Insomniac Games have already proven that they know how to make an incredible Spider-Man game, with both the original Marvel’s Spider-Man and the Miles Morales spin-off not only offering wonderful gameplay experiences, but also making players genuinely feel like they are the web-slinger themselves. It felt authentic across its storytelling, traversal, and combat, whilst the open world brought with it enough to do to ensure your hours spent swinging through New York were full of fun.
Somehow though, they’ve managed to go one better with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Whilst it can feel a little familiar in places, there have been enough worthwhile additions and exciting innovations made to ensure it trumps its predecessors in every single way. And, of course, you get TWO Spider-Men to play as this time around… more is always better, right?
Check out some screenshots down below:
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 takes place a few months after the events of the previous game, with Miles Morales a more experienced hero now and working cohesively with Peter Parker when it comes to protecting New York – something that’s emphasised in the game’s introduction when they work together perfectly to bring down the threat of a GIGANTIC Sandman that is terrorising the city. Outside of the mask, Miles is dealing with a bit of stress due to a college assignment, but Peter’s life is pretty peachy after reuniting with his bestie Harry Osborn and taking on a role in his new charity initiative.
Of course, things never stay calm in the lives of superheroes for long, and when the menacing villain Kraven decides to make New York his hunting ground, both Spider-Men have to intervene.
The storytelling of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is phenomenal, with the clever interweaving of plotlines for both Peter and Miles making for a narrative that’s easy to completely invest yourself in. They both have a LOT going on in their personal lives, but when you bring their role as Spider-Men into the mix too, it becomes as thrilling as it is emotional. I haven’t even mentioned the role of Venom and the symbiote yet either, which adds a whole extra chaotic layer to the world… I loved it. The villains are as intimidating as ever too, with each encounter with them feeling genuinely imposing and like the lives of Peter and Miles are really at risk. It really is special and easily stands out as one of the most exhilarating Spider-Man stories that I’ve experienced.
“The storytelling of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is phenomenal, with the clever interweaving of plotlines for both Peter and Miles making for a narrative that’s easy to completely invest yourself in.”
One of the issues that players had with the game pre-release was that it still takes place in New York, meaning it might just be more of the same that they got in the original game and the Miles Morales spin-off. And you know what? Yeah, there is a bit of familiarity as you swing past skyscrapers and through the bustling boroughs of the city. However, with all-new locales included such as Brooklyn, Queens, and the ever-impressive Coney Island (which offers the best fairground experience that I’ve had in ANY video game), everything feels more substantial. It’s surprising just how much these three locales add to the world, with each bringing with them a whole different vibe that makes the city feel more authentic and fleshed out than before. If you add to that the additional building and landmarks you get to scour through as part of missions (as well as a few surprising sights), it won’t take long before you realise that whilst you’re still in New York, it still manages to feel exciting and fresh to explore.
Of course, it helps that traversal in the game is outstanding, with Insomniac Games somehow managing to improve upon the high standards they set in the previous two titles. Swinging feels incredibly satisfying and looks beautiful in motion thanks to the game’s wonderful animations, whilst other abilities such as zip-point launching and sling-shotting ensure you can always build and maintain momentum when soaring between buildings. There’s also the addition of the web wings this time around, which can be activated with a quick press of the triangle button and see you gliding through the air – they complement the swinging of the game perfectly, and with plenty of vacuums of air to use to maintain momentum, don’t be surprised to find yourself spending more time with them than you do web-swinging.
Combat can feel like more of the same, though some new abilities and gadgets have been introduced to spice things up a little. And when Peter does end up with the black suit? You’ll feel REALLY powerful, with some outrageous abilities on offer that truly embrace the ferocity of the symbiote. There are some other features that make combat more versatile too, such as being able to parry enemy attacks, unleash a web-line to traverse across in stealthier instances, as well as activating gadgets and abilities independently, which ensures you’ve got a deeper skillset to utilise. It feels great to rough up some baddies and the new additions to combat do add to the fun, whilst the blend of quick-paced combos, swift defensive manoeuvres, and the varied abilities of each Spider-Man ensure the action is non-stop – even IF it can get a little familiar.
Check out some screenshots down below:
The familiarity isn’t a bad thing though, especially since the combat is so good to begin with – especially in the boss encounters that force you to think differently and take a different approach to take advantage of your enemy’s weaknesses. They’re dramatic affairs that go all-out on the set pieces and over-the-top action, and believe me, you’ll be left on the edge of your seat with each encounter. With a few surprise faces showing up along the way, you can expect to be impressed by Marvel’s Spider-Man 2’s rich variety of boss showdowns and the creative ways that they force you to embrace your skillset.
The main questline of the game is meaty and offers plenty of variety in the tasks you complete, the locations you visit, and the blend of Peter and Miles action, with each mission not only pushing the story forward in a meaningful way but also maintaining the thrills of being Spider-Man. There are moments where they slow things down a little, but it always feels befitting of the storytelling and helps flesh out the characters, so it never feels like a slog. And yes, there are some MJ mission that bring a slower pace with their stealth-focus, but even those have seen a big improvement over the original game (and MJ’s stun gun seems to be the most powerful weapon ever created).
Then you’ve got the side quests, which don’t only bring with them their own tales that tie into other villains that don’t show up into the main story, but that are also a lot of fun to complete. Whether you’re looking for photo ops of some of New York’s more intriguing sights, seeking out Spider-Bots that have a mysterious origin, clearing out combat challenges set by one of Spider-Man’s most enigmatic villains, or doing your bit to help advance the technology of the future, there’s ALWAYS something interesting to do when exploring the world. It helps flesh out the experience and emphasises that you really are playing as you friendly neighbourhood Spider-Ma- I mean, Spider-MEN.
Marvel's Spider-Man 2 Review
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a roaring success for Insomniac Games, with the sequel managing to improve upon everything that came before it in the previous titles. Sure, there’s familiarity to be found in the combat and the New York setting, but there have been enough innovations and additions made to ensure the experience still feels incredibly fresh and thrilling. Add to that the gripping story, the clever Spider-Man swapping dynamic, the traversal that looks and feels wonderful, and the sheer wealth of things to do across the varied missions, and it’ll become clear that this isn’t only the best Spider-Man game that has ever released, but also one of the best PlayStation 5 games too.
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed)