Be greater? Be yourself? Or Maybe, Just Be Spider-Man!
Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4 was one of the best superhero games of all time. It introduced a pretty accurate open-world Manhattan, had groundbreaking gameplay, and felt like a genuine love letter to the Spider-Man franchise. It was a game that really let us get to know Peter as a nerd, a scientist, a romantic, and of course, an all-around heartfelt superhero. There was really just one loose thread missing from the original game – what’s gonna happen with Peter’s protege? The answer was Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
Developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, Spider-Man: Miles Morales launched on November 12th as a Playstation 5 Exclusive. The is a sequel to the acclaimed Marvel’s Spider-Man, and I’ve been dying to review this game since launch. But like many gamers, I was unable to obtain a PS5… until now. Featuring one of the most prominent black superheroes ever created in Miles Morales and boasting astonishing next-generation gameplay, Miles Morales is nothing shy of amazing. A beautiful and fitting sequel designed for the next generation of console gaming.
Spider-Man Meets Spider-Man, Then Meets Spider-Cat, Who is Also Spider-Man
First things first, one of the elements I absolutely love about the ultimate edition is that it comes with a remaster of the original game (along with a brand new Peter Parker) so you get two games for the price of one. But if you don’t feel like loading, the game also starts with an optional recap of the first game’s events told entirely from Miles’ perspective. A great way to leave it up to the player if they want to relive the first game — and if you have a save file on PS4, transfer your game (and trophies) instantly over — or just start as Miles instantaneously.
The storyline to Spider-Man Miles Morales starts off swinging, with Peter showing Miles the ropes as Spider-Man one year after the previous game’s major events. But shortly after an encounter with Rhino and the introduction of the Roxxon energy corporation, Peter shares with Miles that he must go on an international assignment to Symkaria with Mary Jane. Thus leaving his protege in charge of protecting New York City while he’s away.
I’m New York’s Only Spider-Man!
Miles’ solo adventure starts off in Spanish Harlem NYC, where Miles and his mother have moved into his Abuela’s old place. Roxxon Power, the tower corporation based in Miles’ more impoverished area of the city, is promoting a new type of energy reactor in Nuform. Which is rumored to be less than clean. As a result, The Underground — a gang of disenfranchised youth and gangbangers seeking to be the new alphas of the city now that the Kingpin, Demons, and Maggia have left a power void — seek to destroy Roxxon corporation. They are armed with programmable matersuits provided by their mysterious leader, The Tinkerer.
And that’s the main storyline as Miles has to figure out how to stop The Underground while investigating what’s wrong with Roxxon corporation. Though I personally wasn’t the biggest fan of this game’s plot at times, I will admit I did enjoy its worldbuilding, as it really ties together with the original game and DLC. There are no jump the shark moments or unnecessary introductions. Everything is a result of consequences from what we’ve seen thus far, which just so happens to tie into Miles’ backstory. Such as meeting his friends Ganke and Phin, establishing a culture around Harlem, and seeing his mom’s political campaign.
I Promise To Do Everything In My Power To Protect This City
Spider-Man Miles Morales is the first next-gen console video game. It’s not a remake like Demon’s Souls or a tutorial like Astro’s Playroom, it’s a genuine sequel in 4K resolution and up to 60 frames-per-second. The game comes in three visual performance modes: fidelity, which is 30 fps but with ray tracing, affecting depth perception and how light penetrates and bounces along the screen. Performance mode, which runs at a stunningly smooth 60fps showcasing the best in-motion effects. Then, as a special update in December, there is also now a Ray Tracing Performance mode, combining the best of both worlds with ray tracing and 60fps for a genuinely next-gen experience. Having played all three, I will confirm RT Performance mode does feel like the future of console gaming. Add in the DualSense controller, which reacts to every punch, venom attack, and rope tension while web-swinging, and what you have is a truly next-gen experience.
To top off the next-gen visual showcase is the game’s upgraded photography mode. This is where the ray-tracing really shines because you can control the color, intensity, and source of the lighting, making it basically a built-in professional photography set amongst a Spider-Man scalable Manhattan backdrop! I can’t stress this enough: photography mode is gorgeous. The best I might have ever seen in a video game, and I’ve messed with Marvel’s Avengers and Cyberpunk 2077 (both with equally highly touted photography modes), and Spider-Man Miles Morales easily outdoes them both with its easy to use interface and professional lighting controls.
