huge focus but, there's one other difference I spotted worth pointing out and the scene there's direct shadows, present, on the pipes here in the, e3 demo that are absent, in the final game replaced, instead with more diffuse, ambient, occlusion there's. No obvious point. Light in the scene though nor, is the Sun present, in this indoor scene so, I'd argue that the final game actually presents a more realistic take, on ambient. Shadowing, here it's. Not as if spider-man has any problems, with displaying high resolution, shadows after all but. If we move beyond this room and start to examine other areas, of the demo it becomes more interesting so, here's a few differences, I noticed, straightaway. Puddle placement is different on the roof here. And the, scene lighting has changed in general it's, more overcast in the final game during the sequence though obviously bright, blue skies still exist in the game this, is just an art tweak the. Team also decided to remove Martin Lee from the scene replaced, instead with a generic, masked, enemy a story, change also. Notice the coat in the scene the, cloth appears to react more realistically, to the helicopter, blades above in the final game a nice, touch. Also. Without Martin Lee in the scene this attack is replaced, with a rocket, launcher instead. The. Lighting here within the helicopter, is also more realistic, in the final game now. In this next bit notice how the building, shadows, are in the same position here suggesting, that the Sun position is the same it's simply a more overcast day also, traffic. Density is much higher in the final game but again, this could be a randomized, event. The. Next scene is interesting, in the e3 build during a camera cut motion. Blur is disabled. For exactly one frame but, it does reveal a distinct, lack of background detail, and here's. That same area in the final game now it's not supremely, detailed, since you can't actually go, to that region of the world but, still I think it looks better the, rest of the sequence then is very similar with subtle changes to lighting between the two. Then, spider-man, lands on the crane and well texture, detail is certainly. Improved in the final game here there's. Another interesting, thing as well if we pause checkout the building the final game features the after mentioned interior, spaces while the e3 demo appears, to be lacking this entirely of course. In the next building there does seem to be some interior space visible, in the demo so it may come down to a change in reflectivity, or, simply, that more buildings have interior spaces, in the final game also, notice the improved, indirect, lighting here along this building facade and the more exaggerated. Eye adaptation. Bright, areas appear to bloom slightly, in the final game when peering from within shadow something. Else that applies to the previous, water room area, then. There's the scene of destruction as, spider-man runs through a building the, lighting is slightly different once again but it's clear that the sequence holds up it's very much as it was shown in the demo. Also. As we jump through this chopper, here you'll notice that the texture detail is consistent. Any changes. Here are due to the improved lighting model and the final build no, texture detail has been sacrificed then, there's this scene as the chopper crashes, to the ground you'll notice greatly. Improved reflections, on the building surface and Street improved. Ambient, scene lighting and a, bright specular, highlight, from the chopper sparks I think, it looks dramatically, better in the final game here same. For this scene the lighting is simply more natural and realistic between, the buildings, so. Really what's the takeaway here from this demo comparison, well honestly I feel that insomniac. Does a tremendous job of delivering on their promise visually. There are changes but the game looks phenomenal in its final form and all, of the action sequences are present, in full I'd. Say that aside from the removal of the more accurate, cube map in the demo the final game is improved, overall still, there's no getting around at the room with the water puddles does, look better in its e3 incarnation.
And As, I said before I believe this is down to an artist, change not, one driven by technical, requirements, that's, a lot of stuff to unpack there but we're not done yet we, still have to talk about performance and, really. There's a reason why I saved for so late in the video. Alts aren't that exciting, and that's, a good thing for those playing the game check it out so, regardless, of platform spider-man. Is a 30 FPS game obviously using, motion blur to help avoid the hand-cranked. Feel you, might otherwise get, looking. First at the ps4 pro version here let's examine three, different scenarios the. First, involves swinging around the city this, is during the chase sequence featured in the e3 demo but it's the same in terms of performance regardless. Of when you choose to start traversing the world the, framerate thankfully, holds steady, 99%. Of the time basically there's. Occasional, instances where we see a 50, millisecond, dip followed by a 16, millisecond, spike but it's, really quite uncommon now. As an open-world game there is a lot of variation in terms of load so based, on these results it's likely that there's other dips that can occur at any random point during the game but in general, it's very stable, so. How about another sequence, this rooftop battle, puddles. And enemies fill the screen as spider-man unleashes, his skills upon them and this, battle manages, to crank it 30 frames per second, throughout with the exception, of this one tiny pause again, there's really nothing, to complain about here it's, very stable, lastly. Here's an interior battle, these sequences, feature a lot of volumetric lighting tons, of alpha effects and even destruction. It's a fairly heavy battle, but again the pro manages, to hold on to its 30fps target, throughout most of it there's. Still an occasional, drop frame or two but by-and-large performance. Is extremely stable the. Same goes for the base Playstation 4 which delivers performance very much in line with the ps4 pro again, it's 30 FPS and most scenes with an occasional frame, time spike or dip this, is great for owners of the standard system though as you'll be treated to an excellent, smooth, experience, most. Importantly, input latency seems, to be generally low allowing, for smooth responsive, controls it, feels great to play so. Is there anything else to discuss well how about just a few other little things things. Like loading, the game world is mostly seamless, but you'll run into short, loading times when transitioning, between the open world and certain, building interiors, you, also encounter, a loaded screen upon death thankfully.
Loading Is pretty short so it's not an issue. Also. Spider-man, features a great mission boundary, system if he stray outside an active mission area the game warns you like any other game but, you actually have a choice you, can return to the mission area or simply abandon, the mission it, doesn't just fail you outright or automatically, turn you around you have a choice in the matter and really, that's pretty much it hopefully this video has shed some light on, questions, around the game's presentation, while also, highlighting what it does so well personally. I think this is a new high watermark, for insomniac, games both, from a gameplay and visual, standpoint it's. A top-notch production, from top to bottom with an engaging story great. Traversal, mechanics, and some fantastic mission. Design sure. It has some repetitive open-world, elements, to deal with but the overall package is great. But. That's all for now though if you enjoyed this video be sure to LIKE subscribe ring. The notification, bell and follow us over on Twitter and until. Next time keep, on web-slinging. You.