Marvel’s Spider-Man was near and dear to my heart. I went out to buy my first PlayStation console to experience the feeling of being the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The joy and excitement of swinging through the busy streets of New York with a new narrative, characters, and graphics impressed me from start to finish. Two years later, I start that journey again with a new game and a new console. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales manages to recapture the same love and appreciation of its predecessor while bringing new and fresh ideas.
It would be a crime not to pick this game up, and I hope Spidey catches you for it. Especially for PlayStation 5, it’s one of the best games out there to showcase the console’s hardware. Who doesn’t like updated visuals, improved frame rate, and lighting effects? However, as impressive as the graphics are, Miles Morales’ narrative is one of the best Spider-Man tales ever told. A story brought to life through an impressive supporting cast and relatable themes that shines throughout the 10-12 hour campaign. In hindsight, Miles Morales feels like more of an expansion pack than a DLC, but it’s worth it.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is available for purchase on PS5 and PS4.
Story – Protecting The Friendly Neighborhood
Setting place two years after Marvel’s Spider-Man events, Miles Morales dawns the mask and skin-tight suit this time around. Meanwhile, the mainstay, Peter Parker, is missing in action. Leaving New York briefly for a vacation because he certainly deserves one for all he goes through. Never fear as Miles swings into action to take over hero duties. Miles now has to deal with balancing his social endeavors as a young teen with his as a crime-fighting vigilante. However, this is where Miles’s story shines the brightest outside of his newly heroic lifestyle. The narrative displays what it likes to hold the city on your shoulders, even if it’s for a few weeks, and the responsibility that comes with it.
Throughout the story, the drama he endures with the supporting cast makes him such a dynamic and relatable character. This brings more importance to Miles beneath the mask than with it. The supporting cast that drives the narrative forward makes the interactions Miles has with them seem impactful. Miles’s mother, Rio Morales, nurtures him, but she understands Miles struggles with his adapting lifestyle. At the same time, she is trying to balance life as a mother and a politician. Ganke, Miles’s best friend, has more attention and development than his Into the Spiderverse counterpart. The interactions between the two friends feel reminiscent of the MCU relationship of Peter Parker and Ned Leeds. The theme of family and culture is worth exploring in Miles Morales that creates an emotional rollercoaster that tugs at your heartstrings.
Civil War Is Brewing In Harlem
Meanwhile, outside of Miles’s personal life is a high-tech civil war between Roxxon and The Underground. Roxxon is a new corporate giant specializing in bioengineering. In contrast, the opposing side is the millennial neon futuristic militia of The Underground led by the Tinkerer. Both sides have intriguing motives to sabotage one another that is blended nicely within the plot. Roxxon’s head of research and development, Simon Krieger, feels more like a wonky antagonist you would see in a Grand Theft Auto game than one of larger than life villains in Spidey’s rogue gallery. In contrast, The Tinkerer is a vastly more dynamic character with understandable motives that unravel further as you progress through the game.
However, this narrative’s central focus is Harlem, Roxxon’s primary destination for a brand new headquarters within the heart of the district. Harlem’s people bring the city of New York to life, trying to live peacefully amongst the brewing chaos. Harlem’s streets include plenty of personalities, and Miles’ engagements with his neighborhood feel meaningful and progressive. Harlem itself is a sight to behold with cultural idealism and traditions around every corner. At the same time, they maintain a sense of community values that holds strong within its multicultural neighborhoods. It’s more interesting than New York as the whole because the focus within scope offers more depth because of the greater emphasis on a smaller community.
Gameplay – Same Old Fun With New Tricks
As great as the narrative is in Miles Morales, there is no shortage of fun thrills within the gameplay. If you played Marvel’s Spider-Man, the same combat mechanics are present in Miles Morales. However, the basic combat features may be more of the same, but what’s different is what makes Miles a completely different character. Insomniac did an outstanding job of capturing Miles’s movements and animations that sets it apart from the more experienced Peter Parker version. Just watching Miles swinging animation feels vastly different, as his arms and legs flail about.
The most noticeable difference to Miles’s arsenal is his bioelectrical powers or “Venom” and camouflage. Venom abilities are so satisfying to pull off and can get you out of some sticky situations. Camouflage is perfect for stealth combat. The overall combat system, combined with the new powers, makes things a bit easier but addicting and enjoyable. Along with the PS5’s haptic feedback, makes every action feels good in the palm of your hand.
Of course, you have to found a balance between healing and Venom’s significant attack damage because they share the same meter. Don’t worry too much because the enemy types are pretty easy to handle. I played on “Amazing” difficulty, and it felt like a breeze. I would recommend the “Spectacular” difficulty, especially if you completed the first game. This is where the game is lacking because, yes, beating up the occasional thugs is fun and satisfying. However, I would love more variation or new ideas for the new enemies of Roxxon and The Underground. More so, they feel like reskins of enemies fought in the previous game. Roxxon soldiers do make a decent effort to limit your Venom abilities and camouflage, but it’s pretty easy to get around. Only in the latter part of the game where you start to see a bit of difficulty.
