'Spider-Man 2' is a very easy game to like. A rare example of near perfection in a triple-A game, one where every aspect of the game comes together, making the final product greater than the sum of its parts.
Visually, the game is fantastic. It has a carefully selected art style that is quite close to real when flying through the city, but exaggerated in just the right way to still have a kind of comic book feel. You can tell the devs are comfortable with the PS5 hardware as they’re getting absolutely everything from it. Lighting, shadows, ray-tracing effects, characters and NPC models are all superb. And considering how good everything looks, and all the little details, it’s even more impressive that there are basically no loading screens. The transitions into cinematic scenes, as well as zipping all around the city, are completely smooth and flawless. Insomniac have done something amazing here, far from the days of hiding a loading screen behind the animation of opening a door or squeezing through a tight gap in a wall.
The devs told us one of the most important upgrades the PS5 gave them was being able to load the city faster in the background – before it comes into the players’ view. This not only makes it seem like there is no loading at all as it’s never seen, but also means that the player can move faster through the city as it appears faster. This, of course, means Web Wings. One of the many new abilities in 'Spider-Man 2', which gives another option for players when trying to get from one end of the city to the other.
The classic web swinging is still here of course, would it really be a 'Spider-Man' game without it? The web swinging is so smooth, so fluid, and so familiar, that even when fast traveling through districts is unlocked (if you’re anything like us anyway) you’ll still find yourself swinging between buildings, doing stunts for exp. or dropping straight down for extra speed before catching yourself at the last minute. Without the story, activities, unlocks, etc. – if this game was just Spider-Man looking and feeling this good, swinging through the city, it’d still probably be a 3 out of 5.
While we’re not exactly sure how canonical this story is in the overall MCU, it’s still a faithful addition and captures the heroic and human side of both Spider-Men. There are a few MJ stealth missions which are improved since the last game, another one-mission-only playable character that was a bit of a surprise, and twists and turns throughout. The smooth transition into, and incredibly high quality of, the cinematic sequences often mean you don’t even realise you’re not in control anymore, so the immersion is never broken – you’re always the star when you’re playing.
It's not completely perfect, unfortunately, as a couple of times we experienced freezes/black screens during cinematics. This was fixed by quitting the game and opening it again from the PS5 home screen, so it wasn’t a total disaster, but it was one of the very few negative marks against the game. In one other instance, the game totally crashed out to the PS5 home screen, and when it was loaded again all of the progress had been saved regardless, minus maybe the last two minutes of play. These issues were quite rare, weren’t game-breaking, and presumably can be patched out, but they existed in our playthrough all the same.
The game is absolutely compelling, as evidenced by our 98% save file. It’s so much fun. It’s new yet familiar. It’s accessible to everyone. It’s perfect for existing fans of Spider-Man, soon-to-be fans, gamers, “non-gamers”, young, old, and everyone in between.
It’s a modern classic, and an extremely strong contender for game of the year.