But finally, the biggest performance upgrade that makes Miles Morales stand out almost immediately is its vaunted SSD capabilities. As load times from start-up to the main game are nonexistent and the game never struggles to load any of its pre-rendered maps while traversing the different segments of New York City. Most noticeably mind-boggling are the game’s many subway terminals, waypoints that let you effortlessly traverse to almost any point in the city thanks to the new PS5 SSD. All for an experience where you can access any corner of the city in mere seconds.
While Peter’s Zings, Miles’ Sneakily Makes Zappy Pops!
Miles works differently than Peter in a couple of ways. His skill tree is divided into three categories. Base combat skills, which upgrades finisher stacks and venom build-up capabilities; venom skills, which unlock different bio-electric attacks that do major damage; finally, stealth skills, where Miles utilizes his camouflage abilities allowing him to re-enter stealth mode during battle, expanding on an entire layer of combat that was lacking in the original.
Like the original, a good deal of the game’s design is spent on Spidey-Suits, all semi-awkward yet awesome in fashion. Some of my favorites were the Into The Spider-Verse suit, the Spider-Man winter attire costume with the winter hat and scarf, and my personal favorite: the Spider-Man cat, where you take along a feline friend as your partner. Each of Miles’ suits features upgradable mods you can add-on for different specialized perks, making for a slightly more customizable Spider-Man that you can adjust depending on your needs at the moment. Each mod and suit unlock requires activity tokens and technology parts, which you attain via doing missions and stealing tech caches from the underground.
Surprisingly, the UI is also oddly better than the original. You can use the touchpad to scroll through nearby quests using the in-game Friendly Neighborhood app, which allows you to track activities and crimes available. Probably the best quest upgrade is that you can track and redo crime quests to attain a better ranking. This is a huge improvement over the last game, as before you’d need to randomly hope the right quest popped up entirely.
“Lost Cat Ey. Okay. Okay. Now Ya Talkin’ My Language!”
So gameplay itself works a little differently as Miles’ style of gameplay is uniquely different than Peter’s. To be honest, Miles plays like an awkward teenager, albeit one with superpowered venom abilities, which are electrified attacks that build-up and release for hard-hitting damage. They also make enemies vulnerable to follow-up blows so most of the combat and boss battles should be focused on venom stacking. As mentioned, Miles can also turn invisible which lets him enter in-and-out of stealth combat much easier than the original, making for quick getaways or silent clearings of entire floor levels. And though Miles doesn’t have many of Peter’s awesome web-gadgets, he does have an array of showboating aerial flips. Quite literally the Tony Hawk pro skater of the aerial world while traversing.
Most of the quests follow suit of the original game. In that they’re character side quests or funny Spider-Man challenges left by Peter in order for Miles to finish his training. Sadly, both bosses and boss fights in this game are hit-or-miss. As Rhino was about as annoying as always and I really disliked the game’s main antagonist (but loved the character’s secret identity). However, I absolutely loved the Prowler segment in the game, as I’m a fan of authentic and evenly matched blow-for-blow and technique-for-technique battles, rather than overblown boss fights where it’s just made to be bigger and even more ridiculous for the sake of the ‘challenge’.
The Game Isn’t Without its Flaws
One thing which I slightly disappointed about was how storage worked. As there was an issue I had in loading my already platinum file from my PS4 game. I had to reload several times, as the PS5 isn’t as forward as Xbox in its online capability. The game also has the occasional bug. Moments where audio never plays for side character missions like the Harlem side quests or Bodega missions. There was also a moment mid-battle, while overwhelmed by enemies at all sides on a rooftop, where my game crashed the entire PlayStation. However, all these bugs combined still totaled for less than a handful of times in the entirety of my 25-hour playthrough.
The things I disliked most about Miles were that the prompts are sometimes unhelpful. The train alignment puzzle bore almost no hints in the early game. The snipers in this game are also ridiculously overpowered, and at times impossible to dodge in harder difficulties, and I also really hated the main villain in this one as it felt completely uninspired.
It’s Pretty Amazing To be Spider-Man
From its newly incorporated next-gen technology down to its rooted and representative backstory, Spider-Man: Miles Morales showcases some of the best capabilities of the PS5. A short but fun sequel to the groundbreaking Spider-Man for PS4 that’s more than worthy as a successor.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: Playstation 5 (Reviewed); Developer: Insomniac; Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment; Players: 1; Released: November 12th, 2020; ESRB: E for Blood, Drug Reference, Language, and Violence; MSRP: 49.99 for Standard Edition, 69.99 For Ultimate.
Editor’s note: Author Purchased A Copy