Spider-Man

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Gameplay: A Mixed Bag

We were treated to approximately ten minutes of gameplay from Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and it delivered many of the features we had been eagerly anticipating, such as Kraven and the Symbiote suit for Spider-Man. However, some aspects of the gameplay and presentation left us feeling a bit disappointed, possibly due to our high expectations.

During the gameplay showcase, we witnessed Kraven, weary of hunting easy targets, venturing into New York City. There, he pursues The Lizard, the uncontrollable alter ego of Doctor Curt Conners. The gameplay revolved around both Spider-Men, Miles and Peter, swinging through the city and battling Kraven’s henchmen in a desperate bid to save Conners. Amidst the action, Peter has somehow obtained the Symbiote suit, which amplifies and brings out his anger. If you haven’t seen the gameplay yet, take a look here.

Back in 2017, when we saw gameplay footage of the original Marvel’s Spider-Man, we were awestruck as Peter gracefully swung through the sky while a nearby crane toppled, causing chaos and providing obstacles for Peter to navigate mid-swing. The gameplay showcase for Spider-Man 2 was just as cinematic, but it failed to have the same impact. Our initial fascination with the smooth swinging and performance may have faded, leaving us with a sense of “that’s cool, but we’ve seen it before.”

Furthermore, when Miles was wake surfing while The Lizard leaped out of the water to attack him, it felt less like a gameplay sequence and more like an extended quick-time event. It looked incredible, and the abundance of action was exciting, but these cinematic quick-time events are nothing new. I’m sure I’ll enjoy playing it, but it’s the same trick we’ve witnessed several times before in other PlayStation first-party games. Instead of showcasing what we’ve come to expect from these high-budget blockbusters, we long to see something fresh and innovative.

Perhaps they could have presented an intense, horror-infused encounter with Venom, reminiscent of Mr. X-style encounters, or a feature that highlights the fast-loading capabilities of the PS5. Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart impressed us with its innovation, as the concept of rift tearing and instant dimension hopping felt exclusive to the PS5. By employing similar technology and showcasing it in the gameplay footage for Spider-Man 2, the presentation would have stood out significantly. We did witness instantaneous switching between Miles and Peter, but it was during a scripted gameplay segment. This mechanic could take place during open-world gameplay or when one Spider-Man is completing a mission while the other is doing something different across the city. Instant switching seems like the most innovative feature from the gameplay showcase, so I would’ve enjoyed seeing more of it. It would have signaled that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is striving for something new and creative that can only be achieved on the current generation of hardware.

Spider-Man

Based solely on what was shown, I couldn’t identify anything in the gameplay that couldn’t be replicated on the PS4, especially considering the console boasted games like Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us Part II, and even Marvel’s Spider-Man. I understand that it’s a sequel and it doesn’t need to deviate too drastically from its predecessor, but it should at least justify its existence as a PS5-exclusive title. I don’t mean to sound overly negative here. The gameplay footage did get me excited for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and I’m confident that it will feature significant improvements over the first game. I simply believe this section of gameplay didn’t fully showcase those improvements. Despite that, the chase scene did showcase the high-octane action that fans have come to love from these games, and it was executed seamlessly without any performance issues.

Additionally, I must commend Insomniac Games for its portrayal of the symbiote suit. It struck a balance between being like armor while also feeling alive and violent. The combat with this suit was notably intense, with each punch carrying a greater impact. We could see Peter’s fighting style becoming more aggressive, demonstrated when he threw an enemy into a wall and followed up with a series of quick, successive kicks while maintaining balance on one hand. The suit also exhibited its dynamic nature as Peter unleashed its ooze-like tentacles to grab multiple enemies simultaneously. Moreover, we witnessed Peter’s unusually snappy behavior toward Miles, reminiscent of the classic symbiote suit personality from Spider-Man The Animated Series. It was unsettling to hear a character who is typically kind and compassionate display such aggression. The voice actor, known for portraying the edgy Sasuke Uchiha in Naruto, perfectly captured this angsty anger.

Towards the end of the gameplay, Miles comments on Peter’s out-of-character behavior, foreshadowing an upcoming conflict between the two Spider-Men. I’m eagerly anticipating the clash as Miles attempts to rescue his mentor from the grip of darkness. The gameplay showcase instilled hope for an emotionally charged and dark storyline while confirming that we will witness the full power of Venom in action.

While the gameplay footage was impressive, it did leave a sense of mixed emotions—both excitement and disappointment. The former can likely be attributed to high expectations, but I had hoped to see more elements that truly showcased Spider-Man’s next-generation qualities or provided a glimpse of the new features we can expect from the sequel. I firmly believe that Spider-Man 2 will be an outstanding game based on this showcase. However, nothing truly stood out as incredibly innovative or eye-catching. It seems we’ll have to wait and see what else Insomniac has to show us before the game launches in Fall 2023.

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