The PS5 has been available for approximately three years, and during this time, a handful of games have provided us with a glimpse into what the console is capable of. However, they haven’t entirely convinced us that these games would not have been possible on previous-generation consoles, albeit with some compromises. Insomniac offered a teaser of the PS5’s potential with ‘Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart,’ and I am pleased to report that the developer has not only repeated this achievement but has also demonstrated what it means to unleash the power of the PS5 with ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.’ Since this review is belated, it will contain spoilers, so consider yourself warned.
Table of Contents
The story of the game is one of its strongest points. It isn’t targeted at mature games, the ones who loved the story of God of War or even Red Dead Redemption. It is targeted at a much younger audience, late teens to young adults and keeping that TG in mind, the story is quite well written.
We follow the story of two Spider-Man (or is it Spider-Men?) – Peter Parker and Miles Morales. Both our heroes are struggling with everyday life problems – Peter trying to hold down a steady job and Miles getting ready for college. In the middle of these real-world crises, we have Kraven the Hunter who has made New York his new hunting ground. Kraven the Hunter acts as a catalyst for the real villain in town – Venom.
The writers have done an excellent job weaving the Symbiote story in a way that comic fans have heard before and yet will feel fresh to some. It was teased at the end of the first game that the Symbiote was used as an experimental treatment on Harry Osborne and in this game, Harry uses the Symbiote to fight alongside Peter until Peter is injured and the Symbiote leaves Harry and attaches itself to Peter. Both are perplexed about how the Symbiote was transferred, but this leads to the transformation of Peter Parket from your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man to the anti-hero we’ve come to meet in the comics (and if you’ve seen Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3).
From here on it is the standard plot twists and emotional story beats until the Symbiote finds his way back to Harry and we are introduced to Venom! While some of the plot twists seem predictable, what was a pleasant surprise was Venom being a playable character in the game which we will talk about more in the gameplay section. The end of the game sees Spider-Man gain anti-venom abilities and save the day.
Not only is the main story one that hits the home run, but there are side quests too which set up the potential DLC. We have “The Flame” story which could be a possible Carnage DLC and even one involving Kraven the Hunter’s children coming to New York.
The 2 post-credit scenes in the game tease Doctor Otto Octavius’ return alongside the Green Goblin. The cherry on the cake is that in the sequel to Miles Morales, we could see Cindy Moon take on a bigger role (leading to three playable spider-people in Spider-Man 3) but also highlight the Chameleon as a potential villain.
The story starts slow but once you get to the Lizard boss fight, it is punch after punch till you hit the end of the story.
Overall, I think the story is quite interesting considering the TG and fan base. Mature gamers might find the story a tad childish, and that’s okay as the package on offer is one worth experiencing. The story starts slow but once you get to the Lizard boss fight, it is punch after punch till you hit the end of the story. It’s like riding a cycle for a while and then immediately transitioning to a bullet train!
Batman: Arkham Asylum set the baseline for what combat in a superhero game should be and Spider-Man perfected it, sort of. While the combat in Spider-Man 2 isn’t perfect, it is a lot of fun. If you have played the first game, you will feel right at home with the mechanics. However, there are a few tweaks for the better. Both Spider-Man (I’m still confused. Do we call them Spider-Mans or Spider-Men?) share a large chunk of their combat abilities with the difference being in the special abilities they have.
Spider-Man has the robotic spider arms for the first half of the game and once you get the Symbiote suite, there is no looking back. The introduction of the anti-venom abilities was a nice way to get you to keep the Symbiote abilities even after you have removed the Venom suit.
Miles on the other hand has his venom abilities (they are powers based on electricity, but called venom powers. Yes, it’s confusing. Let’s just call them electricity powers. Not to be confused with Electro – he is another villain in the Spider-Man universe. Yes, I know, it gets confusing) which gives you a set of new electricity abilities to play around with in this game.
