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Spider-Man 2: How Insomniac Set Out to Create a 'Borderline Brutal' Venom Suit

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In 1982, then Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter purchased the idea of a black costume for Spider-man from a 22-year-old fan named Randy Schueller for $220 dollars. After rejecting Schueller’s story ideas, Shooter came up with the suit being made of an alien material, the Symbiote that would alter Peter’s powers as well as his look. The rest, as they say, is history.

Already one of the coolest and most beloved Spider-Man designs in comic history, Insomniac Games will be taking its own spin on the costume when Spider-Man 2 comes out later this year. During the first gameplay trailer, Insomniac revealed Peter Parker will be getting his own Symbiote costume along with a suite of new powers, and new troubles.

IGN sat down with Insomniac’s creative director Bryan Intihar and game director Ryan Smith to discuss the origins of their suit concept and how Insomniac approached the Symbiote costume.

If you played Insomniac’s first Spider-Man game, you might have wondered why the Symbiote suit wasn’t one of the unlockable costumes in that game. According to Intihar, at the time of Spider-Man 1 development, the team was debating whether to include the suit or not.

“When we were deep in production of Spider-Man 1, we talked about what suits we were gonna feature. And of course, as you’d probably imagine, the black suit — the Symbiote suit — came up and we kind of decided, are we gonna just give it as a visual thing, or are we actually gonna go bigger with it?”

The team believed the Symbiote suit needed its own game and Insomniac made the conscious decision to not include the suit in the first Spider-Man at all, and instead hold onto the concept for the sequel where it could get the spotlight to itself. “I was surprised people didn’t get as mad as I thought they would, that it wasn’t in the first game,” Intihar laughs.

So Insomniac planted the seed at the end of the first game, with Harry Osborne covered in the Venom Symbiote. When Spider-Man 2 was announced, Peter and Miles Morales are seen fighting Venom. And most recently, we saw Peter fighting with the Symbiote suit on.

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In the past, from other video games, the Symbiote suit has mostly been cosmetic, but Insomniac’s version of the suit comes with unique, aggressive abilities. “I think for us the Symbiote in-gameplay is about power and transformation,” says director Ryan Smith. “What really powerful moves can we imagine? How can we imagine them working with the Symbiote tentacles, and really changing the gameplay feel.”

The difference between how Peter plays in his normal suit versus the Symbiote suit will be immediately noticeable and there will be gameplay abilities that weren’t available to players before that will be now. “The Symbiote punch is gonna really impact a single target [and] stick them to walls, whereas the Symbiote strike launches a bunch of enemies up in the air. And so that’s something that lets you shift gears in Spider-Man combat… It’s something we didn’t have before that we could bring with the Symbiote,” says Smith.

It definitely has that aggression, that addictive elements to it that you can see changing [Peter’s] personality.


“We understand that the expectations for the Symbiote are really high and we wanted it to feel different than what you would normally see,” adds Intihar. “Peter and Miles, so much of their move set is based on fluidity, speed, acrobatic, and the Symbiote is power, is strength, aggression and I think we wanted to make sure that from a gameplay standpoint that was represented.” Intihar says players should just take one look at Peter’s new finishers which “are much more aggressive and borderline brutal.”

There were concerns that the Symbiote suit could be too powerful in the game, but Intihar and Smith say that the game was balanced to deliver on the power fantasy but not make the game “feel like a cakewalk.”

So the suit won’t just look cool but gives players awesome powers, great. But what will it mean for the story? In the trailer, the suit is having a clear psychological effect on Peter, making him more aggressive, even against his friends like Miles.

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“We try as much as we can in everything we do, whether it’s in gameplay, there is a narrative reason for doing it,” says Intihar. “It’s obvious, as you saw in the gameplay reveal [the Symbiote] affects combat a lot, but it’s going to impact the story and how the story plays out. And I think, you know if you look at the Symbiote lore from the comics it definitely has that aggression, that addictive elements to it, that you can see changing [Peter’s] personality. But I think what we’re gonna continue to really explore more in this game is how does that impact the people around Peter? Impact Miles, impact MJ, impact others.”

Intihar says this was the main attraction of working with the Symbiote suit. Not just fulfilling a power fantasy, though there will be plenty of that, but to really dig into how this suit could corrupt Peter and damage his relationships with others. “You heard [Ganke] say at the very end ‘Is he usually like this?’ and Miles goes, ‘No, he’s never like this… This is different.’” The way [Peter] cuts off Miles when the other is talking…We wanted the Symbiote to be something serious that when Pete’s not acting like how he normally does then what’s that impact across the people that are close to him?”

The Symbiote suit has different origins depending on which comics you read, and Intihar says he won’t reveal how Insomniac will introduce the suit to Peter just yet. If you’ve played the first game, Intihar says the team is still respecting the “DNA” of the franchise but they’re not going to “be afraid to mix things up.”

But you may be able to see some clues in the suit design, which isn’t just a sleek black suit this time around. If you look closely you can see Peter has some tendrils wrapped around his arms. The goal was to reinforce to audiences that the suit is not cloth but organic and its origins will “tie into why it looks a certain way,” according to Intihar. “I will tell you there’s more to that suit than we’ve shown in terms of visuals than we’ve shown in that gameplay reveal” he teases. “It’s that blend of really wanting to have that familiarity, you know of being black and the [white] spider symbol, but at the same time add elements to it, some expected, some unexpected, and some yet to be revealed.”


Matt T.M. Kim is IGN's Senior Features Editor. You can reach him @lawoftd.

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