It has been two years since PlayStation’s Peter Parker swung across the city of New York in Marvel’s Spider-Man, and the 2018 game gave players more reasons to make the PlayStation 4 their console of choice. And history might swing the vote again for the upcoming the PlayStation 5, with Insomniac Games’ Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, an absolute gem of a sequel and superhero romp that gives the nascent console a must-play exclusive right at the start.
On the surface, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales will be extremely familiar to fans, as this is the same New York City, along with some familiar faces like good old J. Jonah Jameson and our favourite wall original crawler. The action still comes in thick, fast, and satisfying but make no mistake, this particular hero’s tale takes its own journey in ways that justifies this pseudo-sequel.
Yes, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is not a full-fledged sequel in the form that many are accustomed to. It continues the story started in the first game, but with Miles as the star of the show this time around. While Peter Parker makes his customary appearance at the start, he soon leaves the city to Miles’ care and as the laws of comic book adventures dictates, things start to go downhill pretty soon.
The appearance of the mysterious Underground organisation, alongside their leader the Tinkerer, starts a battle against Simon Krieger and the Roxxon Energy Corporation. Our young friend is caught in the middle of it all, all while learning how to be a hero in his own right.
It all sounds very cliche and typical, and it is, but Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales’ saving grace is that there is a sense of authenticity and earnestness that permeates throughout the entire 12-15 hour experience.
From the start all the way to the finish, you cannot help but be rooting for Miles, who, in the comics, made his debut as a new Spider-Man after the original Spidey in the Ultimate Universe dies. He has since joined the main Marvel Universe and made his debut in the first game.
Nadji Jeter reprises his role in this follow-up, and is spectacularly amazing at embodying everything about the younger web-crawler. The quips, the teenage nuances, the relationships with Ganke, Mile’s mother, and estranged uncle Aaron Davis, and all the other characters are all played to perfection.
Miles is undeniably a good person, rocked by the loss of his father, and embracing his newfound purpose as a force of good, in the ways only he knows how. It is not often that a character is that easily understandable but also profoundly deep, and that is what you are getting in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. The supporting cast is great at their roles too, it is just that this particular star shines brightly amongst them all.
With Peter gone, it is up to players to defend the city against the criminals and super-villainy that pops up every once in a while. That means plenty of travelling around the city, and suffice to say, nothing comes close to experiencing the perfect swinging mechanics that remain intact.
Zipping around the metropolis, getting big air and diving down, picking up speed before a big swing, it feels just seamless and intuitive. There is also the added charm of Miles being less graceful in the air, with his own unique take on the art of swinging through the city, which means this is not merely a reskin of the first game. This adds to the incredibly wonderful presentation throughout Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, punctuated with swelling music that seems to echo what Miles is into.
Of course, it would not be a superhero game with good old fisticuffs. As befitting a student of the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, Miles is equally adept at fast-flowing combat with his own signature flair. He may need more hits to bring down an enemy, but there is a distinct difference in which he executes his combos.
While Miles may not have the rogue’s gallery of Peter Parker, there are plenty of different foes that await the aspiring superhero. From the street level criminals up to the technologically advanced Roxxon security forces and the Underground, different types require different approaches.
Enemies with weapons are best disarmed first, while those ranged menaces with firearms should always be taken out first to avoid annoying potshots. Larger enemies in the form of brutes will take a little more finesse to overcome, and you can expect a large variety that will always keep things fresh.
Thankfully, Miles comes with his own set of special abilities that are different from Peter’s. His bio-electricity, or Venom, adds an electrifying spark to his attacks and is perfect for breaking down defenses or doing some crowd control, lending something new to the experience.
And when brute force does not work, you can count on his invisibility. Not only can you open up more stealth takedown opportunities, but it also allows you to break the line of sight with a pursuing pack of enemies.
There are also various gadgets to utilise. Your web is always great for tripping up foes, or if you prefer, use a remote mine to fry a group of enemies. Miles is also able to count on holo-drones to do some of the dirty work while the gravity well will trap unfortunate enemies in an inescapable struggle.
