Look, up there! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Why no, it’s someone pretending to be your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man! Throwing cinder blocks off of rooftops, fighting deadly balloons, ripping posters off of walls, and inexplicably standing still when arch nemesis The Vulture attacks!
Wait, that doesn’t sound so friendly neighborhood-ish.
The inevitable tie-in VR experience for Spider-Man: Homecoming is, as sadly expected, not so amazing. Granted, adapting Peter Parker’s web-slinging adventures into VR without having people fall over or throw up is a challenge, but Sony has exercised a little too much caution when developing this brief, uninspired app. Uncle Ben might be proud, but I was left more than a little underwhelmed.
Things start off much like Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham VR with an abridged suit up scene that involves pulling Spidey’s mask over your head and then, yes, looking in the mirror for a good 30 seconds to pull silly poses at Spider-Man.
Strangely, from there Homecoming’s VR experience simply turns into your every day VR gallery shooter. You start by hitting bottles with rapid fire webs, then sling web grenades, and finally fling objects around with a tether. While it’s empowering to look down and see Peter’s web shooters, you can’t really do anything fun with them other than latch onto cinder blocks and yank them away. Even that’s only fun for all of a minute.
This feels like a missed opportunity considering many of Peter’s powers would actually make for a great VR game. Climbey and To The Top showcase great climbing systems that easily could have translated to a wall-crawling game using Spider-Sense as a slowdown mechanic to dodge incoming fire. I realize that Tom Holland is probably a little expensive to cast in a five minute app, but it’s also bizarre that Peter doesn’t open his mouth the entire way through. Instead his Jarvis-esque A.I. does all the quipping for him. There’s also no climactic battle in which you could zip from point to point, hurling webs at a costumed thug.
Instead, the app wraps up with you zipping up to the top of the crane (in which the camera understandably but still distractedly limits your field of view), watching The Vulture zoom past, and then swinging down into the streets, again with your view largely blocked out. It’s an especially cruel ending to give you but a taste of what it really must be like to be Spidey.
Still, that’s pretty much the standard for free tie-in apps designed to promote other products, and I’d be lying if I said I expected any more from it. It doesn’t cost you a penny to download and it’ll be available on Rift, Vive and PSVR, starting tomorrow, June 30th so feel free to disappoint yourself too. Marvel has teased bigger things for its heroes in VR down the line, and hopefully a true Spider-Man experience fits into those plans. Until that time Peter needs to go back to school.