It’s always a challenge to create a worthy sequel that surpasses its predecessor, whether it aims to provide a new experience to the franchise or continue its familiar gameplay, it can make or break the game if it can’t meet the expectations of the fans. But it seems that the new Spider-Man game goes for the tried and proven gameplay from the first two games. Can Spider-Man 2 be a spectacular sequel to an amazing game? Let’s find out.
Spider-Man 2 takes place several months after the events from Spider-Man: Miles Morales with Peter and Miles continue their dual lives as Spider-Man while balancing their normal lives as they stop a massive attack by Sandman in New York. After the Sandman’s aftermath, a new villain named Kraven was revealed to be preparing a big hunt in the city, along with some other threats lurking. As you progress in the story, you get to see the struggles of both Peter and Miles in their lives as Spider-Man and how they can overcome them, and the performances of Yuri Lowenthal and Nadji Jeter reprising their roles as the two main protagonists help elevate the emotions and tensions of the said characters. In case you need some refresher on the events that happened from the first two games, there is a story recap at the start of the game to help you get in pace with the story.
Speaking of voice performance, the fun nitpick in the game is the voice chat banters with the Spider-Men and their supporting characters, whenever you reach an area with a sidequest, you’ll get dialogue from a character to brief in about the sidequest, and if you try to tackle a different sidequest, Peter or Miles will interrupt the character that they need to do something to halt their triggered dialogue, and if you try to return to the triggered sidequest again, Peter or Miles will tell the character the resume what they were trying to say, and the triggered dialogue that was interrupted will continue. It’s not that much of a breakthrough feature, but it was a nice method in having transition to certain missions in the game.
The game offers two different modes that are either optimized for better visuals or higher frame rate, and it is highly recommended to go for the Fidelity option if you are using a 4K UHD screen, otherwise you can opt for the Performance option for a steady 60 FPS experience, if you have a monitor that has 120HZ or above refresh rate, you can enable the 120HZ support setting for a smoother framerate, and despite the Performance mode having ray-tracing disabled, the game still looks great. Even after playing for several hours in both Fidelity and Performance mode, both handled the game well with no obvious signs of slowdowns or game crashes.
Music still offers some great tracks and familiar tunes that you would hear in any epic superhero film. Some licensed soundtracks from musicians such as EARTHGANG add some vibes to certain scenes.
If you are wondering about loading time, happy to say that there is zero loading time when loading your saved game or fast traveling to different locations, transitions from fast travels are instant as you immediately zip into action after moving to a new spot. Even loading your previous checkpoints will only take a 1 second or two to load up, and it’s a big help when trying to retry certain missions that you want to do a perfect run.
There were some occasional bugs that we encountered during our playthrough, from weird visual glitches of characters glowing during a night mission to enemy units getting stuck in invisible barriers or inside inaccessible structures that halts your mission progression which can be remedied by loading from the last checkpoint or restart the mission, which can be very annoying when it took you longer to progress in a mission.
The combat system in Spider-Man 2 retains most of the original with some improvements taken from the Miles Morales game. You still have the standard and web attacks that you can string into combos along with the web gadgets that are now allotted to four slots on your R1 shortcut that help in crowd control situations, you also have your Spider-sense tingling to avoid incoming attacks or evade them to land a powerful counterattack. The new addition to Spidey’s arsenal is the spider claws that can dish out massive damage to a single target or as an area of effect damage, Miles on the other hand, gets an upgrade for his electric venom attacks that range from chain lightnings to shockwave inducing stomps.
Just like in the previous games, combat is still smooth and easy to control, it only gets chaotic when there are different enemies that you must juggle during a fight. Some enemy types, such as brute types, may require a different approach as you can’t just do head-on attacks blindly, so it may take some time to get used to dealing with different enemies. You can perform stealth attacks to avoid alerting other enemies, from silent takedowns to webbing targets on perch to creating web ziplines to cross around areas, you can take out the entire floor of enemies without them noticing you. Boss battles are more intense, as there are several phases that you need to fight to beat these bosses. Some of them require some strategy, using the environment to take them down, or chasing them down around the city. These battles can be fun and exhausting with how intense the fights can be, and good thing each boss has a distinct style of attacks that makes them fun to battle against.
