Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 review: A spectacular Spider-sequel

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 review: A spectacular Spider-sequel
Images via Insomniac Games

Written by 

Jack Roberts

Published 

16th Oct 2023 15:00

When I took my first step (or swing) in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, the sense of wonder that hit me with the first game and 2020’s Miles Morales came flooding back. It’s impossible not to feel it as you swing across New York, take down villains and generally keep the neighbourhood in good order.

As both Peter and Miles, the stakes have never been higher, with every storytelling an intimate tale of what it means to be Spider-Man and the dark presence of Kraven and Venom an ever-present threat in the game.

In what’s been a stacked year for games already, there is always room for one more to swing in and join the party of potential Game of the Year contenders - and that’s exactly what Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 does.

GGRecon Verdict

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is the triumphant continuation of an already spectacular series that raised the bar of superhero games. While each Spider-Man has been the star of their own game, Spider-Man 2 allows both Peter and Miles to flourish as they take on Kraven, Venom and an entire collection of meticulously crafted villains.

With a story that takes turns that I wouldn’t have expected, fluid combat with haptic feedback considerations, and an expansion of an already flawless and dynamic way to traverse the map, I was smiling all the way to the end from a thwipping great time!

New York, New York

Miles Morales looks over the city in Spider-Man 2
Click to enlarge

Being back in The Big Apple has never felt so satisfying, with not one, but two Spider-Men to play as in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Miles and Peter have their own stories alongside their shared narrative that forms the basis of the game. You can swap quickly between them and spend as much time playing with each of them as you want.

Exploring the city as both Peter and Miles, however, is utterly flawless. If you thought swinging was already fun, mixing it with the new Web Glider can make exploration from one side of the map to the other even more dynamic. And with a map double the size of its predecessors, travelling through it had to remain interesting.

But, if you find that you don’t want to swing or glide and just want to get to your destination, you can eventually unlock the ability to fast travel after a while. Initially, I didn’t think I would do much fast-travelling. However, this may be the speediest fast-travel I have ever experienced in gaming. Gone are the loading screens, and even the black screens between, as the map closes in and soon enough, you’re flying through the sky.

There is so much to do in the city that you seldom wonder what to do next. With so many activities tied to trophies, it is an achievement hunter’s dream. With a shiny new Platinum to tempt you into exploration, you’re going to become Kraven the Trophy Hunter by the time the credits roll.

Tales from the Spider-City

Peter wearing the Black Suit in Marvel's Spider-Man 2
Click to enlarge

As I once again took up the mantle of Spider-Man, I couldn’t wait to see what the story had in store for me this time. The stories of the previous games are some of the best in recent years, so the bar was already set exceptionally high for Spider-Man 2.

Fortunately, it delivered and exceeded my expectations in every way. Playing as both Peter and Miles feels fantastic, not just in their Spidery forms, but also as the men behind the masks. We watch Miles as he struggles to balance the ordinary with the extraordinary and questions what the future holds for him. As Peter, we see a seasoned Spider-Man still grieving the lives he couldn’t save.

These human stories break up the swinging and fighting wonderfully, alongside a whole cast of characters who add to the experience. This is particularly apparent with Miles’ mother, and his group of friends, who represent the ordinary life he has to sacrifice to be Spider-Man. It’s this amount of complexity that demonstrates how lovingly crafted these characters are.

A Venomous victory

Venom, as he appears in Marvel's Spider-Man 2
Click to enlarge

When it comes to combat, Spider-Man 2 is incredibly fluid, with an assortment of gadgets and abilities at your disposal. This particularly comes into play with the introduction of The Symbiote, and eventually Peter’s Venom Abilities.

As he grapples with his newfound powers (and the consequences that come with it), you can feel him change as the attacks grow more vicious, the quips more serious and the haptics of the DualSense controller tighten with every sadistic slam. I never thought I would feel sorry for the average grunt that would try and hit Spider-Man with a baseball bat, but the Venom Abilities are simply that vicious.

Occasionally, combat encounters outside of bosses can get a little repetitive, as you take on the same variety of thugs and stop the same crimes over and over. But while there should only be so many arms deals and arson attacks I can take, their execution is flawless, especially given how they tie into the overarching story.

As Miles has to learn to temper his rage, he forms new abilities that create fresh possibilities to help civilians. As Peter’s rage intensifies, you’re left wondering if fighting the thugs was worth his chaotic descent.

It’s in these combat encounters that you realise just how relentless The Symbiote is, and an early indication of what vicious villainy you can expect from Venom (who is voiced to perfection by Tony Todd).

Not a Screwball in sight

Kraven the Hunter, the main villain of Spider-Man 2 holding a knife to someone's throat
Click to enlarge

Of course, as with any superhero game, the hero is nothing without their villains. While the previous games saw Doctor Octopus and The Tinkerer lead the way, Spider-Man 2 focuses on Kraven the Hunter, who has come to New York to seek out his ultimate quarry.

A major criticism I had of the original game was that outside of Mister Negative and Doc Oc, villains like Scorpion, Vulture, Electro and the like didn’t get their time to shine beyond being set-pieces for the bigger picture. And don’t get me started on Screwball. In Spider-Man 2, however, the villains shine (even if they’re doing their best to kill you).

Kraven is relentless and casts an imposing presence throughout the game, even when he isn’t directly in front of you. He is terrifying, and may just be one of the best villains in gaming I have faced off against. While Venom slowly but surely integrates into the story as the ominous evil lurking beneath the surface.

And it wouldn’t be a Spider-Man game without an epic opening encounter. In the first game, we saw Kingpin as he grappled to stay in control. In Miles Morales, Rhino tore through the city while we gave chase. But in Spider-Man 2, we have Sandman, who may just be one of the most immense opening boss encounters since Poseidon in God of War 3.

There is a slew of other villains that have made their way into the game that I won’t spoil, but rest assured, they all present a degree of complexity that has them deserving of their place, and each of them expands on the impact Spider-Man as a presence has had on the city.

The Verdict

Miles using his webs in Spider-Man 2
Click to enlarge

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is the triumphant continuation of an already spectacular series that raised the bar of superhero games. While each Spider-Man has been the star of their own game, Spider-Man 2 allows both Peter and Miles to flourish as they take on Kraven, Venom and an entire collection of meticulously crafted villains.

With a story that takes turns that I wouldn’t have expected, fluid combat with haptic feedback considerations, and an expansion of an already flawless and dynamic way to traverse the map, I was smiling all the way to the end from a thwipping great time!

5/5

Reviewed on PS5. Code provided by the publisher.

Jack is a Guides Writer at GGRecon. With a BA (Hons) & MA in English and Creative Writing, he was also the Gaming Editor for The Indiependent. When not pondering which game has the best cup of coffee (and drinking far too much of it himself), he can often be found playing Dead by Daylight, Street Fighter or making yet another build in Bloodborne.

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