By Jack McLaughlin
Arts & Features Editor
Like any fan of Marvel’s wall-crawling menace, Insomniac Games’ “Spider-Man 2” was at the top of my most anticipated games to play this year.
The first game, and its spinoff featuring Miles Morales, were both fantastic and offer the best of the web-slinger in gaming.
“Spider-Man 2” is a bolder game than the first two. Everything is seemingly doubled here - the story, the characters, and the stakes, which means there’s a lot here that works - and a lot that doesn’t.
To start, the gameplay simultaneously feels like an upgrade and a downgrade. The traversal is still addicting and satisfying to pull off, and you even have web wings that let you swiftly glide across the city, which is useful, given that the map size allows for more exploration of New York.
Unlockable suits also make a big return - incorporating a generous mix of suits from both the comics and movies. Miles and Peter both get some sleek additions, even if the best ones take a lot of grinding to unlock.
Another upgrade to the gameplay is the noticeable spike in difficulty. Bosses and enemies take a bit more skill to eliminate, and playing on the highest difficulty actually offers a decent challenge.
The removal of web abilities and heavily limiting your gadgets is what really took me out of the combat. You get used to it, but the freedom of picking a combo of abilities and gadgets to take out your foes is now gone and isn’t nearly as fun.
The game’s plot kicks it up a notch - and throws in not only Kraven the Hunter but also Venom as the main villains. You don’t see a whole lot of Kraven - you’re mostly only told about how strong and menacing he is, but are rarely shown it.
Rest assured, when Kraven is on-screen he is an incredibly intimidating and fun villain - but you just don’t spend enough time with him to be fully invested.
Venom is the more interesting of the two main villains - and of course his inclusion means we get to play as Spidey with the symbiote suit. This is easily the most interesting part about the gameplay and story, and is probably the best on-screen adaptation of the symbiote suit storyline.
The satisfying feeling of the powerful abilities, along with watching how Peter gradually changes from having the suit, makes for such a great switch-up in gameplay and story compared to the last two entries.
Unlike previous incarnations of this storyline, Peter’s descent into dependency on the symbiote is handled with a serious tone. It isn’t played up for jokes like in the particularly divisive film “Spider-Man 3,” which is a good or bad thing depending on your opinion of that underrated masterpiece.
This approach to the iconic storyline worked in the game’s favor, and gave the story serious stakes which resulted in gameplay moments that exceeded both its predecessors.
Despite not having a hostile alien attached to him during the game, Miles proves to be the more fun Spider-Man to play as at many points. The game unfortunately didn’t take the time to give him a story that matches the emotional stakes or thrills that Peter’s had.
Miles gets a story - but it’s so unbelievably basic, and a number of his missions are in service to Peter’s arc, which gets noticeably more attention. It almost feels deceiving promoting him as the game’s co-lead given how little thought seemingly went into his storyline.
“Spider-Man 2” has so much of what made the first two games amazing, but there’s enough here that doesn’t work gameplay and story wise that it doesn’t feel like a true successor.
With how good the first two games were, there were high expectations for this sequel and unfortunately it didn’t stick the landing perfectly.
The story was still a fun ride to take, but I think there’s no need to run out and buy a PS5 to check this out - wait for a sale or an eventual PC port.
Not so spectacular