Everyone knows who Spider-Man is. He’s been around for a long time and has the same popularity as that of Batman or Superman. In fact, Spider-Man is considered as the greatest superhero of all time. Not because of his heroic feats and his incredible powers, but because he’s simply an ordinary man trying to do extraordinary things. Everyone knows that he can quit at any moment, but he chooses not to because he has a responsibility to use his powers for good after the tragic death of his uncle, Ben Parker.
I’ve known Spider-Man since I was young. I grew up with the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies and watched the 90’s show. Even when the movies were rebooted and we got Andrew Garfield, I still went in and watched his Spider-Man movies, even though a lot people didn’t like it initially. And once again, I still went in and watched the Spider-Man movies that had Tom Holland in it, because Spider-Man has always been a character that I’ve resonated with.
Why do I love Spider-Man? Because he’s a hero that always does what’s right. He’s a hero that makes sacrifices that ensures that other people get to live their lives. He’s the type of hero that inspires people to do good, even if they don’t have spider powers. He’s the type of hero that anyone can be if they have the mask on. Because as Stan Lee said: Anyone can wear the mask. You can be Spider-Man, your friend can be Spider-Man, your pet dog can be Spider-Man (I am not joking, because Spider-Ham exists), and I can be Spider-Man. Anyone can be Spider-Man when they put on the mask.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is the third game in the franchise. Yes, the third. Because Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales exists. While an argument can be made that the Miles Morales game is a spin off (which it is), it is too important to the story of Miles Morales, who is the second protagonist in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Multiple points of the Miles Morales story are referenced in this game, so it is a sequel while also being a spin off.
But in the case of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, this is indeed a full fledged sequel. It features the return of Peter Parker and Miles Morales as the Spider-Men of Insomniac’s Marvel universe. In this game, they will face off against their greatest challenge: paying off a house mortgage and applying for a college and writing a college essay. Oh, and I guess Kraven and his Hunters, as well as a rampaging symbiote monster that goes by the name of Venom.
Not only will we experience a new story and a continuation of the Marvel’s Spider-Man franchise, but we will also get some new gameplay mechanics that will definitely rock your socks off. But first, let’s talk about the story. But before I do that, bear in mind that this review will be full of spoilers.
The “Spider-Man 2” of Spider-Man Video Games
When talking about the best Spider-Man movie with the best story, many people turn to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. In that movie, it features Peter Parker struggling to balance his normal life with his superhero alter ego, Spider-Man. In trying to uphold his responsibility as Spider-Man, Peter loses his job, his friends, and is also failing his classes in university. All because he tries to juggle two different aspects of his life at once.
In Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 (by Insomniac), Peter goes through the same thing. In fact, the prologue of the game shows Peter getting fired from his teacher job. On the first day! All because Flint Marko (Sandman) started attacking New York. And of course, Peter can’t just sit by and let Sandman destroy New York, not when the two Spider-Men are around. But of course, you can’t be in two places at once, which results in Peter losing his job on the first day. Just like how Tobey’s Peter gets fired from his pizza delivery job for being late again.
To make matters worse, Peter also has to pay the mortgage on aunt May’s house, which was given to him after her death in the first game. It seems like Peter just can’t seem to catch a break after life has been throwing curveballs at him. But luckily, things change for the better once his best friend, Harry Osborn, returns after a long time.
With the return of Harry Osborn, Peter focuses his attention on catching up with his best friend. Which is understandable. But in doing so, he neglects Miles. Not on purpose, mind you. After all, anyone would want to spend as much time with their long time best friend after being gone for so many years. But as Miles is a new Spider-Man, he tends to focus more on being Spider-Man than being Miles. While Peter wants to be Peter for a while instead of being Spider-Man.
Speaking of Miles, he is struggling to write a college essay. In this game, he is a Senior that is about to graduate from Brooklyn Visions Academy and he needs to write a good college essay to be accepted into ESU, the alma mater of Peter Parker. But he’s struggling to know what to write on his essay as he thinks that being Spider-Man is all he’s really good for. This creates an internal struggle within himself, one that intensifies when Martin Li escapes.
With Martin Li’s escape, Miles’ emotions begin to change. He becomes angry and vengeful, as Martin Li is the reason as to why Jefferson Davis, Miles’ father, is dead. With his emotions being erratic and his need for revenge overshadowing his responsibility as a Spider-Man, his Venom powers start going wild, evolving into a much bluer form that resembles that of thunder.
Both Peter and Miles struggle to do be Spider-Man and to be themselves, which reminded me of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, which a lot of people loved. It shows our heroes struggling to balance their normal identity and their superhero alter egos. It shows that Spider-Man, no matter who is wearing the mask, will experience consequences for the actions they choose.
