Gaming Writer Jaiden Griffin reviews Insomniac Games’ newest web-slinging adventure for the PlayStation 5
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 finally made it to PS5, and it completely surpassed expectations. As a sequel, the progression from the previous two games is incredible. Building on from the unique battle style of the prior games, fun ways to engage in the world of Spider-Man, and overall charm, Insomniac’s third instalment to the series feels like a culmination of what began in the original game and continued with Miles Morale’s solo-venture.
When it comes to the gameplay of Spider-Man, a priority is always going to his web-slinging traversal abilities, which luckily ended up being one of my favourite parts of the game. The overall feel of his swinging feels improved and efficient. Moreover, the introduction of web-wings was an inspired addition that re-invented the traversal system, improving what previously seemed impeccable.
Paired with the expansion of the original map to include additional neighbourhoods to explore like Queens and Brooklyn, soaring through the air, weaving between high-rise buildings, and speeding through wind tunnels made the need to fast-travel almost unnecessary. Regarding fast travel, Spider-Man 2 fixed the issue of unimaginative and long wait screens. In all, exploring and getting around is not only efficient, but one of the best additions to the game.
The variety of gameplay options are vast, while not feeling too convoluted. Not only did we get to play as Peter Parker and Miles Morales, but both Peter and Harry Osborne’s Venom, as well as MJ in some well-structured, interesting stealth sections. To maintain the spark of previous games, the expansion of powers and how they worked was thrilling, improving as the story progressed. Moreover, the emphasis on the power of each character felt more defined, which allowed for a brilliantly worked separation without feeling too confusing each time you switched perspective.
A persistent issue in the previous games was the poor distribution and low difficulty of the boss encounters. While not perfected in Spider-Man 2 there is a noticeable improvement, from the magnificent tutorial fight with Sandman introducing us to the stellar performance of the game, to the extremely poignant interaction with Scream, being my favourite segment.
The story alone provided us with one of the most impressively deep and well-presented narratives in my experience. From the outset, Peter’s struggle to live a ‘standard’ life paired with Sandman’s sequence skilfully introduces the gravity of the story. Much of this was displayed within the interactions between the game’s protagonists and rehabilitated previous villains who, like Peter, are struggling to succeed in their daily lives due to the threat of Kraven the Hunter. We see favourites such as Black Cat and Lizard manipulated into becoming his victims. This unconventional narrative allowed us to humanise and sympathise with these characters.
The shift of Kraven’s storyline as the primary antagonist to the emerging Venom one was masterfully accomplished. The subtle hints to this change builds over time, utilised through well-thought-out hints and imagery, leading to a satisfying pay-off. What rounded off the game’s commitment to storytelling was the attention to detail, especially regarding the mounting suspense concerning the rising threat of the Venom symbiote. We all know him as the ‘friendly-neighbourhood Spider-Man’, however, after the symbiote latches onto Peter, we slowly see this crumble. Instead of safely placing innocent bystanders on the ground, in some instances we see Peter in split-second moments throw them, and even certain language he uses conveys a movement towards ignorance, spite and arrogance.
Spider-Man 2 is a well-developed and visually appealing game, with its beauty integrated into the side-missions, and general exploration. The graphics have been greatly improved from the original game, as buildings and bodies of water reflect sunlight in a way which offers a true sense of realism while exploring.
However, one glaring problem can be uncovered the closer you look. There is some neglect with the animation of the ambitious Venom/Anti-Venom powers. When you wear certain suits, the body extensions seem to randomly materialise out of Peter, looking like an animation afterthought.
Aside from this, the visuals and overall presentation are great, with the immersing feeling of being this superhero present. Your actions are reported on via podcasts and news shows you tune into, and even NPCs on the streets have varying and entertaining reactions to your presence. Some will want a selfie and appreciate you, while others find you to be a menace.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a must-play for anyone searching for a well-balanced, emotionally engaging, and overall exciting experience. The game is extremely rewarding for fans of the series, who will notice the commitment to references, such as the collectable Spider-Bots and wide variety of costumes. While the story will expect some understanding from the previous two games, the main narrative is self-contained enough to be a satisfying experience for newcomers.
The game feels like a great representation of current-generation capabilities, encapsulated by its graphical presentation, efficient loading screens, as well as the overall performance and polish. It both looks and plays amazingly. Spider-Man 2 has truly proven itself to be an extremely strong contender for game of the year.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is available on PlayStation
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