New to the sequel is the ability to switch between Peter Parker or Miles Morales throughout your playthrough, though both have similar move sets, certain abilities are unique to a specific Spider-Man. Aside from the two Spider-Men, there are other characters that you will be able to control as they play differently, such as MJ where you do stealth missions to avoid detections and perform stun attacks. The other characters are spoiler-heavy so we won’t be mentioning it here, but you’re in for a treat once you get to control them briefly.
You can enhance both Spider-Mans’ abilities through upgrades and unlocks as you progress further in the game, acquiring tokens and tech points can be done by accomplishing missions and sidequests that you will encounter around the city. The amount of points that you can earn is generous enough that you can power up your upgrades in early portions of the game, but still, enough balance that it locks the other upgrades until you reach the later parts of the main missions.
Traversing around New York is still satisfying thanks to web-swinging that you can zip around buildings with ease. There is also a web swing assist function that you can adjust the level if you want more control and challenge in swinging around the city. A new feature is the web glider that you can deploy to glide around to areas that may be difficult to swing at, there are also air tunnels scattered around the metro that you can use to speed up or increase your glide altitude. There are only some cases where gliding can be annoying when traversing in tight areas for specific missions, but it’s more on getting used to the controls at the start.
There are several mini-games throughout the game, and most of them are just quick puzzle-solving mechanics or special time attack stages where you need to accomplish objectives at a given time to earn more rewards. Most of these mini-games can be found in special missions that you will be able to encounter around New York.
The city that you can explore has doubled, it now includes Harlem from Miles Morales and now Queens which adds more areas that have distinct personalities that represent each district that captures the life in New York. As you progress further in the game, you will be unlocking sidequests that are easy to finish within minutes to chain quests that have their own character stories that require advancing through the main story to unlock the sidequest progression.
What’s good about the sidequests in Spider-Man 2 is that despite being an open-world game, it does not overwhelm you with a lot of side content at the start of the game, it only opens up a portion just to give you more time to get used to the gameplay before you decide to progress in the main story. And once you finish the initial batch of sidequests and make it halfway through the story, it will unlock more to help you cool off from the intensity of the story missions. Though the side content is completely optional, completing them will give out tokens and costume unlockable that are worth your time finishing, and they still give out experience points that you can use to unlock and upgrade more abilities.
Story missions are accessible by heading to the objective point, and depending on the mission, it can only be played by either Peter or Miles. The same goes for certain sidequests that are only exclusive to one Spider-Man. Some of the story missions can be longer like an hour to infiltrate a base to really short ones that just let you watch cutscenes, boss battles are properly paced and it doesn’t become exhausting to finish every story mission.
The fun part of the Spider-Man games is having different kinds of costumes, with Spider-Man 2, there are over 60 costumes that you can unlock and some that are only exclusive to a special edition release. It’s fun to see costumes from movies and comic books that you can wear throughout the game that sometimes have special filters or effects unique to them, but sadly some cutscenes will revert to the default costume which can be a bummer if you want to see them in key scenes.
The game also has a wide range of accessibility options that assist players who have visual and audio disabilities. It features screen reading and audio description options as well as an option to adjust frequency levels and even has a high-frequency filter to cut off any sound levels that are uncomfortable to certain players. It also has the option to adjust the game speed level for those who have difficulty adjusting to the current speed of the game.
There are also game enhancements that players can toggle if they feel the game is too easy or difficult. For those who aren’t into puzzle solving, there is an option to simplify the puzzles or skip them entirely, there are also parameters to adjust the health and damage of enemies or even aim assist options, and for web swinging, you can adjust the level of the swing assist if you want to have a certain level of challenge when swinging around the city.
Photo mode is available for the entire game you can place it as a shortcut in your control layout is mapped from the options settings. It allows different settings and poses for both Spideys that you can use for sharing on social media.
Despite retaining the familiar gameplay mechanics, Spider-Man 2 still packs a punch that is a worthy sequel. You are in for a wild ride if you are after the story and you will be able to see the character development of the two Spider-Men on how they overcome the challenges, not to mention the twists and surprises that await you that will keep you hooked in finishing the game. Seeing that Insomniac didn’t try to reinvent the gameplay for the sequel isn’t much of a surprise, as the core gameplay is already good from the start only some minor adjustments were needed. You’ll be able to finish the game in almost 20 hours if you focus on just the story, and perhaps around 30 hours if you want to clear all of the side content.
If you are in for a great Spider-Man game, this is it. If you love the first two Spider-Man games by Insomniac Games, this won’t disappoint you.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a 4.5 out of 5 game. This is available for the PlayStation 5.