With Insomniac Games having already created two stellar Spider-Man titles in the last five years, I – along with a legion of Spidey fans – had very high expectations for Spider-Man 2 on the PS5. Remarkably though, Insomniac has produced something that exceeds every expectation I had. After spending upwards of 25 hours swinging through New York City during my Spider-Man 2 review playthrough, I’m convinced that what we have here is the best PS5 game so far – and one that could stand the test of time to be the best we’ll see from this entire console generation when all is said and done.
Let’s do this one more time (for any Spider-Verse fans out there). Following on from the Miles Morales spin-off, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 sees us take the role of both of New York City’s Spider-Men as they discover the arrival of Kraven, a hunter who is looking to make his mark on the world by hunting the most dangerous creature he can find. Unfortunately for Peter and Miles, this includes themselves, as well as the various Spider-Man 2 villains residing in the city.
However, despite being an intimidating foe, Kraven is but a warm-up for the real antagonist of Spider-Man 2: Venom. Successfully bringing him into a Spidey story is something that has tripped up many films and comics already, but Insomniac has nailed it – Tony Todds’ voicing of Venom absolutely lands, and the decision to give the mantle of Venom to someone other than Eddie Brock was definitely the right one.
Insomniac Games does an amazing job of doing what the comics seemingly can’t at the moment: writing an incredible Spider-Man story. Peter and Miles’ troubles are beautifully portrayed, and the various side characters all have a great place within the plot. Similar to its first outing with the superhero, Insomniac also creates a wonderfully nuanced set of villains, that aren’t simply evil faces to punch, but fully fleshed-out characters that have their own distinct feelings. Of course, as always, Yuri Lowenthal and Nadji Jeter absolutely bring pure passion to their roles as Peter and Miles respectively, delivering superb performances. Lowenthal in particular is a stand-out, as he nails the new darker side to Peter that we see in this game after he takes on the symbiote.
Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to disclose or discuss the events at the end of this epic PS5 exclusive, and nor would I, as the final act is a fitting culmination of everything that happens prior, and definitely something you should see yourself. A few surprises make for the most thrilling finale of a game I’ve ever played, something which I am excited to witness again on my next few playthroughs.
If you’ve played both Marvel’s Spider-Man and Miles Morales, the gameplay will feel similar to you here. Creating acrobatic combos that feel fluid and fast is just as important as the first two games in the series while swinging through the expanded open world is even more delightful. With a range of new abilities, including the Web Wings, Insomniac has added even more depth to the already incredible traversal it crafted in the first games.
The combat is much more chaotic and fun compared to the first two games, with the arrival of skills and gadgets that are available on command. Not too dissimilar to the recent Assassin’s Creed RPG games, you can select a set of four skills for each of the Spider-Men, all of which are devastating and useful against the hordes of characters you’ll fight. It can take a lot of getting used to, but it adds even more depth to the glorious combat within Insomniac Games’ best series.
The setting for Peter and Miles’ battles continues to be Spider-Man’s home turf of New York City, but it’s much more expanded with the introduction of two additional boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. And despite being the same locale as the previous entries, the sequel manages to make New York feel and look entirely different. While the skyscrapers remain the same, the changes to traversal make for a completely new feeling when making your way across the various high rises, and the world feels much more alive than before. Moments like the initial fight with Sandman in the opening of the game have remaining consequences later in the game, with some buildings having mountains of sand escaping them and spilling out onto the street.
The world of Insomniac’s New York feels more alive than the last two games too, with more interesting crimes to stop, and the fact that you can take people to ambulances after some incidents so they can get medical care quickly. Small things bring the city to life, something that adds further depth than simply swinging across the city waiting for something to happen. You actually feel like a superhero, saving people and caring for them, instead of just stopping a robbery and leaving the victim on the ground. Not only that, but the other Spider-Man you’re not playing as will occasionally swing in to help you with some crimes. Even away from the main story and the big battles against villains, Spider-Man 2 is still amazing.
Performance-wise, Insomniac’s New York is both stunning and expansive, and its loading is superbly fast thanks to the PS5’s SSD. Insomniac truly pushed the power of PlayStation 5 here. Also, I never had issues with dropped frames or stutters, with everything running exceptionally well. In terms of bugs, I only witnessed a couple which were extremely minor and more hilarious than frustrating – at one point, I was stuck behind an environmental object during a fight but could easily use my web to lift myself out, and there was one bizarre case of a building going completely invisible while swinging through the city. But that’s it. Spider-Man 2 is one of the cleanest games I’ve ever played during a review window.
The only real issue with all of this is that I genuinely don’t know how Insomniac Games can improve on this for what feels like an inevitable Spider-Man 3 on the PS6. The development team has poured such passion and love into fine-tuning everything that worked in the first two games to the point that, if it developed a new game with the exact same gameplay, I wouldn’t complain one bit. Those who worked on this game should be immensely proud of what they’ve accomplished here.
When it comes to the best PS5 games, I didn’t think anything would top Final Fantasy 16 for a long while. Spider-Man 2 has proven me wrong just three months later. Insomniac Games has once again raised the bar for PlayStation exclusives, to the point where this is almost certainly a title worthy of being the PS5’s magnum opus. It delivers a quintessential Spidey story packed with emotion and beautiful storytelling that is wrapped up in incredibly fun and chaotic gameplay. I had no doubt Insomniac would pull off an incredible sequel, but I never realized how spectacular it would truly be.
Spider-Man 2 is hands-down the best game of the PS5 era so far. It’s visually stunning, narratively brilliant, and somehow manages to improve Insomniac’s already stellar traversal and combat from previous Spidey games. It’s a masterpiece.