Guest writer, Nina swings in with a run-down on the recent Spider-Man game from Sony on PS5.
In recent years, Spider-Man content has been absolutely popping off! We had “Into the Spiderverse” in 2018, a movie so good it had the MCU and DC trying to copy it’s multiverse-based plot. And of these tries, the only one that was actually good was, you guessed it, the live-action Spider-Man film “No Way Home” (I swear, when my man Tobey Macquire came through that portal, I had tears in my eyes). Then, this year, we got the spiderverse sequel “Across the Spiderverse,” which did the impossible and somehow managed to be better than its predecessor.
But the spider forces-that-be didn’t just save their blessings for film and TV; they delivered for us gamers too. Insomniac Games gave us Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PS4 in 2018. We reviewed that game when it first came out, so I won’t say more on it than that, but let me just say that from a story standpoint especially, that game absolutely blew me away. But Insomniac wasn’t done yet; in 2020 they followed up with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a game that personally I thought was weaker than the OG, but nonetheless, still great. And this year, they’ve given us Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. And let me just spoil the rest of this review for you right now; they’ve done it again.
Spider Gadget Wizardry
Let’s get the technical whatnot out of the way first. For me, this game ran like a dream; 60fps, next-gen graphics and some very unique uses of the haptic feedback of the PS5 controller. I haven’t encountered a single bug- not even an NPC clipping. I do, however, think that the UI is a little crowded. The main menu and the system UI is fine, but the gameplay menu, where you view your suits, gadgets, map, skills etc is quite overwhelming. Though considering you have two whole spidermen to manage, both independently and as a duo, I guess this is understandable. Now, the good stuff; story and gameplay.
I’m only ten or so hours in, so I can’t comment on the story overall, but from what I’ve played so far, it is very, very good. By this time, Peter and Miles have been double act for a while now, and it shows. They play off each other both in dialogue and in combat, yet when separated, can stand alone as their own characters with their own desires, fears and arcs. But the story is definitely at its best when both spider-bros are sharing the screen; Peter is the geek to Miles’ streetkid, but Pete is also the voice of experience and level-headedness, while Miles can be as spontaneous as his venom lightning.
I haven’t met Venom yet, but I can’t wait to see how this dynamic changes when Pete gets the black suit. Will their roles reverse, perhaps? Will it be Miles who brings Peter back from the madness of the symbiote? I don’t know, but man am I looking forward to it. My Venom hype aside, it’s been very cool seeing a less mainstream villain like Kraven the Hunter getting his time in the sun. As I said earlier, I’m not super far into the game yet, so I don’t know how his story will pan out, but so far, he’s already proven himself to be an Avengers-level threat.
Spins a web, any size, catches thieves…
But just as was the case with its predecessor, Spider-Man 2’s crowning jewel is its gameplay. If Spider-Man 2018 made you feel like Spider-Man, then this game, I don’t know, makes you feel feel like Spider-Man? What I’m trying to say is, somehow, Insomniac have improved upon their already perfect formula for spidey-gameplay. The web-slinging feels faster, the combat is smoother and more intuitive and the gadgets and abilities are actually meaningful (back in 2018, I always forgot I even had gadgets. But this time, I love using them!).
All of this is just for one Spider-Man; you have two now! Now, story stuff aside, the only difference between playing Peter and Miles in terms of moment-to-moment gameplay are the abilities; Pete’s got big robo-spider legs and Miles has his lightning powers. But, as mentioned just before, the abilities in this game are a lot of fun to use, and considering how great the rest of the experience is, I think this lack of real difference between the two spider-men can be forgiven.
This game also makes the absolute most of the presence of two spider-men in other, far more fun ways. For example (and this is probably my favourite feature in this game) when patrolling as, let’s say, Peter, you come across a crime in progress. You swing over to investigate, only to find your spider-bro Miles is already on the scene, kicking ass and dropping one-liners as if he were the playable character right now. How cool is that!
That’s not even mentioning that, when you as Peter decide to jump in, it truly feels like you’re playing co-op. Automatically, every takedown will become a buddy combo, if you start to get overwhelmed, your spider-bro will jump in to take the heat off you. And when it all wraps up, you get the option to dap your bro up before swinging off your separate ways, either until the story demands you swap characters or you run into each other again during another chance encounter. It adds so much to the relationship between these two characters and so much immersion to the experience.
I just love it. I love it so much.
Look Out! Here comes the Spider-Man.
It is apparent that the alpha among comic-book content right now- at least on Marvel’s side- is the Spiderverse. And Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is further proof of why. Beautiful graphics, great story and some of the most fluid and electric gameplay on PS5 right now, the last time a superhero game was this good…well, it was 2018.
Everyone with a PS5 needs to play this game!