Ok, it’s finally here, the third game in the Insomniac Marvel Spider-Man series. After giving Peter Parker and Miles Morales their own games, the two group together to take on two of the scariest villains in the Spider-Man rogues gallery. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 introduces the Black Suit (FINALLY!), so can Peter and Miles (Along with Harry Osborn and Mary-Jane Watson) face off not only against the new villain on the block, Kraven the Hunter, but also the looming dark shadow of Peter’s anger which will become Venom? Let’s swing onto The Outerhaven’s Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 review and see.
Name: Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Platform(s): PlayStation 5 Developer: Insomniac Games Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Game Type: Action-adventure Mode(s): Single-player Release Date: October 20, 2023
Peter Parker starts his first day as a physics teacher at Brooklyn Visions Academy, with Miles Morales among his students, but they are interrupted by an attack by Flint Marko, requiring both of them to subdue him. Peter is fired for abandoning the class and returns to his Aunt May’s home in Queens, which he has moved into following her death, to meet with his girlfriend Mary Jane Watson. They are surprised to see their old friend Harry Osborn, who has miraculously recovered from his terminal illness. Harry Osborn offers to hire Peter to work at his new startup, the Emily-May Foundation, so they can “heal the world.” Meanwhile, Miles tries to write his college application essay and learns that his mother, Rio has begun dating.
When Peter and Miles oversee a transfer of some of the Raft’s inmates, they witness an attack by Kraven the Hunter and his forces, who capture the Scorpion and Martin Li. While investigating Kraven, Peter discovers he is capturing super-powered individuals to hunt them for sport. Having already killed Scorpion, Shocker, Electro, and Vulture, Kraven attempts to capture Felicia Hardy next, but Miles protects her and helps her escape to Paris. While visiting Coney Island in an attempt to reconnect, Peter Parker, Mary Jane, and Harry witness Kraven’s hunters attack the park to capture Tombstone. While rescuing civilians caught in the crossfire, Harry learns about Peter’s double life and reveals he was cured by Curt Connors via an organic exosuit that physically augments his body.
With his powers rapidly developing, Harry decides to help Peter rescue Tombstone while Mary Jane discovers that Kraven has kidnapped Connors. The trio attempt to save Connors, but are unable to stop Kraven from forcibly turning him back into his Lizard form. Connors escapes while Kraven mortally wounds Peter, though he is saved by Harry’s exosuit, which transfers itself to his body. After Peter confronts Kraven with his newly enhanced powers, the latter develops an interest in hunting him personally.
Peter and Harry synthesize an antidote for Connors before the former tracks Connors down with Miles’ help and eventually defeats and cures him. Upon seeing Peter wearing the exosuit, Connors explains that it is actually a sentient alien symbiote and warns him to destroy it, but Peter Parker, under the symbiote’s influence, refuses. Meanwhile, Kraven captures Miles and forces him to fight Li to the death. Overcoming his anger towards Li for killing his father Jefferson Davis, Miles Morales helps him escape and directs him to find Peter. Once Li informs him of Miles’ location, Peter arrives to rescue him and nearly kills Kraven before Miles intervenes and convinces Peter to remove the symbiote.
Peter takes the symbiote to Oscorp to destroy it, but a desperate Harry, whose illness has returned, intercepts him and reclaims the symbiote, which transforms him into Venom. Venom escapes and battles Kraven, whom he overpowers and kills. Under the symbiote’s influence, Harry decides to “heal the world” by infecting it with symbiotes, starting with New York. Venom infects Mary Jane with a symbiote, turning her into Scream. Peter fights Scream and is able to help Mary Jane break free from the symbiote. As Peter and Miles attempt to stop the symbiote invasion, the former is debilitated by a trace amount of Venom’s symbiote still in him, but Miles and Li help him tame it and convert it into the Anti-Venom symbiote, granting Peter the ability to destroy other symbiotes. Meanwhile, Venom recovers the meteorite that originally brought him to Earth to enhance his powers and accelerate his invasion. Peter and Miles distract Venom while Mary Jane steals the meteorite and destroys it with the Emily-May Foundation’s particle accelerator, destroying Venom’s spawn, while Peter uses his Anti-Venom suit to destroy Venom himself at Harry’s insistence.
In the aftermath, Harry is saved but rendered comatose, prompting an enraged Norman Osborn to order the “G-serum” to be used on him. Mary Jane quits her job at the Daily Bugle to run her own podcast and moves in with Peter, who decides to take a break from being Spider-Man to focus on rebuilding the Emily-May Foundation, trusting Miles to protect the city as Spider-Man. In a mid-credits scene, Osborn visits an imprisoned Otto Octavius at the Raft to demand the Spider-Men’s secret identities, whom he blames for Harry’s condition. Octavius refuses, taking glee in Osborn’s suffering as he writes his “final chapter.” In a post-credit scene, Miles meets Rio’s new boyfriend, Albert Moon, who introduces them to his daughter Cindy.