I won’t talk too much about the story of the game, but I wanted you to understand why the story for this game is amazing. It’s something that has to be experienced by yourself.
Side Missions Are Emotional & They Set Up a Lot For the Future
It may be hard to believe, but side missions are actually fantastic in this game. Most games would have their side missions be fetch quests or trailing missions that serve no purpose other than just giving the player rewards for completing them. But Insomniac understands that Spider-Man just can’t have side missions like those. They need to implement the core concept of Spider-Man into these side missions, which is a man who wants to do good by the people he protects.
There are multiple side missions in the game that will tug at your heartstrings and show you the people of New York. We have side missions from Miles’ school, Brooklyn Visions Academy, that lets him help his fellow classmates in their troubles. Then there are the EMF side missions, which are missions for Peter to help heal the world and making it better without beating up bad guys.
But none of those side missions compare to the emotional rollercoaster that awaits you with Howard and Find Grandpa. These two side missions perfectly capture what it means to be Spider-Man. He’s not a cool superhero that dons different suits and fight bad guys (although he is), but he is a man of the people. There are so many comics that shows Spider-Man help people by simply being there for them. He doesn’t need to throw any punches to save lives. Sometimes, he saves lives by being there, and that’s something that Insomniac got right with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2’s side missions.
But on the other side of the side mission spectrum, we have side missions that set up big events in the next game. For example, we have The Flame missions, which all have something to do with someone who is creating a cult that has everything to do with fire. Their leader is not named anything but The Flame, but you will soon realize who he is once you find out his ultimate goal: to spread carnage all over the world.
If that’s not enough to jog your memory, then Wraith (who is Yuri Watanabe) mentions that The Flame went by several different aliases before he started a cult. One of those aliases is none other than Cletus Kasady, the infamous symbiote villain whose only goal is to cause as much chaos and carnage in the world as much as possible.
You may notice that the side missions in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 are very… lacking, in a sense. Not lacking because they are very mediocre, but lacking because there’s not a lot of them in the game. But is that bad? I personally don’t think it is. I prefer quality side missions more than mindless ones that don’t do anything but give you rewards. If I’m going to do side missions, I want to have fun with it, and that’s what happens when you play through the side missions.
Combat is More of the Same, But with Great Improvements
Moving past the story and side missions, let’s talk about the gameplay now. Starting with the combat, you will find that it’s more of the same, but there are some noticeable tweaks that certainly changes things. First of all, the gadgets have been streamlined to only 4 gadgets (5 if you count the webshooters). You have the Upshot, Web Grabber, Concussions Burst, and Ricochet Web. These are your only gadgets throughout the whole game that both Peter and Miles can use.
You also now have 4 abilities that can be used in the game. Peter has the Spider Arms and the Symbiote, while Miles has his Venom and Evolved abilities. When you unlock more abilities as you progress through the game, you will have the option to choose between the abilities you first start with or switch them out for new ones. In the case of Peter, you will switch between the Spider Arms and the Symbiote abilities, while Miles will switch between the Venom and Evolved abilities. You can mix and match the abilities to get the combination of powers you want.
In addition to new abilities and skills, Peter will have a “Rage Mode” or “Devil Trigger” called the Symbiote Surge. When activated, Peter will enter into a more powerful state of his symbiote suit that will decimate his foes. Not only is he invulnerable, but his attacks deal twice as much damage, both from your melee attacks and your abilities. This is especially useful when you are surrounded by so many enemies that will back you into a corner.
Other than that, combat is very much the same, which isn’t that bad. The Batman Arkham series had the same combat in different games, but only improved it until it was perfected in Batman: Arkham Knight. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is already very good, so adding new finisher animations and new abilities is the only way to go from there.
Boss Fights are Bigger & Better
Among the criticisms from the first game, many people have stated plenty of times before that the boss fights in the game felt too easy and small scale. Insomniac took that feedback and started making their boss fights more interesting and epic. In Miles Morales, the boss fights in that game were a significant improvement from the first game, but they still weren’t there yet, as the action still felt too small due to the limitations of the hardware of the PlayStation 4.
Insomniac recognized that they can’t get action set pieces with the PlayStation 4 holding them back, which is why Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a PlayStation 5 exclusive, which is the best decision they have ever made. With the power of the PlayStation 5, Insomniac managed to create amazing boss fights that truly felt like threats. Hell, the first boss fight is a Kaiju fight with Sandman! Destroying city blocks and buildings as Peter and Miles fought against Sandman.
Even the Lizard boss fight, which consists of having to chase him down half of New York before fighting him, is one giant boss fight that takes full advantage of the PlayStation 5. They really elevated the fun factor and the action for the boss fights in these games, and it’s amazing to see that more games are taking full advantage of the power of the consoles to help bring out the full potential of these boss fights. And don’t get me started on the final boss battle, because that one was a doozy.
