Spider-Man wincing in his Black Suit. This photo was taken by the in-game Photo Mode provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment and Insomniac Games.
Spider-Man wincing in his Black Suit. This photo was taken by the in-game Photo Mode provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment and Insomniac Games.
Cole Montag

An *Almost* Amazing Spider-Man Story (Spider-Man 2 Story Review)

This review will include spoilers for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, its side missions, and its finale, so I’d only recommend reading if you’ve almost completed the game (or don’t mind spoilers).

November 20th marked Spider-Man 2’s first month in physical shops and the PlayStation Store, with great financial returns, critical success, and several nominations for the 2023 Game Awards, broadcasting live December 7th at 7:30 PM EST. It has been praised for many things, including Yuri Lowenthal’s performance as Peter Parker, gameplay mechanics, and its story… to an extent. While I loved every moment as the Web Slingers, the game has some issues that are hard to ignore.

The story is upwards of 20 hours long, so if you’d like a full summary, many articles and YouTube videos have done that, but I’m going to go over what Spider-Man 2 did right, and what didn’t click for me. First, I love most, if not all of the game’s side content. Some great missions display the Spider duo as local heroes, rather than just supervillain fighters, such as Miles helping students at his school Brooklyn Vision, or Peter helping his good friend Howard’s pigeons fly free, one last time. The most beautiful though, is when either Spider-Man can help a woman find her grandpa in the park. It turns out he was sitting on a bench, and he’ll tell stories of his life, especially those of his late wife, the woman he loved most in life.

The Flame, Peter’s side story, also does a great job of setting up an additional DLC story for the future. It involves the ex-police captain Yuri Watanabe as the vigilante Wraith, investigating and plotting to destroy the Flame, a cult led by a man known only as the Flame (confusingly enough). She is also the friend of Spider-Man, and while he does assist her, he disagrees with her violent actions and eventually fights with her. Yuri does compromise but they both fail to dissolve the cult, leading to the Flame, revealed to have many aliases, leaving with a blood-red symbiote. One of his aliases was Cletus Kasady, who in the comics is a serial killer who gains the red symbiote Carnage and wreaks, well, carnage. This, if done right, can top “The City that Never Sleeps” DLC in the first game.

However, Insomniac sleeping on one character both downgraded the gameplay and made this game’s story the weakest in the series, being funnily enough, Miles Morales. Miles’ invisibility, complementing his bioelectricity, was a staple of the spinoff’s gameplay. A lot of times you couldn’t just face the Underground and Roxxon head-on, you used your invisibility to stealth your way to victory, which even rivaled the Arkham games in fun. Spider-Man 2 though, it’s almost as if they wanted to remove stealth, as you could always brute-force through any conflict. I even forgot Miles had cloaking powers, accidentally going invisible once in my 30+ hours of playing.

His place in the main story wasn’t all too great either. It happens that what little we did get of him was great, but there wasn’t enough, which makes it feel like a lot was cut to meet deadlines. Miles’ struggles in the game mainly came from Martin Li, aka Mr. Negative, and their personal, yet impersonal connection. For those who may have forgotten the first game, Martin led a terrorist organization referred to as the Demons, which fought police forces, orchestrated heists, and attempted to unleash the bioweapon Devil’s Breath on the city. One of their worst actions was the City Hall bombing, which killed many including Jefferson Morales, Miles’ father.

Even though this does lead to one of my favorite parts of the story, Miles’ story just doesn’t have anything outside of it. There’s his crush Hailey with a neat side mission, but that’s pretty much it for her involvement. The museum mission is nothing more than a couple of simple crimes mashed together with little ties to Miles (outside of it being his mom’s friend’s exhibit). Defeating the Mysteriums wouldn’t be any different if they weren’t Miles-exclusive, Quentin Beck would still get framed by Betsy and Cole. Uncle Aaron’s little puzzles were just a lengthy announcement saying “Hey, I’m living with you now!” Even Black Cat’s mission with Miles didn’t do much and would’ve been interesting, possibly better with a Symbiote Peter.

Overall, I absolutely adore this game, but Insomniac Games not utilizing Miles as anything more than an Adidas advertisement was a bummer. While I relate to Peter more, Miles is a fantastic character, and for seemingly taking the mantle in the next game (along with Cindy Moon/Silk’s tease in the final cutscenes), there should’ve been more sections involving his unique mechanics and a larger place for him in the story.

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