Spider-Man 2 review: Super sequel is the best reason to buy a PS5
Two Spideys and lots of surprises make this a great superhero story.
2018 feels like a long time ago now, but it's a year fondly remembered among superhero-loving gaming fans.
That's because, five years ago, Insomniac Games wowed players with its first Spider-Man game, then an exclusive to the PS4.
The game introduced the brilliant Yuri Lowenthal as the voice of Peter Parker, allowing players to swing through a beautifully rendered version of Manhattan as they punched, kicked and thwipped their way through an action-packed story that also packed an emotional wallop.
In 2020, Nadji Jeter's Miles Morales took centre stage for a smaller story that still showed impressive depth to its emotional storytelling.
And now, in the year of our lord 2023, Insomniac is ready to drop the full sequel. Spider-Man 2 is web-launching into our lives this week, and we're pleased to report that its another slam-dunk of a superhero game.
The title opens by throwing you straight into the action as Peter (now kitted out with some extra 'iron spider' limbs that you might remember from the Civil War comics or Infinity War movie) and Miles (still using his electric 'Venom Blast' powers), who are working together to take down one of the classic members of the Spidey rogues' gallery. If you thought the Kingpin-bashing start to the first game was good, wait until you get a load of this opening salvo!
The game also doesn't waste any time in introducing its new big bad: the fierce and frightening Kraven the Hunter, voiced by Jim Pirri, is a big-game hunter that has multiple superpowered beings from Marvel's version of New York in his sights.
Interestingly, he isn't too fussed about the two Spider-Men to start with, but that all changes when Peter receives a powerful upgrade that you may have seen in the trailers.
Indeed, if you've been following along with the marketing campaign, and if you can remember how the last two games ended, you'll know that Pete's pal Harry Osborn has been introduced to a familiar-looking black substance, which has a different definition of 'Venom' to Miles.
We really don't want to spoil any of the surprises for you, so we'll stop describing the story now, but suffice it to say that we really enjoyed the ride here, and it was the last couple of hours of the story that pushed us over the line to decide on a perfect five-star rating.
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On the gameplay and world design side, Insomniac has done an amazing job at making this experience feel fresh, despite it being many players' third outing in this universe.
New York is now bigger, with players able to visit other boroughs beyond Manhattan. You can also swap between Miles and Peter at any point in the open world. And you'll be travelling the city in much speedier ways than before.
That's thanks to the awesome new 'Web Wings', tiny gliders in the Spider-Men's armpits, which allow them to swoop around at speed rather than always having to swing. This addition is somewhat reminiscent of the Arkham franchise's gliding — you could argue that it feels even more free and smooth, actually — and it really makes getting around the city feel great.
If you enjoyed the combat in the previous games, you'll be pleased to hear that the core mechanics haven't changed. You'll still be hammering square to punch and circle to dodge, using triangle for a web strike and R1 for a web bomb.
On top of that, though, there are loads more gadgets and abilities for you to add into the mix. The iron spider arms allow Peter a few extra attacks, before the black goo gets involved, while Miles is always learning new ways to utilise his electrical powers.
It does get a little bit fiddly trying to manage all these different abilities, along with a whole array of techie gadgets, and we only really felt like we were mastering it (and not pressing the wrong button all the time) towards the end of the story. It took us 16 hours, according to the console's in-built timer, to hit the end credits. But there's definitely some serious satisfaction to be had when you really nail a combo.
In terms of other minor qualms, beyond the occasional struggle to remember what all the different buttons do (now that Insomniac has layered on all those new features), we did run into a few graphical glitches, including one particularly glaring one in which Peter's head came off his body in the middle of a vital cut scene. But there will be a day one patch, and future updates, that will hopefully iron out stuff like that.
At points, we did feel like the Miles was getting a bit sidelined in the story, but don't worry if you also feel like that at any time — he has more to do later on (and in side missions), with that third act really nailing the landing in all sorts of aspects, even if Peter's story still feels like the thrilling main event.
There's definitely room left for further sequels, as well, so fingers crossed on that front.
All in all, we found Spider-Man 2 to be a really satisfying game. The Web Wings enhancing the traversal, the two Spideys with dovetailing storylines, the various villains and how they all connect — it all works really well, and it almost goes without saying at this point that the soundtrack, the voice acting and the graphics are all brilliant, as well. The side quests around the city are mostly pretty fun, too, and some of the unlockable suits are very cool.
If you've been holding off on buying a PS5, we'd argue that Spider-Man 2 is the best case yet to sell you the system. If you're a fan of superhero games, swing into this one as soon as you can, and we don't think you'll regret it!
Spider-Man 2 launches on Friday 20th October, exclusively for PS5.
Read more on Spider-Man 2:
- Spider-Man 2 podcast - hear our thoughts
- Spider-Man 2 missions - all main chapters
- Spider-Man 2 suits - how to get all outfits
- Spider-Man 2 trophies - the full list
- How long is Spider-Man 2? Hours needed
- Spider-Man 2 New Game Plus - is it coming?
- Spider-Man 2 soundtrack - how to listen
- Spider-Man 2 resources - get tokens and parts
- Spider-Man 2 cast - key voice actors
- Spider-Man 2 PC - our predictions
- Spider-Man 2 PS4 - will it happen?
- Spider-Man 2 ending explained - spoilers ahoy!
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