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The Point

The Student News Site of Fitchburg State University

The Point

The Student News Site of Fitchburg State University

The Point

Marvel’s Spiderman 2 Game Review

Two Steps Forward, Two Steps BackThe new PlayStation 5 exclusive gets almost as much wrong as it does right.
Rocco Sofia
Spider-Man swinging through New York City, 2023, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, 25 October 2023

Imagine a baker makes a delicious double layer cake. Now imagine a second double layer cake that’s a little smaller with an appropriate decrease in price. Now imagine a third cake. It’s the tastiest cake the baker has made yet, but it’s only one layer and the most expensive of the three. Is the third cake worth it? Which cake is best? This, dear readers, is what I’ve been asking myself for days, and I have no idea what the answer is. These cakes represent Insomniac Games’ Marvel’s Spider-Man, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, respectively. I do have a lot to say though, so buckle up (by the way, isn’t it funny how Spider-Man 2 is technically the third game?).

Don’t get me wrong, I still had an absolute blast with this game. All of the core gameplay systems have been enhanced. Traversal is probably the most notable, as they overhauled a lot. The web wings that allow you to fly around the city like you’re wearing a wingsuit is the feature everyone is most excited about. When paired with the wind tunnels strewn around the city, you can zip around pretty fast.

Speaking of speed, the new fast travel system takes full advantage of the PlayStation 5’s ultra fast SSD that all but eliminates load times. Instead of the previous two games’ designated fast travel locations that only let you load into certain locations, Spider-Man 2’s fast travel lets you teleport to anywhere on the map nearly instantaneously.
I don’t see why you’d want to fast travel though, as the web-swinging is better than ever. Many people complained that the first two games held the player’s hand when it came to web-swinging because not only did you not take any fall damage (no matter how high you fell from), but there was an “air cushion” that prevented the player from touching the ground when swinging through New York City. When you add the fact that swinging was noticeably slower than games made by previous developers, Insomniac Games knew they had a lot of work to do for this title.
I’m thankful to say that Insomniac delivered and then some. The great thing about this game is that it will hold your hand as much or as little as you like. Fall damage is completely optional and the swing assist setting is adjustable to how much freedom you want. They also added the ability to loop-de-loop in order to gain some momentum instead of automatically letting go of your web at the top of your swing arc like in the previous two games. To top it all off, they significantly increased the speed of your standard swinging. I’ve seen many people say that Spider-Man 2 has the best web-swinging in comparison to other Spider-Man games, but I haven’t played enough non-Insomniac Spider-Man games to throw my hat in that ring.

Combat has also received a major overhaul. In Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 you play as two different Spider-Men: Peter Parker and Miles Morales. They had to change how combat works in order to have a uniform playstyle between both characters because the first two games played slightly differently from each other. For starters, you now only have four gadgets in total which is a fraction compared to the first game. They’ve also added a wealth of different abilities to utilize, from Peter’s tech and symbiote attacks to Miles’ electric powers. There are many to choose from, but you can only equip four at a time which forces you to think about how you want to play.
They also completely changed how boss fights work. In previous games it was a game of cat and mouse where you’d dodge their attacks and wait for them to leave an opening for you to strike. This game has added a parry button, so now you can parry these massive attacks and turn what once was cat and mouse into an all out brawl. It makes you feel so much more powerful when you can fight these ultra powerful enemies just like you would an average goon. I never realized that a Spider-Man game needed a parry button, but now I don’t think I can ever go back.

Stealth on the other hand did not receive nearly as much love. The only addition to stealth that was added was a web line that lets you cross gaps overhead to better get the drop on enemies. When on one of these web lines, you can also quietly take down two enemies at once. That’s it; that’s all they added to stealth combat. I’m not saying the stealth is bad, I just wish it made the same leaps and bounds as other aspects of the game.
Here is where I become J. Jonah Jameson, because now I’m about to talk critically about Spider-Man. The suits in the game are extremely hit or miss, with more misses than I’m okay with (but that’s entirely subjective). What’s really appalling is that a lot of suits from the original games weren’t brought into this one. 15 of the 20 suits Miles had in his game come back, which isn’t bad, but a measly 16 of Peter’s suits return from the whopping 47 in the first game. The worst part of it is that most of the suits that Peter lost were fan favorites that fans had begged to be in the first game. They even left out original suits designed specifically for the first game! There’s no rules on how many suits you can have in the game, so why were so many omitted?

Most of the suits that actually are in the game have a main color palette and three variants. Unfortunately, a number of the palette swaps were wasted opportunities. For example, Peter’s Negative Suit is a photo-negative version of his Advanced Suit and they were both in the first game. The Advanced Suit returns, but the Negative Suit doesn’t. The Advanced suit has three variants, but the Negative Suit is not one of them. See what I mean by wasted opportunities?

The only suits that don’t have variants are the ones from the movies. Why do the others have palette swaps and these don’t? Is it a legal issue? Sony owns both Insomniac Games and the film rights to Spider-Man, so it shouldn’t be that hard. Then again, the internal bureaucracy of a big company like Sony can be convoluted and time consuming so they probably just didn’t want to deal with the headache it’d cause.

The only 2023 games I’ve played are Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Mortal Kombat 1 and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and this was by far the glitchiest of the three. There were a number of times where a mission wouldn’t progress properly and I’d be stuck until I restarted at my last checkpoint. A couple of times the walls of a building would disappear and I could swing right through them. There’s also the infamous cube glitch where your character model won’t load in correctly and you’ll be stuck as a tiny white cube, again forcing you to reload to your last checkpoint in order to set things back to normal. The biggest problem was the frequent crashes the game suffered. It crashed at least a half a dozen times, booting me out of the game entirely. One of these crashes was during a very emotional cutscene which completely broke my immersion.

