Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can! I guess the song’s referring to the cool things spiders can do, like crawling on walls and biting people, not, y’know, getting crushed by a wad of toilet paper and flushed when they show up in the bathroom. There’s no variant in the Spider-Verse where even the most fanatical fan wants that to happen – and it certainly wouldn’t make a great comic book or movie.
Thankfully, such horrors never come up in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, the third (yes, third) in Insomniac Games’ epic series based on everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood web-slinger. And you know what’s better than one Spider-Man? That’s right – two Spider-Men doing their webby superheroics in style.
Life’s not easy when you’ve got superpowers. Well, I guess it could be, but with great power comes great responsibility and all that, so Peter Parker and Miles Morales have decided that they’re going to use their powers for good. That’s the part that’s not easy. Pete and Miles both have responsibilities – Pete as a new teacher, Miles trying to get into college – and these can conflict with superhero-ing duties.
It’s especially tough these days now that Kraven the Hunter is out turning the city into his own personal playground. What’s a hero to do? Well, it’ll probably involve plenty of webbing, punching and sarcastic remarks, but hopefully it won’t involve anyone getting fired or expelled.
Combat and gameplay owe a lot to the previous two entries in the series, meaning this is Spider-Man by way of Batman: Arkham. Given that the Arkham games are one of the best examples of how to do superheroics right – up there with inFamous, in fact, and don’t @ me – it shouldn’t be too surprising that this works.
Swinging around the city is a fantastic, kinetic experience, and it’s made even better by the addition of a new web-based gliding mechanic. Meanwhile, combat has the right mix of bone-crushing punches, tricky web-winding and near-miss dodges to keep the adrenaline pumping. If you want the experience you’ve come to expect from Marvel, well, it’s right here, true believers.
The fundamentals are rock-solid, but we’ve seen them before. What’s new? Well, Spider-Man 2 brings back the Spider-Men from the past two games, meaning you’re able to play as both Peter Parker and Miles Morales. Miles is from the more recent game, so unsurprisingly he returns with his fancy bioelectric Venom attacks intact. Pete needed a little something to catch up, meanwhile, so Spider-Man 2 adds in some fancy spider-gadgets for the classic Spidey to wield against the local bad guys…and a little more besides, but let’s not spoil anything. You won’t be getting bored anytime soon, we’ll go with that. There’s even skill trees for both Spider-Men as well as a shared tree to enhance both.
As for what you’ll be doing with all these skills? Well, superhero stuff! There’s baddy-bashing, goodie-collecting, time trials, all that stuff you’ve come to know and love is present and ready for some spider-love. You unfortunately still have to play as MJ from time to time; it’d be nice to have the choice, but forcing the issue when I just want to be one of the Spidies is rough. Special mention goes to the boss battles, which are stupendous. Right from the start, you’ve got a knock-down battle against Sandman that would be right at home in an MCU film. Nice to see Spidey beat that guy after what he did in Marvel Zombies.
Spider-Man 2’s visuals and sound are, unsurprisingly, stunning. This is a headline game for the PlayStation 5, the first in the series developed exclusively for Sony’s current-gen hardware. Along with that, we’ve also got the PS5’s haptic controls, which are present, accounted for and wonderful here. Put all that together with classic Marvel music, voice acting to die for, and witty quips by the dozen and you’re in good shape. My sole complaint with the presentation are the numerous bugs that dampen the fun – a patch or two would help with things like bad guys getting stuck in sand and the like.
I didn’t really come into Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 expecting to like it as much as I did, bugs aside. I’m not the biggest Marvel fan, but I’m familiar enough with the characters and have read my share of the comics. Still, this is a game that can really sell hesitant players on why everyone keeps going to those superhero movies, Spider-Man in particular. You’ve got beloved, larger-than-life heroes battling villains that are just as striking in a world designed to make that conflict shine. It works. Check this one out.