And that is the case in nearly every bit of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.
While the brand-new game plays out a little too close to the formula it’s developed, its developers have inarguably created a game that takes that tagline and backs it up with substance.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is one of the most developed and inclusive games I’ve played in… well, I can’t tell you how long.
It’s also precisely the game I need at this point…
Safety Swings On In
I said above that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is the game I need now.
I say this not to get too personal because it comes at a time of significant change in my life.
What’s the famous Spider-Man line again? “With great change comes lots of power, and how can one man have all that power?”
Nope! That’s not it!
“With great change comes great responsibility.”
There it is!
The truth is that I’d been saving a little from a month and a half of paydays to buy Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 on October 20.
I was looking forward to the relief of just swinging through Insomniac Games’ New York.
And then, a code swung into my inbox — a month early.
To say I needed to vibe with and relate to Peter and Miles’ stories of being stuck individually but coming together collectively is precisely what I needed.
And while I love this story, it’s Marvel’s Spider-Man 2‘s first — and only foremost —faceplant like Miles’s in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Symbiote Strength Meets An Occasional Weak Story
Unfortunately, where Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 struggles to keep me stuck is its story.
It starts on a high note with a recap told through first-person narratives from Pete and Miles that use their current plot points effectively to highlight what’s happened in the two previous games. I wasn’t expecting to cry through it, but I did.
As for this new entry, I think that Steve describes the story here best when he says in this week’s Creature Castthat this is a three-act story with just a little too much packed into the first and second acts but just enough to bring it all together in the third act.
To build on that, it’s a slow swing. Here’s why.
By now, you already know that Kraven the Hunter serves as the game’s ultimate baddie. Still, Marvel‘s Spider-Man 2 takes the approach of similar superhero games like the Arkham series in tying this to a rouges gallery of Spider-Man’s iconic villains and antiheroes like Sandman, Black Cat, Mysterio, and Venom.
For the most part, these sub-stories are introduced as targets Kraven is hunting as part of his version of The Most Dangerous Game.
And while they are all great in their own right, with a few hitting extra hard in the feels and Easter eggs, it can sometimes be a struggle to understand where the through line is.
I’m not going to spoil anything, even though I say a lot more on Creature Cast, other than to say Venom is very much that throughline.
While it takes a while for the Tony Todd-voiced baddie to show up, he touches and takes from nearly every main character present in this story.
You’ll find yourself constantly asking when he’s going to show up. But when he does, he makes Peter, Miles, MJ, and newly returned Harry feel his presence. He even makes Kraven take notice.
There’s just too much here over about 20 hours of main story, with an additional 12-15 hours of side stories and collectables.
Side stories add a few other surprise characters and almost always reward Peter or Miles with a new suit. But they offer a much tighter collectables experience as they are now primarily tied to those.
I am no game developer or story director, so I will only offer my insights. Still, spending more time with Peter and Miles individually and offering less choice about how the side stories play out would be a great compromise.
For example, Peter and Miles have side stories locked to just them. These are the strongest ones, in my opinion. Because they offer something that forces you to be Peter or Miles, as they end, you go right back to having choice again and having more to do in collecting. It’s just stilted.
I’ll tell you something that’s not even trying to be forced in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.
Be Greater Together
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2′s writing excels in its commitment to presenting a diverse story full of humanity.
In doing so, it becomes one of the most honest, inclusive and natural games I’ve played in a long while.
One series’ favourite character gets a video game twist that follows recent comic lore regarding LGBTQ2IA inclusion, which is also handled well overall. Gone are the days when Peter taking a picture of the legendary Stonewall Inn constituted inclusion. NPCs will now drop comments like their same-sex partner is a huge fan or that their same-sex partner will never believe that said NPC just met Spider-Man.
Walk through Central Park or Prospect Park, and you will likely see honest same-sex interactions.
Being a disabled person who is mindful of accommodations and acceptance in action, I was touched to see Marvel’sSpider-Man: Miles Morales’s Hayley come back and get an even more authentic story on deaf interaction with the world that includes a class interpreter at Brooklyn Visions Academy and frequent text-to-speech calls with Miles and even Peter.
If you’ve never had a phone conversation with a deaf person, I imagine this will be a huge “so that’s how that works” moment.
The significant addition to Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is two playable Spider-Men.
Switching between Miles and Peter is almost always allowed through the updated version of the “Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man” app, aside from story beats that require you to play as Peter or Miles.
Aside from a handful of later story battles, joint fight sequences occur in random crimes you find throughout the city, which seems underutilized, considering there’s a whole skill tree for these battles. But they are very rewarding to see!
