Marvel’s Spider-Man and its follow up Miles Morales DLC set the bar high. Not only are the two titles delivering some of the best PlayStation-exclusive gameplay in recent memory, they showcase just what superhero RPGs can be. The successful outings from Insomniac Games mean the pressure is on Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, a PS5-exclusive, to deliver.
But, if anyone is capable of doing it, it’s Insomniac.
Here’s why we say so.
Peter turns mentor
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 wastes little time in getting to the action. The opening stanza of the game sees players switch between both webslingers – Peter Parker and Miles Morales. The pair find themselves at very different points in their respective superhero journeys.
For Parker, it is as a mentor to a young and hungry student, who, if given time, could likely surpass him in terms of his capabilities as a Spider-Man. As for Morales, he’s clearly in search of guidance, as well as a father figure, after his own father was killed by Martin Li (Mister Negative). A death Morales still feels guilty for.
As such, both Spider-Men are dealing with the weight of the world in this game, something that a number of well-placed and spaced cut scenes and less action-packed missions help to convey.
Shifting back to the action and the first third of the game helps orient players to some of the key new elements that are a part of gameplay, such as web wings, which are a real game changer in terms of traversal in-game. That’s saying something too, as traversal might be the one aspect that Insomniac’s Spider-Man games do better than any other before it.
Sticking with the web wings for a moment, there are a number of ways they can be used as you travel around the five boroughs of New York City. Throughout the boroughs you’ll encounter air streams, that when you enter can start slipstreaming in order to pick up more velocity. This new system is used in a few chase missions, and also comes in handy when crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.
Speaking of the boroughs, now all five are represented in the game, with Brooklyn and Queens now added to the mix.
The upshot of this, other than having a larger map to explore, is that this game has a tonne of endgame content to enjoy. If you’re a completionist or pride yourself in snapping up as many in-game trophies/achievements as possible, this may be the game for you.
Insomniac has found all manner of side missions for players to get stuck into that we’d argue totals as much as the actual main missions. These include some things that featured in previous titles, such as noteworthy photographic locations in this version of New York City, and securing areas by responding to crimes via the Friendly Neighbourhood app.
There are some new missions too, such as discovering crystals left by Sandman, experiencing augmented reality events from Mysterio, searching for technology from the Prowler, and more.
And yes, before you ask, there are indeed Mary-Jane Watson solo missions, but they aren’t as frustrating as they were in the first game, as MJ can seemingly take care of herself these days.
Now let’s move on to some of the big bads that are in this game. In the comic book world, perhaps only Batman surpasses Spider-Man in terms of the diversity and quality of supervillains available.
Once again Insomniac has leaned on this lore, but added its own unique twists to the storyline to keep players guessing somewhat.
One of the main threats throughout the game is Kraven the Hunter, who is not only looking to bag a pair of Spider-Men, but also some other villains like The Lizard, Tombstone, Black Cat, and a few others.
Unlike the comic books though, which normally saw Kraven working solo, here the Hunter has a small army of fellow hunting enthusiasts at his disposal, as well as enough tech to rival that of Silver Sable.
Kraven’s goons also serve up a decent challenge, with a good mix of regulars, shielded, armed, and heavy enemies that you’ll normally encounter in fights. There are also some jaguar and hawk-inspired robots as part of his army too, so things are certainly kept interesting while fighting between one major scene or boss battle to the next.
One of the other threats is Venom, but in the interest of keeping spoilers to a minimum, don’t expect things to play out as you have seen in comic books or the so-bad-it’s-good Spider-Man 3 film for this specific story arc.
What we can talk about is the new fighting styles at Peter Parker’s disposal when he dons the symbiote suit. Like the more recent God of War games, there is a new symbiote rage mode, which when engaged allows Parker to go on a bit of a rampage. It’s also worth pointing out that the special symbiote moves available in parts of the game are quite addictive, which is part of the story arc too, as Parker veers from his usual Spidey ways.
As for the boss battles, they are multi-phase, and often take place in more than one location, offering some good variety and challenge for those wanting to play on one of the more difficult modes.
We’ve also seen that a key mechanic when taking on tougher enemies is parrying. Instead of dodging or evading, which was the usual tactic, both Peter and Miles have the ability to counter heavier attacks if timed correctly. Things don’t always go according to plan, such as in one of the fights with Li, but when they do, it certainly is satisfying to earn a win after several failed attempts.
The last thing we’d like to mention is the graphical fidelity. We won’t do a deep dive here, but in general, everything looks great, with some distinctive attention to detail. We spotted such instances when it came to reflections and lighting in particular, and while there is a lot of action unfolding on screen at any one point, for those who appreciate such aspects of a AAA game, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 definitely delivered on that front on the PS5.
We would be remiss, however, for not mentioning that the console did produce quite a bit of fan noise from the console during graphically intense portions of the game, such as a sandstorm battle in the city against Sandman in the opening stanza.
When so many AAA games on current-gen consoles these days cost upwards of R1 200, they often become a hard sell in terms of delivering value for money, and a title that you’ll want to pick up again and play a week, or a month, or a year from when it was first purchased.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 suffers from none of that. The gameplay is slick, immersive, and action packed, with the intertwined storylines of Peter Parker and Miles Morales given plenty of room to breathe and ensure that these are characters that you truly feel for.
Add to this are simply unmatched levels of detail, as well as a whole other title’s worth of endgame content for completionists to get stuck into, and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is nigh perfect.
When much is made of the exclusive titles that PlayStation and Xbox players have access to, when it comes to RPGs, this latest offering from Insomniac sits right alongside God of War Ragnarok in terms of the great recent games for the PlayStation 5.
If there is a game that’s going to help Sony sell new slim PS5 consoles, this is certainly one of them.
Regardless of where your console allegiances lie, Insomniac has another truly complete AAA game on its hands.
FINAL SCORE: 10 OUT OF 10.