As a true blue Sony Crony, the severe drought of first-party games for the past half-decade has been more than disappointing. While we wait for any semblance of life from the numerous Sony developers, Insomniac Games has been carrying Sony for the entirety of the PlayStation 5 era thus far. They’ve concreted their PS5 prowess with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. Just short two years after their latest release, Insomniac Games does it again with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.
The “2” in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 marks it as a sequel, but it also symbolizes the introduction of two Spider-Men. The story continues from where it left off in Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales where we now get to play as two Spider-Men against two new villains: Kraven and Venom. And in this game, two really is better than one.
While Spider-Man is my favorite superhero, I think the first Marvel’s Spider-Man is just good, not incredible. In almost every way, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is an improvement upon the first game, but there are still fundamentals that continue to hold it back. It’s an amazing game — thwipping and flying around a bigger city with two Spider-Men against the coolest villains we’ve seen so far is phenomenal — but the few improvements we get in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 are only enough to move the core game from just good to great.
Become Greater. Together. – The Story
The last thing I want to do is spoil the story told in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, but I will say that it is very well done. Kraven is my favorite villain so far in Marvel’s Spider-Man games and Venom is absolutely incredible. The story feels like it’s broken up into three acts and looking back after beating it, the story covers a lot of ground and does it all with phenomenal pacing. Also, the stories told in the side quests contain must-see moments and playing through them offers a nice break from the action in the main story.
I’d say the story in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is about 60% Peter Parker and 40% Miles Morales which isn’t a complaint. At times, I felt like I hadn’t played as Miles for a long time, but there are a good amount of Spidey-specific side quests that allowed me to get my Miles fill in the open world. I like both characters a lot and the story told in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 combines both Spider-Men’s personal struggles into an amazing playable experience that is the best yet.
I <3 NY – The Environment
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 features a map that is almost double the size thanks to the addition of Brooklyn and Queens, and these new locales are gorgeous. I honestly can’t believe this is the first time we’re able to cross the bridge into another borough in a Spider-Man game. Like with the Web Wings, I don’t know how I lived without this map size in previous Spider-Man games. There’s nothing more satisfying than web-swinging through a neighborhood in Queens, deploying Web Wings to catch a wind tunnel across the bay, and web-swinging right when you get to the streets of New York City.
Thanks to the PS5, nothing needs buffering. You can perch on the highest tower and clearly see every part of the map — and then you can jump off and fly to that point. The map feels simultaneously big and accessibly small thanks to Web Wings and wind tunnels, numerous ways to launch yourself, and fast travel. When it comes to movement, this is the fastest Spider-Man game yet and it makes for a very riveting ride.
There are over 65 suits in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and many of them have four color options. While I would’ve loved for more interesting requirements to unlock suits which would create another layer of interactive gameplay, getting and trying on every suit in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is so much fun. I especially love the Spider-Verse suits since they have that comic book frame rate like in the movies while the rest of the world around you runs at 60 frames per second (depending on your graphics setting choice).
A color I feel was severely lacking in Spider-Man games (besides it being found on almost every villain) is green, and NYC, Queens, and Brooklyn offer a lot of green along with other vibrant colors. This is by far the best environment we’ve ever gotten in a Spider-Man game. Oh, and as a final note, you haven’t lived until you’ve web-swung around a city while it’s raining in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. It’s so unbelievably breathtaking.
Thwip! – The Feel
All Spider-Man games are just fun — Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is no different. Thwipping around New York City, Queens, and Brooklyn is always thrilling but exploration is even better now thanks to Web Wings. Everything feels fun, which isn’t surprising because of how great the first two Marvel’s Spider-Man games are, but it’s heightened here thanks to the Web Wings and PS5’s capabilities.
Unsurprisingly, the PlayStation 5’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback work to bring Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 to even greater heights. Insomniac Games maximizes the DualSense’s capabilities by integrating the adaptive triggers when opening doors in puzzles and web-slinging through the city. The haptic feedback rumbles and screams as you deploy Venom attacks as black suit Peter Parker. Even the touchpad is used to great effect to swipe up to pull out your camera and right to open the Spidey app which is where you can switch characters and find missions.
It feels good to use my PlayStation 5 again and play a Sony first-party game that has those familiar characteristics: high polish, great story, and immersive gameplay. The Sony drought really helps Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 shine, but just because Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is familiar and immediately fun doesn’t mean it’s without its flaws.
Thoooom! – The Combat
The most glaring issue in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 that carries over directly from its predecessors is the repetitive nature of combat. Fighting is necessary in Spider-Man games, but when you’re able to read through the lines of every mission to see that it’s just beat up this group of bad guys, fight a boss, get a story cutscene, repeat, it gets a little stale. Combat could’ve been made more fun by introducing more combos with unique animations or (dare I say it?) introducing a rewarding rhythm-based combat system. The lack of variety and the simplicity of fights is what bogged down the first Marvel’s Spider-Man games, and, if anything, it’s only slightly improved here.
To its credit, the UI and control improvements to combat are much appreciated. Quickly deploying special skills and gadgets is fun and easy. However, as someone who loves stealth in video games, the new stealth gameplay in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 isn’t amazing. Unlike the enticing puzzle that stealth provided in the Batman Arkham games, the stealth in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 doesn’t provide challenge. You scan enemies to see if they are safe to eliminate or not, distract them by shooting something highlighted blue, see that the highlighted enemy is marked as safe, and take them out one by one. There’s no need to crawl around vents or on walls. Enemies don’t ever see you or shoot your webs down. It’s pretty lackluster but I’d almost always prefer it over starting yet another unnecessary, repetitive combat sequence.
Besides exploration, the only other gameplay loop in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is side quest mini-games. Not only are the side quests riddled with some of the best story moments in the game, but they also contain tons of mini-games. Whether you’re shooting wasps as a robotic bee or eliminating flukes as you recreate complex elemental compounds, the mini-games offer much-needed breaks from punching bad guys. Even the Miles Morales time trial beat ’em up mini-games provide enough variety to make combat fun again.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 takes the exact formula from the first games and improves upon it thanks to better UI, better villains, a better story, a bigger world, Web Wings, and two Spider-Men. Though the combat is still repetitive, this is peak Spider-Man.
When it comes to Marvel’s Spider-Man games, two really is better than one. Considering how impressive Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is, I’m already excited to see how Insomniac Games improves upon their rock-solid formula in the inevitable Marvel’s Spider-Man 3.
This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.