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Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 review: An amazing, spectacular sequel

Proof that sometimes, sequels are better.

Spider-Man 2
Marvel's Spider-Man 2
5 out of 5 stars
5
Platform
PS5
Release date
20 October 2023
Georgia Dixon
Oct 24, 2023
Icon Time To Read4 min read
pro
Pros
pro Twice the Spider-Men, twice the fun
pro A truly expansive open world
pro Excellently-paced storyline with plenty of twists
con
Cons
con Seemingly unending boss battles
con Only a few new Spidey suits
Spider-Man 2 on PlayStation 5

As it so often happens, we were introduced by mutual friends. They weren’t my usual type, but everyone had such amazing things to say about them that I figured it was at least worth a shot. Soon enough, we were spending hours, even days together. When we were apart, they were always on my mind.

I am, of course, talking about Insomniac’s best-selling 2018 game, Marvel’s Spider-Man.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and so it did, amicably, having simply come to its natural conclusion after a couple of months. But I knew we’d meet again.

A couple of weeks ago, meet again we did. But this time, things were different. We were different. I was older, wiser, more experienced. They had a ‘2’ attached to the end of their name. But despite our differences, we quickly fell back into that familiar pattern. I couldn’t get enough of them. Every second I spent not with them was a second I spent thinking about being with them. I wanted to savour it, truly I did, but I knew from the get-go it was going to be a whirlwind romance—a week, to be exact. And what a week it was.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 takes place a few years after the events of the O.G. Spider-Man and a couple after Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Both Spider-Men are grappling with how to balance their superhero duties with their everyday lives—Miles, preparing for college while battling the craving for vengeance against his father’s killer; Peter reeling from the death of his Aunt May, dealing with her estate and trying to move his relationship with MJ into the future. But how are you supposed to live your life when Kraven the Hunter lands in the city, attempting to free the Raft’s many supervillains so he can hunt them, and maybe even you, for sport?

“Forget fighting baddies and saving the world. Flying and web-slinging your way around New York? That’s the true joy of the game.”

We’re still in NYC, but for the first time, we also venture into Brooklyn and Queens—in toto, it makes for almost double the map size of its predecessors. Fortunately, traversing the expansive open world is (quite literally) a breeze, thanks to the Spider-Men’s new web wings and a slew of wind tunnels all over the city that allow you to soar from neighbourhood to neighbourhood in a matter of seconds. Forget fighting baddies and saving the world. Flying and web-slinging your way around New York? That’s the true joy of the game.

Perhaps the most major overhaul in Spider-Man 2 is the ability to switch between our two Spider-Men, each with their own unique abilities. Miles Morales players will be familiar with Miles’ bio-electric powers, but this time, Peter gains a new set of skills (thanks to a new symbiote suit) that makes for some of the most brutal combat we’ve seen in any of the three games.

Speaking of combat, we hope you like it, because there’s a lot. You’ll be fighting off the usual street thugs along with Kraven’s incredibly well-equipped Hunters, some deadly cultists, and, eventually, [REDACTED]’s relentless army of [REDACTED]. (Sorry, we really don’t want to spoil anything). Thankfully, twice the Spider-Men means you’ll get a little help from a friend at times, joining up to deliver some devastating finishers.

The basic combat moves are the same as the previous two titles, but the new consolidated gadget system means you’ll need to memorise a bunch of new button combos, which takes a bit of getting used to and, if you’re anything like me, will undoubtedly result in more than a few accidental triggers. But memorise them you’ll need to, because the boss battles this time around are epic—not just in scale, but in length. Just when you think you’ve thrown your last punch, you’re back in the ring. It can feel like the fight will never end, but honestly, combat in this game is so fun that it isn’t too much of a slog.

If you’ve managed to steer clear of any spoilers, you’ll be treated to a slew of twists, unexpected redemption arcs and, by the same token, heel turns. But so much of what makes Spider-Man 2 feel so well-rounded isn’t the fast-paced, action-packed main storyline. No, the heart of this game lies in the little moments in between the main quest chapters—Side quests that turn into intimate character studies, mini-games that lead to emotional yet satisfying pay-offs.

Determining which Spider-Man is best suited for a certain task quickly becomes something of an art. Both have their own separate skill trees, along with a third, shared by both Peter and Miles. Prioritising which skill tree to focus on at which time can be a little overwhelming at first, and it’s easy to feel like you’re favouring one over the other.

Likewise, each hero has their own set of collectible suits, though sadly, there aren’t as many new ‘fits as I was hoping for. Still, one welcome new feature is the ability to craft different colours and styles of existing suits, making Spidey more customisable than ever.

Spider-Man 2 is a PS5 exclusive, which although limits play to current-gen players, does allow the game to take full advantage of the PS5’s capabilities. It’s blazingly fast, so much so that there are no more loading scenes when fast-travelling (not that you’ll be doing much of that when flying is so damn fun). It’s a masterclass in integrating the DualSense controller’s unique haptic features for all types of applications, particularly the adaptive triggers which are used quite frequently.

The game’s visuals, too, far surpass its predecessor. A quick glance into an apartment window will show you a completely rendered interior and, if you’re lucky, even a non-playable New Yorker chilling inside. This attention to seemingly insignificant details truly brings the environment to life, making for an even more immersive experience.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 had enormous shoes to fill. 2018’s Spider-Man nailed web-slinging in a way no previous games starring our arachnoid hero had managed, with versatile gameplay and a story that was hard to step away from, even for just a snack break. Miles Morales, too, brought new life and new perspectives to what was already a foundationally perfect game. Despite the high bar set by its predecessors, Spider-Man 2 manages to not only deliver more of what we loved about those other games but improve on them to the point that it still feels fresh and exciting. It managed to prove that, sometimes, sequels really are better.

For now, Spider-Man 2 joins the hall of exes, but fret not hopeless romantics—I can just about guarantee this isn’t our last encounter.

Marvel's Spider-Man 2 trailer

Play Video

What can I play Spider-Man 2 on?

Marvel's Spider-Man 2 is available exclusively on PlayStation 5.

Georgia Dixon
Written by
Georgia Dixon
Georgia Dixon has over seven years' experience writing about all things tech, entertainment and lifestyle, with bylines in TechLife magazine, 7NEWS and Stuff.co.nz. In her spare time, you'll find her playing games and daydreaming about good food, wine, and dogs.

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