Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 spoiler review: Does the game live up to the hype?

Marvel's Spider-Man. Image courtesy Sony Interactive Entertainment, PlayStation, and Insomniac Games
Marvel's Spider-Man. Image courtesy Sony Interactive Entertainment, PlayStation, and Insomniac Games /

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is finally here! But did PlayStation deliver an experience that was worth the five-year wait?

Insomniac Games is back in full swing! After delivering two amazing projects with Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4 and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, it was time for the third entry in its epic arachnid saga.

With the launch of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 also came significant changes to established features in previous wall-crawler games. The combat system was reworked, a new form of traversal was added, the map size was increased and, of course, a new (darker) story was created for players to experience. But, was that enough to make Peter’s and Miles’ latest adventure soar higher than other superhero video games? Or did Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 fail to stick the landing?

To give a conclusive answer, we’ll dissect the game on five core elements: traversal, main story, side content, combat, and technical quality. For each one of those aspects, we’ll talk about the good, the bad, and the excellent, wrapping things up with a total score out of 10. Ready? Great, because we have plenty to talk about. But before we get going, consider this a pretty official warning: this review will contain spoilers for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.

Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2
Marvel’s Spider-Man. Image courtesy Sony Interactive Entertainment, PlayStation, and Insomniac Games /

Traversal: Improving on perfection

At this point, it’s become a meme to say” X videogame is great because it really makes you feel like Y character”, right? Batman: Arkham Asylum is guilty of popularizing said phrase which may be overused… yet, it is the perfect way to describe what Marvel’s Spider-Man achieved when it launched back in 2018. The swinging mechanics made players feel as if they were in Peter’s shoes (or web-shooters?) when traversing the city of New York. So how could Insomniac improve on what already felt like a perfect system? With web-wings. Of course.

Prior to Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 release, I was worried the web-wings would feel too much like using Batman’s cape in Rocksteady’s Arkham saga. However, thanks to the introduction of wind tunnels and the lightning-fast speed of the PS5, Miles and Peter are closer to flying than slowly gliding like the Dark Knight. This new feature comes in pretty handy when exploring the new boroughs of New York that don’t have tall skyscrapers in which Spidey can perch his webs.

Does that mean traditional swinging has now become obsolete? Absolutely not. While I didn’t find myself needing to use the R2 button to launch webs as much as before, Spider-Man 2 balances the use of this newest mechanic with the traversal system that was introduced in prior games. You can’t indefinitely glide for as long as you want. Players will need to perfectly combine swinging (which can be used to gain speed) and using the web wings (that are perfect to gain altitude). That makes going from point A to point B more entertaining than just mindlessly spamming the R2 button to swing and press the square button to do an occasional trick mid-air.

Best of all, even the web-slinging itself had minor improvements. Players can now swing two times faster than what was possible before, new animations were added when Spidey performs a mid-air trick, and both Miles and Peter can now perform a loop or do a sudden change of directions by pressing the circle button. These little changes make big differences, and it’s all for the better.

Even if the original game had the greatest swinging mechanics to date back when it was released, Insomniac’s latest title makes it seem like child’s-play compared to what both the wall-crawlers can do now.

Traversal score: 10 / 10

Story: An epic tale with an abrupt ending

Let’s dive into a part of the game that’s a little divisive: its main story.

Much like Spider-Man, two main antagonists threaten the city of New York on Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. This time around, the spotlight shines on Kraven, a terrifying menace who’ll kill anyone in his search for a worthy opponent and a man who spends a lot of time hunting heroes and villains alike… Oh, and there’s also Venom.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Venom itself is great. He’s huge, violent, and has a personal connection/bond to Peter Parker. He succeeds where both big-screen adaptations of the character failed. However, when he finally entered the scene, I had already completed 80% of the game (literally).

In both Spider-Man: Web of Shadows and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Venom has the objective to take over the city and spread the symbiote. However, while Web of Shadows spent its entire run building towards that goal, Spider-Man 2 did it in just 20% of its time. The game has a lot of things going on, with two protagonists, two main villains, many secondary characters, and a lot of side content. Yet, its length was similar to its predecessor, so things do feel a little rushed here and there.

When the story focuses on Kraven, the game reaches an unprecedented high that’s filled with many set pieces worthy of being in a blockbuster movie. However, when the story shifts its direction and sets Venom as the main villain, everything unfolds so quickly that the player barely has time to enjoy it. That’s not to say the third act of the game is bad by any means, but it definitely could’ve been stronger if it had more time for development.

Lastly, it was also a shame that one of Miles’ main conflicts (which consisted of him being unable to write his college essay) was resolved in a post-credits scene. Speaking of which, the game also failed to mention whether he went to the interview to study in a music college or not. The only thing in his story that was properly (and flawlessly) solved was his conflict with the man who killed his father.

Aside from those minor negative details, the story in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 was nothing short of epic. It dealt with the ramifications of its predecessor really well while tackling new themes such as the addiction that results from using the symbiote. It’s a shame the game’s narrative didn’t go a little longer to be perfect.

