Insomniac’s Marvel’s Spider-man was a revelation for the web crawler in the video game space. Miles Morales was a great campaign, but that city and its open world design began to wear out its welcome quickly. Marvel’s Spider-man 2 had big shoes to fill. I wasn’t concerned about the story, set pieces, or combat, but I had concerns for the open world. They needed to do more than just fill it up with even more collectibles or things to chase down.
From a pessimistic view, they did just add more things to collect, more things to chase down, and more sites to clear out. Adding gliding as an additional traversal element was a significant and enjoyable spice to the open world mix, but if I were expecting more interesting activity types to tackle in the open world, I would have been very disappointed. They added different activities, but the repetition throughout the different districts of New York City pulverized any semblance of novelty quick.
Aesthetically, the city evolved as I progressed through the main story line. The epic battle with Sandman left its mark on the story early on with additional visible transformations to the city occurring towards the end. I expected prettier buildings and lighting to reflect the time of day transitions, but I didn’t expect the city to be affected by the story at such a scale. The unfortunate side effect to these wide reaching alterations was the lack of urgency reflected by the citizens of the city. They say nothing stops New Yorkers from getting to where they need to go, but I think Marvel’s Spider-man 2’s citizens took it too far by their non-reactions to an epic brawl involving a couple of Spider-men and a crowd of goo monsters.
I was a big fan of how Insomniac enabled seamless transitions between Miles Morales and Peter Parker. Sometimes I transition in mid-swing and other times, the other Spider-man was just idling playing with their Spider-robot or drinking a coffee. It gave both Spider-men independent and occasionally integrated lives. Each Spider-man had their time with the main story missions, but I was glad to see each of them have their own meaty side missions to follow through with.
One of the side missions called back to the DLC content from Marvel’s Spider-man which I overlooked and forgotten existed. I had to dig up some info on the events of those DLC chapters which made me realize that the DLC content was actually quite important in the grand scheme of things.
The set pieces were bigger than ever with increased scale and dynamism afforded by technical enhancements since the 2018 game. The rapid transitions into completely different spaces were reminiscent of Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart, for example.
New abilities and gadgets refreshed the combat a bit, but it was familiar for anyone who’ve played the previous games. The symbiote abilities were an attempt to catch Peter Parker up to Miles Morales’ flashy venom powers, however, I found Miles Morales more entertaining to play as. His ability to instantly go invisible and chaotic look of his electric powers made for more frenetic and exciting fights.
Further explorations into the personal lives of both Spider-men made created earned tension points in the story. I really felt the divide in responsibilities between the two lives that each of them lead. Their closest loved ones knowing the double lives they lead didn’t make things easier for them. I don’t know if the Mary Jane stealth sections needed to make their return, but what else can one do to give supporting characters more interactive game time?
Exploring the classic Spidey villains as humans who broke badly and had their own reclamation arcs was also something I didn’t expect from a video game. Second chances and how people dealt with them the prevailing theme throughout the game and now more than ever, we need to be mindful of that. Reformation of criminals is a complex topic to cover in daily life let alone in a video game, but I felt Insomniac Games did a great job.
Marvel’s Spider-man spawned story threads leading towards the this game, Spider-man 2 also laid out foundational elements and hints for even more Spider-man related goodies in the future. After wrapping up the game, I couldn’t help but look forward towards the future of this franchise. I initially ignored them, but I just had figure out when the next Spidey hit was going to land. According to that awful ransomware attack, Insomniac Games has a Venom game planned for 2025 and Spider-man 3 in 2028. Very long waits, but I’m sure it will be worth it.
I liked it