- Despite several nominations, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 did not win a single award at TGA 2023.
- Insomniac tends to play it safe with Spider-Man, holding itself back from truly innovating on the web-head’s experience.
- With Spider-Man 3, Insomniac should push the experience to its utmost limits and beyond before moving on to other Spider-Men for something truly earth-shattering.
The Game Awards 2023 is behind us and it’s been a rather interesting year for games. While there’s a lot for me to say about 2023 in general, there’s only one thing on my mind right now: Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Or rather its inability to win a single award at one of the industry’s biggest events which honestly speaks volumes about certain things.
It’s time Insomniac Games stepped out of its comfort zone and truly delivered something that no Spider-Man game has ever done. No, I’m not blinded by emotion and I’m well aware of the many new systems introduced in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 but one or two new mechanics don’t do anything in the grand scheme. More so when you’re up against behemoths.
Insomniac Understands Spider-Man But Plays It Overly Safe
Back in 2018, we came to know how well the devs understood the character of Spider-Man and the man behind it. The wall-crawler is a symbol that embodies a set of principles, values, and beliefs. When we talk about Spidey, we talk about what it means to do the right thing no matter the hardship because “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Insomniac knows the essence of this character and it displayed that with the first game. Beyond that, the devs are fans too and they know the Spider-Man mythos. It’s what gave them the edge in creating their universe to portray new versions of all the iconic faces in the webhead’s life and rogues gallery. Then we have Miles Morales who was handled phenomenally in this reality.
As a character, Miles has been fairly under the radar for some time now. Between the animated Spider-Verse films and Insomniac’s games, Morales has seen a huge boost in popularity and reach. More people know about the character now and even praise him. All these things and the events of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 led to the debate of whether Miles is even Spider-Man. Despite understanding the core element of that argument, I believe that the whole conversation is absolute bollocks. Miles is Spider-Man, plain and simple.
Coming back to Insomniac, there’s a reason why Spider-Man 2 didn’t generate ripples in the industry despite moving a gargantuan 5 million copies in just 11 days after launch. It’s a great game, that opening mission was out of this world. It’s the first time I’ve seen Sandman done right since Shattered Dimensions after all. eXputer’s review gave it a solid 4 out of 5 but beyond that, the game offers nothing except more of the same.
Now as you start pressing the keys to leave scathing remarks, I experienced the new systems. We got the Symbiote; the gameplay has been amazing though after replaying it recently, I’m inclined to say Web of Shadows had better execution overall. Next, you’ll say “web wings,” and yeah it’s fun flying around New York but what does it ultimately add up to? Skipping on water for a few seconds?
So after those two things, you might throw around the Slingshot, story, and that one mission with Venom. It’s all good but it’s not enough to make an impact and generate buzz like Cyberpunk 2077, Baldur’s Gate 3, Tears of The Kingdom, and Alan Wake 2 did.
Insomniac saved the webhead with the first game and with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, it elevated the character to Metacritic’s 90+ realm making it the only Spidey title to ever receive a “must-play” seal. It reminded me of the wall-crawler’s golden age; I had a blast playing through it but I’m not blind to the truth. Said truth being my observation which brings us to the next part of this piece.
After Spider-Man 2, Insomniac Should Endeavor To Shake The Firmament
The devs have what it takes to truly craft a Spider-Man game that will be remembered for generations. Insomniac needs to be bold with the IP and take huge but calculated risks in the right direction if we’re ever truly going to get a Spidey game that goes beyond the standards set by Rocksteady’s Arkham series.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 did a great job of improving Mary Jane’s segments but at the end of the day, a better direction needs to be determined. These missions have been a divisive element since 2018 but for some reason, they’re still around.
Creative Director Bryan Intihar has commented on these levels following the game’s launch but as pointed out by The Amazing Lucas, this isn’t how you handle criticism or introduce new things to people. And even beyond these missions, the open world itself needs to change. There are a lot of ways one can go about it but Insomniac would have to decide on how to address the formulaic open-world in a way that’s unique to Spidey.
