The release of Marvel’s Spider-Man was nothing short of amazing, no pun intended, as it was our Game of the Year in 2018 because it was well polished and a complete joy to play from beginning to end, so when Miles Morales was announced during the PlayStation 5 reveal event, it was hardly a shocker that it ended up being one of the most anticipated titles of the year and arguably the biggest game in the PS5 launch window.
What Is It?
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a direct sequel to Marvel’s Spider-Man, taking place a few months after the end of the previous game.
If for some reason you didn’t play our 2018 Game of the Year, there’s a “Previously On…” trailer that you can watch when loading the game to catch yourself up with everything that led to the beginning of this game game, but it’s not necessary. As long as you know who Peter Parker and Miles Morales are, that’s really quite enough to enjoy the story. At the same time, if you did play and were a fan of the original, it only makes this game better.
Over the last few months, Peter had been training Miles to handle the role of Spider-Man, and they find themselves in a tough situation when Rhino knocks Peter out, leaving Miles to fend for himself. Trembling in both fear and desperation, Miles throws a punch at Rhino and discovers his new power of conducting electricity–a power that’s his own and eventually allows him to conquer Rhino on his own. Shortly after that, coincidentally, Peter has to go on an overseas trip, and it’s up to Miles to be New York’s web-slinging hero, and in typical superhero fare, it’s not all fun and games when Peter leaves… especially when you’re known as “the other guy.”
Why Should I Care?
Spider-Man is arguably the most iconic of Marvel’s heroes, and Miles Morales is one of the more unique characters to hold the mantle. Being of black and Puerto Rican descent, Miles means a lot to so many people. Given a key event in his past illustrated in the previous game, Insomniac really had a chance to delve into some profound storytelling. If you were expecting that, you’ll probably disappointed. With the exception of a Black Lives Matter mural that’s honestly nothing more than pandering, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is just another Spider-Man origin story, but it gives us the chance to use Miles for the first time as Spider-Man.
And let’s be honest: From a video game perspective (heck, from a casual perspective), Miles is just better. His electric power was mentioned earlier, but you’ll eventually get to go invisible later as well, giving Miles an incredible arsenal to go with some of the abilities players enjoyed as Peter.
At its core, though, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is really just more Spider-Man. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel or anything like that — web-slinging across the city of New York is just as fun as it was in the last game, and the amount of activities you can waypoint your way to make exploration just as fun as it was before. Discovering Avengers Tower doesn’t have the same oomph as it did last time, but finding the Stan Lee statue and trying on all the suits left me smiling as I continued to re-experience this version of New York. You’ll even have access to Miles’ suit from Into the Spider-Verse, and a “power-up” will allow you see Miles animate at a slower frame rate to emulate the visual style of the movie. It’s a cool Easter egg, but it’s weird in real time, so I wouldn’t recommend turning that on unless you’re really intent on being that version of Miles.
If anything, it’s a more concise experience. One of the original’s shortcomings were the outrageously high amount of crimes that required attention, and in every section of New York. While they still exist in Miles Morales, they’re now just random spawns. Now Miles has access to an app that’ll allow him to find sidequests as well as crimes that double as sidequests, doing away with the grindy nature that the crimes used to present.
Aside from his powers, one of the ways this game feels different is with the puzzles and mainline quests. Combat is still at the forefront, but utilizing Miles’ electric and cloaking ability really add a level of depth that weren’t seen in the original, and they also doubled as key parts to the plot. There’s this very movie-like sequence early in the game that takes part on the Brooklyn Bridge where Miles saves a bunch of civilians keeping the bridge together, but his other powers set off a bunch of explosives. To go along with that disaster, Miles’ mother is also running for City Councilwoman, so it actually gives a lot of his actions meaning. What he does affects a lot of people.
Miles’ mom, Rio Morales, is actually one of the stronger characters along with Aaron Davis (Miles’ uncle who fans know is also someone else entirely) in a cast that doesn’t really do much to standout. Ganke is the guy behind the screen, and Phin Mason is the estranged best friend Miles had to leave behind when going to a different high school. A bunch of other characters show up too, including Yuri Lowenthal’s Peter Parker with a newly designed face, but they don’t really offer much to the game’s fairly standard plot.
As a whole, Spider-Man: Miles Morales essentially feels like premium DLC much like the way Uncharted: The Lost Legacy felt when compared to Uncharted 4, and it would surprise nobody if that was actually the case. The Lost Legacy improved a lot of aspects in Uncharted 4 the way Miles Morales does a lot of things better than Spider-Man, but at the end of the day, they compliment each other really well.
I’ve beaten the game twice on PlayStation 5 (because you have beat it in New Game+ for the Platinum)–once in fidelity and once in performance mode, and even as someone that doesn’t really have an eye for this kind of thing, it was interesting seeing the subtle yet meaningful differences. On fidelity mode, the ray tracing and skin shading are noticeable in the game’s cinematics, and it’s really something seeing your reflection on the windows you’ll be slinging on. On performance mode, the game runs at 60 frames per second, and it feels a bit different from a gameplay perspective. Web-slinging and combat felt more fluid. Which is better? It’s all up to you, but I’d still recommend beating it twice on both modes.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Now if you’re somebody that’s never played Spider-Man on the PS4 but now have a PS5, there’s also an Ultimate Edition of Miles Morales that comes with a free download Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, and I’d say it’s $70 well spent especially since it’s the only way to even get Spider-Man Remastered. The remaster features the new design to Peter Parker’s character and makes it easier to streamline the experience, and looking back, if this were entirely one experience, it’s easy to see myself enjoying the whole thing because it might be better as a binge.
If you enjoyed 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man, this is kind of a no-brainer. It doesn’t do much to really up the experience, but while I wasn’t floored by it (since it isn’t all that much different as it was in 2018), it’s still a good game. I’d even go as far as saying it could’ve been better than the previous entry if it just had more content. If you straight line it, the game could really be finished in around 3-4 hours. My first playthrough took me around 10 hours.
Looking at Miles Morales as a launch game, it’s an impressive first showing on the PS5. The next-generation is all about convenience, and the game’s lack of load times really made the experience quite seamless. Dying or fast travel in the original game really bogged everything down. Now, you don’t even think about it, and if that’s what we’ll be coming to expect with the PS5, I can’t wait for the rest of Sony’s marquee titles.