Story Review – Some Vague Spoilers
After one of the BEST OPENING SEQUENCES EVER, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 tries to tell 60% of a really good and challenging story revolving around one of Peter’s most interesting human villains: Kraven the Hunter… Then everything falls apart once Insomniac introduces the Symbiote/Venom, leaving the last 30% of the story to just be a reference and cliché-filled mess. Oh, that other 10%? It’s a redemption story for Martin Li.
To give you an idea of how lazy Marvel’s Spider-Man 2‘s story is, here are all the references and stories they pulled together for the game:
Kraven’s Last Hunt (Web of Spider-Man #31: Oct 1987 to Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #132: Nov 1987)
Venom’s Origin (Amazing Spider-Man #252: Jan 1984, 1994 Animated Series)
Venom is an exosuit designed to cure people (Ultimate Spider-Man #33 to #37: Feb-Mar 2003)
Harry is Venom (Ultimate Spider-Man S1E08: May 13, 2012)
Harry’s Pre-Venom look (aka Agent Venom)(Amazing Spider-Man #654: Feb 2011)
Symbiote Invasion (Ultimate Spider-Man Vol 1 #123: Jun 2008)(Spider-Man: Web of Shadows)
Martin Li’s Redemption (Amazing Spider-Man Vol 5 2022)
Creation of Anti-Venom (Amazing Spider-Man #569: Aug 2008)
Venom’s Second Form/Generic Symbiote Looks (King in Black: Dec 2020)
You would think with this much reference material in one game that the story would be one of the most amazing, spectacular, and best Spider-Man stories ever to be told… Nope. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is one hell of a mess of wasted potential for two of the major villains, the main hero of the story, and one other character.
Without giving too much away, Kraven starts out as the best villain I’ve seen in these games so far… Till Venom appears and ends that storyline. What follows is the typical Venom storyline we’ve seen through all of the Spider-Man media, leading to no way to redeem Harry or Venom (Unless we get DLC, but I’ll doubt that), complete with the “Overrun the city with generic Symbiotes” scenario that we’ve seen a million times. I really thought that Insomniac would do something creative with Venom like they did with Martin Li/Mr. Negative in Marvel’s Spider-Man.
If you want to know that this feels like the Spider-Man 3 of video game stories, it turns out we’re not really playing a Peter Parker Spider-Man game, but it’s more of a Miles Morales sequel. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 gives Miles all the deep lore and fun missions, and even gives him a big role in the finale (Peter doesn’t defeat Venom, but Miles does). “Better Together” my ass. It’s more like “Better as Miles.”
Speaking of things, Peter Parker fans didn’t want, there is A LOT of time dedicated to normal people’s missions. Yep, the Mary-Jane Watson missions are back and have been increased, along with other normal people missions for Peter Parker (mostly bike riding) and a somewhat okay mission as Hailey (Miles’ deaf girlfriend). It really gets annoying when you want to play a SUPERHERO game and keep going back to normal non-superpowered people over and over again.
Better than Marvel’s Spider-Man?
If there is one thing I do not need to tell anyone is how amazing Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 looks. From the very first trailer, we knew that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 was going to look something along the lines of the best-looking representation of New York that has been put into video games since Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Not only do we get to see the main New York area and Harlem, as seen in the previous two games, but we get to see more of Brooklyn and Queens, areas that are central to Peter Parker and his life.
Not only does this map extension give you more things to do in those areas, but you get to see more of the variety that New York has to show. One minute you are swinging (or gliding) through the sprawling cityscape of the Manhatten city area; the next, you’re heading through the suburban landscape of Queens, all without a single loading screen in sight.
An additional word for the graphics comes from the UI that you will use in the game. The R3 scan button will now light up with activities (once you go past them) and the wind tunnel pathways every time you press it, making everything pop and become almost Iron-Man-like to see.
The only thing where Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 drops in the graphics department is the facial features. While the main crew of Peter Parker, Miles Morales, Harry Osborn, Mary-Jane Watson, and Kraven all look really good, with little details used to make them look as human as possible, a lot of the secondary characters or small mission givers look almost downgraded in quality since you are not going to be seeing them for long… Oh, and there were times when the graphics goofed up, leaving some very horror-looking bodies lying around.
Much like the last two games, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 does everything it did in the previous two games with enough tweaks here and there so that you feel like you are playing something that is familiar but has something new to offer at the same time.
The most familiar thing you will get from the beginning of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is the combat and swinging mechanics in a spectacular opening fight against Sandman, which reintroduces you to what you already know from Marvel Spider-Man. As the fight progresses, you get a chance to test out the new gliding mechanic, which is one of the new traversal mechanics Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 brings into the game.