Why Fast Travel When You Can Swing & Glide?
If you’re not an avid fan of Spider-Man’s older comics, then you may have missed out on the Web Wings. Back then, Spider-Man would traverse through the city with his webs and the Web Wings. Like in the game, Spider-Man would swing around and gather enough momentum before gliding across city blocks with the help of the Web Wings. It soon started to lose its popularity and many writers would often opt for just the web swinging, which left the Web Wings shelved.
But the Web Wings soon found popularity once again and many people were hoping to see the Web Wings sometime in the future. Little did they know that Insomniac has been cooking during development, trying to perfect the Web Wings to make it fast and fun, the two most important things you need when making traversal for a Spider-Man game.
With the Web Wings, you can glide around until you find something to use your web and swing around to. It’s also perfect for going from Manhattan to Brooklyn or Queens, thanks to the Wind Tunnels that increases the speed of your Web Wings.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the classic web swinging was neglected. In fact, the only thing people really complained about the web swinging was that it was too slow for Spider-Man. Well you won’t have to worry about that anymore. Because thanks to the PlayStation 5’s SSD, traversal speed for both web swinging and gliding has been increased tenfold, allowing both Spider-Men to zoom around the city at an incredibly fast speed.
It really is thanks to the PlayStation 5 that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 was able to reach its full potential.
If there’s one thing that a lot of people loved about the Spider-Man games, it’s the suits. Spider-Man has a history of using different suits for different situations and different universes. In fact, Insomniac’s Spider-Man has a white spider for his logo, as opposed to the classic black spider that almost all iterations of Spider-Man use. Each Spider-Men is different than the last, which allows a plethora of suits to be worn in this new game.
There are a lot of suits, both original and from the comics and movies, that you can choose from for both Peter and Miles. Many will find familiar Spider-Man suits like the Spider-Man 2099 suit, the Scarlet Spider suit, the Classic Spider-Man suit, and even movie suits like Tom Holland’s Spider-Man suit from Spider-Man: Homecoming, Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man suits from both movies, and even the OG himself, Tobey Maguire Spider-Man suit from the Raimi movies.
Miles also has a lot of Spider-Man suits to choose from, like the 10th Anniversary Suit, The End Suit, his own 2099 Suit, and even a few original suits like the Advanced Tech Suit, the Purple Reign Suit, and my all time favorite, the T.R.A.C.K. Suit. There are so many suits to choose from, but you will find out that that’s not all you can get.
Some suits in the game have different Suit Styles to choose from. Suit Styles are essentially recolors of the suits that are unlocked in the game. You will have 3 other Suit Styles to choose from, while the first one is always the original Suit Style. This allows players to customize their Spider-Man suits to the way they want it to be. If you want the Advanced Suit 2.0 to sport Flipside colors, then you can do that by selecting the Suit Style.
Take note that not all of the suits will have Suit Style’s, most notably the movie suits and some story suits like the Black Suit.
The Black Suit is Perfect, But I Have One Issue with It…
The Black Suit is perfect. Don’t get me wrong, it makes Spider-Man look menacing and it even makes him a jerk after he has it on for too long. But I do have one issue with it that a lot of other people share the same sentiments. If you have played Spider-Man: Web of Shadows or the Spider-Man 3 movie tie-in game, you will remember that there is a button that allows Peter to manifest the Black suit on or off at will. It was a great feature that I was really hoping would make a comeback in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.
It unfortunately did not. The Black Suit in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 cannot be removed by simply pressing a button like Web of Shadows did. Once you have the Black Suit, you can take it off by going to the Suit menu and selecting another suit. Is it a tiny nitpick? No doubt. But the ability to transform between the normal Spider-Man suit and the Black Suit with the press of a button was something I was hoping you can do in this game.
A lot of fans even made concepts of switching from the Spider-Man suit to the Black Suit and showing it to Insomniac, hoping they will add a feature like that. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and it sucks because I feel like it’s something Insomniac can easily do. They’ve done a lot of good things in this game, but a button that allows Peter to seamlessly switch to the Black Suit isn’t in the game? Again, tiny nitpick. It doesn’t destroy the fun I had with the game. But I do wish it was there.
My Final Rating & Recommendation
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Review
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is Amazing, Fantastic, Sensational, Superior and other adjectives you use to describe Spider-Man. It is everything Marvel and Spider-Man fans want from Insomniac’s latest installment to the Marvel’s Spider-Man series. It is a perfect 5/5 for me, and I recommend this game to anyone that can afford to get a PlayStation 5 and the game.