Combining the two abilities, together with the martial prowess of Miles and his gadgets makes combat something you should always look forward to.
New York City is also home to plenty more things to do. You can hunt down collectibles, locate hidden caches, and even sample the sounds of the city. Each and every activity is woven into the fabric of the story, and provides more than just resources and XP. The inclusion of the clever Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man app also brings together all the random crimes, activities, and side quests available for the moment. Just swipe left and you are off on another adventure.
The several enemy bases around the city also mark the return of one of the best parts of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales’ predecessor. Unleashing Miles onto large areas ripe for clever strategising and stealth takedowns, you have the option to go all-out in a brawl or methodically pick off the enemies one by one. The change in pace is a great palette cleanser every once in a while.
Exploring and completing certain tasks will net you different resources. You can then use them to upgrade your gadgets, make new suits, or even suit and visor mods. Every situation can require something different, and the options are there for you to tailor how you want your Miles to fight like with many passive and active enhancements.
A shout out to the many different suits available to Miles – the Spider-verse suit, from the Oscar winning animated film, brings back some fond memories, and you can even equip special mods that mimic the effects and animations of the movie for a nice touch. The rest of the wardrobe are not too shabby either.
Progressing through the game will see Miles level up aplenty, and with that come skill points to invest in three different skill trees. Each focuses on a particular area, allowing you to hone in on your Camouflage skill, the Venom skill, or refining your combat skills.
There are even a few abilities that can only be obtained in New Game+. You will also see increases to your health, swing speed, damage, and such with each level. It is as though Miles is literally growing as a hero the more players accomplish.
Peter has also designated several holographic training stations around the city, which new players should really check out in order to understand the depth of combat, traversal, and stealth in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. There are a total of nine different skills that can only be obtained via these challenges and the earlier you unlock them, the better your time in the city will be.
All of the action is brought to life in stunning fashion, thanks to the power and raw speed of the PlayStation 5.
Choosing Fidelity mode brings New York City to life with all the bells and whistles. Running at 30 frames per second in 4K, it matters little when you are enjoying the ray-tracing, enhanced lighting, and additional VFX. Insomniac even used temporal techniques to kick the quality up a notch.
For those preferring a smoother experience, switch over to Performance mode. You will lose the enhanced graphical features, but what you get is that buttery smooth 60fps action on-screen in 4K. It definitely helps in combat scenarios, and will be a welcome choice for players all around.
Whichever you choose, the skies, the roads, buildings, and even the people milling about are all stunningly gorgeous. The Harlem area, where Miles operates out of, is a looker, and provides plenty of eye candy for those into world design. Better yet, you can enjoy everything from start to finish without a single, traditional loading screen.
Just booting up the game from the PS5 game hub takes but a few seconds. That is something players will get used to with this next-gen console. Even fast-travel, which was represented by the train travel scenes in the first game, take just three to four seconds to happen. The custom SSD of the console is not playing around, and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales benefits greatly for it.
In addition, the haptic feedback on the DualSense, as well as the 3D audio, enjoyed via a Pulse 3D wireless headset, can add another layer of immersion to the game. Whether you are walking on metal grates or snowed-in paths, you can tell the difference. The 3D audio is a great indicator of where attacks are coming from, all you need are the reflexes to match.
While the length of the game is on the shorter side, it introduces us to Miles Morales as the hero the world deserves in more ways than one.
From movement, combat, to understanding the many people around him and their relationships, and his role in the bigger world, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales takes every step of the way towards success with aplomb.
The story is both gripping and heartwarming, and is enjoyable whether you are a fan or not. The action is top-notch, while there is much to get up around the city. Everything is packaged in this pristine look, and with the speed of the PS5, you never have to take your eye away from this gem. If this is what the PS5 has at launch, things are already looking as good as Miles for the future.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
The only way is love when it comes to Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. A labour of love that will no doubt garner fans aplenty in the days ahead.
Gameplay - 9/10
Story - 10/10
Presentation - 10/10
Value - 9/10