The Insight: Beyond The Action, Spider-Man 2 Taught 14-Year-Old Khloe Some Important Life Lessons

By Khloe Wilkerson

Get ready to swing into action with Spider-Man 2, the highly anticipated Insomniac Games sequel that takes the superhero gaming experience to new heights! In Spider-Man 2, available on PS5, you can even fly through the city with wings, battle iconic villains, and uncover an epic storyline. Spider-Man’s eagerness to help save the city was a big stand out for me. Even though you play as a superhero, you still can do human things like ride a bike or play basketball virtually. It feels real as if you are in the game. 

Playing Spider-Man 2 took me by surprise. It was fascinating to watch how the game came together. To begin with, I was unfamiliar with Spider-Man games; all I knew was the Spider-Man from the Marvel movies. So I was thrilled to see how engaging and interactive the game and narrative line were. For example, Peter Parker sacrifices his relationships and struggles with the weight of his responsibilities as Spider-Man. He constantly puts himself in danger to protect the city, risking his safety and well-being. Peter has lost hit Aunt May, loses his job and feels rejected, all the while trying to manage his relationship.

In addition, Miles Morales, the other Spider-Man, has big shoes to fill. As we know, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” He gave up his teenage years to help protect his city. Instead of having the freedom to do what the average teenager does like going out with friends or going to parties, he has to sacrifice his personal life to do what he does best. Morales is a 17-year-old biracial teen of a Puerto Rican mother and an African-American father. This allows for representation and diversity in the game, showcasing different perspectives and experiences. 

In Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker, continually struggles to balance the pressure of being a superhero and maintaining his personal life. The game begins with Peter working as a teacher in Brooklyn. He’s already worried about his first day at work, and being a superhero his community relies upon doesn’t help. Will he be able to teach students without being called to a crime scene as Spider-Man?

No, because a colossal Sandman arrives in the city and begins destroying it. The city and the air fill with sand, making breathing difficult. Miles Morales, a student in the class, starts coughing and sweating, realizing that something terrible is going on. He tells the teacher (Peter Parker) and both go to the roof to see that things are worse than they thought. Things quickly deteriorate, forcing Peter to leave his job to assist his community. His boss doesn’t know about his superpowers, so he must leave work discreetly and hopes to return before his supervisor discovers it. 

Let’s just say things don’t always go as planned. He starts to doubt his abilities and questions whether he can truly be both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. It’s a thrilling and emotional journey of self-discovery and heroism.

Getting to understand the deep character development in Spider-Man 2 is like peeling back layers of an onion. Throughout the game, you’ll witness Peter Parker’s growth not only as the superhero but also as a person. He faces internal conflicts, questioning his responsibilities and the sacrifices he must make. The game explores themes of identity, loss of loved ones, and the fraught experience of being a hero. You’ll see Peter’s empathetic relationship with Miles Morales to his complicated dynamic with Mary Jane Watson. The writing and performances are exceptional, immersing you in a stirring, emotional journey.

The relationship between Miles Morales and Peter Parker is like a brother bond—the same superhero line of work, but with different lives. They go through various adventures and challenges together which strengthen their friendship. Peter, being the more experienced mentor, guides and supports Miles as he navigates his own journey as Spider-Man. In contrast, Miles brings a fresh perspective and youthful energy into their dynamic. Coming from different racial backgrounds, Miles being Black, adds richness and diversity to their relationship, allowing them to grow both as individuals and as a team. The death of Miles’ father has a profound impact on their relationship. It brings them closer together as they both navigate the grief and loss. Peter is understanding and has a soft heart for the pain of losing a loved one, one he knows well, too. This pain becomes a source of support and guidance for Miles through his difficult time. 

While the story is superior, there’s more to this game. The real story may be the gameplay. Spider-Man 2 offers an exhilarating and captivating gameplay experience that truly makes you feel like you’re swinging through the city as the friendly neighborhood hero. The game features an open-world environment where you can freely explore the lively streets of New York City. As Spider-Man, you have a wide range of acrobatic moves and web-slinging abilities at your disposal, allowing you to effortlessly traverse the cityscape and engage in thrilling aerial combat. 

The gameplay mechanics are smooth and intuitive, making it easy to perform impressive, acrobatic maneuvers and execute dynamic combat sequences. You can swing easily from building to building, perform gravity-defying acrobatics, quickly scale buildings and even use your webs to disarm enemies or immobilize them. The combat system is fluid and satisfying, with a variety of combos, web-based attacks, and special abilities that you can unlock and upgrade as you progress through the game. 