I think you’re going to find that combat here is a lot more personal based on the mix of Abilities and Gadgets. Some players are going to go all Abilities and not even touch Gadgets, while others use combo.
The biggest change is that you have two heroes to pick from now. And that makes this a vastly different experience than either previous entry.
This leads me to my answer to one of the most significant questions about Marvel’s Spider-Man 2: How do two Spider-Men work?
Overall, pretty impressively and effortlessly.
I mostly used Miles when given the option because his “Enhanced Venom” Abilities work more as snap-to-aim-assist abilities than Peter’s “Spider Arms.”
“Aim Assist” is an accessibility feature that I often use to help me enjoy games without my hand tremors impeding gameplay too much.
I am happy to report that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is not a game I had to turn Aim Assist on!
However, I did find myself using some accessibility options, so let’s talk about those.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 And Its Web Of Accessibility
Insomniac Games has presented itself on the podium of video game accessibility in recent years, joining Playground Games, Santa Monica Studios, and Ubisoft as leaders in inclusion.
And with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, there’s a solid case to be made for them being on the top of it. This is one of the most accessible games I’ve played in a long time.
I’ll give you an example of where accessibility helped me. I played my review playthrough on the mid-to-high difficulty “Spectacular” mode. But during the Mystero Challenges, which stand in for AR Challenges, I found myself unable to handle the requisite to beat three complete waves of baddies without taking a hit, with a challenge where you have two minutes to use six finishers.
For the first challenge, I slowed the game to 70 percent and boosted dodge and parry windows to create a harder-to-hit Spider-Man. For the second challenge, I slowed game speed, made sure I had a skill activated that increases focus regeneration for webbing up and beating on enemies and then turned on “Web Burst” so that a single press of R1 shoots three webs and webs up in a single burst.
I am also sure there will be a lot of fans of assistive swinging and Web Wings. The latter factors heavily into one side story and challenge mode where your choice of Spider-Man must use the Web Wings to fly Superman 64-style through a path of rings. On higher difficulties, going outside of these rings for an undisclosed but not very long amount of time will fail, so Web Wing assists were a lovely addition that I found myself using once or twice.
From the Boroughs To The City
The whole Console Creature team playing the game early agrees that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2′s map is large at almost double the size of the original Manhattan and Harlem series.
There are enough story elements and collectables to justify all of the new space, and with the addition of Web Wings, Slipstreams and the Slingshots, traversing the full map feels natural, like most other things in this game.
Web Wings will likely feel restrictive at first as their glides don’t last very long, and the Abilities that allow them to last longer and reactivate take some time to unlock.
Slingshots are marked on the map but can also be used almost anywhere after you’ve purchased the skill that allows you to make them. If you pair the Slingshot with using Web Wings through a Slipstream, you’ll find your way through the city and boroughs in minutes.
While fast travelling and dropping in as Miles or Peter almost instantaneously is pretty fulfilling, I think you’re going to find that you’ll find a mix of swinging and Web Winging that will keep you from using fast travel.
Slips and Clips
There’s no denying that Insomniac Games is one of the best studios out there right now for developing games on the PlayStation 5.
Adaptive Triggers and Haptics play a significant part in new puzzles that require a specific touch.
The only collectibles I have yet to get completely is the Spider-Bots because seeing their Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse-like ping can be tricky during the day, and there’s no tracking device or skill for finding them. I find this confusing as there is one to point out hidden “Underground Tech Caches” on the map.
This is a big world map, so it would stand to reason that overall performance suffers from more extended loading screens and performance drops. However, they aren’t noticeable past reopening to the title card and jumping back into the game. I can’t rave enough about how seamless jumping between Spider-Men is. I had little to no issues playing between the two characters, and the level of polish I found is on par with Sony’s continued dedication to delivering complete products.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 feels natural, which is not always easy to do with a spiritual second game. When standing next to Marvel’s Spider-Manand Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 stands and points at the other two games, looking the same but better. I have no trouble in saying that it justifies its existence.
“Be Greater Together” touches every part of this original adventure and lends an easygoing and natural experience when it gets over the few stumbles of pacing and trying to pack in various iconic characters with individual stories. The story is also a three-act saga that can take a while to get swinging. But I can’t give enough praise for its final act.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Review: Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
"Be Greater Together" touches every part of Marvel's Spider-Man 2 game design and lends players an easygoing and natural experience.
Pretty much all around, this game feels natural to play
Very inclusive writing with great representation
New combat and traversal abilities are great, the Web Wings make a great first impression
Story tries to pack a little too much in, hurting the pacing