(Photo courtesy of: DiscussingFilm) “Insomniac’s ‘Spider-Man 2’ features both Peter Parker and Miles Morales suiting up as the titular character.”
Insomniac Games’ new PlayStation 5 exclusive, “Spider-Man 2”, has had fans bouncing off the walls since its release on Oct. 20. As a third iteration in this franchise, Insomniac expertly balanced giving the game new flare and interest while holding true to what fans loved from the previous games. They’ve improved just about every aspect of the game: the movement, the combat, the characters, and they’ve wrapped it up in the most tantalizing experience that makes it hard to see how they will ever top it for a “Spider-Man 3”.
The game’s prologue does an excellent job in catching players up, recapping the first games and bringing us to the present day where Peter Parker accepts a new teaching job at Brooklyn Visions Academy where his co-Spider-Man, Miles Morales, attends as a student struggling through his college applications.
The game has one of the most intense and amazingly structured intros that players have seen in a very long time. They offer just enough help to introduce new players to the game’s function while not slowing down a beat, so seasoned fans can hop immediately into the disaster that is striking Peter’s first day of teaching.
The games overall pacing is incredible; the story flows incredibly well through its intense fight sequences to stealth missions to laid back cut scenes. Nothing feels dragged on or out of place and the game still offers an array of optional quests and side-trackers to let players have control of how they want their run to go.
The game has its fair share of enemies with the constant crime and battle for power in the city; but the main antagonist quickly rises up to be Kraven the Hunter and his gang of barbarians. This group and their leader are using their advanced, deadly tech and sheer brutality to release and corral the cities nastiest supervillains so that Kraven can hunt and kill them for sport.
While dealing with this, the extra-terrestrial parasite of symbiote, known for creating Marvel’s Venom character, creeps around behind the scenes for our characters. Players get to watch the Venom plot unfold along the way of dealing with these hunters, making for an extra engaging and connected experience.
They include an excellent amount of character nuance that gives players a glimpse into understanding Peter and Miles’ pressures outside of being Spider-Man while still dragging through the peril that ensues in the main story. The game entangles their relationship issues, work/school stress, heartbreak, and mental health struggles right in the forefront, amidst the chaos. It’s real; it’s fun; it’s aggressive; it’s emotional; it’s scary; it’s funny; and it has an incredible amount of life, depth and vibrance compared to its prior iterations.
They’ve flawlessly blended the swap between Peter and Miles, making it versatile but not confusing. Their transitions are so seamless, the game perfectly guides the player to follow both their stories without giving players whiplash. The story pacing allows players to sit in the moment when it’s needed and to get the adrenaline pumping for those big boss fights. The game also offers a hearty amount of down time to soak up all the interesting side missions across the city.
Though players will notice the same handful of formats used across these missions, they’ve given an incredible amount of variety in styles of quests that not one of them ever feels monotonous. The side quests have so much life to them that players will undoubtedly find themselves falling into a slew of missions that make them forget they’re not even part of the main storyline.
The puzzle-based objectives often call for a bit of investigation and at times aren’t always clearly guided for the player, making it one of the only confusing mechanisms in the game. It’s often hard to tell where the player is supposed to look or focus, however, this issue isn’t very frequently encountered and is usually resolved with a bit of scanning through Spider-Man’s search lens.
The variety of missions in this game is surprising and refreshing for the franchise, making each mission feel like a new experience. Some missions have players fighting basic criminals in the street, stopping fires, or taking down torturous cultists in their hideaways; others have them crawling through buildings, using a Spider-Bot to navigate through vents and clear entry ways; and sometimes the player is helping Harry Osborn and his researchers collect data from the cities lab sites or taking photos of local news interests.
The smaller crimes in the city are dialed back so they’re a bit easier to complete in such fast-paced call times, but the game really makes the random crime events worthwhile. Each one rewards the player with a hearty drop of “tech parts” and other collectables that are used to upgrade suits and abilities; but each upgrade needs quite a bit to unlock, so it’s helpful for players to swing through those emergencies as they come.
Fans of the franchise will feel right at home in the combat style, with a whole host of new surprises and abilities that kick it up to a new level. The combat is flawless and has one of the best combat structures out there for a superhero game. Players can now swoop their enemies up to battle them mid-air and fire off special abilities like chain lighting to boost the combos and finish them off with acrobatic takedowns. The animations are incredible, and the new Spider-Man tech is such a great addition to add variety into combat styles.
They added incredible new features like “Web-Line” that lets Spider-Man shoot his own tight-rope web across rooms, essentially allowing players to create their own spider web above their enemies, opening up takedown options and allowing a whole new host of ways for players to approach their missions.
One of the coolest features is Spider-Man’s new “wing-suit” that gives him the ability to glide through the air, picking up the cities air currents. Pairing this boost with the already epic web-swinging makes moving across this larger map an absolute breeze.
This game has exceeded expectation, as it expands on the worlds from the last two games and makes it better than both of them combined. It feels like a cinematic experience, yet the player is in full control. This game shows one of the rare instances where developers did an excellent job in taking everything that worked about the last games and amped it up 200%, making it undoubtedly a new hallmark of superhero games and a super strong contender for Game of The Year.
Overall Grade: A+