Now we get on to the writing. The stories and writing of these games can be really good sometimes, with each one making me cry at one point or another, but I was watching the recap they made of the first two games and Miles unironically said “humblebrag.” Twice. Peter also used a variation of the infamous “um… awkward” line at some point in the main story. So yeah, Insomniac isn’t perfect.

The first game had a very solid story with great villains that had a personal connection to Peter. Unfortunately, the story expansion titled ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ was a massive let-down for many. While the second game’s villains weren’t as well-written, they still had a connection to Miles and the plot was still focused. Both games also had side missions focused on smaller but still entertaining stories. This game is, well, less than stellar. Let’s get into it.


Oh boy, here we go. The writing for this game was all over the place. Sometimes I had the biggest smile on my face, sometimes I was bawling my eyes out, and other times I had my head in my hands wondering how no one involved with this game thought to take another go at the script. Let’s start with the main story. Kraven the Hunter is the main villain and his goal is to die a worthy death at the hands of a formidable opponent. How does he aim to achieve this? If you guessed that it was by hiring hundreds of goons to do all the heavy lifting for him by tracking, capturing and releasing worthy opponents into a small and confined area for Kraven to brutally murder them with ease, then you’d be correct! I understand that video games need a lot of enemies for the player to fight, but Kraven was not the villain to choose to have an army of goons. You get bonus points if you also added that he had some of his “prey” fight each other gladiator style for his amusement for some reason! Well it wasn’t for no reason, it was because the writers needed something for Miles to do.

Despite being on the box art, Miles has very little to do in this game. His main conflict is that he’s putting too much time into Spider-Man and not enough into Miles Morales, which almost entirely goes against the whole “with great power comes great responsibility” line, you know, one of the most iconic lines in fiction? The entire story of Spider-Man 2 (2004), one of the best Spider-Man stories to date, is about how Peter wants to be Peter but he must put Spider-Man first as it’s the right thing to do. In this Spider-Man 2, Peter, along with everyone else in Miles’ life, tells Miles to put in more time as Miles Morales. Over the course of the game Miles slowly but surely agrees with this sentiment, that is until the end of the game when he encourages Peter to put in some Peter time while he keeps being Spider-Man. So why was Miles’ arc about how he wants to be Spider-Man but he should be Miles Morales, only for the resolution to be the exact opposite of what his story was leading to? It’s almost as believable as Anakin’s turn to the dark side in Revenge of the Sith.

An entirely pointless arc isn’t all Miles does in this game, he also has a revenge quest that quite literally comes out of nowhere. Martin Li (A.K.A. Mr. Negative) killed Miles’ father in a terrorist attack in the first game. Miles doesn’t mention his hatred for Li throughout Marvel’s Spider-Man or Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, it just appears out of nowhere because Miles barely connects to the main plot (which I will get to, don’t worry) and this was the best they could come up with. This is where the gladiator matches that I mentioned earlier come into play. Kraven’s goons bust Li out of prison as he believes Li is powerful enough to kill him. At some point in the story, Miles is captured and pitted against Li. One of Li’s powers is the ability to reach into peoples’ minds and enhance their negative thoughts (hence the name Mr. Negative). Li uses this power to make Miles see visions of his friends and family tell him he’s worthless and that they’re going to leave him. This is not a problem that was brought up before and doesn’t get brought up again, so why have it? He lets go of his hatred for Li at the end of the game, so the problem is fixed as soon as it’s introduced. What a well written character.

Okay, onto the symbiote stuff. Everything involving the symbiote is actually really good. How the symbiote affects Peter’s mind and his relationships is exactly what it should be. Harry’s envy of Peter’s strength blinds him to the dangers of the symbiote and it leads him to become Venom, which is about as good as every other version of Venom I’ve seen. There’s even a section where you get to play as Venom and it’s really fun, but something about it felt off. They take the time to showcase an entire moveset for Venom for only one level? When paired with the promotional material making it seem like Venom would be all over the city, it makes me wonder if they cut content from this game.

Having content cut from the game would make a lot of sense. Kraven kills Scorpion to showcase to the player just how dangerous he is, but we’re later told that Shocker, Vulture and Electro were also killed, but off-screen. There’s also not nearly as much side content as previous games. There’s a couple of side missions, some bases where you fight some goons, a handful of challenge modes, and one set of collectibles. Meanwhile previous games had multiple side missions, multiple goon bases, multiple challenges, and multiple sets of collectibles. The game doesn’t have a new game plus mode either, which is a mode that lets you restart the game with all of your unlocked suits and upgrades. Insomniac Games said it would be added in a free update, but to be fair a lot of games nowadays release a new game plus mode post-launch. When all of this is paired with the sheer amount of glitches it has, it’s hard not to think that this game cut things out in order to make its release date.

These issues lead to the game being much shorter than one would hope. This is the most controversial aspect of the game in the community’s eyes, including me. Is it worth having a game that’s twice as fun when you have half as much time to play it? There’s also the fact that Marvel’s Spider-Man released at $60, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales released at $50, and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, which is comparable in length to Miles Morales, is a whopping $70. If you really want to put things into perspective, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition is a bundle of the first two games and is also $70 (and at the time of writing is on sale for $42.57 on Amazon). So, do you think Spider-Man 2 is worth it? I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t.

I love Spider-Man 2. Some of the best moments in the series are from this game, it’s just that there’s a lot holding this game back from being truly phenomenal. I’m not even sure what score to give the game in its current state. An 8/10 feels too high given the price, a 7/10 feels too low given the quality, and I don’t want to use decimals. I do recommend it, but I understand that not everyone is in the same financial situation as me. I guess I’ll just end this by saying with great video games comes great financial hardship. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is available exclusively on PlayStation 5.

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