Ok, does everyone have their PS5s now? Good! We’re gearing up to swing through the city, but also fly. Oh, and switch between heroes at almost any given moment. It’s Spider-Man 2 for the PS5!
What’s It About?
Spider-Man 2 takes place nearly two years after the 2018 game, giving us a chance to play with two competent Spiders.
Both Spider-Men are dealing with the classic Spider-Man situation: how do you balance your normal life and your Spider responsibilities? Is that even possible? Peter is trying to lock down a steady job, be there for Mary Jane, and tutor Miles. Miles is getting tutored, trying to develop more confidence, be there for his friends and family, and get into college. Both are constantly pulled into one Spider crisis after another. When Harry Osborn comes back into Peter’s life, seemingly cured of his illness, things get more complicated for Peter and Miles.
Meanwhile, Kraven and his Hunters realize New York City is filled with supervillains that could test his mettle. They enter the city and start rounding up the villains for Kraven to hunt. When Peter, Miles, MJ, and Harry realize these villains are dying, they realize just how dangerous Kraven is. Each Spider gets their own dilemma as a result.
Miles struggles with Martin Li, aka Mr. Negative, being on the loose and wants to take him down for killing his dad. Peter finds that Harry’s recovery is due to a symbiotic suit he wears, giving him incredible strength and spider-like powers. Eventually, both gain more power from those issues: Miles’ Venom powers improve and Peter gains the symbiote.
As the fight against Kraven rages on, another one rises from the symbiote.
Why Should I Care?
First off, is the game rushed? That was the biggest question coming into the release, particularly when many could likely beat it under 20 hours. In some ways, it definitely feels rushed, but does it hurt it? I don’t think so. I think it helps more than it hurts. The story itself is paced well and, even though it stacks up a lot of villains, it smartly focuses on just a couple. Meanwhile, side missions are limited but bring good value and purpose. Nothing bogs you down or feels so repetitive. For me, it works, even with the normal price tag.
With that aside, does the game balance using two Spider-Men? It does, though not always successfully. The game strives to push the teamwork elements, very much including Mary Jane into that mix. It does well for the most part. Both Peter and Miles get their opportunities to shine and show off their emotional cores, but enough of the story centers around Peter’s scenarios that it leaves Miles feeling more truncated in how his story is explained and what you can do with him. Thankfully, he still gets to be a star at the end. Perhaps it’s fair for this to be Peter’s story, as it does feel more like a successor to 2018’s Spider-Man even though it’s covering the events of that and Miles Morales.
For combat, things get ramped up quite a bit. Peter gets his Advanced Suit 2.0 upgrade with the Iron Spider legs, which can also produce some levels of electricity and make him more of a brawler. Miles’ Venom powers blend so much better together and make him less of a brawler and a better distance fighter. With the Symbiote, Peter becomes more violent and gives him better opportunities to fight at a distance, too. The best combat opportunity comes when you’re completing city crimes, as you may come across the other Spider-Man. They’ll genuinely help you and create better beat downs to combine your powers. It gets fun when you can throw reactions at each other during those beat downs or recreate memes after a fight. Mary Jane missions return to combat, too. Simply, she’s overpowered, but the missions are so much better than in 2018 and I desperately wish that Peter and Miles had the same gun she carries. But then maybe the game would only take 5 hours to complete. It would help, though, as the goon difficulty is so much harder with how much they shoot you or throw bombs.
Web wings, though. It’s an interesting new feature that makes things easier for navigation but also creates too much of the rushed mentality that lingers throughout the game. Air flow paths throughout the game make it easy to go across the river or the city, but they don’t cover every part, so it won’t take away the importance of swinging entirely. Still, it won’t be necessary. Worse, it can feel too chaotic at times, particularly when dropping into combat. It’s harder to slow down and when I was swinging into combat, I often accidentally triggered the wings instead of webbing up the enemy, creating a more chaotic battle. I didn’t hate them, as they were generally more fun than bad, but they definitely weren’t a preference unless I was crossing a river.
For performance vs look, I didn’t find many issues. The game performs incredibly well and looks fantastic. While nothing took me out of the game, there were some visual hiccups. Early in the game, faces for Peter, Mary Jane, and Harry looked very stiff around the mouth, but that got so much better as the game progressed. Later, Peter glowed like an angel in one side mission that had a lot of fire associated with it, so I couldn’t tell if it was a lighting issue. On the performance side, there was one bug towards the end of the game while playing as Miles. You’re prompted to complete an ability, but the game stops and won’t let you quit the action. Luckily, I found just going back to your last checkpoint (immediately before that moment) gets you out of it and you can avoid the bug by simply performing the ability before the game prompts you. Beyond those oddities, the game never ruined anything.
What Makes It Worth My Time and Money?
Does Spider-Man 2 reinvent the game or the genre? No, but did it have to? Also no. It continues a lot of what we loved from the first game and doubles down on it while also introducing some clever new gameplay. I completed about 80% of the game’s content in about 20 hours and it was a tight experience. Speedy and dense, but not in a bad way. If anything, it helped avoid a stagnant and repetitive approach. Could another 10-15 hours give the game more value? I don’t think so. Spider-Man hit a solid spot that works well for what it is, not what something else should be.
And for what it’s worth, this game’s story is probably what most of us would have wanted out of Spider-Man 3, the movie.