Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Has The Best Opening I’ve Ever Played

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 blew me away, which is evident by my glowing review. What’s so impressive about this sequel is that it goes from 0 to 100 faster than any sports car. One moment, we’re in a classroom with Peter and Miles. The next minute, we’re engaged in a set piece that would make Nathan Drake jealous. In fact, it opens with a boss fight. The struggle against Sandman has layers. Swinging to get to him introduces us to the basics of movement, while the fight against him prepares us for combat. PlayStation is no stranger to strong openings in its exclusives. In fact, more narrative games demand a strong first impression. It’s the opening statement that grips you and primes you for the rest of the game. That’s why Marvel’s Spider-Man 2’s opening works so well.

What Makes A Great Opening?Marvel's Spider-Man 2 Peter Spider-Man Drowning In Sandman

The best openings in gaming, or almost any medium, set up promises with their audience. They set expectations. Dissatisfaction with a story is often the result of broken promises and failed deliveries. Keep in mind that the original Marvel’s Spider-Man also has an incredible opening. We begin with an overview of Peter Parker’s life through a small scene in his apartment. It establishes that Peter has been Spider-Man for a while, he lives in a state of chaos, he’s techy, and he has trouble paying his bills. It’s a lot to cover in the opening two or three minutes of the game. Then Insomniac follows that up with an excellent swinging sequence that leads you into the Wilson Fisk operation.

Another one of Sony’s heavy hitters, God of War, opens with Kratos cutting down a tree for the pyre of his recently deceased wife. In the opening moments, we’re shown a different Kratos than we knew in the past. This man is a father. He’s quiet and contemplative. His every move has weight and purpose to it, and we’re introduced to the journey he needs to make with his son in order to honor his wife. We’re instantly shown that the bond between these two characters isn’t strong yet. They don’t understand one another, but they will learn from one another. From there, the story begins in earnest.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 promises that the mantle of Spider-Man will continue to be at odds with the best interests of Peter and Miles.

Perhaps Sony’s most well-known beginning is that of The Last Of Us Part 1. The story of Joel and his daughter, Sarah, is one we know all too well. During the outbreak, Joel and Sarah try to escape their home with the help of Joel’s brother, Tommy. Sarah is hurt when Tommy’s truck crashes. Tommy gets separated from Joel and Sarah. As the two continue to flee, they narrowly escape a clicker with the help of an American soldier. When the soldier sees Sarah is injured, he guns the father and daughter down. Tommy kills the soldier, but the damage is done. Joel loses his daughter. The cycle of love, loss, violence, and pain has begun, and it will continue to spin out through the rest of the story.

These stories know how to put their best foot forward, and their developers accomplished something truly special. These are three of my favorite openings in all of gaming, and yet, I don’t think any of them do as good a job at marrying story and gameplay as Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Perfects The Formula

We open on Peter’s first day as a professor. Miles quickly excuses himself and finds out Sandman is attacking the city. He requests Peter’s assistance in a humorous moment between student and teacher. Then we’re off to the races. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 promises that the mantle of Spider-Man will continue to be at odds with the best interests of Peter and Miles. It’s a brief cutscene that quickly establishes stakes and complicates the lives of our two heroes.

As soon as our protagonists leap off the building, you’re in control. We’re introduced to fast, fun movement. We’re promised that both Spider-Mans will play an equal part within the narrative. We’re shown that boss fights will be major sequences with multiple phases and complex mechanics. We’re shown that, no matter the odds, good will prevail. We’re also shown that these encounters with major Spider-Man villains will often have repercussions extending beyond their time on-screen.

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The opening moments of this story perfectly tee us up for the home run to follow. Most of what I’ve said could be applied to any story. What does it do right as a game specifically? Well, first, we’re taught the basics of swinging and getting around the city. Once we’re on the scene with Sandman, we’re shown the importance of moving around the space within a boss fight. Instead of taking place within a small arena, Spider-Man is free to swing around a large section of the city. When Sandman finally catches up with our hero, Spider-Man is thrown into an office building. Now you’re introduced to fast-paced ground movement.

This is perhaps Insomniac’s biggest promise to its audience: Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 will be bigger and better than the first game, so buckle up for an amazing ride.

As Peter is running through the building, he saves a citizen with the help of Miles, showing again that we can expect these two to work together regularly. This isn’t a Peter Parker story, it’s a Spider-Man story, and there are two of them in New York. After getting the hang of movement and saving someone, you’re thrown into close combat with smaller Sandmen looking for a fight. The tutorial goes over some basic combat and introduces Peter’s new mechanical arms, an upgrade to his classic Insomniac suit.

You’re then transitioned back to the boss fight with Sandman. Together, Miles and Peter manage to outhink Sandman instead of overpowering him. This is a classic tactic for Spider-Man when he can’t simply punch his way to victory. Later in the story, this is something that will shift in Peter’s personality because of the symbiote suit.

After the fight with Sandman has concluded, we’re introduced to our first open-world activity. Small pockets of sandstorms are popping up around the city. Completing them will not only offer rewards like experience, but also a new piece of narrative to fill in why Sandman was acting the way he did after being on the straight and narrow for a long time.

The opening of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 lets you know exactly what kind of experience you can expect while playing the game. The writers set up stakes and expectations, then they make good on every single promise. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 continues the Sony tradition of strong openings and is a marvelous accomplishment for Insomniac. It’s a spectacular beginning that manages to top the already impressive opening of the first game. In many ways, this is perhaps Insomniac’s biggest promise to its audience: Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 will be bigger and better than the first game, so buckle up for an amazing ride.