| Played on PS5 with VRR/120hz/Smooth/Fidelity Presets |
I know I’m a few days late from releasing this review — I was not given an early copy and with newborn twins, my publishing cadence will only falter. Nevertheless, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is here and it does not disappoint. As I swung through the streets of New York, the anticipation was palpable and the game didn’t waste any time in delivering a captivating experience. From the excellent build-up to Venom’s reveal to the unforgettable set-pieces, every moment in this game felt meticulous and purposeful. Every facet of this game has been improved on, but the overwhelming feeling of familiarity still lingered. Luckily Insomniac did just enough to warrant a relief of fresh gameplay elements to keep the game pacing upwards.
We Are Venom
The dynamic between Peter Parker and Miles Morales with their on-screen chemistry is outstanding, making us truly feel the weight of their responsibilities as Spider-Men. Harry Osborne’s return to the story is also great given the performance — to see his decent unfold was brilliantly done; the development of his character and his interactions with Peter and Miles were engaging. A fresh addition to the villain lineup was Kraven who stole the spotlight in a lot of ways in my opinion. He made the world feel grounded, full of actual consequences. Kraven actually killing his prey was a surprise to me; I didn’t expect to see that level of story in a Spider-Man game — with Vulture and Scorpion gone, the stakes felt genuinely high and it kept me hooked to the very end. It was a bold move by Insomniac. There were great segments like the evolved Lizard that was really cool, but ultimately Venom carried the plot as expected — there were some insanely genuine surprises here.
Speaking of Venom, the one drawback was that they was underutilized in terms of playable moments. Upon their reveal, we get to control Venom and wreak havoc; it was sublime but short lived — left me craving more time in the symbiotic chaos. MJ segments were a surprisingly great this time around — part 1 felt like a major drag to me, and honestly she was really annoying then. But here, her character is much better fleshed out and far more supportive. Her gameplay segements felt as though I was playing The Last of Us with its mood and overall gameplay arena layout. Overall a supreme upgrade from part 1. At some point Peter gets the Symbiote suit and watching his decent to madeness was a well-paced. You can tell by the performance with his voice changing from upbeat and positive to deeper and far more direct. It was apparent and I loved it. This is coupled with the game’s superb facial animations with subtle details that brought the entire story to life.
New York City served not only as an excellent backdrop but also as an extremely well-done environmental story element. It showcased the diversity of NYC, but it could have delved deeper into the city’s rough side. As a New Yorker, I can attest that people can be genuinely rude when things heat up, and a more authentic representation of this aspect would have added another layer of immersion.
But it wasn’t all web-swinging and heroics with the plot. There were some notable flaws; you get a lot of Rio Morales with a bunch of request to help the community — which of course consist of a diverse group of people. But for some reason, Insomniac overlooked some key aspects when it came to us Hispanics — like how Rio uses inaccurate Spanish phrases such as “¡ay bendito!” as a relief, when instead it’s used for feeling sorry for someone. Additionally, given Miles’ Puerto Rican heritage, the inclusion of the Cuban flag in his apartment seemed like a silly mistake that could have been avoided with proper research. Then there were some weird choices made in certain points of the plot that left me scratching my head; eventually you fight a new group of enemies formed by infested host from Symbiotes, Miles and Peter heavily struggle fighting these things. Eventually Miles, Peter and MJ form a plan to snab a source material from Venom to weaken them — so they send MJ inside a hive nest to retrieve it while Spider-Man lure Vemon away. Probably the most ridiculous plan ever and one where plot armor played heavily here. These Symbiote minions had the Spider-Men struggling but somehow MJ was perfectly capable of going in the deep end…. please.
While the side story was kept at a minimum, the Spider-App’s missions for both Miles and Peter were densely meaningful, with a great level of work put into them. These side missions provided an engaging and well-rounded experience, making us truly feel like the friendly neighborhood Spider-Men.
The familiar gameplay that had made the first game a sensation was back, but it’s not merely a retread; Insomniac Games had not only maintained the core mechanics that made the first game so enjoyable, but they’d also introduced a slew of meaningful enhancements that left me feeling satisfied at most. The heart and soul is of course, the web-swinging, and in this aspect, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 doesn’t disappoint. The added animations brought a level of fluidity to swinging that made me feel more in control than ever. The sense of speed while the buildings whiffed past feels far more visceral this time around. Regarding combat, there has been a few meaningful upgrades here too; the expanded powers allocated within L1 and R1 followed by face buttons added a layer of complexity to Spidey’s moveset. This allowed for a richer and more streamlined combat experience that encouraged a bit of experimentation. Unlocking new abilities as I progressed through the campaign was expected but cool, nonetheless. The Symbiote-related powers for Peter and Miles’ newfound electric ones were a highlight. Not only did they look incredible with their visual effects, but they also felt powerful and game-changing. The Symbiote’s dark influence added a layer of complexity to the characters and their abilities, and it was fascinating to explore this aspect of their personas.
The introduction of a parry system, which I found myself using more often than dodging, was a game-changer. It added a more engaging element to battles, making each encounter feel far more personal. Skill tree gets the enhancement treatment as well – it may not be an RPG game, but Spider-Man 2 allows for a bit of playstyle focus. The addition of a shared skill tree for both Miles and Peter meant that I could customize my approach to suit my preferences. For instance, I loved the option to have a well-timed parry recharge my focus, enabling a never-ending spree of takedowns. It was a small detail, but it gave the game a depth that rewarded skill and strategy. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 also excels in expanding the stealth mechanics. The ability to create my own spider-wire for fluid traversal not only opened up new opportunities for sneaky takedowns but also added a level of creativity to how I approached each situation. I found myself weaving intricate webs of my own design to outsmart my enemies, and it was incredibly satisfying.
However, there were a couple of gameplay aspects that left me slightly disappointed. One of them was the position of Spider-Man himself. While the game offered a wide range of accessibility options, I wished there was an option to position Spider-Man to the left of the screen. I know it would work for people like myself because when you are first introduced to a tough shielded enemy that displayed a health bar above them, the camera is position in such a way throughout the battle. I know the game widens the camera view when surrounded, but I just feel more immersed with over-the-shoulder perspective. But perhaps the most significant letdown for me was the underutilization of Venom. With all the build-up surrounding this character, I expected to have more opportunities to play as Venom. Regrettably, we spend a considerable amount of time with MJ in various segments compared to Venom — and as much as she’s been improved, I want to fucking play as Venom. Insomniac could have easily added more moments with him; heck, it should have been us, the player, infecting NYC!
Review Score: 8.5/10
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is Insonmiac Games best project to date, and with its conclusion and set-up for the universe they’re creating, I am eager for what come. Even with its meaningful gameplay enhancements, I couldn’t help but feel the immense familiarity. The plot, MJ’s improvements, Venom and all of its twist was astounding, and I can’t wait to replay it when NG+ launches.