The controls have changed for the better. While one button is the standard attack and one is a web attack, you can now hold the left shoulder button and press any of the face buttons to perform a special ability move. You can also press the right shoulder button and a face button to use one of Spider-Man’s gadgets. By the end of the game, I was barely using any of the regular attacks as you get so many abilities at your disposal that you feel very overpowered – the perfect superhero fantasy. You can also press L3 and R3 and Peter will go into a God of War-like rage mode and Miles will unleash a super electric blast causing massive damage. The beauty of the game is that apart from the character-specific missions, you can choose to be any Spider-Man you want in the game keeping combat fresh.
Traversal is another place where the game has seen massive improvements. You now have webwings that let you glide across the map and there are conveniently placed wind tunnels across the map that make traversal fun by offering a speed boost. You can “fly” a considerable distance before needing to use your webs and it is a real treat traversing the map. Swinging has also seen some improvement giving you the ability to reduce swing assist giving you a slightly more real-world physics-based experience. The speed with which you can traverse the map is just insane and I don’t think I can go back to slowly riding a horse around a map anymore.
The map in the game is huge and you are no longer restricted to specific fast travel points. Once you do enough side activities on a portion of the map, fast travel is unlocked and you can fast travel to any point on the map. It takes no more than 2 seconds for you to fast travel and that is just insane! Even switching between the 2 playable characters takes a matter of seconds and just shows the power of the SSD in the PS5. There is a sequence with Black Cat where you use portals to jump from one section of the map to another (in a very Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart manner) and then jump to the Atlantic and back while maintaining control of your character, in a matter of seconds.
Speaking of playable characters, there are other characters you can control in the game. The Marry Jane sections are back and are more interesting this time around as you have some combat abilities. The biggest highlight however is that you can play as VENOM! This isn’t the first time that Venom is a playable character, but how it happens is a stunning reveal.
My only gripe with Spider-Man 2’s gameplay is that some side quests can get repetitive, but honestly, that’s okay as they are more varied than the first game, and a lot of fun. Pace yourself with the sidequests and main objectives in the game and you will have a good experience.
Graphics and Sound
While Digital Foundry has done a superb analysis of the performance of the game, I just want to highlight that Spider-Man 2 looks phenomenal on an OLED HDR TV. If you have a TV with HDMI 2.1 capabilities, then you can take advantage of the 40FPS mode giving you a smoother experience than the 30. There is also a performance mode targeting 60FPS. The game also supports VRR and when VRR is set to uncapped, then there is no limit on the framerate. I would recommend playing the game in quality mode with VRR set to uncapped for those who have an HDMI 2.1-enabled TV. For the rest, performance mode it is.
Visually, the game looks stunning to the point that there is no way to turn off the Ray-Tracing that has been implemented. Granted, the Ray-Tracing looks nothing like Cyberpunk 2077 or Alan Wake II running on an NVIDIA 4090. But the fact that the implemented Ray Tracing looks this good is a testament to the power of the console and the abilities of the developers.
When it comes to sounds, the developers have done a great job implementing the speaker on the DualSense Controller. From the radio static-like sound before a phone conversation to the gush of wind coming from the controller when using a wind tunnel – it is breathtaking.
If you are someone who will play with headphones, then the implementation of 3D surround sound is fantastic too. The first time Harry and Venom say “We are Venom” together, fills the earcups and will give you chills.
Speaking of voice acting, Yuri Lowenthal’s performance stands out especially during Peter Parker’s transition with the Symbiote suite, while Nadji Jeter provides a compelling portrayal of the young and determined Miles Morales. And of course, Tony Todd’s Venom leaves a lasting impression. Voice actors for Harry, MJ, Kraven, and even the side characters like Sandman, Mysterio and more do a great job as well.
Overall, Spider-Man 2 is a fun and engaging game and pushes the limits of the PlayStation 5. The traversal, fast travel, combat and story are very well packaged without any artificial padding to prolong the lifespan. While the game is considered short by open-world standards, I think it is the right length for a player to finish the game without it feeling repetitive or mundane and that for me is a great experience. Some of the side activities like taking photos weren’t the best experience, but it is a small niggle in an otherwise marvellous package.
Editor’s rating: 9 / 10
- Impressive visuals
- Fast travel and traversal feel next-gen
- Good Spider-Man story
- Fun combat
- Some side missions may not appeal to all
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Reviewed on: PS5
We played a review copy of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 provided by Sony