Game Ramblings #179 – Spider-Man 2

More Info from Insomniac Games

  • Genre: Action
  • Platform: PS5

I’m going to be real here. You could read my ramblings on Spider-Man and know where I landed on this one. My thoughts on swinging through the city are the same. My thoughts on combat – and particularly the power curve – are exactly the same. What I’m going to focus on instead is where a few points of polish really stood out to me as huge improvements to the experience. As an iterative experience, this is a standout example of making tweaks where there’s opportunities while keeping the rest of the game solid.

The first thing that really stands out to me is the web line ability. It looks like they were probably experimenting with this for the original game but I’m glad this made the cut for the sequel. What this does is lets you put a line between two points that can be used for all the normal abilities (grabbing, ledge takedowns, etc). This is a game changer for stealth segments. Rather than being limited to existing ledges and poles, you now make your own platforms. What this ended up doing for me was making any sort of base encounter feel a lot more free form than in the past. Instead of hopping from point to point finding angles that work, I was observing enemy movement patterns and setting up lines above them to do takedowns.

I get where some people may find that this trivializes stealth, and frankly it does make staying in stealth a lot easier than the original game. However, rather than being annoyed by it I found that it fit the power dynamic of the character. What I see as the comic book ideal for Spider-man is someone who uses their powers to trivially take out the hordes of stupid minions while focusing their fighting power on the current big bad, and this fits it perfectly. I could use the web line power to quickly take out dozens of enemies, then swing in to finish off whatever the boss-type thing was for the section. It allowed me to focus my combat capabilities on where I felt combat really continues to shine – in one-on-one combat. This is a game that still has some issues with multi-person combat encounters in terms of just too much going on at once, so having improved stealth was a huge personal boon.

The second piece I want to point out is the wing suit. The original game was one in which traversal around the city was so fun that I just did not want to fast travel. The sequel is absolutely the same, despite the fact that fast travel in the sequel is extraordinarily fast loading wizardry. A lot of why I enjoy the traversal so much is down to the inclusion of the wing suit.

The first game really shone in the tall buildings of Manhattan, but getting towards the water or to the north of the city with smaller buildings was a bit less fun. There was simply less places to grab with webs, so you could hit the ground a lot easier. The wing suit solves so many of those problems. Now if you’re in one of those spots, you turn on the wing suit and glide between vertical drafts or air currents that propel you forward. It keeps your momentum going at all times, and frankly is probably the one thing that allowed them to open up the city to more boroughs. Now that smaller housing areas of queens aren’t a travel headache. Going through Central Park is an easier option. Heading across the East River from downtown Manhattan towards Coney Island is entirely doable. These are all things that only exist in a fun way because of the inclusion of the wing suit and its ability to give you extended fast traversal options without web slinging.

The final thing is that this game continues to be an absolute tech standout on the platform. The video above shows what is clearly Insomniac bringing in the portal tech they made for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart into this title, but it’s just as impressive as ever in its second use. I mentioned not using the fast travel system earlier, but it’s also impressive as hell. You go into the map, hold a button as more of a UX confirmation, and you’re immediately at where you intend to be, including an impressive as hell seamless transition animation from the map view into the world view. This is all backed by a visual option for a full time 60 FPS that I used throughout my play through. It’s a standout AAA experience on the level of things like God of War: Ragnarok or the city visuals in Cyberpunk 2077. It’s just one of those rare games that finally feel next-gen to me, despite the fact that the gameplay is often not that different from the previous game.

This is just a fun, impressive game. It takes a game that I liked, tweaks some things in ways that make sense within the context of the series progressing. It’s an easy game to fall into and just enjoy. It also does something that I hope to see more of – be simple. They pulled away some of the extraneous activities in the open world. They pulled away some extraneous gadgets from the original game. What it all results in is an open-world experience that somehow feels tight and efficient. It’s a mix that really just works.

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