In 2018, just months before Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse redefined what a Spider-Man story could look like on the big screen, the team at Insomniac and PlayStation unleashed their own game-changing iteration. Spider-Man became the definitive Spidey video game, with Spider-Man: Miles Morales arriving in 2020. Combined, they have sold more than 33 million copies.
Now a long-awaiting sequel is arriving Oct. 20, and The Hollywood Reporter was among a group of media outlets that spent three hours playing the new version at a preview in Los Angeles earlier this week.
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Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is set just nine months after the events in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which saw Peter Parker taking an overseas trip and Miles adjusting to the mantle of becoming New York’s only Spider-Man. With Peter Parker back in town, the upcoming game expands on the story of how both superheroes will change and grow — both themselves, in relation to each other, and to New York City.
Peter’s best friend Harry is back and being cared for by his doctor, Curt Connors. He’s also working to connect more with MJ. But these relationships are strained with the introduction of Kraven the Hunter, who has his sights set on adding Spider-Man’s head to his mantel. Luckily, Peter has the symbiote — which can help even the odds, but history shows us that this relationship will only get more complicated.
For Miles, there’s the duality of struggling to find Martin Li, his father’s killer, and balancing life as he prepares for college. He has the support of his best friend Ganke and Hailey Cooper, the local street artist. And Brooklyn Visions Academy and Harlem as a whole specifically rally behind Spider-Man.
In New York City, the open world is now doubled in size. In addition to web-swinging across the map, a new gameplay mechanic features Web Wings — making travel a literal breeze as Spider-Man can access the many wind tunnels throughout the city. There’s no word on if the pigeons can use these wind tunnels as well. (100 percent completionists, you’ve got your work cut out for you.) Bryan Itntihar, senior creative director, told THR, “Just like in the best kind of storytelling, the world itself can either be an ally or an adversary to the characters.”
The friendship and tensions between the Web Slingers will only continue to develop as well. “The thing that we come back to … is when Spider-Man wins, Peter loses right? And vice versa. And Miles is seeing that,” said narrative director Ben Arfmann, who added that Miles has that roadmap ahead of him laid out by Peter Parker. But, it’s up to him if he wants to find his own path on that road and make the same mistakes as his mentor. And if there’s one person you don’t want to make mistakes around, it’s Kraven.
Journalists played a section of the game that showed Kraven interacting with Peter’s Spider-Man, and it’s clear that he’s a psychological antagonist in addition to a physical threat. His patience and dedication to the hunt will give him weapons that neither Peter nor Miles have faced before. The game’s creators credit advanced senior writer Lauren Mee as the team’s weapon in writing Kraven, as well as actor Jim Pirri (Red Dead Redemption), who brings a wonderful darkness to the role. “He’s not tech. He’s not obviously a monster, but he’s so mysterious,” Itntihar says. “And his motivations are more psychological.”
As far as the gameplay, it’s easy to slip right back into the swing of things of previous iterations. The mechanics were natural and fluid, and I never noticed an issue exploring the city. In every fight, I felt like I was reliving the special moves from Marvel vs. Capcom — using the Venom symbiote is going to be a huge addition to the way each gamer will approach a battle.
There are new gadgets and 65 costumes to unlock. The game further utilizes the PS5, with the ability to quickly swap between Spider-Men as you explore Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Coney Island and more. Itntihar notes that Spider-Man 2 will launch with accessibility features that will continue to grow with updates, continuing the trend of modern games across platforms making strides in this area to help make games enjoyable for all gamers.
Spider-Man 2 has a cast that includes Yuri Lowenthal (Peter Parker), Nadji Jeter (Miles Morales), Laura Bailey (Mary Jane Watson), Natasha Ofili (Hailey Cooper), Tony Todd (Venom), who bring a human element to the story.
Among Itntihar’s favorite memories is when the team auditioned Jeter with Lowenthal, saying that they only did two scenes: “We did a scene at the funeral where Peter goes up to Miles, and the scene where Miles reveals he has powers. ‘I was like, this kid’s Miles Morales.’”
The game comes as Spider-Man is perhaps at its peak. Tom Holland’s most recent live-action outing, 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, stands as the top-grossing Spider-Man movie of all time. This summer’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse pushed the boundaries of what an animated Spider-Man could be. And the return of the Superior Spider-Man comic after the shocking events in the past run puts Spidey in strong position in the comic book medium.
Spider-Man 2 is poised to continue this streak of bringing new stories to life while reminding us all what we love about our favorite heroes. And it’s clear the creators love and are incredibly protective of these characters as well. From every thwip in battle, to a quiet moments of bonding between friends, Spider-Man 2 looks to deliver on both story and spectacle, without sacrificing one for the other.
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