Games: Marvel's Spider-Man 2 is a spectacular superhero caper

Marvel's Spider-Man 2 (PS5)

By: Sony

THE Spandex star of Sony's Christmas crawls up the spout today with a sequel to the PS4's best-selling game. Not only did the 2018 original do plenty right, it did so better than any Spider-Man movie or TV show, spinning a benchmark for our friendly neighbourhood webslinger and all superhero games.

And, while PS5 launch title Miles Morales was a bite-sized taste of how the new console's tech could power superheroics, Spider-Man 2 doubles the fun in a two-for-one caper that's destined to be one of the PS5's biggest hitters.

With Aunt May six feet under and Peter Parker starting his teaching career, old friend Harry Osborne rocks up after years of treatment harbouring a dark secret. Cue 25 hours of swinging with protégé Miles Morales in tow.

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Kicking off with a spectacular, Godzilla-sized Sandman battle through the streets of New York, there are multiple big bads to web-up. Kraven the Hunter – who's freeing supervillains for a Predator-style hunt through New York – is merely the warm-up act for a rogue's gallery of supervillainy, culminating in a fan-favourite showdown.

Playing as both Peter and Miles, you'll juggle your time between both in balletic combat against crowds of goons and B-roll villains. While initially limited to spraying enemies with liquid silk, a skill tree unlocks myriad special abilities and gadgetry. And that's before we get to the Symbiote-infused later stages with their devastating alien powers.

Spider-Man 2's gorgeously realised Big Apple isn't incey-wincey, and the map soon erupts in side-missions and street crimes to foil, while stealth sections with Mary Jane make for a deliberately underpowered change of pace.

The best traversal system in gaming has been polished as players joyously bounce through New York – and when you tire of swinging, a new gliding mechanic lets Spidey soar through the air like a superhero with bingo-wings.

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Uber-developer Insomniac, who were the first to really stretch the PS5's nippy loading with Ratchet and Clank, make character switching and fast travel spider-silky, and with visuals that trump the Tobey Maguire-era movies, it's a ray-traced jewel in Sony's crown.

There are still a few flies in the web, though. Aside from side quests where players stealth their way through enemy lairs with a mechanical spider, the game lives or dies by its combat system – and the final hours, with boss fight after boss fight, become long in the fang as you auto-pilot your way through the motions.

The traversal system – clearly designed for eye-poppingly grand-scale swinging – is also rather fiddly when you need close-quarters precision.

A spectacular caper that juggles the webslinger's wisecracking humour with plenty of emotional heft, Spider-Man 2 is a shining example of what a superhero game can be, refining everything that was good about the original for a risk-free blockbuster.

Here's hoping for a Spider-Verse style shake-up come the inevitable third outing.