The Web of Destiny is vast and there are so many possibilities for Spider-Man games. Shattered Dimensions already gave us a glimpse of what’s possible in that department yet these games are always about the traditional Peter Parker path. Considering Insomniac put the Spider-Verse reference in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, it’s evident that it’s doing something. No idea what it is but it’s doing it.
What we need now is to go beyond the confines of New York. In the comics, Spider-Man has gone to numerous locations over the several decades since Amazing Fantasy #15. For those unaware, he’s gone to Florida, a hidden jungle on a photo-op with JJJ, He’s even gone to London and faced off against terrorists on a plane. If that wasn’t enough, Spidey traveled to Paris once too where he fought the Cyclone in Notre Dame.
There’s a lot more to his international escapades with great potential for stories. And if you want something greater than another country, there’s the multiverse. Miguel O’Hara, Assassin Spider-Man, Last Stand, The Dark Ages, Ghost Spider, Spider-Gwen, and the list goes on. Each Spidey on that list can heavily contribute to innovation in gameplay, traversal, and narrative capabilities.
I don’t think it’s ever going to happen but a full-scale, AAA Spider-Man 2099 game set in Nueva York made by Insomniac Games would be one for the ages. Miguel has always been a popular character due to his costume in other Spidey titles and the comics but after Across the Spider-Verse, this popularity has gone through the roof. Adding in that reference generated a lot of hype.
With that said, there’s one thing I disagree with and that’s the best performance award.
Yuri’s Performance in Spider-Man 2 Deserved To Win
Before I go further, it’s best to exercise due diligence and warn you all about spoilers. It may have been over a month since Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 came out but I’d rather be safe than sorry. With that out of the way, after the nominees for this year’s TGA were revealed, I already had a good idea of how it was gonna turn out. I’m a huge Spider-Man fan, absolutely astronomical, and I’ll be honest with you—the game didn’t have enough power to win any of the awards except one.
Now before you all grab your pitchforks and come after me, I’ll set the record straight. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is a great game and was rightfully nominated for various categories alongside the likes of Alan Wake 2, Baldur’s Gate 3, Resident Evil 4, Tears of The Kingdom, and some other notable games. But when you put all those names together on one screen, no amount of bias or rose-tinted glasses will help you avoid the truth.
There’s only one category that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 deserved to win and even had the highest chance to—best performance. Yuri Lowenthal amazed us all in the first game, especially with his dual takes to express intensity while traversing and calmness when not moving. He went above and beyond in the sequel, perfectly encapsulating the struggle that Peter faced with the Symbiote and undergoing a crisis that changed his life forever.
Playing through the game, from when Peter was just himself to when he acquired the Symbiote, from when he began his downward spiral to the ultimate confrontation between him and Miles—Lowenthal delivered one of the most phenomenal performances I’ve ever seen.
I’m not saying that what Neil gave us was a bad performance. I know how the internet works and how people don’t even think before twisting words and taking things out of context. What I’m saying is that, in my opinion, Neil did a great job as Astarion but Yuri delivered something greater but I digress. It’s a fair statement that 2023 was just too stacked.
Fingers Crossed For Marvel’s Spider-Man 3
With everything Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 has put in place, its inevitable sequel has the potential to live up to the tagline. I’m referring to the whole thing about being greater. We have the Knull lore and hive mind for symbiotes, Harry’s in a coma with a high chance of Venom’s remnants in his blood, Peter’s got Anti-Venom, Carnage, Green Goblin, and Doc Ock’s “the final chapter.”
This story can seriously go down a lot of different paths. What I hope to see with the sequel is Insomniac pushing this universe to the limits of its narrative and gameplay before moving on to exploring other Spider-Men to truly innovate on the character.
Perhaps then we’ll have a Spidey title that can go up against huge competitors, win, and leave its mark on the industry the way Rocksteady did with Batman Arkham.
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