It’s important to note that this review is based on the PlayStation version of the game. While the graphically enhanced PS5 version will undoubtedly look spectacular, I’ve got to say that this game already looks dazzling on current-gen hardware. The New York Cityscape from the first game is as picturesque as ever, except this time you get to see the city blanketed in snow, with Miles swinging up and down Manhattan in the wintertime as the city readies for the holidays.
The game looks smoother and more refined than its predecessor. Lighting, shadow effects, and texture quality seem to have been improved, but what really stands out is the animation. Insomniac did a great job with character animations in the first game (the game’s excellent motion blur effects aid this greatly), and the studio has managed to push things even further. Characters move and gesture more naturally than ever before. Miles’s movement reflects his personality and age in an interesting way, too–he’s less confident and experienced than Peter, so his swinging and fighting are a bit less elegant and slightly more awkward.
The animation is of course driven by the gameplay, which is fundamentally the same as what we saw in the original game but sees some interesting tweaks, particularly in regards to enemy encounters. While Peter Parker’s three skill trees were “Innovator,” “Defender,” and “Webslinger,” which focused on combat, evasion, and traversal, respectively, Miles’s three trees are “Combat Skills,” “Venom Skills,” and “Camouflage Skills.”
“Combat Skills” improve melee attacks and give you perks that shorten cooldown times, allow you to perform more effective disarm techniques, and more. “Venom Skills” harness Miles’ newly acquired “Venom Power,” which allows him to charge objects and fry enemies with crackling bolts of electricity that can break through armor, take down gigantic foes like the rampaging Rhino, and even launch Miles and his enemies high into the air (this affects traversal as well). “Camouflage Skills” revolve around Miles’s other new ability, to turn invisible for a period of time, with the various skills in the tree bolstering your ability to take enemies out stealthily.
Miles’s venom power and camouflage abilities help enemy encounters stand out from the first game while maintaining the same fluidity of combat that Insomniac perfected in the original. The combat system isn’t without its flaws, though. For example, things can get a little messy and too cluttered when a ton of enemies are all lunging and shooting at you at once, which can make it almost impossible to follow the action or discern what the Spider Sense indicators are telling you. A few of these hectic action sequences resulted in my death, which felt a little cheap, but turning invisible also saved my ass numerous times in tense situations. Overall, though, the combat is on par with what you’ve come to expect from this franchise. The stealth elements were also a blast to mess around with, especially in combination with the venom powers.
Release Date: Nov. 12, 2020
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PS5
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
There are a multitude of missions and tasks to complete around the city, including enemy base takeovers, hidden enemy caches, and ability trials that earn you new skills. I loved the latter—Peter set up the trials for Miles, and his commentary during these sections via “hard-light” hologram is hilarious.
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