Thursday, November 2

Marvel's Spider-man 2 Review

The version played for review: PS5
Available on: PS5
The price I paid: £69.99
Other Notes: N/A

Insomniac’s first Spider-man game back in 2018 was maybe the best Spidey game. It took the amazing web swinging from Spider-man 2 (2004) on the PS2 and mixed it together with the groundbreaking stealth and combat from the Batman Arkham games. On top of that the 2018 classic had possibly one of the best stories to ever feature Spider-man. 

It saw Peter Parker having to deal with his idol and boss, Dr Otto Octavius, become the supervillain Doctor Octopus. He then unleashed a deadly virus known as Devil’s Breath onto New York. Meanwhile teenager Miles Morales gained super spider powers of his own. In the end Peter was able to stop Doc Ock but he wasn’t able to save everyone. Miles Morales lost his dad while Peter lost Aunt May. This was followed up on in the 2020 spin-off/sequel game, Spider-man Miles Morales. It’s here that we focused on Miles learning to control his new superpowers and be his own person instead of just Peter’s sidekick. There were still unresolved plot points such as Peter’s friend Harry Osborne being held captive with his father’s private lab with what looked like the alien symbiote on him. It’s this that Marvel’s Spider-man 2 picks up on while also introducing the universe to villains such as Kraven the Hunter. I was surprised to see the appearance of some less well-known characters in this game such as Scream, Antivenom, and Wraith. That being said, while this is still an amazing story, easily one of the best in terms of Spider-man games, it’s not as amazing as the first game was. It fails to ever reach the emotional climax that the first game did.

Spider-man 2 has 2 main plots that tie into each other but feel very much like two halves of the game. We have Kraven and his organisation of hunters making New York city their new hunting ground. The many super villains that call the city home are the prey being hunted and it’s up to both Spider-men to save as many as possible. On top of that, Harry Osborne is back and he’s in possession of a new black suit that gives him superpowers. Eventually it bonds itself with Peter and he nearly loses himself to the power it offers. He’s able to remove it with Miles’ help but it’s not long before it’s back with Harry and Venom is born. From here the second half of the story begins. Harry and Venom plan to transform New York city into a symbiote paradise. The symbiote invasion of NYC is a plot point we’ve seen in Neversoft’s Spider-man, Spider-man Friend or Foe, Spider-man Web of Shadows, Marvel Snap, and now Insomniac’s Spider-man 2. This is 100% the best incarnation of this plot but it’s hardly an original one. Insomniac polished it up better than before, but it doesn’t do anything to make it stand out from those other games. I also feel like the introduction of Antivenom was poorly used from a storytelling perspective. It makes perfect sense in terms of gameplay, and I understand that’s why it was done but it harms the quality of the story. This happens a lot in this game. The story will set up one series of events but then the gameplay will undermine them. For example, once Peter gets the black suit it’s established that he needs Dr Connors help to remove it. Then the cutscene ends and you’re able to go into the suits menu and change into another non-symbiote suit, removing the black one with no trouble whatsoever. I understand that writing a story for an interactive medium such as a video game is difficult because you have no control over what actions the player takes when they’re in control. That being said, it can be managed better than it was here. I know that because it was handled much better during Insomniac’s previous Spider-man game.

The gameplay has been massively improved and is easily the best thing about this outing. The web swinging now has a much higher skill ceiling. It doesn’t lose any of the assistance from the previous game that made it so easy to just pick up and play. This is because all the assistance options can be turned on or off in the settings. The swinging is complemented by the new glide mechanics. Both Peter and Miles have access to a wingsuit that works similar to the modern Just Cause games. This is useful for the new areas of the map that cover the suburbs around New York including Queens. I’ve earned the platinum trophy in the game, and I still feel like I have a little way to go until I’ve mastered the balance of web swinging and gliding. I love this, it means that I have stuff to look forward to when I start a new game plus run or the DLC drops. The combat as well remains the same but is much tighter than before. Simply put, in terms of gameplay, this is the best Spidey game ever made. Finally, Spider-man 2 and Web of Shadows have been definitively bested. The only thing I think could improve this gameplay would be combat that uses the wall-crawlers wall crawling abilities. This was possible in earlier games but is still missing from this series. Web of Shadows still gets to wear that crown. If, or rather, when, we see Insomniac’s Spider-man 3, I hope they will introduce some wall and ceiling combat.

The last thing I want to mention is that there are several features missing from the game as of me writing this. It’s Nov 2nd 2023, and the game is missing a new game plus mode, the ability to change the time of day or weather, and a way to replay missions. The team has mentioned via their Twitter accounts that these are features that will be added in via patches in the future. The new game plus is supposed to be out before the end of the year. That being said I can’t review features that are not here yet, so I want to mention that they’re missing.

Overall, this is a game that feels like more of the same but that same is easily the best Spider-man game ever made. The plot fails to reach the heights of its predecessor, the gameplay and story clash at several points, but that gameplay is the most polished and refined Spider-man action ever. The accessibility is amazing, the graphics are jaw dropping, the voice acting is fantastic. This is an incredible game. One that I’ve already put 36 hours into, and I plan on spending much more time with. If you’re a fan of the web-head, then you need to play this game. While not as good as its predecessor it’s still one of the best Spider-man games ever made.

Recommendation Rating: 9 out of 10

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