A few years ago I upgraded my aging television that could "only" output up to 1080p and replaced it with a larger 4K 120Hz unit, but even with the Sony PlayStation 5 hooked up to it, I never felt that I was truly getting everything out of it. Now here comes Spider-Man 2 from Insomniac Games and it has a number of visual options for high-end displays that I can finally turn all the knobs up past 11, but how do I know if I'm really getting the best image for my screen, and just because it's the best, does that mean it's right for playing the game smoothly? Thankfully, Samit Sarkar at Polygon has written a thorough explanation of what all of the in-game settings mean and how to get the best image for my (and your) needs.
There are two ways to play Spider-Man 2: Fidelity mode and Performance mode. You’ll find them under the “Graphics” area of the settings menu’s Visual section, and unlike in many other games, you’ll also find detailed descriptions of each mode and the associated options.
As you’d expect, the image quality and resolution are at their highest in Fidelity mode, which has a frame rate target of 30 frames per second (and is the default setting). The Performance mode makes trade-offs in resolution and other areas to target 60 fps. Both options use dynamic resolution scaling, adjusting the amount of pixels being rendered in order to hit the frame rate in question.
Neither mode can quite maintain a flawless locked frame rate. Playing the game’s intro sequence in Performance mode, for instance, I noticed some minor hitching during Sandman’s attack in Lower Manhattan as the screen filled up with billowing dust clouds. But across 15 or so hours with the game thus far, I’ve only run into a few instances of this issue, lasting for a couple of seconds at most.
The Fidelity mode operates in a resolution range from 2160p — i.e., native 4K — down to 1440p, and scales the output to 4K using Insomniac’s temporal injection technique for anti-aliasing, according to the studio. That lower end, 1440p, is where the Performance mode tops out; the average resolution there fluctuates between 1080p and 1440p.
So far I've played on Performance mode to get that sweet fluid 60fps, but after reading this, I'm tempted to switch to the hybrid mode available to 120Hz televisions that lowers to 40fps overall, but it a bump up from the regular Fidelity mode. I suppose I should play around with the settings and see which looks best to my eye and responds best to my style of play. Insomniac included so many options and settings in Spider-Man 2 from the visuals to the sound to what should really be industry-standard accessibility tools that I almost feel spoiled.