Can both Peter Parker and Miles Morales truly Be Greater Together, or is NYC not big enough for the two of them? Find out in our Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 review!
Spider-Men? Two Spider-Mans? Nope, at long last, it’s finally time for Spider-Man 2. Sony took a big risk putting Insomniac Games on development duty for one of the largest media franchise’s biggest games to date in 2018, but Marvel’s Spider-Man was a smash hit on PS4. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales served as a stellar PS5 launch title as well, showcasing the console’s speedy load times and controller haptics, and furthered the ongoing story despite its smaller runtime.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is as much about Peter Parker as it is Miles Morales – it’s astounding that both share the spotlight so evenly.
Sony’s track record for triple-A sequels is as rock-solid as can be in recent years. The thrills and reverence of God of War: Ragnarok and Horizon: Forbidden West were an absolute joy, so the bar is painstakingly-high for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 to meet that level of quality and polish.
Insomniac Games has been busy; after having delivered Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart and also working on Marvel’s Wolverine, does their latest game stick the landing, or has it run out of web? Swing into our Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 review!
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Review – Open World
Marvel’s Spider-Man took place in New York City, but Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales took place in Brooklyn. The logical idea would be to combine the two, and that’s exactly what happened for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Swinging across both sides feels spacious, but never overbearing as open worlds can tend to be.
The breadth of activities and collectibles is enough to make completionists want to stop what they’re doing and hunt, but stay marked on the map for those who want to power through the story and do the rest later.
Yes, you can ride the rollercoaster in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. But with no first-person mode, it’s a fraction as exciting as swinging about NYC.
The load times are no joke for fast travel – in less than two seconds, you can reach any point of the map in a completely seamless transition. I experienced this SSD power in Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut, but this is even faster and even throws in a swinging animation to boot. We are so far removed from the two-minute Skyrim fast-travel load times that it’s a miracle. Even though this feature is so impressive, I only used it maybe a dozen times. Why? The web-swinging is so damn good.
Web-swingers rejoice – moving around is a constant delight in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 as you can traverse faster than ever.
As someone that grew up with 2004’s Spider Man 2 from Treyarch and just swung around fighting crime for hours on end, I got more than a glimmer of that in my eye playing Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. There’s so many citywide activities to engage in, and while they may feel tedious, the payoff at the end typically warms the heart and rewards you with a flashy new suit.
I spent almost as much time exploring as I did zoning in to the main story of the game, and that’s a testament to Marvel’s Spider-Man 2‘s open-world design.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Review – Upgrades/Suits
A marked favorite collectible in previous titles, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 didn’t skimp on the amount of suits provided. In fact, every time you level up, you can head to the suit menu and see a new one for either Peter or Miles.
Being a Sony property, you can find suits from all of the movies from the past 20+ years, as well as obscure, wide-reaching ones from several comic runs. Tack on the fact that you can color-swap the majority of suits, and that means there’s more than 100 possible looks you can show off throughout the game (save for some cutscenes where a suit is forced).
You can give Pete and Miles a new look at tons of junctures in the game – but Pete’s sporting more than just a fresh suit once he gets the symbiote.
Past the suits, you’ll consistently be learning new tricks in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Miles gets new powers when he needs them most, whereas Peter finds new ways to be a better Spider-Man as the symbiote chooses him as a host.
There are three skill trees: one for Peter, another for Miles, and one where both get the upgrades. Keeping these trees small is actually a benefit, as I saw myself actively using each new skill on a regular basis, such as yanking a weapon back at a baddie or creating an area-of-effect in skills that were previously single-target.
As the stakes get higher and higher, you’ll get stronger and stronger in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2’s upgrade system – up to it feeling like a power trip.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 doesn’t stop there – you can also unlock better health, damage, traversal, and more in the suit upgrade system as well. Gadgets warrant their own upgrade path, too – there’s no shortage of stuff to get better with. With all of these utilizing tech parts, suit tokens, city tokens, and more, it encourages players to engage with the magnificent side content.
Thankfully, you can really feel a difference gradually unlocking these bonuses – the damage boosts saved my skin more than once in the game’s challenging boss fights. With level-ups happening every 10-20 minutes, you’ll be rewarded on a regular basis and reap those rewards as the game’s difficulty increases.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Review – Gameplay
The bread and butter of a strong superhero game is its gameplay and story. The former was already high point in Marvel’s Spider-Man and Miles Morales, and gameplay trailers for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 had me chomping at the bit to get my hands on the game. It’s a relief to confirm that Insomniac Games has done it again – it’s a never-ending blast to play Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 as I could hardly put it down from start to finish.
