Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is exactly what you want from a sequel, building upon the web-swinging traversal and thrilling combat with numerous upgrades, while also making the most of the PS5’s cutting-edge hardware for improved visuals and instantaneous loading. The story is excellent too, with one of the best on-screen adaptations of Venom to date. If you’re a Spider-Man fan, this is an essential purchase for PS5 owners.
- Thrilling Venom-centric story
- New special abilites are a blast
- Web wings are a joy to use
- Instantaneous loading times
- Inconsistent face models
- Side missions are still repetitive
- Release date:20 October 2023
- Genre:Action-adventure / Superhero
The original Marvel’s Spider-Man, which launched on PS4 back in 2018, did a phenomenal job of making you feel like you were playing as the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, whether you were swinging through the streets of New York or webbing up criminals.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 doesn’t provide grand-sweeping changes, sticking faithfully to the core experience that has proved so successful. And yet developer Insomniac Games has still managed to improve upon almost every aspect of the game with minor tweaks. Combat is more engaging, the story more focused and swinging even more enjoyable.
Factor in the technical advancements thanks to the power of the PS5, with stunning 4K visuals and the instant loading times, and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is yet another grand success story for PlayStation.
- Both Peter and Miles are playable
- Fantastic story with improved pacing
- Venom is a superb villain
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 features two main protagonists in both Peter Parker and Miles Morales – the latter isn’t merely a sidekick for back-up support, sharing just as much screen time as his mentor.
Both characters are still reeling from the events of the previous entries, grieving over the untimely deaths of both Aunt May and Miles’ father. The fury and grief of these losses fuel both characters in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and it’s fascinating to see how both Peter and Miles deal with these emotions.
Peter is also struggling financially, failing to balance both his work life and duties as Spider-Man, while Miles is in the process of applying for college. It’s great to see both characters struggling with realistic problems for young adults, making both Peter and Miles incredibly relatable, despite their super-powered alter egos.
Kraven the Hunter is one of the leading antagonists, a hulking mercenary obsessed with finding his greatest adversary. As a result, he spends the majority of the game hunting the most notorious villains of Spider-Man’s New York, leading to welcome reappearances of the likes of Scorpion and Mister Negative, as well as new faces such as Lizard.
Kraven has a dominating presence, and it was always entertaining watching him on screen, even if he is a little one note with little depth to his character. Venom proves to be the far more compelling villain, proving to be one of the best on-screen adaptations of the extraterrestrial symbiote yet, and certainly better than the Topher Grace and Tom Hardy iterations.
Just like in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, Venom starts off as a symbiote suit for Peter Parker, gradually sinking its hooks into our hero’s mind and manipulating his behaviour and emotions. Venom is genuinely terrifying at times, and only becomes more monstrous as the story progresses – fortunately, there’s no cringey dancing and finger gunning this time round.
The original Marvel’s Spider-Man also had a great story, but suffered from poor pacing with most of the villain confrontations packed into the final third. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 does a far better job of this, with an engaging story and action-packed cutscenes spread evenly throughout the campaign. I was able to complete the story in under 20 hours, but I personally preferred having a compact story with little excess padding, while there are plenty of side missions to dig into beyond the credits.
- Venom abilities wreak havoc on enemies
- New block mechanic varies up combat
- Vastly improved Mary Jane levels
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 uses the same core combat system as before, with clear inspirations from the Batman Arkham series as the player responds to on-screen prompts to pull off slick web-swinging finishing moves.
Insomniac has made a couple of tweaks to make combat even more engaging in the sequel. It has borrowed the special abilities feature of the Spider-Man: Miles Morales spin-off, with Miles still able to use his lightning-powered punches. Peter has also been given his own set of special abilities, using the metallic spider arms to pummel criminals, as well as the newly acquired Venom powers that deal brutal bone-breaking damage.
