Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 starts off with a bang, an explosive opener that comes out swinging, promising a bigger and better game than the previous one in all respects. After all, how do you top a stellar first installment that already drew players into the stratosphere with amazing gameplay – busywork aside – and a fantastic story? Especially when you followed up that game with a standalone expansion that was almost as amazing?
By combining multiple fan favourite storylines and characters from the comics, and completely avoiding the sequel curse of too many villains spoiling the broth, Insomniac has managed to do just that. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a bigger, bolder game than the first. It’s explosive and kinetic and filled with fantastic action set pieces. And, conversely, it’s also just as personal and human as Spider-Man stories have ever been – even if it doesn’t entirely hit the emotional sucker-punches of the first game.
Set sometime after the events of the Miles Morales expansion, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 finds our pair of heroes thwipping their way around New York, stopping crime as only Spider-Men can. But when Sandman goes on a rampage, the duo find themselves spread a little thinly across New York as it signals an incoming wave of terror the likes of which they’ve never seen before.
Kraven has come to the city in which crime never sleeps, with some big game set in his sights. Elsewhere Harry Osborn comes back into our heroes’ lives, sporting a certain black suit that will only complicate matters further. The old Parker luck never seems to run out…
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 doesn’t just go bigger and bolder by adding new areas to Manhattan for you to explore – most notably Queens and Brooklyn – but also by combining multiple Spider-Man stories into one, epic adventure. You’ve got Kraven’s last hunt to contend with, multiple supervillains on the loose, the return of the lizard, a meeting with Mysterio, and everyone’s favourite Symbiote-born enemy, Venom. Almost all of these plotlines eventually coalesce, making Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 look and feel as epic as anything on the big screen.
The good news is that even with all the madness unfolding in the main storyline, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 finds the time to take a step back and illustrate the humanity that has and continues to make Spider-Man a favourite superhero for many. New York side stories return and provide some of the game’s best content that doesn’t include using your fists or gadgets. They’re both a celebration of Spider-Man and a celebration of what makes New York such a diverse, multicultural melting pot. And some of them will even hit you hard in the feels…
Progression feels similar to the prior games: tackle main missions to progress the story, then take care of the numerous side activities and quests when you don’t feel like pushing towards the end. Experience grants you new levels, which rewards points to invest in several skill trees. Peter and Miles both have their own specific skill trees, along with a shared move-set tree. It’s not a complete reset as many abilities from the first game and expansion return, just with some new ones for Miles and Peter to gain.
Upgradeable gadgets make a return, but there are fewer of them this time around. Gone is the gadget wheel from before as both gadgets and abilities are now mapped to the controller’s face buttons, with L1 and R1 working as the toggle. As a result, you’ll sometimes need to choose what you want to equip before jumping into battle. Multiple suit styles are also unlockable – with almost all of them having further variations – but abilities are no longer tied to which threads you want to wear, making them purely cosmetic.
Combat receives two big updates of note. Yes, it still plays much the same, with similar move-sets, air juggles, and finishers – but it’s all so much faster this time around. Spider-Man (or Men), zip around the battlefield so fast this time that the camera sometimes can’t keep up with them. Enemies are faster as well, so you really have to be on the ball to avoid attacks or use the largest addition to combat: the parry. That’s right, both of our heroes can now parry most attacks which, when timed correctly, leaves the enemies open for counters and these are a major mechanic for the new boss fights.
Stealth makes a welcome return, including several Metal Gear Mary-Jane side missions, which are much more fun and forgiving this time around. Stealth feels just as viable and cathartic as a massive punch-up, and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 gives you all the moves you need to be a stealthy predator, including a new web-line that is fantastic for creating your own little bridges and stealth take-down opportunities.
That speed boost also applies to traversal. Both Spidey’s swing much faster in this game than in the original, making traversal across the city incredibly quick. More significant are new web wings, which let you glide between swings or after leaping off the environment, allowing you to zip from one end of the city to the other lickety-split.
Given their track record, it should come as no surprise that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is also a fantastic technical showcase for the PS5. Insomniac has leveraged the hardware in fantastic ways, especially the SSD and decompression module, for flawless level streaming, quick loading, and fast travel that is nearly instantaneous.
They’ve also upped the overall visual fidelity considerably, making Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 a new standard for the implementation of ray-tracing on consoles. From the stunning material usage on metal and windows, to the global illumination, to the traffic density of people and vehicles – Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is absolutely gorgeous. The ray-tracing – which is now standard in all modes – is miles ahead of the setting used in the next-gen remaster of the first game and Miles Morales. It goes without saying that quality mode gives you the best visual results and performance mode takes a light drop in the ray-tracing complexity to hit 60fps. And performance, regardless of which mode you use, feels rock solid. If there were any performance dips, I certainly didn’t notice it during general play.
Wrapping up, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is as nearly perfect a sequel as you could ask for. It offers another fantastic story, wonderful writing, and numerous bombastic set-pieces that’ll leave you breathless. Better still, it’s all wrapped up in an impressive layer of technology that showcases the power of the PS5 and what we want from next-gen gaming. It’s a brilliant and must-have addition to your PS5 gaming library.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a code provided to gameblur by the publisher.
Marvel's Spider-Man 2 (PS5) ReviewMarvel's Spider-Man 2 (PS5) Review
- Another great story
- Fantastic, faster combat
- Fun and spectacular traversal options
- The amazing technology powering the game
- The narrative is not quite as gut-punching as the first game