If you are interested in further thoughts on Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales and other notable games, check out the full Podcast Episode 282
Given the success Spider-Man had on the PlayStation 4, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to find it at the heart of Sony’s PlayStation 5 launch. This instalment does not feature Peter Parker as its star. For the first time, Miles Morales will be stepping into the lead role of his own videogame. The change isn’t entirely unexpected, with Miles developing his Spidey symptoms at the end of the previous game. Despite that, filling the boots of a character like Peter Parker will always bring a character under scrutiny. With the added pressure of a new console launch, there was a lot of expectation on Insomniac to get this game right.
Miles is left in charge of keeping New York safe after Peter takes a well deserved holiday with MJ. It’s a big ask of Miles, who is still understanding his new powers. The game follows his story, as Miles overcomes his self doubt, as he aims to come from behind the shadow of the ‘real’ Spider-Man. It’s a raw experience this time around. One that is seldom seen in videogame heroes of the past. Still coming to terms with the death of his father, plus the very difficult task of being New York’s sole protector helps mould Miles into a character you cannot help but love.
The game is an all round refinement of the previous instalment into the series. The visuals are smooth, the combat is more fluid. Without giving too much away, Miles manages to stand out from Peter thanks to his unique abilities in combat. It’s an important difference too, the two Spider-Men feel completely different. Not just in how the control but in how you approach combat too. Spider-Man: Miles Morales definitely encourages a stealth approach, whereas the previous entry seemed comfortable letting players brute force their way through combat. That’s not to say Miles is a one trick pony, far from the case. Players are free to tackle most scenarios as they please, but it’s clear that Miles’ abilities suit the Sam Fisher style.
For the sake of difference, it’s a good job the two Spideys feel different. New York is, well, it’s still New York. Not much changes and that is reflected in the game. Players will find the map to be similar to the previous game, only this time with a special seasoning known as Christmas. A lack of change is to be expected. There’s only so much you can do with New York over a short period of time. With that being said, New York doesn’t look like a city that has recently overcome the Devil’s Breath from the first game. Given the current global situation, it’s fair that it doesn’t play a massive role, but it’s almost like it never happened at all.
In fact it’s a big downer throughout Spider-Man: Miles Morales - a lack of consequence for what occurred during the original game. Although we see Miles coming to terms with the death of his father throughout, everything else has been tucked away. Either completely, or waiting for Peter to come back before rearing its ugly head. The terrorist attack, Martin Li and his other villainous friends are rarely mentioned, if at all. For me, it seems silly to use an identical game world, yet toss aside a lot of the world building that had previously taken place.
It’s a short game too. The game's story clocking in at around five hours for myself. It’s disappointing, considering Sony’s new price point for it’s games. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the same price as the first Spider-Man game, but doesn’t even clock half the length of the original story. It does a lot with the time it has though, introducing and expanding on new character quickly. Despite them all being shunted by a lack of hours, they all shine, making a lasting impression on players up until the game's heart wrenching ending. Although you would generally expect more for the money you’re paying for such a title, you cannot fault Insomniac for how much it achieved in such little time. It’s a good sign for Miles though, that one of my biggest negatives for this game is simply that there isn’t enough of it to enjoy.
Performance wise, Spider-Man: Miles Morales shines brighter than ever on PlayStation 5. Keeping a consistent frame rate throughout, whether you’re playing in 4K or not. The game runs beautifully and looks great doing it. Ray-tracing comes into effect and looks stunning across the New York skyline. Visually, it’s one of the biggest differences between the two games displayed. Admittedly I didn’t envision ray-tracing having too much of an effect, especially this early into the generation, but the dip in visual quality was noticeable once the performance mode was turned on. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a gorgeous game, even when you’re going at full speed.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is another great showing for Insomniac Games. Improvements are made all around in terms of gameplay, visuals and writing. Despite bringing a whole castful of new characters, the player warms to them quickly over the five hours they get together. New York remains New York, despite a coating of Christmas, but it does look wonderful on the newest Sony hardware (and covering stuff in snow always helps). The experience is fantastic overall and I’m just as eager for Miles’ next steps as I was for Peter’s at the end of the first game.
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Reviewed on PlayStation 5)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Another fantastic experience from Insomniac’s serving of Spider-Man. An improvement on an already fantastic original title. In Insomniac’s hands, we don’t just have two great Spider-Man games, but two great Spider-Men.