Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 (Review) – A hit not without its flaws
The sequel to one of the best games of 2018 has finally arrived on PlayStation 5, incorporating all the best from the original Marvel’s Spider-Man and the spin-off Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, adding in scale, quality of production and gameplay variety. Everything in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is good, but… it couldn’t do without a couple of “buts”, as always. We’ll talk about the game in the review.
- Developer: Insomniac Games
- Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Platforms: PlayStation 5
- Release date: October 20, 2023
In the first part of the series, Peter Parker acted alone – Miles Morales had not yet become the second Spider-Man . In the spin-off, newly minted Spidey Miles looked after New York while Peter traveled to Europe with Mary Jane.
Now, finally, superheroes unite to protect the city, combining their secret activities with personal concerns: like characters from comics and films , Spider-Man is a very down-to-earth character, literally a “friendly neighbor” who is not alien to worldly problems, such as problems at work or lack of self-confidence.
What prevents you from paying due attention to life’s failures and dealing with them is Kraven the Hunter, a supervillain who arrives in New York in search of equal opponents. He kidnaps other villains from prison to fight them, but everything is wrong – no one can challenge him seriously enough. Obviously, sooner or later Craven will turn his attention to those who put these criminals behind bars, but that’s not all – Venom will come into play , and the long-suffering metropolis, as always, will be on the verge of destruction.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 impresses with the scope of events, the level of production and great characters. In some episodes, you can drop your jaw to the floor from the coolness of what is happening. Scenes follow each other with kaleidoscopic speed, and the scale of the battles amazes: either the villain throws the protagonist across half the city, or the heroes barely escape from a collapsing factory complex, or something else.
Meanwhile, due to the teenage rating and the developers’ tendency to add unnecessary episodes, delight at what is happening on the screen periodically gives way to bewilderment. Despite the participation in the plot of an almost insane killer-hunter and alien chthonians, there is criminally little cruelty in the game corresponding to their images. Spiders remain toothless-positive most of the time, just like the people around them. And the scenes in which we are forced to take off the Spider-Man suit cause nothing but irritation, just like in the first part.
Insomniac Games also cannot avoid excessive moralizing. It’s not enough for developers to tell an interesting story; they need to teach young gamers basic truths. Nothing new: friendship will defeat evil, killing is bad, everyone should be tolerant, value family, and so on. The game carefully observes quotas for inclusivity, and such characters and episodes are written into the game so clumsily that you can’t help but see a checklist in front of you, in which the authors ticked off this or that manifestation of representation.
Oh well, despite these shortcomings, the story campaign and most of the side quests in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 are still a lot of fun to be had. The storyline is moderately long, the obligatory stealth episodes for Mary Jane can be endured, and superheroes and supervillains receive proper development, changing from the beginning to the end of the game.
The sequel takes place again in New York: the area available for exploration has doubled, there are much more new areas, and, as in the first part, they are filled with interesting activities. Heroes receive requests for help from citizens through the DSChP (Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man) app, and they don’t always involve fighting bandits – sometimes you have to go to the aid of a lost grandfather or take photographs of interesting places in the city. Those who like to “platinum” in games will have to spend an extra few hours collecting collectibles. However, they also have practical benefits, in particular, they provide the resources necessary to open new costumes and upgrade gadgets.
To be able to move faster between city blocks, the Spiders received web wings that allow them to glide at high speed. The game allows you to combine web flight and wing gliding, providing exceptional control over your character’s movements and a great sense of speed.
There is fast movement here, and you can “jump” to any point on the map, and not to certain towers, as in the first part, but, to be honest, I never wanted to use it – it’s much more pleasant to fly to the right place on your own, clinging to skyscrapers, diving down and soaring up, accelerating in special wind tunnels. The mechanics of moving around the city were outstanding in the first part, but they were improved very well in the sequel.
The combat was also improved compared to the original game , making it a little richer. This is still the basic mechanics of the Batman: Arkham series , where you need to deal regular blows, as well as use gadgets and use special finishes. However, if in Marvel’s Spider-Man and Miles Morales Spider-Man could not counterattack, but only dodged enemy attacks, now he can parry, timing the moment right before receiving damage.
Since we now have two main characters, also with different abilities, the combat feels a little different for each of them. Peter Parker summons spider-like mechanical legs with which he can throw enemies away, and Miles Morales develops bio-electric techniques. This led to an increase in the available leveling branches: now there are three of them – one each for Peter and Miles and one more common for both Spiders. The characters also have gadgets, including several new ones, such as a web lasso, which attracts all enemies and objects within its range to one point.
Variety is great, but in the heat of battle it’s easy to get confused about the characters’ abilities, especially if you switch between them frequently. The ability icons turned out to be surprisingly uninformative; at a quick glance it is impossible to determine their effect. As a result, you use skills at random, on cooldown, alternating them with jumps, tackles, pokes and web shots.
As for stealth episodes, one of the innovations here is the ability to shoot a spider thread at the opposite wall, creating an impromptu bridge. It is used like any beam: Spider-Man can run along it, hang down and stealthily snatch enemies, stunning them and tying them to the thread. The latter have completely forgotten how to look up, which makes it possible to deal with them quietly without any problems.
he first part of the series amazed with its beauty on the PlayStation 4. Later, Insomniac Games released a remaster for the PlayStation 5 and PC, to which it hastily added ray tracing and at the same time replaced the model of the main character. The sequel was released only on PS5, and it squeezes all the juice out of the console, showing a significant increase in traffic on the streets of New York, realistic reflections and impressively fast loading times.
And so that players don’t miss all this, the developers try to place them in appropriate situations: they will either, as if by chance, add reflective surfaces in a story scene, or make a beautiful transition from one Spider to another with the camera flying around half the city, or offer to fly through portals. The game is perfectly optimized and works stably in any mode. However, the open world is not without bugs, the most common of which is objects getting stuck in each other. Although this does not break the gaming experience, it catches your eye.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is the expected high-quality, expensive, exciting game. Considering the experience of Insomniac Games and the budget of the title, we shouldn’t have expected anything else. At the same time, this is an exemplary sequel: compared to the original game, there is more of everything here – heroes and villains, events, activities, game mechanics. The project’s shortcomings lie, for the most part, in excessive moralizing, non-superhero episodes carried over from the first part, and rare bugs. We will find out whether the developers will take these shortcomings into account in a potential threequel, which will almost certainly take place.
A copy of the game for review was provided by the Achivka company.