These new powers allow you to fight off large crowds of enemies at once, allowing Insomniac to not only throw more enemies at you, but also create a greater variety of foes. Spider-Man will need to fight off humans, flying drones, robot dogs, sand henchmen and symbiote monsters, all of which have their own movesets and weapons to keep you on your toes.
Spider-Man is now able to block as well as doge, which feels a little out of character for the web crawler, but does ensure that you need to keep an eye on enemy attack patterns. It took me a fair while to get used to this adjustment, with big brutes requiring you to counter with blocks in order to deal any damage. The screen can also be so crowded with enemies that it’s often easy to miss these on-screen indicators.
There’s no doubt that the combat is more challenging than before, especially at the higher difficulties, but I personally think the tweaks result in a more engaging and rewarding experience. Those thumping finishing moves are just as delightful to watch as before, especially now Peter and Miles can team up to dispatch an enemy in a stylish cutscene.
There have also been a few adjustments made to stealth combat. Enemies are now a lot more intelligent, able to deduce that Spider-Man is close by when seeing webbing, and so will alert the rest of their crew to start patrolling the area. You’ll also occasionally encounter flying drones during, so you won’t always be safe when attacking from above.
Fortunately, Insomniac has given Spider-Man the ability to create his own zipline webs to counteract this, giving you the freedom to create your own vantage points rather than relying on the map’s layout. You could argue that this makes stealth a little too easy, but I still had a lot of fun with it.
The stealth-focused Mary Jane segments were probably the weakest element of Marvel’s Spider-Man, so fans may well be dismayed to hear they’ve made a comeback for the sequel. Fortunately, there’s been a dramatic overhaul here for a far more enjoyable experience.
It’s clear that Insomniac has had some inspiration from Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, as controlling Mary Jane feels very similar to playing as Joel or Ellie. You’re able to distract enemies by throwing rocks, and you can sneak up behind to take them down with a stun gun.
Importantly, you’ll no longer be faced with a ‘game over’ screen when discovered by an enemy. Instead, you’ll be given a chance to scarper back into cover and disappear from sight. Physical combat isn’t an option though, with Insomniac keen to emphasise her vulnerability compared to the super-powered Spider-Man. These levels are a huge improvement from the preceding game, and I even found myself looking forward to them.
- Web wings allow you to travel even faster
- New York map is 2x bigger than before
- 65 suits available to unlock at launch
Swinging through New York was incredibly fun in Marvel’s Spider-Man, and that addictive thrill hasn’t lessened for the sequel – in fact, you’re able to swing even quicker than before.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 introduces the use of the web wings, which let you glide through the air like a flying squirrel. These allow you improved manoeuvrability when diving down into the streets, also allowing you to reach even faster speeds when ascending from a skyscraper or diving through wind tunnels. I’m a big fan of the web wings, but they are entirely optional (besides a few side missions) if you’d rather stick to swinging.
The map of New York is roughly 2x larger than that of Marvel’s Spider-Man, opening up new locations such as Queens, Brooklyn and the East River. Fast travel is now instantaneous thanks to the speed of the PS5, which I found particularly useful when switching between Miles and Peter. In fact, there’s absolutely no loading screen in this game, and I’ve been caught off guard multiple times during a boss fight, respawning immediately after defeat.
A new in-game AI overlay also makes it easier to spot points of interest without having to dive into the map, while swiping on the DualSense will open up a phone app with details of all available side quests. These are fantastic improvements, reducing the number of times I had to pause the game and go digging through menus.
There are numerous activities you can complete outside of the story campaign, from fighting hordes of sandmen, taking photos of points of interest and rescuing local citizens. Flashing red icons will also alert you to nearby crimes, but these quickly become repetitive, typically involving a mob of enemies to take down.
If I were to nitpick, I do feel the open-world isn’t quite up to the standard as other modern games, lacking the level of interactivity as Tears of Kingdom and the random events of Red Dead Redemption 2. There was an instance where a random firework display piqued my interest; when attending, a reckless citizen ended up getting fried, requiring me to swing him to a hospital. Little details like this help to make New York feel more alive, so it’s a shame I didn’t encounter any more of this ilk during my playthrough.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 provides fantastic incentive for completing side missions though, rewarding you with skill points and currency to gain new abilities, gadgets and suits. The sequel offers a remarkable 65 suits at launch, and there are some fantastic new additions here, some of which are inspired by the recent Across the Spider-Verse movie.