Miles Morales’s mission system is a bit more robust than the previous game. Miles can help citizens through the “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” app, which Miles can access through his smartphone for various requests, crime reports, and side missions. I find this pretty handy if I wanted to repeat a crime I had previously failed to get all the objectives before, instead of waiting for one to show up. Missions are pretty accessible, and the app relates to the everyday teenager, with our smartphones being everywhere we go. I hope Insomniac brings back this feature in the next game.
As for the missions themselves, they are surprisingly entertaining, some more than others. A couple of missions would be the basic, “help wanted” tasks like breaking ice off a crane or pulling a vehicle out of a pile of snow. Other missions would take you on different paths or implement a twist to make things seem more intriguing than usual. However, I find it quite hilarious that thugs would use birds for communication or something else to fit them within the mission structure.
Collectables and scavenger hunts make a return by tasking you to collect items like time capsules, postcards, sound samples, and Underground caches. These items are spread out across the city on buildings, hidden areas, and hideouts. It’s a fun way to kill time or explore the area. Each collectible item does have its unique backstory.
Gadgets, Skills, And Upgrades
You can unlock and upgrade gadgets, which adds a bit of flare and strategy if you so choose. I used them sparsely, depending on the situation. The Gravity Well gadget made for plenty of great setups, while Holo-Drones can fight your battles for you. Of course, you can’t go wrong with the classic web-shooters. Skills are back and more in-depth by adding a total of six different branching skill trees. You earn more skills through leveling up throughout the game and earning skill points, while others are earned through challenges. These challenges are a series of objectives given to Miles from Peter based on combat, transversal, and stealth. For previous game players, this is the lesser version of the Taskmaster and Screwball challenges.
There are suits you can unlock as you progress throughout the game or purchased through resources. Depending on which suit you unlock amongst the 19 available, you could get a visor or suit mod. Both mods have similar upgrades to enhance your desired playstyle. Suits can be visually appealing as well, with each one being unique and is worth collecting and unlocking. The Bodega Cat Suit, which is hands down my favorite suit in the game because it comes with an adorable partner in crime, makes for the cutest thing seen in a superhero game.
The max level cap for the game is level 20 unless you play new game+, increasing the cap. As a trophy hunter and completionist, I have no problem with starting a new game+. New game+ will be required to unlock everything in the game as well as claim all the trophies. For a game that has a linear story, this could pose a problem for some people. It almost feels forced in a way and that you can’t have all your tools unlocked on the primary save file.
Visuals & Audio – The Neighborhood Never Looks So Good
Visually, Miles Morales and its New York landscape and its atmosphere is truly a sight to behold. Playing the game on PlayStation 5 brings out the graphics to its fullest. Enabling HDR enhances the experience, and even on 1080p, it looks crisp and clean. You can see how visually detailed Miles looks, from his coat’s fur to the fingerprints on his headphones on the open menu screen. That level of detail makes the game come out more while still keeping the city’s scope in a very detailed manner. Not only that but the suits visual designs are sure to impress. I was in awe when I saw the reflections on Miles’s original costume. The Into the Spider-verse costume offers a level of appreciation, with the visual frame rate that mimics the exact movie. Kudos to Insomniac for this attention to detail.
Audio also feels like living and breathing in New York, with traffic pile-ups and pedestrians walking around. It feels like an alive city that is ready to be explored. The podcast Just The Facts with Jonah Jamerson has returned to bless our ears with the frantic delusional ramblings of Spider-Man. However, there is a new podcast to listen to called The Danikast, a millennial podcast. It may not be delightful to some people to listen to the onslaught of news coverage and recaps. However, I find it very interesting to hear what Jonah and Danika have to say about missions I participated in. It’s an excellent clash of both new and old perspectives, one side representing a millennial point of view and the other a, shall I say, “boomer” point of view. The game also boasts a fantastic soundtrack with scores from Jaden Smith and other rap artists.
Fidelity Vs. Performance
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales offers a fidelity and performance graphics mode. Within fidelity mode, you can play the game at 30 fps with enhanced visuals such as ray tracing, enhanced lighting, and additional VFX. This feature will create a high-quality picture while sacrificing a bit of performance. At the same time, the performance mode is 60 fps with no enhanced visuals. Depending on what’s important to you, both options are substantial. I chose to go with the performance option for the 60 fps for a smooth and crisp frame rate. However way you go, the game runs impressively with not many frame drops or issues. If you choose fidelity mode, you will notice reflections on the floors and walls and shadow effects that give a significant level of detail. Performance mode looks good as well, even without those features turned on.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales was reviewed on PS5.