How can we define Spider-Man without the gallery of twisted supervillains he often faces? Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 already features, among others, several of the community’s favorite supervillains, such as Kraven and Venom. However, those are not the only familiar faces that Peter Parker and Miles Morales will have to fight against. Among these villains is one who for decades has been one of the most underrated: Lizard. And as with other main villains in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, recreating the Lizard’s aesthetic and movements involved a very difficult process.
“The first thing we always do when dealing with Marvel characters is make references to the comics,” says Jacinda Chew, senior art director at Insomniac Games. “From that, we collaborated with the Marvel team to give our own style to the character. We can do it from a narrative or gameplay point of view.”
In this case, players will notice that the Lizard appears in two different forms. “There is a more classic Lizard, the one who wears the pants and the lab coat,” says Chew. “That one is smaller and human-sized. This Lizard can communicate with Peter. However, our version of Lizard is more slender, malevolent, large and green in every way. He doesn’t wear any clothes and lost all of his humanity, so Peter won’t be able to communicate with him. “That is a huge difference.”
The graphical power of the PlayStation 5 console makes it possible to make all of Spider-Man’s enemies look much more impressive. In that sense, audiences have already witnessed the terrifying level of detail in Venom’s sharp fangs and slimy tongue. But what about Lizard’s reptilian skin?
“To do this, we look at the skin of different types of lizards,” Chew tells us. “One characteristic of lizards in real life is that their skin is really dry. Most people who saw our Lizard responded that ‘it didn’t look very slimy’. However, I think that’s the way people expect a lizard to look. “It has typical lizard skin, but it’s shinier than a real lizard.”
“We also added spikes. As for design references, I looked at current lizards that had a more prehistoric appearance (some of them look soft and even cuddly). I looked for a type of lizard that had spikes, was more snake-like, and looked more aggressive. We also wanted his eyes to look more animalistic. For example, cats’ pupils increase in size at night. That’s the type of design we applied to him: when light hits his eyes, they look smaller because they react to the lighting. “We did a lot of research on how to make that happen in real time on PS5.”
The powerful hardware of the PS5 console also allows it to simulate highly realistic muscle movement. “We also did muscle simulation by watching animals and human actors and analyzing how their muscles deform and in running simulations. “I think it’s amazing that today’s game development allows us to do all this, but it’s also subtle, because the difference may not be noticeable until we turn off all the muscle simulations.”
The Insomniac team also applied an impressive technique to the Lizard’s skin change – it’s a visual effect worth seeing. “We also learned that from our observation of the real world. “Our team of artists used software to simulate the way shed skin moves in the wind.”
It’s one thing to make a great-looking character model, but it’s another to make it in a way that conveys a primitive, relentless ferocity. Chew talks further about the ideas that went into the crucial animation process. “In fact, lizards move quite low to the ground. That’s not very intimidating. In the comics, Lizard walks upright and on two legs, like humans. He is a bipedal being, but he maintains his reptilian appearance; That’s why he has that curved back. Our idea was for him to move at a speed that felt fast, but heavy. The animation team deserves a lot of credit for conveying the strength, power and speed of this character.”
Overall, Jacinta Chew, Marvel and the team are happy with the positive reaction the community has expressed regarding the Lizard and other supervillains. “Many people on our team are very knowledgeable about comics, so we prepare trailers and reveal videos for our fan community. We know that people want to see Lizard in his lab coat, that they want to see the misfortunes that befall him, and that they want to see him getting huge. Leaving clues for our community is something that amuses us a lot.”
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 will arrive on the PlayStation 5 console on October 20.