Marvel's Spider-Man 2 Review

I feel a cravin' coming

By Paul Hunter

There are no shortage of memes depicting Insomniac Games carrying the PlayStation brand this gen and while funny, it's not off the mark considering they've already released two new games (Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart), plus a remastered version of the original Spider-Man. And now comes along their fourth PS5 title, Marvel's Spider-Man 2, all within a three year span. Just wow.

Even more impressive is the high quality Insomniac has hit with their PS5 releases, including the new Spider-Man 2 which I can confidently say is the studio's best work yet and moreover, is the best superhero video game I've ever played. While I don't know how Insomniac can pump out so many amazing titles in such a short time, as a fan of their work it's certainly been an incredible last few years. Let's swing on into New York and get this review underway, here are four things I liked about Spider-Man 2...and one I didn't.

A small word of caution: This review will avoid big spoilers, particularly story-related ones, but it will discuss gameplay, the open world and other elements. If you prefer going into the experience without any knowing much about it, you might want to hold off reading this review until after you've played some of the game!

Liked: Best Superhero Story Ever

Insomniac's previous Spider-Man games have all had great stories, but this latest game is far and away their best effort yet. Spider-Man 2 tells one of the all-time greatest superhero stories I've ever seen with plenty of high-tension action moments that have to be seen to believed, combined with a plethora of heartfelt everyday life scenes with Peter, Miles, MJ and Harry that offer rich character development. The story really does have it all. Whether you want to laugh at Peter's silly one-liners, witness the awkward-yet-cute coming of age for Miles, feel the fear and intensity of Kraven the Hunter, join Harry in his mission to cure himself, or see MJ grow as a journalist, this game has everything a Spider-Man fan could want. Did I mention there's also a certain alien symbiote that impacts the story is so many intriguing ways? This version of Venom is his best incarnation yet, and the slow-burn progression towards his city-wide rampage is a masterful piece of writing.

What really makes the story so fantastic though is how the main characters start off in a relatively good spot but all eventually going through one tough struggle or another, and you can really see the toll this weighs on them. Whether it's their tone of voice getting more intense as the hours go by or their body movements reflecting the mental and physical stress, the voice work and acting in this game is nothing short of sublime.

But it's not just Spider-Man 2's main story that's awesome, it's all the little moments too. As you swing around the city of New York, now twice the size of the previous games, the characters' frequently call each other and their banter is always a joy to listen to. From spying in on Peter and MJ's relationship woes to hearing Miles's mom concern for her son's new dangerous line of work, the delightful and sometimes silly conversations they have bring such life to the overall experience. And yes, angry J. Jonah Jamieson's radio podcast is back, along with a second new podcast with a fun new host.

Liked: Takes Full Advantage of the PS5's Power

Spider-Man 2 is a technical marvel and Insomniac have proven yet again that they have full mastery over the PS5 hardware. The most stunning tech showcase is how you can go to your map and drop a pin anywhere within NYC and you'll instantly 'fly' right into the map using Spidey's new web wings. The whole process takes mere seconds to play out and it feels just as next-gen as the instantaneous world jumping seen in Rift Apart.

Speaking of the web wings, it's thrilling to soar high above the skyscrapers and travel through New York boroughs at such fast speed. To help you maintain momentum over long stretches you can ride through wind tunnels rings that boost your speed and feels straight out of Sonic the Hedgehog.

The city density has been vastly improved as well, with New York now being jam packed with citizens walking the streets and dozens of cars on the road at any given time. The whole city seems mich more alive this time around thanks to the extra processing power of the PS5, so Insomniac choosing this game to be PS5 only and not cross-gen was a good choice.

The game also uses the PS5 DualSense controller to full effect with every punch, slam and web shot rattling the controller in unique and immersive ways. Virtually every attack, action or movement is reflected in the haptics to keep you absorbed in the moment.

What's also impressive is there's virtually no loading no matter what you're currently doing. You can jump right into an enemy base for a big beat down showdown, then immediately hop into side missions that take you to new areas all without load screens in between. You can even switch between the Spider-Men almost whenever you choose and the transition not only looks cool but only takes a second, too. If you're looking for a game to impress the family or relative this holiday, Spider-Man 2 is the one.

Liked: Best Bosses Yet

Spider-Man 2 focuses on Kraven the Hunter and Venom, two of Spider-Man's top villains from the comics and movies. The versions of these sinister characters featured in Spider-Man 2 might just be their best incarnations yet.

Kraven is depicted as ultra-powerful as he hunts down his 'prey' in New York and searches for someone who can match his strength. Jim Pirri does an incredible job voice acting Kraven, so much so that I now view the villain as on par with the Spider-Man greats like Doc Ock and Green Goblin.

Tony Todd also puts in a legendary performance as Venom, perfectly capturing the raw intensity of Spider-Man's symbiote alien adversary. Venom's reveal is a slow burn but it pays off in a huge way once the villain emerges and wreaks havoc across New York. Some of the best cutscenes in Spider-Man history are in this game and Venom plays a massive part.

The are a bunch of other impressive villains in the game but for sake of spoilers I'll only mention Lizard since he was shown off at a recent PlayStation State of Play. Lizard's action sequences are jaw dropping and the brutal battle it culminates in is such a visual masterpiece. Lizard's design is richly detailed and you get to see all the glorious fine points in the many set piece moments with him and Spidey.

Liked: Smooth Swinging, Slick Combat

The gameplay in Spider-Man 2 is the smoothest and most refined of any Spider-Man game yet. The animations when swinging through New York are incredibly realistic and you can instantly feel the refinements given how fast and seamless traversal is this time around. I was zipping around buildings with ease and darting through the city at a much faster pace than I was used to in the previous games.

Combat for both Spider-Men has also seen numerous improvements, the largest of course being Peter's new Black Suit symbiote powers that significantly increases his strength. Peter can now grab a half dozen enemies or more and slam them to the ground, among many other new abilities given to him by Venom. The symbiote powers can make Peter feel a little OP, but it made sense storywise and it felt awesome smashing enemies to a pulp with Peter's new found powers.

Looking at Miles, he gets an expanded set of electric venom powers to take down more enemies at once and to do it in style. Watching Miles unlock these new powers within him was a nice story arc and helped keep the duo Spider-Man combat feeling fresh.

I won't get into too many details about MJ's improved gameplay, other than to say her missions are no longer pure stealth and she can now takedown enemies with badass style. It seems Insomniac Games was listening to the feedback from the previous games and this time really allows MJ to have her moment to shine.

Didn't Like: Some Technical Issues

With a game of this size it's not surprising that I encountered a few technical issues, including three hard crashes over the 30 hours, but it was a little disappointing none the less. Keep in mind that I got my copy three weeks before launch and Insomniac Games has some planned patches that should hopefully rectify these issues. Aside from the infrequent crashes the game ran buttery smooth, a testament to the team's ability to deliver polished final products.

The Verdict

Spider-Man 2 is hands down the best superhero game I've played yet and is the pinnacle of Insomniac's work. Every facet is better than the previous games, from the elevated story, acting, gameplay, visuals, fluidity, and more. This is the Spider-Man game I've always wanted, and then some.

Final Score: 9.5/10 - Amazing

Marvel's Spider-Man 2 details

Platform: PS5
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Action Adventure
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

A key was provided by the publisher.