Gliding feels a bit odd at first since you are more than likely going to be swinging and zipping around the city. But once you come to understand the wind tunnels that are all over the map in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, you are going to be using gliding in conjunction with the swing and zip mechanics to speed your way between the two islands without thinking. Hell, by the time I got to the halfway point of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, I was using gliding to clear out city blocks in seconds.
When it comes to combat, you still have the easy punch combo button, the web attacks in both strike and shoot formats, and you do have some gadgets… A lot less than you had in Marvel’s Spider-Man, but you have four gadgets to use (Web shooters, an Up-Shot (sends enemies into the air), a Web-Grab (Pulls enemies into a single point), A concussion blast, and a rebound web shot) in combination with your own personal powers. Much like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Miles comes with his Venom (not that one) powers in the form of electric punches, ground pounds, etc. If you played Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, then you’ll know how Miles will play since this is the same thing.
Peter Parker, on the other hand, gets two new power sets to use. At first, you will have access to your Spider-Arms, an extra four arms that can do things like shoot electric bolts, do a quick combo, launch enemies into the air, and other things of that nature… Then eventually, you get access to “the suit”, aka the Symbiote, and you get some more brutal-looking powers like a long arm punch (Shout out to Luffy), a yank/slam combo, and other moves that will pound enemies into dust. All characters also have a super meter which can be used to do a mass area-of-effect blast for Miles and a “rage” mode for Peter in the Symbiote suit.
Is there any extra swing in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2?
At the time of writing, once you complete the story of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, there is no New Game+ mode available. So by the time you get around to the final mission against Venom, you’re going to be done with everything. In a single playthrough, I was able to unlock all the suits, upgrade all the gadgets, get all the skills, and finish 95% of the side missions (The final EMF mission does not open up until after the game ends) to the point where I’m sitting at 39 out of 42 trophies as well.
There is no way to do any of the side missions again, except the Mysterio challenge arenas, leaving you with nothing to do but swing around the map and take on random crimes over and over again… And no, you don’t even get Venom to use to roam the city with as a bonus (Though you can do it through a game-breaking glitch). So once you complete everything in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, you have no reason to pick it up again till the New Game+ update becomes available at a later date.
If you’re curious about just how long it takes to beat Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Gamesandwich states the game takes 15 hours if you merely care about the story. While completionists looking for a 100% playthrough will double that, with 30 hours (or more).
The Closing Chapter of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2…?
Coming into this review of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, I’m of two minds. On one hand, I want to give it the lavish praise that every other outlet and influencer has given the game. The use of characters in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is nothing short of amazing, the new mechanics are really good and blend into the already established mechanics really well, and the expanded map is huge and takes only minutes to traverse, thanks to the new gliding system. There is so much this game does right… But then the niggly little negatives appear, and I can’t dismiss them.
The biggest thing is the story itself. I know I said a lot about it above, but it really pained me as a fan of Venom to see nothing but references used with the character, especially King in Black, one of the worst Venom stories in recent history. Then there is the replacement by stealth when it comes to Peter Parker and Miles Morales. You can see Insomniac wanted Miles to be the real hero of the story, right down to practically handing everything over to him in the finale, leaving Peter sidelined in his own story and Harry with no redemption (or Venom follow-up) at all.
Also, there are the bugs, glitches, and complete game crashes that happened way too often when compared to the previous two games. I found myself losing hours of progress thanks to a graphical glitch or something not triggering correctly, making me reset the game and reload to do things all over again. I expect better from Insomniac and Sony at this stage, especially for this game.
I’m sure everyone is going to call me crazy or something worse for not giving Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 a perfect score like I did the past two games, but I really can’t since this game franchise, the developer, and the publisher now need to be held at a higher standard than most other companies out there. They earned that level of respect from me and others. Sure, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a good game, but now is the time to not become complacent but to pick out what needs improvement so the Marvel’s Spider-Man franchise can have a bright future.
Review Disclosure Statement: Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 was purchased by the reviewer for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
Marvel Spider-Man 2 is a good game, a solid outing for Spider-Man fans. However, there are some issues under the hood of this game that really need to be addressed in patches over time, or just let Insomniac do the Marvel Spider-Man: Miles Morales 2 that they really want to do instead of pushing them to keep doing Peter Parker Spider-Man stories that they clearly no longer want to do… I hope they make it up to Venom fans with some good DLC.
Kraven is the best villain in the series at the moment
New mechanics weave really well with the established mechanics
The best opening sequence in gaming
No playable Venom beyond one mission
Insomniac lied about suit numbers
A lot of glitches compared to previous games
Too many “normal person” missions (MJ, Peter, Hailey, etc)