Unlocking new powers is something the developers of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 have in common with their web-slinging protagonists. Insomniac Games is unleashing the power of PlayStation 5 in the upcoming sequel with two playable Super Heroes wielding new abilities, a gallery of menacing Super Villains, a city nearly doubled in size, and a host of other immersive enhancements.
I recently had a chance to play through several hours of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and was on the lookout for examples of the PS5’s power at work. Let’s swing into a few exciting examples:
Haptics and cinematic immersion
The preview opens with Peter in his new BlackSuit facing off against Kraven amidst church rafters. A massive bell tolls, sending impactful, reverberating ripples through the DualSense controller haptics. The resonant haptic sensation sells the bell’s disruptive effect on the twitching Black Suit. Cutscenes with the massive stampeding Lizard are also accented by intense haptic pulses, emulating the nerve-jangling might of the mutating Super Villain.
Particle colliding with adaptive triggers
One moment early in the preview tasks Peter with helping Harry Osborn align a particle collider’s beam emitters. A brief minigame appears when Spider-Man webs the emitters. I enjoyed carefully pressing the adaptive triggers with asymmetrical levels of pressure and watching on-screen prompts to correctly lock them into place. It’s a satisfying, novel example of the triggers’ accuracy and tactile feedback.
Web Wings and SSD unlock speedy Spidey flight
Web Wings give players a new option to soar over the city. The power of PS5 allows Marvel’s New York City to load in faster than previous titles. This translates to speedier movement through the city, including boosting along wind tunnel routes at impressive speeds using the new Web Wings. Spidey’s tried-and-true web-swinging is also faster and feels as joyful as ever. Weaving together the traditional web-swinging with the new Web Wings gliding created an empowering and buttery smooth way to traverse the city.
Iconic characters with deep emotion
Facial performances unite with enhanced character model detail to deliver new levels of expression. For example, a heart-to-heart between Miles and Rio wordlessly showcases the concern and love his mother holds for him – it’s all in the eyes. Realistic levels of ocular detail heighten expression, like visible capillaries, moistened eyelids, minute eye movements, and nuanced lighting. Emotionally intense scenes benefit from the upgraded facial enhancements as well. Just take one look at Kraven’s expressive face as he battles against Spidey, his eyes wide and piercing as his face contorts in intense cunning…
Quickly swapping between Peter and Miles
Players have two Spideys at their fingertips in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and swapping between them is a snap. The game zooms far above to a bird’s eye view of Marvel’s New York City when switching between the two Heroes, then zooms back in on the newly selected Spider-Man elsewhere in the city. It’s a seamless and muscular demonstration of the PS5’s ultra-fast SSD.
Speaking of, Insomniac is upping the realism of their character models with simulated musculature. This subtle enhancement makes character movement look more natural to the eye, similar to the improvements in facial capture. For example, you’ll see arm muscles bulge or stretch beneath the Super Heroes’ skin-tight suits or the jaw muscles of Lizard flex convincingly when bellowing a roar.
Double the city
Spider-Man’s turf extends beyond Manhattan to include Brooklyn and Queens in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. In previous Marvel’s Spider-Man games, these areas weren’t accessible and were simply low-poly representations of the wider city. The sequel’s doubled map size is possible in part due to the PS5, as is the game’s ability to render the sprawling metropolis at a greater distance. Standing atop a Manhattan skyscraper you can clearly see the shapes and colors of Brooklyn’s traversable skyline.
Spectacular Ray Tracing
Both Performance and Fidelity modes feature Ray Tracing in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 thanks to the title launching exclusively on PS5. The effect is immediately apparent when swinging or gliding across the water. One beautiful moment involved traversing over the East River with the setting sun casting a warm glow over the water, including the reflection of the Brooklyn skyline and a splash of hazy red from one of its large neon signs.
Bustling city life
Spider-Man is nothing without a city to protect, and Marvel’s New York is livelier than ever. New York pedestrians are represented by a more diverse array of body types, and enter and exit buildings. They drive down streets in vehicles that display the subtle, authentic bobbing motion of automotive suspension systems. In past Marvel’s Spider-Man titles, players could peep into building windows for a glimpse at decorated interiors – Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 heightens the detail with actual occupants. These small details help build a rich city backdrop that feels alive.
Listen up with 3D audio
Insomniac’s audio team implements 3D audio in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 with impressive attention to detail. The immersive effects are omnipresent, but two specific sequences stood out to me. A massive bell tolls during a sequence where a Black Suit-clad Peter squares off with Kraven in a church. The resonant frequency of the bell hits with a convincing punch. Another other moment is more gameplay focused, with the player crawling after Lizard through New York’s sewers. The claustrophobic sequence is heightened by a 360-degree range of sounds, including creaky pipes, crumbling rubble, and the occasional skittering of Lizard himself.
These are just a few colorful examples of how Insomniac’s stunner of a sequel is shaping up to take full advantage of PS5. Discover the full scope for yourself when Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 hits PS5 on October 20.
Tim Turi (he/him)