Using the example of Insomniac Games, you can trace the genre evolution of console games from the PS1 era to PS5: the studio developed children’s arcade games for PS1, created a “cool” action/platformer for PS2, matured into a serious shooter during the PS3 period, and finally announced a superhero offensive on PS4 and PS5. An alliance with Sony for almost 30 years has resulted in dozens of projects – let’s list the best.
Spyro the Dragon
It was the Spyro series of 3D platform games that made Insomniac a well-known studio. The purple dragon Spyro is as much a recognizable PS1 symbol as Crash’s bandicoot.
Unlike Crash Bandicoot, Spyro isn’t hardcore at all. It is intended for a children’s audience.
Insomniac is responsible for the first three parts: Spyro the Dragon (1998), Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! (1999) and Spyro: Year of the Dragon (2000). She dyed the baby dragon purple so it wouldn’t blend in with the grass. Spyro butted opponents with horns, doused with flames, collected crystals (collecting items is generally a central element of the gameplay) and soared – the main thing that distinguished him from competitors. In the sequel, the hero learned to break rocks with a jump from above, climb walls, swim and dive. In the third part, the company was made up of game characters with special abilities and movements, so the kangaroo had a double jump, and the penguin flew to the envy of Spyro.
The developers used tricks to force PS1 to display large locations with an abundance of objects. For example, they introduced different levels of detail for models, and now versions of the model (for example, enemies) next to Spyro and in the background loaded the console differently. For current developers, this is logical; in the second half of the 1990s, it was a novelty.
In 2018, Activision released Spyro Reignited Trilogy, a collection on the verge of remaster and remake. The Toys for Bob team has ported the Insomniac classic to Unreal Engine 4, preserving the gameplay, level look, and object placement. In fact, the players got the good old platformers, but with modern graphics and convenient controls.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy (Xbox ONE)
[6+, platformer, adventure, action, release date: 09/21/2018, voice language: English, standard edition]
Ratchet & Clank
Most gamers associate Insomniac with Ratchet & Clank. The series launched on PS2 in 2002 and has no plans to retire.
Ratchet is a lop-eared mechanic from the fictional Lombax race. Clank is a small intelligent robot. Ratchet carries Clank on his back like a satchel while he scatters enemies with a wrench and Fantastic Cannon shots.
It is expanse in terms of weapons that is the hallmark of Ratchet & Clank. The line combines the features of a platformer and a shooter, and over time, the shooting component outweighed. Well, since Ratchet is a mechanic, it is quite understandable why screws and nuts act as currency here. They drop from defeated opponents and from broken crates.
A solid debut was followed by Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (2003) and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (2004). In Going Commando, barrel upgrades appeared, in Up Your Arsenal – online multiplayer with support for up to eight people.
Since Up Your Arsenal, the developers at Insomniac have been hard at work churning out new releases and spinoffs for PS2 and PS3. They did not cause the former excitement, even if they sold well. Highlights include Ratchet: Deadlocked (2005) with its co-op mode, and Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (2009) with interesting time manipulation puzzles.
In the PS4 era, the series was waiting for a restart: in 2016, Insomniac issued Ratchet & Clank, a rethinking of the first part, closely related to the cartoon of the same name that was released the same year.
And in 2021, the fluffy and rattling robot landed on PS5 in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. They were joined by another Lombax – the girl Rivet. Rift Apart has a Metacritic score of 88 out of 100, strongly recommending this PS5 exclusive.
First of all, the first-person shooter Resistance: Fall of Man (2006) captivates the plot. The events take place in the alternate 20th century. The Russian Empire in it was destroyed not by the Bolsheviks, but by chimera aliens. After Russia, they spread to Europe and eventually reached the UK, where the Americans sent a support detachment. Nathan Hale survived from the detachment, having become infected with the chimera virus. He has to free England, and in Resistance 2 (2008) – to defend the United States.
The unusual setting inspired the authors for the original weapon. Let’s say a hedgehog grenade shoots needles, and an Auger rifle hits a target through an obstacle.
Resistance: Fall of Man was criticized for its brown color scheme. The sequel has become visually more pleasant. It’s also very complex.
In Resistance 3 (2011), Insomniac changed the central character, expanded the levels, abandoned health regeneration, and scattered first-aid kits here and there. Their lack sometimes evokes associations with survival horror. Despite the high ratings of the third part, sales did not please either Insomniac or publisher Sony. In the history of Resistance had to put an end.
Insomniac hasn’t always partnered with Sony. In 2014, she raised Sunset Overdrive under Microsoft.
Sunset Overdrive is a colorful third-person shooter. As planned by the writers, a new energy drink turns people into monsters. You need to deal with them with the help of anti-scientific weapons such as a machine that produces vinyl records.
To cope with the mutants, the hero must constantly move: run along the walls, slide along the wires, set traps, bounce on the roofs of abandoned cars, like on a trampoline.
In screenshots and videos, Sunset Overdrive looks crazy, promising fun for hours on end. The only downside is getting ready to entertain yourself, as is common in many open-world games.
Microsoft Xbox One S + Scream Ride, Sunset Overdrive, Gears of War 2
[500 GB, gamepad – 1 pc, Wi-Fi, USB x3, IR out, white]
Song of the Deep
Let’s mention in passing Song of the Deep (2016) – a deep-sea metroidvania. From the side view, it looks like an indie project, but behind this “indie project” are the authors of AAA blockbusters.
Song of the Deep tells the story of a girl who, on a makeshift submarine, explores the seabed in search of her missing fisherman father. Gradually, she improves her equipment and gains access to previously closed parts of the underwater maze.
Song of the Deep is a short but heartfelt adventure. Will keep you busy for 2-3 pm.
Profile publications willingly rank Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018) from Insomniac as one of the best superhero action games. However, not everything is so smooth with him.
Of the benefits – spectacular fights with circus acrobatics and smooth movement around the city. Spider-Man swings so naturally on the web between the skyscrapers of Manhattan that you forget about the fast travel function.
Of the minuses – shallow stealth and unimpressive open world. With graphics, something in order, with content – trouble. There is a lack of interesting tasks.
However, thanks to Sony’s marketing efforts and the superhero boom that still hasn’t gone away, Spider-Man’s action has become a hit. It is one of the best selling games on PS4, along with God of War and Uncharted 4.
Marvel’s Spider-Man – Game of the Year Edition (PS4)
[18+, adventure, action, release date: 08/28/2019, voice-over language: Russian, English, standard edition]
In 2020, Sony released a Spider-Man remaster on PS5. It includes the game itself, The City That Never Sleeps story mission set, additional costumes (they give Spider-Man different abilities) and an improved photo mode. This remaster recently made its way to PC with support for displays up to 48:9, unlocked frame rates, ray tracing for reflections and shadows.
The developers did not limit themselves to the remaster and released a separate game Spider-Man: Miles Morales. This is not a sequel, but rather an independent addon: the same New York, the same gameplay elements, even a familiar hero – Peter Parker was temporarily replaced by Miles Morales from Spider-Man. In fights, he uses, among other things, electricity and invisibility. As with Spider-Man, Morales’ adventures were warmly received by audiences.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (PS5)
3 199 ₽ *
In 2019, Insomniac Games lost its independence – the studio was acquired by Sony, thereby once again emphasizing its contribution to the development of the PlayStation brand. Like Naughty Dog, Insomniac has proven itself capable of creating more than just platform games. All of its significant series, with the exception of Resistance, are still alive – they are appreciated by different generations of gamers. Right now, Insomniac is busy with Spider-Man 2 and Marvel’s Wolverine. Both are slated for release on PS5 next year.