When Insomniac Games released Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales over the last several years, they proved that they were perfectly capable of creating outstanding action-adventure video games based on two of Marvel’s most popular characters. This level of excitement was raised even further late in 2021 when they released a reveal trailer for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 that left many wondering if they could achieve this same level of success all over again.
After completing the main campaign this past week, my answer to this particular question is a resounding YES! Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 isn’t just a love letter to the characters but it’s also without a doubt the best Spider-Man game that Insomniac has ever made. Here are more of my thoughts on why you should check it out as soon as possible.
With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 takes place approximately 10 months after the events of Spider-Man: Miles Morales. As Peter begins to adjust to his new life with MJ and Miles shifts his focus towards writing the perfect college essay, they’re immediately reminded of their shared responsibility to keep New York City safe when Sandman emerges from the shadows. After teaming up to take him down, our heroes find themselves entangled in an intricately dangerous web of chaos created by Kraven the Hunter, Venom, and others. The end result is an incredible storyline that will keep you emotionally invested in their journey from start to finish.
While I loved everything about the narrative structure of the first game, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 stands out to me as Insomniac’s strongest story yet for three key reasons. First and foremost, there is a greater emphasis on character development and how one’s mental health state can shape their actions for better or worse. We get to see a more vulnerable side of Peter Parker through the lens of his relationship with his best friend Harry Osborn. Once Peter does gain access to the Black symbiote suit though, his behavior changes and we get to witness how this impacts everyone around him. Furthermore, his raw and unstable emotions bleed over into some boss battles which goes to show how ambitious the studio was to continue evolving the character throughout the entirety of his mental breakdown.
The second reason why I enjoyed this story lies in how well-developed and fleshed out every important character is. With complex supervillains like Kraven the Hunter and Venom, you gain a deeper sense of their backstories and concrete explanations for their motives. I also liked the fact that the entire storyline is connected which leaves many surprises in how certain events play out. By making every character three-dimensional, we better sympathize with some and rightfully despise others.
The third and final reason why I feel this is their best story is because it works as a finely-tuned origin story for many characters. While this is Insomniac’s own unique take on Venom, there are several other characters that grow and evolve in interesting ways, meaning the next entry in this series is going to be just as exciting. Miles Morales for example is very important to the events of this game. For those who played his standalone game and felt that it was too short compared to Peter’s adventures in the first game, this game was made specifically for you and I guarantee that you’ll love the outcome.
Amazing Visuals and Performance
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 was created exclusively for PlayStation 5 consoles and this is reflected in how crisp the graphics, performance, and animations are. Having previously worked on Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Insomniac continues to build upon the world established in the previous two games and double-downs on crafting remarkable character models. For this reason, the overall presentation feels more epic and immersive than ever before.
Throughout my entire 25-hour playthrough, I didn’t encounter any performance hiccups, crashes, or bugs. There most likely will be more patches released in the future to address any issues that may arise at launch but overall everything ran perfectly. I’ll be very curious to see if this will also be the case when this game inevitably comes to PC sometime late next year.
The 14 districts that you’ll visit in this game include the following:
- Upper West Side
- Central Park
- Upper East Side
- Hell’s Kitchen
- Financial District
- Downtown Queens
- Little Odessa
- Downtown Brooklyn
All of these districts look identical to their real-life counterparts at all times of the day. The same goes for all of the historical landmarks that NYC is known for which makes exploration even more fun.
An Evolved Gameplay Experience
If you enjoyed all of the gameplay elements from the previous games, then you’ll definitely appreciate how Insomniac has refined this formula in new and exciting ways. For starters, traversing through each district is even more fun now thanks to the addition of web wings. This newly introduced technology allows you to soar across the sky and remain afloat near gusts of wind by simply pressing the triangle button and maneuvering the analog joysticks in your desired direction. You’ll definitely get comfortable using these wings as there are several points within the missions, side missions, and activities where you’ll have to pursue enemies by air.
Addictive combat is the bread and butter of a successful action-adventure game and once again Spider-Man 2 delivers in this area without missing a beat. As you progress through the campaign, you unlock Venom-related abilities that can deal even more damage to adversaries. Adding these powerful attacks to an already robust combat system really changes the game in how you decide to approach certain situations. You can still level up your character and gain XP by completing story missions and stopping various crimes throughout the area. Peter and Miles also have individual and team skill trees that you’re given the ability to level up which makes for some truly awesome fight sequences.
If you love collecting suits, then you’ll be happy to know that there are a grand total of 68 suits to unlock between Peter and Miles. You can use tech parts and hero tokens to unlock a few while others only become available after completing certain objectives within the campaign. Each suit also has 4 style variations that can also be crafted. Suit tech can also be upgraded in the key areas of Health, Damage, Focus, and Traversal. Lastly, you can unlock 5 different gadgets that will also come in handy when engaging in large-scale combat battles.
As I mentioned above, there are 14 districts to complete based on a 3-tier rewards system. As you finish various activities in each district, you’ll gain access to rare tech parts and unlock the ability to fast travel. While you can switch between Peter and Miles at any given time, there are several times where you’ll need to revisit certain areas which makes fast travel a very valuable aspect of the exploration process. There are a total of 31 story missions, meaningful side missions, and collectibles for you to uncover in order to 100% the game.
Memorable Performances From An Incredible Cast
One final element worth mentioning before wrapping up this review is just how incredible all of the voice work and performances were for this sequel. Both Yuri Lowenthal (Peter Parker) and Nadji Jeter (Miles Morales) really outdo themselves with memorable performances throughout. Tony Todd absolutely nails his role as Venom while Graham Phillips puts his all into playing Harry Osborn. Laura Bailey takes on the role of MJ and has a more impactful presence this time around. Everyone in the remaining supporting cast does an outstanding job in their own right which pulls us deeper into their characters.
The musical score composed by John Paesano acts as the final icing on the cake by aligning with the overarching themes of the story. As characters change, this is reflected in the musical tone with the right sound effects that make you feel like you’re a part of the world that you’re playing in. If you loved the iconic music from the first game, then you’re in for another treat this time around.
Simply put, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is an exhilarating roller coaster ride from start to finish. The sequel is nothing short of amazing and easily some of Insomniac’s best work to date. The non-stop action and memorable battles will keep you on the edge of your seat, and leave you with an overwhelming range of emotions afterward. This is the clear definition of what gaming should be and I promise that you won’t be disappointed if you’re a fan of this universe.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 for the PlayStation 5 provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.