Performance and graphics
- Stunning visuals with 4K and ray tracing support
- Absolutely no loading screens
- Excellent haptic feedback with DualSense controller
I’ve been critical of Sony’s ability to supply the PS5 with enough games that take advantage of its cutting-edge hardware so far. As great as God of War Ragnarok and Horizon Forbidden West are, they hardly maximised the power of the PS5. Fortunately, this is not an issue with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, which is a technical marvel.
Firstly, it’s a great looking game. Insomniac has been able to activate ray tracing no matter whether you pick Fidelity or Performance mode, resulting in realistic reflections in water and the glass windows of skyscrapers. It’s also running in 4K, with rich detail making New York a beauty to behold.
Fidelity mode is locked to 30fps, but I personally had no issue with the motion when swinging through the city at high speeds, and ended up being my personal favourite choice. You do have the option for 60fps via Performance mode, but reduces the density of traffic and the population of New York, while scaling back the quality of ray tracing. No matter which option you pick, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 looks absolutely gorgeous.
I did find the character models to look a little inconsistent though. The likes of Miles, Kraven and Venom are wonderfully detailed, but strangely, the faces of Peter and Mary Jane look janky by comparison. These latter two characters also look dead behind the eyes, struggling to display the same range of emotions as Miles. I can only assume this is the result of Insomniac wanting to keep consistency across older games, but it is oddly distracting.
Insomniac has also made great use of the SSDs here. Fast travel is instantaneous, and there are absolutely no loading screens, even when loading up the game, entering a new mission or switching between Peter and Miles. It’s fantastically slick.
I’m also impressed with how Insomniac has utilised the haptic feedback of the DualSense controller, allowing me to feel the tippy-tappy steps of a spider drone, and the sizzling electric powers that course through Miles. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is one of the few games that makes the upgrade to the PS5 feel worthwhile.
Should you buy it?
You want the ultimate Spider-Man game
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is the best Spider-Man game I’ve ever played. It improves upon its predecessor in almost every single way, while also featuring a story that’s even more enjoyable than the vast majority of Hollywood adaptations.
You didn’t enjoy the original Marvel’s Spider-Man game
Honestly, the only reason you should avoid this game is if you didn’t enjoy the first game, as it’s a very similar experience, just better. Otherwise, if you own a PS5, then Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a must-buy.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is an excellent sequel, improving upon almost every aspect of its predecessor. There’s greater depth to the combat, the web wings complement web swinging very well and the story has better pacing.
It’s also great to see Insomniac fully utilising the powers of the PS5, with incredible 4K visuals, instant loading times and the immersive haptic feedback. This is one of the very few PS5 games that take full advantage of the console’s cutting-edge technology.
I personally don’t think Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 quite hits the same heights as other PlayStation exclusives such as God of War Ragnarok and The Last of Us Part 2, focusing on minor refinements on the original rather than ever daring to break the mould. But for those just looking forward to another great Spider-Man outing, then this is the game for you. Check out our Best PS5 Games list for more options.
How we test
We play every game we review through to the end, outside of certain exceptions where getting 100% completion, like Skyrim, is close to impossible to do. When we don’t fully finish a game before reviewing it, we will always alert the reader.
Played on PS5
Completed the story campaign
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Yes, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is only available on the PS5, so you can’t play it if you’re yet to upgrade from the PS4. Given Sony’s track record, it’s expected that Spider-Man 2 will eventually arrive on PC, but that won’t be for at least a few years.
It took us less than 20 hours to complete the main story, although it will take a lot longer to complete if you intend on finishing all of the side quests too.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is set two years after the events of Spider-Man 1.