Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can. But can he follow up on 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man and 2020’s Miles Morales? Find out in our review of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, right here on TheEffect.Net.
Let me give you the TL:DR. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 might be the most fun game you play this year, with one of the best stories and best feeling gameplay. It might even end up as your GOTY (if you’re not a Zelda or Baulder’s Gate fan). Right, on with the review!
Story-wise, I’m not going to spoil anything beyond what was shown in the run-up to the game. To get you back up to speed, Kraven (a Russian super-strong hunter) is guess what? Hunting. They’re after the strongest beings in New York (good and bad) and portray one of the most fearsome enemies we’ve faced in the series so far. However, that’s not just the one story thread in town, and if you’ve watched the trailers you know a certain symbiote shows up to make things a bit more complex…
(P.S. Sony, can we get a Venom game? Please? Please!?)
I’m not going to spoil anything, but get ready for some brave story choices, genuinely unsettling scenes and Sony doing absolute justice to the character. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 sticks the story landing. You’ll be engaged throughout the 20-ish hour story (if you’re speed-running it like I’ve been for the last week). Outside of Kraven and Venom, you’ll also get to spend more time with Pete, Miles, MJ and their family and friends. The sequel fleshes out their characters and focuses on the real impacts of being a superhero and struggling to find balance in their lives.
Reader, as someone who just started a new job and spent every night this week speed-running the story for you, I can relate! All those little touches like J. Jonah Jameson’s show playing while you swing around the city all just add to it. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 manages to stick the landing, just make sure to keep an eye out for the post-finale credits. Bravo Insomiac, bravo!
Combat in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 feels evolved, polished and refined. Both Miles and Pete handle the same (with small subtle differences in swinging) but in combat differ in their special moves – now mapped to a press of the L1 button with a symbol to activate. Pete offers more of a tech-focused move set with ‘spider-arms’ that extend out to attack the enemy, while Miles’ move set focuses on the energy-based powers we saw in their last game too. Either way, previous players will feel at home, but will still have something new to get used to.
This time around there’s a new ‘parry’ move, allowing you to send an enemy’s attack back at them which is challenging to pull off but adds another layer of depth. Stealth is still around too, with the only new addition being ‘spider-wires’ that allow you to create trapeze-style lines to give more options to players who prefer taking the stealth route. One thing I especially loved here was the ‘thud’ when you take down an enemy in stealth. Knocking them out off a steel beam gives you an ear-wincing clang through your TV speakers and the controller too. Nice!
Traversal via swinging is still here with subtle upgrades into how it sounds while you zip around New York which is nice, but the key highlight here is the new gliding set of moves. Yes, you’ve now got a wingsuit. This has to be one of the best feeling additions in the game, allowing you to get around a city double the size with a sense of speed that I’ve not felt since the Burnout games.
This is helped along with wind tunnels that almost act like motorways around the city, and air vents that catapult you higher into the air. Both of these are helped along by DualSense’s haptic feedback and sounds that immerse you into the world, all blending into a really deep connection between you and your Spider-Man. Now, that’s not to say you’ll be doing this all the time though.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is Sony and Insomniac flexing their muscles, demonstrating that they are just the best in the business when it comes to getting the most out of a console’s hardware. No ‘lower-power’ console to worry about (hey Xbox Series S) means Sony has optimised the heck out of this game. It runs flawlessly, even in 120Hz mode, with ray-tracing effects enabled. Yes, ray-tracing while pushing beyond 30 or 40 FPS. Not a single dropped frame, not a single crash despite pushing one of the most detailed open-worlds I’ve seen in gaming.
My mind boggles thinking about how hard this is pushing the PS5 as you glide across New York and see the entire city span beyond you. Insomniac have achieved a new level of cinematography in video gaming here too that can’t go unnoticed. Cutscenes are well-paced, engaging and beautifully shot. Boss fights feature some of the most edge-of-your-seat scenes, and offer spectacle that I’ve not seen in gaming for a long time. They’ve built on the legacy of their previous titles and taken inspiration from Uncharted here, but it all adds up to the exact feeling you want to have playing a superhero game – that you’re a superhero.
Probably the biggest knock I can give the game is when you’re not playing as one of our two Spider-Man. Unfortunately, we get a decent amount of Peter, Miles and MJ sections here. They don’t add much to the story, and in MJ’s case, I groaned every time I had to do one of these sections. MJ has their own sections where you use stealth to get to an objective, and that’s it. They’re simple, tedious and outstay their welcome, really detracting from the pace of the game and in reality would be better served through cutscenes.
Towards the end, they feel more like padding than anything. The only other thing I could mention here is the game’s over-reliance on boss fights towards the end. They are fun and require a bit of thinking beyond just identifying a pattern as you’ll need to utilise the world around you. However, when they’re paced out every 30-45 minutes, and take quite some time to learn how to win it gets a bit tiring.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is more of the same, but better. Think of it like a season 2 or 3 of a show you like that’s hitting its stride. It improves in every single area, from its more engaging world, better-told story, and variety of things to do to graphics. It keeps what made the first two games great, but just builds on it.
For a minority of people this might not be enough, who want a bigger shake-up but for most – this is exactly what they want. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is the blueprint for a superhero game and is going to inspire improvements across the industry in storytelling and cinematography, all while proving how powerful Sony’s hardware really is. I can’t wait to see what Insomniac do next, and especially to learn more about their new Wolverine game in development.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Pricing & Availability
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 launches Friday, October 20th, exclusively on PlayStation 5. The game starts at €79.99 for the standard edition.
A review code for Spider-Man was supplied to TheEffect.Net from Sony PlayStation Ireland and was reviewed on a PlayStation 5 system.
The best Superhero game. Ever.
Spider-Man 2 is going to shift a lot of PlayStation 5s over the coming few months and proves that Sony (and Insomniac) is the king of action-adventure single-player games.