Miles Morales and Peter Parker, Spider-Men, jump towards the screen in front of a monochromatic background.
Screenshot by Dot Esports

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 review: It takes a team to heal the world

A definitive superhero gaming experience.

It’s rare for something to have sky-high expectations and not only meet, but greatly exceed them. And that’s because amazing things happen when people work together towards a common goal. 

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Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a special game, and it was somewhere in between shocking story revelations and epic team-up takedowns by Peter Parker and Miles Morales working in tandem that I realized just how special it is.

This is not only the best Spider-Man game yet, but it’s one of my favorite adaptations of several different famous story arcs in the wallcrawler’s long, illustrious history. And that’s counting print, movies, and television combined.

As a tough-to-impress Spider-Man fan my whole life, I’m simply blown away by the care put into every detail by Insomniac Games, the team behind PlayStation’s Spider-Verse.

Two spiders are better than one

A screenshot of Miles Morales and Peter Parker looking off into the distance.
The duo. Screenshot by Dot Esports

This time around, there’s two Spider-Men, and the combination is needed for the monumental task at hand. Peter and Miles both play and feel differently, and are distinct and special in their own ways. Both use Spider Gadgets but have different powers, like Peter’s metal spider arms and Miles’ bioelectric Venom abilities, making the combat feel fresh between the two.

They also get the addition of the Web Wings glider, which sprouts wings from under the heroes’ arms and is a game-changer for traversal over long distances. It’s somehow a big improvement on what already felt perfect for web-swinging. As a dedicated webhead, I’d be content with swinging staying the same as it was in the first games, but it’s vastly improved and feels deeply satisfying throughout.

Combat with Pete and Miles is simple and fluid yet addictive, but the two heroes each feel a bit overpowered by the end of the game, thanks to their massive set of powers and gadgets. That’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for an improved combat system that gets upgraded as the story wears on.

Both Spider-Men also have their own stories and entirely different backgrounds and demons to fight, but each are incredibly relatable throughout the game. And that’s always been the case with Spider-Man. And with near-instant swapping between the heroes, the only real difficulty is picking which one to play as at a given time.

Growing up, Peter was my Spider-Man—my only Spider-Man. Miles didn’t even debut in the comics until I was an adult, so Peter has always been special to me. But thanks to these games and the spectacular Spider-Verse movies, both heroes are nearly on an equal level for me. And that’s saying a lot.

The beloved arachnid duo have their hands full in this one, and not just because Harry Osborn has returned and driven a bit of a wedge in the spider-friendship. Main antagonist Kraven the Hunter has invaded New York City with an army of hunters, but there’s also several other big names from Spidey’s gallery of villains included here, such as Lizard, Sandman, and the return of Miles’ archnemesis Mister Negative.

Peter Parker perched on a rooftop while wearing the black symbiote suit.
The symbiote is powerful, but dangerous. Screenshot by Dot Esports

Rightfully, though, none shine more than the fan-favorite alien symbiote known as Venom. Kraven is a menacing force that truly feels unstoppable at times thanks to his presence and sheer size, but with the symbiote ever-looming over the game’s 20-plus hour storyline, the stakes feel way higher than in either of the first two games. I wish we got more of Venom, but what we did get is unforgettable.

A symbiotic relationship

The superhero team-up of Peter Parker and Miles Morales, the Spider-Men, is only made stronger by the third, lesser-known hero of the triumvirate, Mary Jane Watson. Along with the webslingers, MJ is at the heart of the game, and that’s how Insomniac Games meant for it to feel.

It’s the team involved in this game–Peter, Miles, and Mary Jane–that makes it so special. And it’s the team behind the game, Insomniac Games, that makes it an all-time great. From the creators of Ratchet and Clank, Spyro, and Resistance, it should come as no surprise.

Miles Morales, Mary Jane Watson, and Peter Parker stand together around a table, looking down.
This is the dream team. Screenshot by Dot Esports

Just as Peter, Miles, and MJ work together to solve a crisis, so, too did Insomniac come together to make one hell of a superhero game. The developer’s passion for these characters and their world shines through in every single line of code, every random passerby in NYC, every expertly crafted cutscene.

As a lifelong Spider-Fan, I’ve played and experienced every Spidey game and storyline. I’m partial to Maximum Carnage, Spider-Man on PS1, the original Spider-Man 2 movie game, and Shattered Dimensions. But none have ever had so many “oh shit” and “OMFG” moments for fans to geek out over.

I will be thinking about some of these moments and surprises for a while. Even the boss fights, while simple and a bit too easy for my liking, were just spectacularly presented through thrilling action setpieces and tense action sequences.

Heal the world

Harry Osborn, Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker, Miles Morales, and Ganke Lee meeting up at Coney Island.
Working together can solve all kinds of problems. Screenshot by Dot Esports

The game’s themes of forgiveness, second chances, and learning how to live with grief will likely hit close to home for many. Spider-Man’s ability to connect with the reader, viewer, or player has always made him special, and the same goes for this game.

All of that is helped and solidified with incredible vocal and mo-cap performances. Yuri Lowenthal shows off incredible range as Peter, and Nadji Jeter steals hearts as Miles. Laura Bailey steadies it all as MJ, while Graham Phillips makes it easy to love the newcomer in Harry, whose joint dream with Peter to “heal the world” is a central theme of the game. And the legendary Tony Todd’s dulcet, dark tones as Venom bring everything to a stunning and harrowing conclusion.

Spider-Man 2 is over fast, or at least it felt like it. It feels short, especially for today’s bloated open-world game standards, but I’m not mad about it. I would’ve loved to romp around doing more side missions for hours, but it’s exactly as long as it needs to be.

It likely felt quick to me because I tore through the game, finishing the platinum trophy in around 30 hours, but that’s because it just felt so damn good to play. I couldn’t put it down and had to force myself to go to bed so as to not ruin my sleep schedule.

Time and time again, I felt myself pining for one more mission, one more quest, one more random crime stopped. Swinging through Manhattan as both Spider-Men, using their unique abilities makes me really wish there was a New Game Plus option at launch (it’s coming in an update this year), but I’m ready to start a new playthrough anyway.

Please, Insomniac, complete the story you’ve built and give us one more Spider-Man game (and some DLC for this one, too). You’ve proven when you work as a team, anything is possible.

9.5
Marvel's Spider-Man 2
Pros
  • Adapts multiple storylines cohesively
  • Varied and fun gameplay
  • Shocking and emotional story moments
  • Incredibly well-acted and motion-captured
Cons
  • Boss fights are a spectacle but not a challenge
  • No New Game Plus option at launch

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Author
Scott Duwe
Staff Writer & Call of Duty lead. Professional writer for over 10 years. Lover of all things Marvel, Destiny 2, Metal Gear, Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, and more. Previous bylines include PC Gamer, Red Bull Esports, Fanbyte, and Esports Nation. DogDad to Yogi the Corgi, sports fan (NY Yankees, NY Jets, NY Rangers, NY Knicks), Paramore fanatic, cardio enthusiast.