It’s not a stretch to say that I adore Spider-Man 2018 and Spider-Man Miles Morales. Each game brought me to tears while playing it. While I know that there have been Spider-Man games in the past, the Insomniac version felt like seeing the IP on a level we’ve never seen before. Similar to how Rocksteady Studios elevated the Batman IP in the video game landscape with the Arkham trilogy.
Don’t get me wrong Spider-Man from 2018 had some hiccups that I wasn’t fond of, but despite that, I rolled credits debating internally if it is one of my favorite games of all time. So you can imagine how hyped I was in the lead-up to Spider-Man 2. I wanted to see the spectacle and high quality that I’ve come to expect from a PlayStation 1st party game. I wanted to see what improvements Insomniac brought to the table, and I wanted to reconnect with these characters from this Spider-Man universe that I’ve come to love. I’ve officially Platinum this game and seen everything to date of what it has to offer. I’ve got a lot of thoughts.
Let’s dive into it.
In Spider-Man 2 you play as Peter and Miles Morales, trying to figure out their lives while both are grieving a recent parental figure. Enter Kraven, a man hell-bent on finding a challenger worthy of beating him. On the way to find his equal Kraven unleashes chaos that upends the lives of the heroes, villains and the city as a whole. With Venom thrown in the stakes are raised to another level.
It felt so good to be reunited with the characters that I’ve grown to love in this universe. Thankfully besides the third act which felt a bit all over the place, I found the story that each character was involved in be intriguing and compelling. While I wasn’t a massive fan of the Harry Osborn storyline, as much as others in the game, I still found myself tearing up multiple times.
The art of telling a story is tricky with games, but even more so telling that story while setting the seeds for a future installment. It’s a balancing act that Insomniac pulls off well both in the main storyline and the game’s numerous sidequests. The way that the game introduces new bad guys and mixes those in with the ones we know is remarkable. On top of that, several of the villains play into the game’s general themes of forgiveness, vengeance, and handling grief.
From the first boss, you could tell that this is the gameplay that we’ve come to know and love, but it has now been polished near to perfection. Everything from the combat to the traversal feels better. Web swing is still arguably the best way to get around in any modern video game. We have new ways to traverse with gliding with the Wingsuit and creating giant slingshots that launch you to faraway points.
In this game, you are presented with three playstyles. One for Miles, whose electric-based powers continue to be a show stealer, one with Peter using the iron spider legs, and of course Peter with the venom symbiote suit. Each has its own moves and move tree for you to learn and utilize. Spider-Man 2 features a slew of boss fights that all feel much improved over the boss fight from the first game. It’s to the point that all my favorite boss fight from the series are likely all from Spider-Man 2. None of them feel like a chore unlike the Shocker boss fight in the first game.
There is an amazing mission involving the history of Jazz and how it affected the culture of New York. It’s a good example of celebrating the music and Black Culture. The game even includes a museum that lets you learn about the history and culture. There are even a few Marvel tie-ins like Shield there as well. This is an example that shows how much Insomniac cares about the representation of the game’s numerous cultures and also the Marvel IP as well. It was so deep with Marvel Easter eggs that I would also stubble upon something and smile because it reminded me of comics that I read about other characters.
One of my critiques of Spider-Man 1 was how inconsequential the side quest felt. In Miles Morales, they sort of rectify that a bit by making everything feel meaningful and I wanted to see how this side quest would feel in the true sequel Spider-Man 2. Thankfully I can report that they nailed the assignment The side quests are not only fun to play, but they feel meaningful. They provide entertaining side stories as well as clues of villains in a future game. One of my favorite moments of the year in games came from a Spider-Man side quest about birds. It was a huge and emotional payoff aka a sequel to a quest that I despised in the first game.
Additional Pros Pt.2:
Perhaps one of the most impressive feats that I’ve seen from games this year is Spider-Man 2’s utilization of the SSD. It’s unbelieveable how switching from Miles to Peter is seamless with no load screen involved whatsoever. I remember switching between the two in the opening segment with Sandman and thinking “Oh it can’t be that quick the whole game.” Well I gladly was proved wrong.
Another aspect that I enjoyed about the game was the numerous collectibles and upgrades. Just like the previous installments, you can upgrade your gadgets, and abilities and even unlock costumes. Some of the costumes are butt-ass ugly, but they’re are tons of them many with different color variations.
The final kudos that I want to say about this game is that it is insanely detailed and you can tell there was thought put into this game. There are different scores for Miles and Peter, they have slightly different mannerisms, and the damage you take is reflected in every suit. You can spend hours just wandering the city (which is bigger with the addition of new boroughs) and see new details.
I feel like the scale and the stakes inflated a bit too much in the third act. Instead of the smaller-scale personal story that we experienced in the first two acts, the third act became an apocalyptic event that was the whole premise of the Web of Shadows Spider-Man game. There are enemies that we introduced in the third act of the game that were annoying. Not in the “This is challenging way”, but in the “this isn’t fun and I wish they would go away” type of annoying.
Another aspect that felt lacking was the gadgets. Spider-Man 2018 presented us with a ton of different gadgets that layered the stealth gameplay. A lot of the gadgets we had at our disposal in Spider-Man 2018 aren’t here. As a result, the stealth aspect of the game is vastly diminished. You can still do stealth takedowns and creating the web line allows you to get the drop on most enemies, but the lack of stealth gadgets does feel like a miss.
It’s been reported by many gamers that they’ve experienced glitches and jank while playing the game. I didn’t have any technical issues besides the voices not working sometimes during cutscenes. It’s restart from a checkpoint and it would fix the issue.
Overall/Should you Play Marvel’s Spider-Man 2:
Spider-Man 2 felt like the biggest and best spectacle that I experienced this year in games. Yes even grander than Final Fantasy 16. The boss fights felt spectacular, the
performances were superior to anything I witness this year, and the combat just like the previous installments were amazing.
The final third of the game felt a little too much like Spider-Man: Web of Shadows and the large stakes took a bit of the personal charm away that I loved in the previous installments. Despite all the critiques, Spider-Man 2 is the most “Next-Gen” game on the PS5 so far and is one of the best superhero games of all-time.
Where Should Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 fit in your video game backlog:
Here at the ProNerd Report and on the Single Player Experience Podcast, we practice the 10 games backlog rule. In this practice, you log down 10 games, those games are gonna be your video game backlog. To be as productive as you possibly can be, we recommend that you only play three games at one time. One single player narrative game, one game that’s gonna be your chill and relaxed game, and another game that’s going to be your palate cleanser game, which is a game that you play when you’re not in the mood for your other narrative. When you complete or get tired of one game, it leaves the backlog list. Then you decide which new game is added to the list, and which game on the list advances to your active three games.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 – If you enjoyed the first two installments then it’s a no-brainer that you’ll enjoy this one for one aspect or another. If you have checked out the previous two I would play those and see what you think about this gameplay. I do think that there is a case that this game is the best game on the PS5 so far and that Insomniac is the MVP studio of this generation thus far.
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Reviewed on PS5