Preview of Marvel's Spider-Man 2 - Does everything a sequel can do | GAME3A

Preview of Marvel's Spider-Man 2 - Does everything a sequel can do

The first thing I did in Marvel's Spider-Man 2 was to ascend the Avengers Tower. Taking control of Peter Parker, I envisioned Sony's hope for me to ob...

Patrick Smith Sept 15, 2023
Preview of Marvel's Spider-Man 2 - Does everything a sequel can do

The first thing I did in Marvel's Spider-Man 2 was to ascend the Avengers Tower. Taking control of Peter Parker, I envisioned Sony's hope for me to obediently follow the map symbols, progressing through the preview and ensuring I saw everything. However, in such an expansive world, I comprehended the importance of taking my time. Furthermore, I desired to witness how the tower had transformed over the past five years.

Only after thoroughly examining my surroundings and grasping the layout of this new and improved open world was I ready to claim it as my own. Insomniac has elevated its superhero adventure in every conceivable way, delivering a confident, stylish, yet ultimately secure sequel. Considering all that it has to offer, deviating from the predictable in a game like this is by no means a disqualifying factor.

However, before the world became my oyster, I was led through a predetermined sequence within the Emily May Foundation building—a scientific institute established in honor of Aunt May following her passing in the first game. With Harry Osborn and Peter Parker at the helm, there is hope that it will become a bastion for significant research and human progress. After a prolonged absence, Harry has finally returned and appears to be in good spirits despite a deadly illness. It turns out that he is also aware of Peter's alter ego as Spider-Man, although Peter remains oblivious to the fact that Harry's "absence" actually involved being kept in a glass tube for experimentation by his father, Norman.


It is a fascinating narrative choice that either occurs off-camera or early in the game, as my preview extended two hours into the sequel. Peter is a grumpy little troublemaker, thanks to the alien suit spreading all over his body, while Miles faces both his unpredictable mentor and the challenge of submitting his first college essay and pursuing his first girlfriend. Spider-Man 2 takes place several months after Miles' spin-off and swiftly establishes where all our characters are and what they will be fighting for.

The willingness to accept help from the people in their surroundings, coping with loss, and taking responsibility in their extraordinary lives are once again central themes for both Peter and Miles. Harry's identity as Venom was the only thread that kept me in the dark; all I know is that he and Peter are more closely connected than ever before, and something drastic will be necessary to tear them apart.


In terms of gameplay, Spider-Man 2 is more evolutionary than revolutionary. Aside from a few minor imperfections, its predecessor was the finest example of web-swinging we have ever witnessed. It still feels fantastic and has been enhanced by a stronger sense of physical weight, as well as a much wider variety in terms of visual finesse and the tricks each character possesses.

Peter's symbiote suit is much heavier, with a thicker webbing and a deeper, almost predatory sense of purpose in our hero's movements as he clings to the dark black tendrils, poised upside down like a deadly spider, awaiting his prey. On the other hand, Miles has become more agile and experienced, able to act confidently without the assistance of his mentor.

There are also more movements and possibilities, as well as the ability to switch between them with a press of a button, allowing for experimentation with both styles and finding ways in which they can complement each other. At certain points in the story, one is forced to assume the role of either one or the other, but otherwise, Insomniac aims to emulate Grand Theft Auto 5 and create an open world with enough depth to accommodate two entirely different characters. However, the true distinction lies in their abilities.


Peter and Miles have their own skill trees, as well as one they share, with abilities that I imagine will be utilized in specific missions and scenes. This will provide more incentive to pursue upgrades rather than simply relying on the web blossom to immobilize everyone around you in a matter of seconds. Instead of radial menus and a single cooldown for the abilities you can use in combat, Spider-Man 2 allows you to select from up to eight abilities at any given time by holding down the shoulder buttons and pressing the corresponding button.

This provides more variety to your everyday arsenal, but it does turn some battles into a constant spamming of powerful abilities and finishing animations rather than the continuous flow of dodges, kicks, and punches we are accustomed to. There is also a new dodging system that both heroes can use in encounters with larger bosses and stronger enemies. It seamlessly integrates into the action, giving more significance to a combat system that quickly became monotonous in the first game.

Insomniac is striving to distance itself from some of its older inspirations, particularly when it comes to exploration. The countless symbols for collectibles and side quests have been removed and replaced with a more neutral approach to discovery, similar to Red Dead Redemption 2 or Tears of the Kingdom. Environmental cues such as gusts of wind or pulsating energy sources are designed to naturally divert your attention, rather than turning Manhattan into a glorified superhero scavenger hunt.

I couldn't gauge the extent of this new system during my preview, but swinging through the city and making discoveries felt much more enjoyable, as they felt like my own rather than just filling gaps like in a ten-year-old Ubisoft game. The new discovery photo missions replace landmarks and provide juicy background stories and cultural knowledge that a sequel cannot afford to revisit. It all works, but whether it changes the game or simply feels like a fresh coat of paint remains to be seen.


There are also suits. Many suits. A total of 65 pieces that can be enhanced with unique style variations and colors to offer even more sophistication. The Venom suit from Sam Raimi is included, so it seems that Insomniac will provide fan service while still telling its own distinctive story. Spider-Bots can also be found throughout the city, all with adorable costumes and references to the character and its many variations.

Even with all its obvious improvements, Spider-Man 2 shines brightest in its explosive set pieces and nuanced character drama. I played an extended version of the epic battle against the Lizard, which was showcased in the gameplay reveal. I sneaked into Curt Connors' hideout to spy on his experiments before Kraven crashed the party. This was followed by a chase through the city into the sewers. As we fought, it constantly reminded me of Spidey's battle with Sandman in the third Raimi film. You'll crawl through destroyed subway cars and infiltrate dark, damp sewer pipes, all before coming face to face with a green threat.


It all culminated in a breathtaking chase through the city as the Lizard destroyed countless buildings and undoubtedly killed some civilians, while Peter tried to administer a cure that is also the key to helping Harry. Concrete stakes take center stage here, packaged in action that feels weighty and significant. If this is only the beginning of what Spider-Man 2 has to offer compared to its predecessor, I can't wait to see how deep it will ultimately go. Judging by the confidence displayed by Insomniac, I imagine it will go very far.

Marvel's Spider-Man 2 is the sequel I've been waiting for, but this time it's something good. The first game was one of the strongest comic-book stories in recent memory, with fitting gameplay, and Insomniac is now taking it even further, with more heart, more action, and more ambitions. I just hope it's able to overcome old open-world clichés and repetitive gameplay sequences and become the long-awaited sequel we've all been waiting for.