Release Date: October 20, 2023
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Series: Marvel's Spider-Man
Platform: PlayStation 5
"Review Copy Provided By PlayStation"
The Superhero Game to Beat, Two Spiders, One Heartbeat! Forget multiverse hijinks, Insomniac's latest delivers heart and soul.
Gaming's seen its fair share of Spider-Man titles. Between some shining moments, many just missed the mark. It's not about glitzy powers or a colorful list of villains. It's the soul behind the mask – everyone's soul. This was the magic of 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man, and it's why I'm crowning 2023’s PS5 exclusive, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, as the zenith of Spidey tales. Yup, I said it. Kudos to Insomniac Games! This gem wraps you in the true Spider-Man essence: the high-flying heroics, life's daily drama, and the big heart binding them. It surpasses most games and, dare I say, even outdoes some films and contemporary comics.
The story resumes post the 2018 adventure and its 2020 successor, Spider-Man: Miles Morales. We witness Peter Parker and Miles Morales, two spiders from different webs, uniting against NYC's criminal underbelly. The weight of personal loss bears down on both – Peter grieving Aunt May and Miles mourning his father and childhood pal, Phin. Their evolving bond forms the game's core, driving both its mechanics and its rich storyline, setting it apart from run-of-the-mill narratives.
Players flit between both Spideys, seamlessly switching and following their shared and solo journeys. Peter is the seasoned mentor, standing tall in a role that movies and comics have often denied him. With a thriving relationship with Mary Jane Watson, budding Daily Bugle reporter, Peter's life is relatively settled... for the moment. As for Miles, he's emerging strong from his tragedies. Gearing up for college and growing into his Spider-role, life's looking up. Well, until a deadly hunter, Kraven, and a mysterious symbiote shake things up. For Spidey aficionados, you know where this is headed. The brilliance of Insomniac shines here. Drawing from tales we've seen countless times in comics, TV, and movies, they refreshingly blend, twist, and retell stories, making them feel entirely new. With equal focus on Peter and Miles, players bask in both epic drama and everyday heroism, without the strain of a prolonged, single-character narrative.
Game mechanics-wise, it's pretty familiar territory. Combat's dynamic, flowing smoothly from the 2018 predecessor, reminiscent of Rocksteady’s Arkham trilogy. The beauty? The dance between the two Spider-Men. Swing between them using an in-game app, sometimes aided by AI sidekicks. Early on, electrifying Miles overshadows Peter. But as the story unfolds, the tables turn.
Engage in exhilarating hand-to-hand combat, deploying webbing and dodges, harnessing their unique powers, and tech gadgets. Though largely reflective of past titles, the fusion of both Spideys adds a fresh spin. But don't expect much innovation. Like other sequels, including God of War: Ragnarök and Horizon: Forbidden West, the focus is refinement. Stealth, while an option, feels redundant for a character like Spider-Man. I often ditched it to dive straight into action. Thankfully, Insomniac sensed this, minimizing forced stealth moments. And addressing the Mary Jane segments of the 2018 game? Huge improvement. Armed with a stun gun, her parts feel less like a chore and more like a joy, especially with the engaging shooting elements.
Swinging around the city is pure adrenaline. The expanded map, though it introduces questionable borough renditions like “Downtown Queens,” is a thrill to explore. Fast-travel, thanks to the PS5's SSD, is lightning quick. The visuals? Breathtaking. 4K resolution with real-time raytracing is a feast for the eyes. Those with a VRR-enabled screen? Prepare for a gaming spectacle.
Beyond the tech allure, the game's heart is its attention to detail. Embracing Stan Lee's wisdom, it's about being Spider-Man. While Peter's parts advance the grand tale, Miles’ sections are pure gold. From helping a high school couple prepare for homecoming to tracing Harlem's musical legacy, his story brims with inclusivity and authenticity. It's a touching reminder that this world, for all its grandeur, is filled with real people, real stories, worth every fight.
In essence, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 rises above many solo gaming experiences and other Spider-Man renditions. It's a testament that, amidst a multi-verse craze, grounded, relatable tales still hold sway. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 skillfully spins a web of moving, relatable stories. After all, Spider-Man can be anyone. Even you.