Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 fixes one of its predecessor’s biggest weaknesses

Insomniac Games has always favored smooth and refined controls Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 doesn’t make any drastic changes to the gameplay, the new Symbiote and Bioelectric abilities give both heroes (Peter Parker and Miles Morales) more options when facing groups of enemies. Both Spider-Men are fun to play Wonder’S Spiderman 2. Traversal has also seen small but useful improvements, with the addition of web swinging and the ability to swing around corners, ensuring there is virtually no movement impediment when playing as Spider-Man.

That’s why I was surprised by some of the most memorable moments Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 for me it was the moments where I couldn’t control Peter or Miles – and I’m not just referring to the scenes where I controlled a drone or Spider-Bot. Some of the weakest parts of the first one Marvel’s Spider-Man is a place where I don’t control the main hero. However, that doesn’t happen in this sequel, making it one place where Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a clear and drastic improvement over its predecessor.

Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.

Maria Jane

Sony Interactive Entertainment

In the original language Marvel’s Spider-Man, the scenes where the player controls a helpless Mary Jane or Miles are some of the weakest moments from a gameplay standpoint. It’s a light stealth piece that will immediately disappoint the player if an enemy catches them, which encourages a timid and boring playstyle that’s a far cry from hopping around New York as Spider-Man. From the moment I started playing Mary Jane Marvel’s Spider-Man 2it’s clear Insomniac has taken the negative feedback into consideration.

Mary Jane had mentioned that she got a weapon during her time on Symkaria with Silver Sable, so it was satisfying when the first thing the game asked me to do was defeat an enemy with that weapon. This occurs when the enemy tries to open the door of the van in which he is taken to one of Kraven’s bases. From there, he has to find a way to tell Peter, Miles, and Harry where he is and potentially escape.

This part of the gameplay still focuses on stealth, which makes sense since he’s not a superhero and can’t take on a group of enemies at once. But the simple addition of weapons makes it a more active experience. Rather than waiting for enemies to move away from a certain pattern, I instead taunt them into a certain spot by throwing rocks before finishing them off with the gun to clear my path. Still not yet Flake Cellbut several times I had to play Mary Jane again Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 ends up being a pleasant surprise rather than a recurring frustration. The part where he runs from Peter while he is possessed by the Symbiote is also one of the most tense moments in the game.

Venom

Poison perches on the roof.
Sony Interactive Entertainment

Still, there’s no moment like Mary Jane that makes me smile as big as I once did Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 let me play as Venom. The standout chapter serves as a grand entrance after the massive buildup that the Symbiote has carried out throughout the first two-thirds of the story. Being able to play as Venom was a pleasant surprise, but it was also a great way to get a sense of the threat the character posed as a villain. While there are many enemies and even bosses that Kraven fights while playing as Venom, none of them pose that much of a threat.

When I played as Venom, all I cared about was wiping out anything that got in my way and gleefully watched Oscorp Tower and Times Square be torn apart by the power of this Symbiote. This chapter also closes with the most brutal moment Marvel’s Spider-Man 2: Venom bites Kraven’s head. As a player, it’s all very satisfying, but it also puts me in the shoes of the villain. When I have to fight him later in my adventure, I’ll remember how I felt playing as Venom and understand the stakes and Harry’s reasons for defending the Symbiote more than ever.

Hailey

Hailey spray paints in Marvel's Spider-Man 2.
Sony Interactive Entertainment

Any player sees Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 the main story through to the end will be playing as Mary Jane and Venom, but the playable character that stood out the most to me was tied to one side mission. In Graffiti Trouble, Miles responds to a call that someone is vandalizing a flower shop with graffiti. Once there, Miles finds out that Hailey, the girl he’s been crushing on throughout the game, solved his problem first. The game then lets you play as Hailey. He is Deaf, so the audio and visual design reflects that. The sound is muted in a way that communicates Hailey’s experience. You can’t hear what other people are saying; instead, players see small emoticons that represent what Hailey thinks other people (and cats) think or feel.

It’s a non-violent mission, with simple graffiti spraying, puzzles, and platforming that ultimately leads Hailey to become a restless street artist struggling to recognize her self-worth. Instead of punishing them like Spider-Man does, Hailey communicates with them through text and art. Hailey helps them finish their graffiti, turning it into something more colorful and cheerful, and she then invites them to her artist coalition. Even without dialogue, this is one of my favorite side missions in the game.

Graffiti Trouble reinforces the game’s themes of misunderstanding surrounding criminals and their rehabilitation, and foreshadows that Hailey can fend for herself during the Symbiote Invasion. Besides, that fantastic for representation and hopefully help some people be more understanding and empathetic in their own lives. It’s rare for a Deaf person to get this kind of respectful portrayal in a video game, especially in the AAA space. While not as “fun” as running around New York as Spider-Man, this is one mission from the game that I won’t forget any time soon.

That’s something I would never say about the original Marvel’s Spider-Man. A variety of five playable characters in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 not only does it demonstrate Insomniac Games’ ability to create a variety of compelling experiences for the game, but it also shows that feedback regarding the original game’s weaknesses is taken very seriously. This can be seen in the alternate playable characters, improvements to web swing, and the way the game treats its villains. If you want to understand how big the increase is Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 it’s over its predecessor, just look at this mission where you don’t play as the hero on the box art.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 available now on PlayStation 5.

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