In this Spider-Man game, it’s completely hands-on in terms of things to do. You can indulge in numerous missions and the non-playable characters are more intractable and complex, allowing you to see how ordinary people live their lives. It’s the rainbow mosaic of our city: seeing individuals on their way to work, taking public transit, selling wares on the street, listening in on conversations, and the reality of being a New Yorker. Furthermore, in this universe, I feel that Peter Parker has a more traditional fighting style like Taekwondo, while Miles Morales uses more kickboxing. In comparison to each other, Miles Morales is more dynamic and flashy while Peter Parker is more traditional. 

The missions are diverse and engaging, offering a mix of stealth, combat, and exploration. Some examples are rescuing hostages, stopping a bank robbery, or investigating a crime scene. More important main story missions appear in red onscreen, while others are as important but don’t require as much urgency to complete them in yellow. Some tasks are more difficult than others because, when battling an enemy, as they strike you, your health bar will fall, and if it drops entirely to zero, you must restart the fight/battle until you defeat them. You must be in focus to heal, which means you must deal a lot of damage to the adversaries for the heal option to appear. Having to restart the fight might be exhausting or irritating, especially if you’ve been on it for a while. 

In addition to the main story missions, Spider-Man 2 also offers a plethora of side activities and challenges to keep you engaged. You can help citizens in need, participate in races, collect hidden items, and take down various criminals and supervillains that roam the city. The game also introduces a photo mode. You’ll capture pictures of citizens as they work – and stunning snapshots of your web-slinging adventures, the city, and your favorite memories as Spider-Man. You can customize by adding filters and stickers adding creativity to a memorable shot. Some of the photos are taken in iconic locations like the Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square. The latter is a busy and vibrant location with towering billboards, bright lights, and a sea of people. Central Park is a sprawling green oasis in the middle of the city. It’s filled with lush trees, winding paths, and picturesque ponds. It’s often a peaceful, serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, and taking pictures here reminds me of being in the park in my younger years.

I’ve personally been on top of the Empire State Building and got to see the vastness of NYC as a whole just standing in one spot. I got to see the view of all the buildings, the city skyline, Central Park, and even the Statue of Liberty. The feeling that you get up there reminds me of what it feels like to be swinging through New York City as Spider-Man. A feeling of grace and eagerness!

A particular place that sticks out is Coney Island’s amusement attractions. When you arrive, you start as Miles Morales. He then enters the amusement park’s mysterious virtual reality attraction, which eventually resembles a Guitar Hero minigame. He has to fight many individuals and once he’s done, his thoughts are all over the place and cause him to leave the virtual reality machine. When he meets up with Peter, MJ, and Harry, he tells them that he’s going home since he’s not feeling well. 

Regarding Miles generally, a mind-blowing character animation occurred when he tapped into his unique spider powers and unleashed an electrifying Venom Strike. The animation is fluid with crackling energy emanating from Miles as he delivers powerful punches and electrifies his enemies. He also performed acrobatic flips and tricks mid-air and seeing the way his suit reacts to the wind is like watching a real-life superhero in action, adding an extra layer of adventure. 

In Coney Island, there are several mini games scattered throughout. A selection of optional rides and activities is provided. Some of these include playing with water cannon machines, going on rides, and shooting basketballs. You eventually get to pick your gifts for winning, all together a wonderful hands-on experience. Peter and MJ ride the Ferris wheel together and kiss with the fireworks as their backdrop (a beautiful romantic scene). But big boss Kraven’s Hunters wind up spoiling the moment and ruining the entire carnival experience for everyone. 

The music is carefully crafted to enhance every moment of the game. During intense battles, the score amps up the excitement, pumping up your adrenaline and making you feel like a true superhero. During quieter and emotional scenes, the music tugs at your heartstrings, capturing the depth and complexity of the story. It’s like having a personal concert tailored to your heroic adventures! The song “Greater Together” by John Paesano has more of an upbeat familiar tempo that you might think of when you are in a battle or swinging through buildings. The rapid string plucking on the guitar and the hip-hop beats remind me of a sense of freedom or reunion. It made me feel empowered and determined to continue playing. 

I would definitely recommend Spider-Man 2. Some areas that could be enhanced are the side missions and activities, adding more variety and depth to keep players engaged even after completing the main story. Additionally, expanding the open-world environment with more interactive elements and surprises could make the game even more immersive. 

Spider-Man 2 contains a plethora of various stories and lessons. One of them is “Progress is balance, not a destination.” These words indicate that progress is more than just achieving a certain end goal; it is a continuous process that necessitates finding equilibrium along the way. It is about always evolving, learning, and adapting as we strive for betterment. This is the subject of the game, it’s about Spider-Man balancing his personal life and his role as a superhero. But it’s really a way for all of us to navigate through life – with balance and, with luck and hard work, ease. 

Bronx native Khloe Wilkerson is our youngest intern. She recently won a college scholarship and completed our journalism and writing class at Mott Hall III twice in a row!

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