The grandiose, larger-than-life battles in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 are unrelenting, jaw-dropping, and as satisfying can be.
There are a ton of different enemies to take on in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and they do all they can to keep you on your toes. This game introduces a parry mechanic that lets you turn the tides of tense situations and capitalize. You’ll need to learn this, as some enemy attacks cannot be dodged.
Likewise, some attacks cannot be parried and warrant a dodge. Each attack brings a different color cue above the enemy’s head and you’ll have to figure out the best course of action in a split-second to avoid tons of damage.
Boss battles are no joke in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2; if you don’t utilize every nook and cranny in your arsenal, you might not make it out alive.
The difficulty in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is so adaptive that any player can make it feel just right for an enjoyable experience. This is thanks to outstanding accessibility options that open the game up to anyone that wants to take it on. These include adjustable reaction windows, color/audio cues, UI customization, and much more – a bang-up job from Insomniac on this front.
I played start to finish on the default “Amazing” difficulty and didn’t feel too stretched thin as mistakes were appropriately punished and there was enough opportunity to recover , with the toughest learning curve being the unblockable/need-to-parry incoming attacks. I did have to adjust the parry timing, though, as it started feeling like I was missing just a fraction of a second of window to react – aside from that, this is a well-thought-out difficulty for the masses.
You can instantly switch between Peter and Miles in free roam, but some side missions require one or the other to complete.
Differentiating my time with both Peter and Miles in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 was never a hassle; I enjoyed playing each at the same amount of confidence, with some personal favoritism towards Miles as I’m a bigger fan of him. Move-sets are switched up for the two, but functionally are identical – Pete has a more hands-on brawler approach, whereas Miles uses kicks and momentum in his attacks. Players shouldn’t feel an “aw, I have to play as THIS Spider-Man now” effect as the experience is just as fun across each webslinger.
For better and worse, the MJ stealth sections are back in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Luckily, they aren’t as jarring as they were in the previous game.
For the sake of including everyone in on the hero-ing, there are multiple stealth segments where the player must control MJ Watson in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. These were a notable low point for the majority of players of the first game, but even though they stall the pace of the plot again, they’re a marked improvement upon the previous iteration as I never failed a single time.
Thanks to removing instant-game-overs and smoother movement, it really isn’t worth nitpicking. Variety isn’t always the spice of life in games like these, but if this is the worst this game has to offer, it’s a godsend.
There’s still some Spidey stealth in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, but not nearly as much as the previous titles.
There’s a few times you’ll have to sneak around and pick off enemies as Spider-Men instead of fighting head on in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 – but it isn’t as prevalent as it used to be. The addition of web lines that you can shoot at your desired angle is one of my favorite new mechanics – you can even add lines to existing lines to really get an edge in these moments. With patrolling birds warranting your early attention, the stealth sections might slow things down, but truly engage the player and use a different side of their brain from combat.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Review – Graphics/Performance
Now that the PlayStation 5 has had some years for developers to figure out how to optimize their titles, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is positively flourishing as a result. Apart from the instant load times, the game has a 120fps option for compatible displays – just my luck, as I could make use of this buttery-smooth refresh rate.
From start to finish, I saw maybe one or two particle effects that weren’t synced to this framerate – it was a blast going at mach speeds through New York City without a single dropped frame.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a satiating sight on quality mode, and still a looker in performance mode with nary a frame drop.
There is no PlayStation 4 version of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and that’s simply because it could never be handled without a solid-state drive and some serious graphics power. The DualSense controller gets plenty of usage in this game, too – some quick-time events warrant you to hold down the trigger with certain forces.
The haptic feedback tracks every footstep/punch taken/zap felt, and the controller’s speaker is harmonious and high-quality to cue a Daily Bugle podcast or a phone ringing. This is a console exclusive that could very well warrant the upgrade.
Lighting, effects, stability – Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 just about has it all.
I’ve suffered through a lot of AAA day-one nightmares in my time, so it’s cathartic that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 has just about no issues to report. The only bug I saw on screen most of the time was of the friendly-neighborhood variety.
