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Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Review: A Spectacular Balancing Act
October 16, 2023 Andrew Cheng

Who would’ve thought that in 2023, we get a Spider-Man game that features two playable, fully fledged-out Spider-Mans? (Or is it Spider-Men?) That’s exactly what Insomniac Games is bringing with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.

Whether it’s the storyline, character development, or gameplay, both Peter Parker and Miles Morales feel equally well-developed in Insomniac’s latest title. Striking a good balance between these two iconic characters is no small feat, which is one of the best qualities of Spider-Man 2.

What It Is

As the many trailers for Spider-Man 2 have shown, Peter and Miles have to face off a number of supervillains in this game, including the likes of Sandman, Kraven, and Venom. The latter is quite a bit more prominent, of course, inspiring even the limited edition PS5 and the accompanying DualSense controller.

Throughout Spider-Man 2, players will switch between Peter and Miles for various missions and side missions, some of which are exclusively available to either one of them to advance their own personal stories. Just like the previous games, even the side missions expand upon the two Spider-Mans’ stories quite a bit.

Retailing from RM299 in Malaysia, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is priced reasonably well, in my opinion. For that kind of money, you’re getting a ton of content that will keep you entertained for hours on end, though I do have some gripes regarding this – I’ll elaborate more further down the review.

The Good Stuff

I love a game with a good story, and in regards to Spider-Man 2, it’s…well, decent. While I find the first Spider-Man’s plot to be more engrossing, that is not to say this sequel has a bad narrative; far from it. Yes, the overarching story is a tad cliche, but I do enjoy the character development of Peter, Miles, and other characters – including MJ and Harry – in the 13-hour or so main storyline.

There are also a few Easter eggs and interesting cameos to discover throughout Spider-Man 2. Without going into spoiler territory, there is potential for yet another sequel. Insomniac has certainly done its homework for Marvel’s Spider-Man’s worldbuilding.

Speaking of which, the open world environment of Spider-Man 2 has gotten bigger too, thanks to the introduction of two new boroughs: Brooklyn and Queens. Swinging around New York has never felt more expansive with the new areas to explore, which is further enhanced by the new traversal mechanics.

One such mechanic is the Web Wing, which allows the two Spider-Mans to glide quickly from one district to another. I’ve always enjoyed just moving around the city to look for any noteworthy side missions to complete, and I’m ecstatic that I can traverse through New York with a greater degree of freedom now.

Both in terms of traversal speed and the sheer scale of the expanded city.

That is a good segue to how quickly I can swap between Peter and Miles in Spider-Man 2. As mentioned, certain missions can only be done by either one of the two superheroes, and swapping between them takes merely seconds with the PS5’s speedy SSD. Even fast travelling between districts is equally fast with no loading screens at all; there’s even a cool animation of the map rendering to the actual district that you’re fast travelling to.

Combat also feels better in Spider-Man 2. While Peter has access to a slew of symbiote abilities, Miles has his own bio-electric venom powers that feel distinctively different. Each Spider-Man also has his own skill upgrade path, along with one shared skill tree between the two characters.

On top of that, the introduction of one key mechanic also adds more depth to combat: parrying. While I usually just juggle my enemies in mid-air whenever I enter combat (trust me, it’s fun), I can’t employ the same strategy with heavier brute enemies or bosses. That’s when parrying comes in handy.

That being said, even though parrying can be very effective, it doesn’t feel particularly…satisfying. It only opens up the enemy for a few hits before they recover, and having to repeatedly parry the same enemy three – or even four times – before they’re defeated can get old pretty quickly.

What is not old is Insomniac’s much more elaborate use of the DualSense’s range of features for Spider-Man 2. The controller’s more refined haptic feedback is used in various scenarios now for a more immersive gameplay experience, and the adaptive triggers are even used for certain puzzles; much appreciated.

The Bad Stuff

While I’m quite entertained with the main storyline of Spider-Man 2, I still wish it was a tad longer. Granted, I only completed it within 13 hours as I did very minimal side missions to upgrade some of my skills. As a consolation, at least some side missions have pretty interesting plots too.

Of course, it’s entirely possible Spider-Man 2’s story will be further expanded in future DLCs. After all, this was the case with the original game through The City That Never Sleeps expansion. Here’s hoping such a DLC is in the works.

Besides that, combat can also feel a bit frustrating in certain parts of Spider-Man 2, especially in bigger boss fights. The damage scaling doesn’t feel…well, fair, especially in comparison to how much (or rather, how little) damage I was dishing out. To be fair, I was playing on the normal difficulty without upgrading too much of my health or damage, which could’ve made these boss encounters more difficult than they actually are.

On the plus side, at least there are a ton of settings to scale down the difficulty, which I was tempted to do on several occasions, but ultimately did not.

Is It Worth It?

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a fantastic sequel in more ways than one. It’s impressive how well Insomniac Games balanced the overall story and abilities of both Peter Parker and Miles Morales, and though I was left wanting for more story content, I do appreciate the fact that even side missions have a good story to tell. It also helps that the open world environment is now bigger with even more traversal tools at players’ disposal.

It is for these reasons that Spider-Man 2 deserves the Nextrift Recommends badge. It’s our way of endorsing a particular game or product for its entertainment value, refinement, unique appeal, or even just sheer value for money. In my opinion, Insomniac’s latest entry in the Spider-Man franchise fit all of the criteria for the much-deserved award.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 launches 20 October exclusively on PS5.

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