With great power comes great responsibility. And with two Spider-Men comes double the fun.
With Peter Parker and Miles Morales both being Spider-Man, they’ve got a good thing going on, allowing them to fight crime and generally have their own personal lives. Every once in a while, however, both of them are required to deal with a sticky situation. That’s how Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 begins: with a situation so grave that they need to work together to take down a villain of epic proportions. It’s here that you get a taste of the sensational action that the game has in store for you. Straight away, it feels like a true next-gen experience.
Amazingly, it’s something that continues throughout the game’s campaign, too. Insomniac has made the best of having two protagonists, developing a deeper, richer story that tackles both Peter’s and Miles’ personal struggles outside of feeling duty-bound to protect New York City. It’s easy to really empathise with them, heightening story beats, but it’s the heart-pounding action scenes that will ultimately keep you going back for more. Pretty much everything has been improved here, meaning whether you’re simply traversing the city or taking down thugs, you’re in for a real good time.
Take traversal, for example. It’s impressive enough that your swinging speed has been increased, and that you have more advanced manoeuvres at your disposal. The best thing, though, is the introduction of Web Wings. Essentially turning your hero attire into a wingsuit, you’re able to soar through the skies of New York City like never before, making getting around quicker and more fun. That’s important when you take into consideration that two additional districts have been added – Brooklyn and Queens. Savvy players can even make use of wind currents to gain extra height and speed, allowing them to stay in the air longer and cover more distance.
With using your Web Wings being so much fun, it’s perhaps unsurprising that it forms the basis of one of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2’s many side-activities. These will be relatively familiar to those that have played the original game, but again, work has been done to make them more enjoyable to complete. There’s more variety to them, for one; some simply present puzzles for you to complete, others are much more combat focused. What’s really neat is that they generally tie into the game’s story much better, with some even having story aspects that enrich the experience overall.
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When it comes to combat, having two Spider-Men that you can switch between in what is essentially an instant, each with their own unique abilities, already makes taking down criminals more engaging. Better still, Insomniac has given both Miles and Peter yet more unique abilities to keep things fresh, with a range of spectacular skills becoming available over the course of the game’s campaign. Miles’ Venom Punch, for example, can be replaced with an attack that electrifies opponents instead if you wish. Eventually you’ll be able to have four of these skills equipped to each character, greatly opening up your options in combat alongside your variety of gadgets.
Further adding depth to the combat is the introduction of a parry technique. While you can still dodge most attacks, sometimes you’ll be faced with attacks that you’ll need to parry to avoid taking damage and gain the advantage. Bosses, which have also been greatly improved in this sequel, now have attacks you need to watch out for that you can only dodge, too. Overall, while you’ve got additional skills in combat that make you feel like a force to be reckoned with, you also need to pay more attention to what’s going on around you. Fail to spot an incoming attack and the correct way to deal with it, and you could be in for a world of pain.
Of course, in some situations it pays to take a stealthy approach. This is another aspect of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 that’s received some improvements. Both Spider-Men can now create their own web-based tightropes with which to stalk enemies from above. It makes performing perch takedowns much easier. Miles retains his camouflage ability, too, making him particularly suited to sneaking scenarios. For those wondering whether they once again get to take control of MJ, the answer is yes. She always has a stun gun at her disposal, which makes her sections much more fun. It gets some important upgrades that further shake up her gameplay later in the game, too.
Visually, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a step up from the already phenomenal-looking Miles Morales. New York City feels more detailed and alive, and character models, at least of the main cast, are pretty much photo-realistic. That’s something you’ll appreciate when making ample use of the game’s photo mode. It’s the lighting that impresses the most here, though. It’s such a step up from that seen in Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered and Miles Morales, really making scenes feel natural. Sometimes you can’t help but be amazed by what Insomniac has managed to achieve – the combination of visual fidelity and scope, all the while providing solid performance. We played Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 on its 40fps Fidelity setting for review, and it always looked and performed great.
It’s hard to write about – and indeed review – Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 without spoiling it. Just know that this takes everything from the previous games and improves on each aspect considerably. It looks nicer, plays better, and is packed with much more variety. It’s the story here that’s the biggest delight, though, filled with genuine surprises, heartfelt moments and epic scenes that will stick in your mind for a long time to come. Spider-Man is no stranger to adjectives such as “amazing” and “spectacular”, both of which can be applied to Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. More than just an accomplished sequel, it’s the best superhero game ever made.