There were some visual mishaps when I was looking around rooftops and trying to interact with NPCs on the ground, but nothing glaring and nothing to ruin my experience in the main game or any side mission. It’s a welcome change to see a developer polish a title so well that it doesn’t necessitate a long update before you can boot up the game.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Review – Story
The main story beats for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 were hinted at or revealed in trailers and footage ahead of release. But there is so much depth and spots in-between-the-lines from these previews that make this game one for the ages. Starting off almost a year after the events of Marvel’s Spider Man: Miles Morales, the younger Spider-Man has had time to hone his skills, whereas the elder has dedicated his life to vigilante justice much to his detriment, as usual.
Kraven is one of Spider-Man’s oldest foes, but Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 truly showcases his gritty, sadistic nature as one of the main foes.
There’s ample carryover within Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 from the previous titles – not just in character development, but with how New York perceives the Spider-Men, how romance plays a part in each of their lives, and how the work-life balance is never in flux.
With Harry Osborn being a main character instead of just a reference and a string of side-missions in Marvel’s Spider-Man and Miles confronting his father’s killer in Mister Negative’s return, there’s ample nuance and more than a few heartstrings pulled before all is said and done. Peter’s quirky one-liner dialogue could use some workshopping as I cringed way more than cheered for that Spider-Man, but Miles is as cool and confident as any previous iteration of him has been.
The symbiote – and whom it chooses to host and manipulate – is a focal point in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, told much more effectively than it was in the Spider Man 3 film.
The climax of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is so downright ridiculous in its scope and scale that my gut reaction was to pause the game and collect myself. It’s one of those ultra-rare moments in gaming where I will never forget how it made me feel.
There’s no way I could put into words how monumental of a scene it is, so I’ll let the game do the talking if you can avoid it being spoiled to you before you can pick it up. When all is said and done, the story wraps up with the regular wholesome ending and enough cliffhangers to warrant a third mainline title, even if it’s half a decade away.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Review – Sound
The sound design in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is on-par with the rest of the game’s high budget. I love that the background music during free roam switches from a triumphant, gallant orchestra as Peter, to a hip-hop/trap beat spectacle as Miles. The main theme gets a lot of mileage as it’s sampled many times, but it still delivers some goosebumps in an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach.
There was a note of licensed music being utilized for streamer mode, but I didn’t happen to catch it at any point in my playthrough. The coolest part of the soundtrack is that during boss battles, some songs get more and more emphatic and urgent to coincide with the added difficulty of the second and third phases of these fights.
Sound cues come in clutch during Marvel’s Spider-Man 2; a certain ring plays when an unblockable attack comes to warn the player, whereas a “ring ring” plays when a call is coming in or going out to immediately tell the player dialogue is about to start.
Once again, the Spider-Men recorded two sets of dialogue for these conversations; one where they’re collected whilst standing still, and another more winded delivery when web-swinging. With dozens of minutes of this dialogue doubled, Yuri Lowenthal and Nadji Jeter deserve the world (I have no idea how the former can sound half his age so well).
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Review – Conclusion
I’ve been a colossal Spider-Man fan for 20+ years now, and I can confidently say that from all of the games I’ve played, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 evoked all of the warm, fuzzy feelings that Spider Man 2 gave me almost 2 decades ago. The web-swinging is supreme, the fights are an absolute joy, the presentation is superb, and it all culminates in a video game that I sunk an entire three days into and never wanted to take a break from. It’s the exclusive the PlayStation 5 needed and may stay that way for years to come before an eventual PC port which is years off.
This is your sign to Be Greater Together.
The last time I played a superhero game this amazing was Batman: Arkham City. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 will stay in the conversation of best superhero video games ever, even if a few minor hiccups mar it from perfection. It’s seeming that Sony just cannot miss with their AAA releases as of late and that’s a trend I hope continues for ages to come. For now, I’m going to happily Platinum trophy this game and enjoy every swing along the way.
So, why should you play Marvel’s Spider-Man 2?
- Gripping, visceral combat that everyone can find a serious challenge in/enjoy
- A heartfelt, gut-wrenching story on-par with any Spider-Man movie
- Tons of side content worth seeing to its end, plus fun collectibles that celebrate Spider-Man’s history
But why shouldn’t you play Marvel’s Spider-Man 2?
- The price of the game doesn’t align with your view of its runtime, despite the high quality
- You don’t feel like doing a bunch of open-world tasks several times
A review code was provided by PlayStation Australia for the purpose of our Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out our Spider-Man: Miles Morales review and join the Qualbert Discord to chat with the author about the latest spidey game!