When the first Marvel’s Spider-Man game launched back in 2018, it quickly became the new gold standard for super hero video games. And for good reason. It provided a new, original spin on existing characters we love with a deep and meaningful story, let us explore New York and complete plenty of objectives, but above all, it was fun to play and felt great doing so. Now with this sequel, Insomniac games have improved upon just about every aspect of what made the original game so great, delivered another story that’s packed with emotional twists and turns and has made it just as much a story about Peter and Miles as it is about this universe’s Spider-Men. It shows what the team is capable of when developing solely for the PS5 and builds upon all the set-up of the first game as well as the Miles Morales entry to create another spectacular entry in the Insomniac Spider-Verse.
If you’ve played the earlier games in the series, it’s no surprise that this sequel had been planned from the get-go. And I loved that this game fully committed to being a sequel and acting as the next narrative step for all characters involved. No soft reboot, no memory wiping shenanigans to welcome new players. This game is a direct continuation of the events and the consequences of the last 2 games, and it’s for this reason that it’s probably not going to be a great starting point if you’re jumping in for the first time to investigate the current hype. You’ll be missing a lot of important context and buildup if haven’t played last 2 games, as well as 2 incredible games in their own right.
When it comes to the story, Spider-Man 2 picks up with one of the biggest boss battle setpieces that not only acts as a setup for the story, but also the tutorial that let’s you refamiliarise yourself with the existing mechanics, as well as also introduce some of the new abilities and tech Peter and Miles have gained in the time since we last saw them. The game takes no time getting going, but then does take some time establishing that this story is going to be one of acceptance of the past as well as working towards a better future when it comes to both the Peter and the Miles sides of the plot. Without spoiling too much though, it’s pretty clear that the journey for the both of them isn’t going to be smooth sailing, with Kraven the Hunter establishing himself within New York and working out where he sits on the criminal food chain and the impact of the symbiote that was teased at the end of the first game and the expected introduction of Venom putting Peter and Miles through the toughest situations they’ve experienced thus far across their time being Spider-Men.
The story, although inspired by existing Spider-Man stories and particular comic runs still manages to have it’s own unique Insomniac spin to most elements and caught me off guard plenty of times with the twists and turns the story took. I thought I knew most of how things would play out before starting the game, and while some of it was how I expected, there was still so much that I didn’t see coming. And so many crazy wish moments that I never thought would happen actually coming true. The only downside was that some missions go longer than needed in the final third of the adventure and the multi-phased structure in which they’re designed becomes more apparent by this stage of the game when it comes to a number of the main quests.
Where the last 2 games were individually Miles and Peter stories, Spider-Man 2 is the culmination of everything so far and fairly equally has you playing as both Spider-Men. Yo can swap between the two at just about any situation and some mission types actually require you to be one of the 2 Spideys specifically. Because of this, each character has their own skill tree that lets you enhance the abilities and skills that each possess in the ways you see fit. On top of that, there is also a shared skill tree that as levelled up, provides upgrades that affect both Spider-Men’s mutual skills.
It’s not really a spoiler to mention, given the game’s pre-release marketing, but it’s fairly clear that throughout the game Peter comes into possession of the Symbiote. This further grants another slew of abilities specific to utilising the Symbiote. And these new Symbiotic powers really change up how this game plays compared to the earlier entries in the series. I still didn’t find much of a need to delve too deeply into getting every Spider Gadget unlocked and upgraded, I personally gravitated more towards the power ups and Symbiotic abilities given how much of the game is combat focussed, but the choice is yours to spec your Spider-Men in your own specific way. I also really loved how cleverly the team have incorporated the Symbiote abilities and how the upgrades are still important after key events happen in the story, which are hard to go into too much detail around as it’s a surprise that’s cleverly executed and worth experiencing for yourself.
Outside of the main story, Spider-Man 2 offers so many fun things to see and do and will keep you entertained and returning to the game. There are some really cleverly written side missions and questlines to enjoy and the best thing about them is that each type are quite varied when it comes to their gameplay structure which keep things consistently interesting and allows you to play the mission type that takes your fancy and any moment, simply by finding the relevant icon on the map, swinging your way over and then finding and completing it. Some are more combat focussed, some are swinging/web wing challenges, some involve simply taking a photo or locating and picking up a specific collectible. They’re fairly bite sized, approachable and most of all fun, which is why going for the platinum trophy in the game is an enjoyable task rather than a grindy one.
The XP and resource types collected via completing the main and side missions are what you’ll use to unlock the game’s skills, gadgets and suits, and boy there are plenty of awesome costumes. Some are returning suits from the previous games, but there are a ton of brand new ones for both Miles and Peter. Both the suits and the collectibles in the game reference so many cool Spider-Man moments and Easter Eggs, and it’s incredibly clear that the team at Insomniac are Spidey fans first and foremost.
I love both the original Spider-Man and the Miles Morales games. Leading up to Spider-Man 2, I expected this game to just be more of what they already offered. And don’t get me wrong, it absolutely is, for the most part. But where I was surprised was in how much just about every aspect of the previous games have taken a step up with this sequel. It’s clear Insomniac are making use of the hardware of the PS5 and developing this game solely for the current gen has allowed them to hold nothing back. The setpieces and boss encounters are larger in scale, the levels, especially those that take place indoors are more detailed and overall, it’s visually amazing, specifically when it comes to the details in the textures in the Spidey costumes. The introduction of the web wings mechanic offers a new way to explore New York and the base web swinging has also been improved and feels smoother and faster than the first game. Much of these things being highlighted further after I went back and jumped into the previous games after playing Spider-Man 2 which made the changes even more impressive.
Overall, this is how sequels should be. They should build upon the events of the original, introduce new complications for our characters, present challenges that will help them grow as they manage to overcome them and introduce new mechanics that change up the gameplay in new and interesting ways. Spider-Man 2 does all of that and more. It’s a game that I would only recommend to players that have completed the last 2 games given that this is a direct sequel. My experience wasn’t bug free, but I didn’t come into anything that was game breaking or ruin performance, which can often be a big concern when it comes to massive open world titles. If you’re a fan of superhero games or have a love of Spider-Man I can’t recommend this game enough. We already know that Insomniac’s upcoming Wolverine title is set in the same universe, but I really hope that we get further entries down the line involving Spider-Man as I’m most curious to see how they’ll advance the gameplay in another follow up.
A PS5 review code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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