Story score: 8 / 10

Side content: We’re getting there

Side content and secondary missions were one of the few aspects where Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4 failed to impress. Fortunately, Insomniac took notice of that and heavily improved things for its long-awaited sequel. Gone are the days of having to activate towers to reveal parts of the map and having to complete cheesy tasks for Screwball (seriously, she was the worst).

Instead, now most side missions have more thought put behind them and feel rewarding for players to complete. They can deliver some of the game’s most touching moments (like Howard’s mission) or make Spidey face famous supervillains like Mysterio in an epic showdown. And let’s not forget that the best easter eggs Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 has to offer are hidden in side content as well. Better yet, most secondary missions are revealed by traversing through the map, inciting exploration (even if slightly).

Granted, there are certain types of annoying missions that superhero games can’t seem to escape (like random crimes happening out of nowhere). However, they are extra annoying here. Players can’t spend more than 30 seconds traversing the city without a random crime occurring next to them and it’s definitely tiresome. Especially when you are listening to an interesting segment of J.J. Jameson’s or Danicas’ podcasts (or you are in the middle of a call) and you accidentally trigger the crime that’s one block away from you, cutting the conversation.

Lastly, while secondary missions did see an improvement, we can’t deny most of them are a variation of the ones used in the first games. Taking down criminal bases is still here, the swinging obstacle courses are replaced with gliding obstacle courses, and research stations are substituted with EMF experiments. It wouldn’t hurt if, for a possible third game, there’s more variety in this aspect of the game.

Side content score: 7.5 / 10

Combat: An explosive improvement

While swinging mechanics were so good they didn’t need to be reworked at all, the same cannot be said for combat. Now, don’t get me wrong, beating the bad guys in Spider-Man and Miles Morales already felt great, and yet it’s here where Insomniac made some of the game’s greatest and most noticeable improvements.

Instead of having a gadget wheel that (literally and figuratively) slows the combat down, four Spider-Man abilities and four gadgets are assigned to either R1 or L1 plus pressing either triangle, square, circle, or X button. That small rework makes fights feel responsive and fast-paced at all times.

Besides, adding the ability to parry attacks also allows for more variety, which is always welcome. Whenever Spidery’s Spider-Sense shines red, you know an attack can’t be dodged and, instead, needs to be parried. The only downside is that it takes a little bit of time to get used to knowing how to react to which color. However, once you get past this little barrier, you’re in for an incredible time.

Combat score: 9.5 / 10

Technical quality: Are spiders bugs?

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is truly a technical marvel (for the most part, at least). Fast travel occurs in an instant, and there are next to no loading screens throughout the entirety of the game, and both Spider-Men are able to travel at insane speeds through the city (clearly taking advantage of the PS5’s SSD). Besides, the game looks insanely gorgeous, and it’s such a leap for an open-world game this big to have ray tracing present in all graphical modes.

However, where it truly shines is in its execution of big set-pieces. Whereas having Spidey fight a giant version of the Sandman would’ve been impossible on the PS4, that’s exactly how the game kicks things off this time around. Besides, that Lizard segment (which was showcased in the gameplay reveal) is nothing short of epic as well. Every action sequence we’ve seen the wall-crawler be a part of on the big screen was easily surpassed by what Insomniac delivered with this game. Not only does that make us excited for an (inevitable) third entry in Insomniac’s Spider-Man saga, but for Marvel’s Wolverine as well.

Finally, while Peter is sure to remind everyone spiders are arachnids and not bugs, it didn’t feel that way when playing Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Now, just to make things clear, I played the game for prolonged periods of time without giving it a break, so maybe that’s why I encountered many bugs. Some people online have stated they didn’t have any problem in this regard, so maybe most of the things I’ll talk about only apply to a small percentage of players. But with that being said…

The game crashed on me twice, and it was surprising the amount of times villains just clipped out of bounds. I had to restart many missions where I had to defeat every bad guy present in a room and one of them got transported underneath the map or behind a closed wall, making it impossible to beat. Even Spidey went inside of a building after being run over by a car, and let me tell you: the game wasn’t supposed to allow that. However, one of the greatest (and funniest) bugs I came across was when the game just turned the wall-crawler into a white cube after changing suits.

Bugs will eventually be patched, and the game will play without any problems. However, until that happens, we have to take some points off from its technical quality.

Technical quality score: 8 / 10

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is an amazing game. It has some negative aspects like its (arguably) rushed ending and a few bugs that that take you out of the fantasy of being Spider-Man. However, if you look past these details, you’ll be in for an amazing experience that has jaw-dropping action sequences, a perfect traversal system, improved combat in comparison to previous games, and a fantastic portrayal of both Kraven and Venom as the game’s main villains (even if the latter didn’t have enough time to shine).

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 overall score: 8.6 / 10

Did you enjoy playing Insomniac’s latest title? What do you think could’ve been improved? Let us know on our social media pages and be sure to follow Bam! Smack! Pow! for everything superhero-related!

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