This review for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 provides some minor plot details but attempts to remain spoiler-free for the story.
From the opening sequence in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Insomniac Games is out to make a statement that they are one of the best studios in the business, all while showcasing the power of the PlayStation 5. Their wizardry echoes throughout the game, and it had me talking to the TV, speculating that “there is no way they are about to do this,” only for Insomniac to turn around and pull it off in spectacular style that left my jaw on the floor.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 continues to build on the fantastic foundation that was set out in the original game from 2018 and the Miles Morales spin-off in 2020. The action-packed story keeps carving its own section of Insomanic’s spidey universe by delivering twists on existing characters and arcs to keep fans guessing what might happen next.
We’ve not seen a whole lot of first-party titles land exclusively for the PlayStation 5, but Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 earns that badge and gives owners something absolutely stunning to fire up on their console and provide one of the best experiences that you can have on a PS5 today.
- Release Date: October 20, 2023
- Platform: PlayStation 5
- Price: $69.99
- Developer/Publisher: Insomniac Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment
Brand New Day
Peter Parker and Miles Morales are trying to live an everyday life but can’t seem to keep up with all of the madness that is happening around them in New York. Just moments after Peter has started his new job, an iconic villain begins to terrorize the city, and both Spider-Men leap into action to deal with the situation together. During this initial wonderful set piece, you can see the difference between the capabilities of the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 for the Marvel’s Spider-Man series.
The speed of swinging through the city has been ramped up a few notches and even gets progressively faster as you continue through the campaign and unlock quicker traversal abilities. But from a gameplay standpoint, it also allows Insomniac to literally throw Miles across city blocks into another district, only for him to rejoin the fight by slingshotting back with his webs in mere seconds. As I mentioned before, this was a recurring trend of me sitting in disbelief, watching what was unfolding on the screen, and it happened in a big way much later on in the game that left me laughing with joy.
Traversing across New York is a blast, whether that’s swinging from skyscrapers or using Spider-Man’s new web wings to glide across the city. The feeling of the movement system in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 has been lifted to another level. You’ll need this extra speed, though, because the map of New York has extended out, which offers additional districts like Queens and Brooklyn and has loads of activities to complete if looking for some downtime from the main story campaign. It’s not something I used a lot because I enjoyed swinging around the city, but there is a fast travel system that is ridiculously quick. After choosing where in the city you want to travel to, which can be done from the main map, you’ll almost instantaneously find yourself swooping into that location. This speed is handled the same way when switching characters because you can play as either Peter Parker’s Spider-Man or Miles Morales’ Spider-Man.
Both heroes play a significant role in the story arc, and you’ll be alternating between them throughout the main campaign. When it comes to roaming around the city, for most activities, you can go with either Peter or Miles, but some tasks do require you to use a specific character. Each Spider-Man handles a little differently in combat, and you’ll be able to unlock new gadgets and abilities as you progress the story or complete side missions in the world. The combat itself is super engaging and rewards you for dishing out combos or being on top of your defensive prompts, and from a style perspective just looks and flows extremely well.
When not striking bad guys in the face, there is the option of stealthy taking out enemies while crawling along the walls or being perched on top of a light post. One of the new tools that you can unlock is the Web Line, which allows you to create your own webs from surface-to-surface points. These can then be used to walk across and trigger takedowns on unsuspecting baddies. It completely altered how I approached stealth combat in the game and is a nice change to evolve the familiar mechanics of the original title. However, I would have liked it if there were some other additions here to keep this aspect of the gameplay fresh as it continued over the hours.
On that note, one of my biggest criticisms of 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man was the dreamlike state that the game had you experience after Scorpion poisoned Spider-Man. The execution of this particular section was not very interesting. Unfortunately, Insomniac has repeated this with a similar idea in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 but also expanded it into multiple timed activities throughout the city. I don’t think it’s handled very well, and considering the character this mission is tied to, I would have loved to have seen Insomniac present these in a much more engaging and interesting way.
Heroes and Villains
The story sees Kraven the Hunter set his sights on New York, where he attempts to take on the city’s most formidable individuals – villains or heroes, he doesn’t care. As an intimidating presence, Kraven towers over most other characters he shares the screen with. But he’s not just a brooding force; you can notice subtle moments where he’s strategizing and identifying weaknesses in those he’s fighting or interacting with.
Venom is the other main villain you’ll confront in the story campaign. These characters’ narratives interweaved and had me trying to predict what would happen next over the course of the 30 hours I put into the game. It wraps up extremely satisfyingly and leaves plenty of room for further stories to explore in this universe that Insomniac created.
The lead cast of characters, led by Yuri Lowenthal and Nadji Jeter, continue to be sensational by bringing these well-known heroes to life. Lowenthal delivers a brilliant performance as Peter Parker with a range of emotions that broaden throughout the game. Jeter is excellent as Miles Morales, who is the heart of the story as he tries to keep numerous plates spinning at once without them toppling over.
I’ve been reading Spider-Man comics since the early 2000s when J. Michael Straczynski sent fans into a frenzy during the One More Day story arc, where Peter Parker made a deal with Mephisto to rewrite his history. I flicked through the pages when Brian Michael Bendis did the unthinkable in Death of Spider-Man but then paved the way for Miles Morales to take the mantle. I was glued to Dan Slott’s epic 10-year run of The Amazing Spider-Man and enjoyed his controversial arc that saw him killing off Peter Parker, with Otto Octavius taking over as The Superior Spider-Man.
This world has been a part of my reading influence for over 20 years. And I’m so glad to see a studio like Insomniac Games treat this property with a ton of respect while also putting their own spin on the characters and taking even an avid fan like myself on a wild, twist-driven ride. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a spectacular adventure that will keep you on the edge as its riveting story unfolds.
9.5 / 10
|+ Engrossing story with plenty of twists|
|+ Combat is fun and engaging|
|+ A technical marvel|
|+ Fantastic performances from the entire cast of characters|
|– One of the side activities is uninteresting and repeats mistakes from the previous game|
|– Would like more tools to use in stealth engagements|
Review code was provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment on PlayStation 5.