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The original PS5 Spider-Man was not a great game but perhaps Spider-Man 2 will be

The original PS5 Spider-Man was not a great game but perhaps Spider-Man 2 will be
Spider-Man 2 has a lot of weight on its shoulders (Picture: Sony)

GameCentral looks back at Sony’s earlier Spider-Man games and the importance of the new sequel to their increasingly barren release schedules.

You don’t need us to tell you that Sony has been acting very oddly for a very long time now. As a reader pointed out recently , it is now over two years since they announced a new single-player game and the only title they currently have confirmed in development is Marvel’s Wolverine (even if job ads have made it clear that things like Ghost Of Tsushima 2 are also underway).

Not only is it years since Sony announced anything of substance but even when they do say something it’s via insipid little blog posts, like this week’s reveal of the long-rumoured PS5 Slim consoles. The lack of showmanship is extraordinary for a company that used to be famed for it and given how lacklustre its last several State of Play events have been there’s little reason to think the situation would be improved with more of them.

It’s pointless to speculate further on why Sony is acting like this, as people have been trying to understand their logic for months now and are still none the wiser. Although perhaps now that PlayStation boss Jim Ryan is leaving , in March next year, things will change under his replacement. By then Spider-Man 2 will be out and it’s going to be very interesting to see where Sony’s reputation stands at that point.

Rather than any of their home-made IP, like God Of War or The Last Of Us, it is 2018’s Spider-Man which is the best-selling Sony exclusive of all-time. That’s surprising in many ways, not least because a) it’s far from the best first party PlayStation title and b) most other recent Marvel games have been conspicuous flops .

The first Spider-Man was by no means a bad game – we gave it 7/10 in our original review – but even though it technically didn’t have any connection to previous Spider-Man titles it was very reminiscent of Activision’s classic Spider-Man 2 and all its derivatives, from the open world New York City to the web-swinging mechanics and predictable collection of villains.

Perhaps less forgivably, it also stole shamelessly from the Batman: Arkham games in terms of combat and, in particular, stealth – despite the two characters being very different types of superhero. Despite taking inspiration from such lauded titles, the original Spider-Man also suffered from a lack of depth and variety, which are problems common to most games from developer Insomniac Games, who were previously best known for Ratchet & Clank series and Sunset Overdrive.

It still wasn’t a bad game, but it was definitely a rung or two below Sony’s other first party titles, including in terms of the dry and confusing storytelling (we still don’t understand what Mr Negative’s powers actually are). Its familiarity is likely to have been one of the secrets of its success though, together with the fact that, MCU or not, Spider-Man is currently the world’s favourite superhero.

The immediate follow-up to Spider-Man came in 2020, with a ‘half-sequel’ called Spider-Man: Miles Morales – which we enjoyed considerably more than the original. Its shorter length was purely because Sony needed something new for the PlayStation 5 launch, but that restriction inspired much more cohesive storytelling from Insomniac and a much more interesting relationship between Spider-Man and the main villain – who was not someone you’d already fought a dozen times before in previous games.

Everything seemed much more tightly designed, including the open world side missions which didn’t bog you down with constant repetition and menial tasks. We had hoped that the idea of the half-sequel would be used by Sony and others as a means to combat the increasing costs, in terms of time and money, of making modern AAA games but while there has been some whispers of that recently it’s yet to become a trend.

Spider-Man 2 features two Spideys (Picture: Sony)

And yet Insomniac has been happy to admit that Spider-Man 2 is not a 100+ hour epic and has done nothing to correct rumours that its main story can be completed in around 15 hours . On the contrary, they’ve used the fact that it’s not filled with needless bloat as a selling point, promoting it as a game that is not trying to become a second job and which can be played and finished within a reasonable period of time.

That alone is hugely encouraging, even if some fans have had qualms about the gameplay footage that has been shown so far. In keeping with Sony’s new hermit status, relatively little has been released but some people have been concerned that the action looks overfamiliar, even old-fashioned, despite the obviously state-of-the-art visuals. Sony has also been a little vague as to how the game handles the fact that you control both Peter Parker and Miles Morales, although that will become clearer at the review stage.

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If the lessons are learned from the first two games, then Spider-Man 2 has the potential to be Insomniac’s best game yet, but its arrival amidst the wasteland of Sony’s current release schedules will also make it an important milestone for the whole PlayStation brand. Although it lacks any sad dads (unless you count Norman Osborne) Spider-Man 2 seems to be the epitome of Sony’s approach to single-player games, with its cutting edge visuals, easily accessible gameplay, and high concept story and characters.

The question that will come after Spider-Man 2 is whether such games will continue to thrive in the future, or if Sony will make good on its threat to concentrate on live service games, a policy that seems to have unravelled even before it’s begun . Either way, the success of Spider-Man 2, both critically and commercially, will play a large part in determining the future direction of PlayStation exclusives, and it’s all thanks to a franchise and characters that Sony doesn’t even own.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 launches as a PlayStation 5 exclusive on October 20.

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MORE : A second, cheaper PS5 Spider-Man 2 console bundle is out this month

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