When Insomniac announced they were creating a Spider-Man game, I don’t think anyone was against the notion and to nobody’s surprise, it was excellent. While fans are anticipating the follow-up, Insomniac have brought us a little taste of what’s to come in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a short, companion piece to the first game, serving as a bridge between the first game and the inevitable sequel. Be aware, there are spoilers for the first game in this review.
Taking place, a year after the events of Martin Li’s attack on New York, Peter Parker is training his new protégé, Miles Morales, in how to become Spider-Man. A chance to clean up their own mess presents itself when they are tasked with assisting the police in returning criminals to the supermax prison, The Raft. Things don’t go as planned and Miles accidentally ruins the plan and causes many inmates to escape, including the incredibly dangerous Rhino. This comes at a particularly bad time for Peter Parker, as he announces to Miles that he is leaving New York to spend time with Mary Jane. As the only hero left in New York, Miles Morales aims to live up to Peter Parker’s Spider-Man and become a hero of his own and is determined to fix his mistake.
Watch the Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales launch trailer below:
The opening of the story shows Miles make a horrific mistake and I loved how Peter handled it, making it a learning opportunity for Miles. When Peter leaves New York, he puts his trust in Miles and you really feel this brotherly bond between the two. Throughout the story, there is this feeling that Miles is an amateur and he never does things completely right. The previous game had a very confident Peter Parker, so this change is refreshing. Miles has a strong connection to his family and friends, and because of this, finds keeping his identity secret a tough challenge. He’s just a really nice kid.
Peter Parker is known for his satire and bravado, but Miles just wants to help everyone. Miles has the core concept of Spider-Man’s abilities, but this is thrown away when he starts to exhibit completely new abilities. These new powers manifest during a showdown with the eco-terrorist, The Tinkerer and become the catalyst for the entire narrative. The plot itself didn’t really grab me, it’s basic but the characters and their relationships are what drive it. There are some well-known side characters here, but the game uses them unexpectedly. As a character study, this game is great.
Honestly, not much has changed from the last title, in terms of gameplay, because it doesn’t need to. Web slinging is immensely fun and never gets boring and right out of the gate you have all the traversal abilities from the first game to make movements easy as pie. The same is true for the combat, it’s very much like the Arkham games and……. yeah, it’s great. The addition of Mile’s unique abilities makes things interesting. When you attack an enemy with the ‘venom’ power, they become vulnerable to extra damage, allowing you to make quick work of encounters, but to combat that, enemy varieties change the flow and even cancel out venom-strikes. Miles can turn invisible, but wisely the game severely restricts the time of use. I wish it had a limit to how many times you can use it because it does become OP, but some late-game enemies have the ability to see an invisible Miles, so it balances out.
You may be happy to know that the awful science puzzles from the first game are gone, yay! In its place is the Friendly Neighbourhood App, this gives Miles a slew of side quests to do, to gain the respect of the people. These quests are pretty simple, but they further develop Miles and his deeds are referenced by NPCs to ground the player in the world. The suits, gadgets and skill trees make a return from the last title and thankfully, use only two upgrade systems instead of the multitude of tokens in the last game. Overall, if you liked the last game in terms of gameplay, it’s all present in this one.
As a PS5 launch title, there is a lot to live up to and it does not disappoint. At first, I had a hard time noticing the jump in quality just because the first game looks so damn good, but on close inspection, the level of clarity is ridiculous. My first playthrough was in the fidelity mode, a native 4K mode, capped at 30fps, with all the visuals elements turned up. I was surprised to see how many cutscenes are in real-time, they are almost on par with the pre-rendered ones. Character models are outstanding and even NPC models get a healthy boost.
Texture quality is top-notch, particularly on costumes and the world looks great even on close inspection. Ray-traced reflections are handled excellently, there are limitations, but they are mixed with SSR to great effect, you can even see reflections on cars and on Mile’s suits. Object draw distance is pushed out way further than expected, which is a nice bonus. The performance mode drops the resolution to just over 1440p and hits a, what feels like, locked 60fps. You lose visual features like Raytracing, but you are at twice the framerate, at a higher resolution than on PS4 Pro, fantastic! Load times are fast, insanely fast, don’t expect to wait more than 5 seconds.
Voice-work is excellent throughout, Nadji Jeter is no stranger to playing Miles and his youthful voice captures the spirit of the character perfectly and is the highlight of the game. The urban soundtrack is wonderful, but underused in actual gameplay, a sad omission to be honest. Sound design is fairly decent, the use of the PS5’s Tempest audio engine helps far off sounds reverb quite nicely.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales manages to serve as a short expansion to the main title and keeps things fresh, through the eyes of Miles Morales. He becomes a character you can identify with his and his bonds with other characters really solidify this a worthy title, despite the main narrative being a little weak. The story can be rushed through in around three hours, but you can get around 15 hours of content if you look for it. The finale sets up the sequel quite well and as an overall package, it’s worth your time.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales was reviewed using a code purchased by the reviewer
Publisher: Sony Developer: Insomniac Games Release Date: 12th November 2020 Reviewed On: PS5 Also Available On: PS4