A little over two years ago developer Insomniac Games released what was arguably the best Spider-Man game ever made in Marvel’s Spider-Man on the PlayStation 4. The game wasn’t just a critical success but also a commercial one so much so that Sony Interactive Entertainment finally decided to outright acquire Insomniac Games. With the developer now being an in-house PlayStation studio, they had an opportunity to get early hands-on with Sony’s PlayStation 5 next-generation games console and get to work developing a launch title for it. That title is Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales which isn’t a full-on sequel but more of a side game that gives players a chance to step into Mile’s shoes and see what makes him different from Peter Parker both as a man and a wall crawler.
The get it out of the way this review won’t contain any spoilers for the Miles Morales game. However, if you haven’t played the 2018 game then know that I will likely be talking about a couple things in that game that could be considered spoilers so keep that in mind. It’s also worth mentioning that you don’t need to have played Marvel’s Spider-Man to understand or enjoy the story in Miles Morales but you’ll certainly get more out of it if you did. Miles Morales is also a shorter game than the last one but I wouldn’t call it an expansion or a DLC as there is still a lot here to play through and I also think that its shorter run time allows it to be a bit more focused.
The story in Miles Morales picks up a year after the end of the first game. Peter has gone to Europe and so it’s up to Miles to take over as the full-time Spider-Man in New York City. While the last game showed us what an experienced Spider-Man could do this time around you get to see what it’s like to play as Miles who is still learning to control his new powers. Mile’s personality is instantly likeable as he feels very strongly about his friends, family, and community and wants to take care of them. The story will really hit home for anyone that feels the same way and I liked how the game even touches on some subjects going on in our real-world right now. I won’t touch on much of the opposing threat in this game but the conflict is centered around a war between the Roxxon Corporation and a criminal gang known as the Underground. I very much enjoyed every bit of the story and I feel like it sets even more things up that will be explored further in the inevitable Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. You should expect around 8-10 hours to finish it up and a few more if you want to complete everything in the game.
Anyone who played the last game will feel right at home controlling Miles. Web-slinging around the wintry New York City is just as fun and fluid as it was last time around. Mile’s movement through the air isn’t as refined as Peter’s though and such he flails about more but he can also perform a ton of fun aerial tricks. These are just fun to do while playing but they can also set up some great shots in the Photo Mode. The city still has a lot of collectibles to seek out and side-missions to take on but since the game is shorter you won’t run into as many which helps to avoid them from becoming stale like they sort of did in the last game. Wearing different suits and equipping different suit mods is still a thing but you just have less of them this time around. You get around 19 suits to pick from with some really cool ones like the one from Into the Spider-Verse. You can also equip new suit mods onto any of them to fit your playstyle. Miles also has his own skill tree divided between combat, venom powers, and camo powers.
The Venom powers allow Miles to deliver powerful electric-like punches and dash attacks out on his foes while stealth abilities allow him to turn invisible to sneak up and take his enemies by surprise. Both skill sets fit Miles nicely and help to set him apart from Peter. You also have a few gadgets at your disposal but not as many as Peter did. Remote mines can be laid down to take enemies by surprise, holodrones can be activated to provide a distraction, and gravity wells can be used for crowd control. The feel of the combat hasn’t really changed with it still having that fun Arkham style system. You’ll have to learn your enemy types though as certain ones will have shields or other things that require certain skills to get by. The last thing I’ll say about the gameplay is that there are some grand set-piece moments just like there was in the last game and they do a good job of making you feel like the super hero that Miles is.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales also shows off the graphical capabilities of the PlayStation 5 quite nicely. The game how two different modes you can choose to play on with those being a Quality mode and Performance mode. Quality is the way to go for the full visual feast as you’ll get 4K resolution with fully implemented ray tracing support and better lighting and shadow effects. I was blown away by just how much this adds to the experience as reflections on buildings and windows as you are walking or swinging by are mind blowing. The game only runs at 30fps in this mode though so if you want to see what it feels like to swing around at 60fps then switch over to Performance mode. The more responsive gameplay comes at the cost of losing the ray tracing and more detailed resolution but you may not even care after you feel how it is to swing around at this framerate. I was personally really torn on how to play the game as I loved so much of what both modes offered. You can appreciate all the detail Insomniac put into this world even more so by going into the returning Photo Mode. I spend way too much time in Photo Modes and that was no exception in Miles Morales. It was already robust in features in the last game but Insomniac made it even better here with options for things like adding more light sources. I don’t even know what else I would want in this mode but I can’t wait to see what Insomniac surprises me with next.
Another huge benefit of playing this game on the PlayStation 5 is that load times are pretty much gone thanks to the SSD. Booting up the game and getting into your save file takes less than 20 seconds. Remember those times in Marvel’s Spider-Man when you’d go into a building to do a mission and had to sit through a transition to both go in and out of it? Yeah those are gone now too as Miles can zip in and out of buildings seamlessly. Those subway rides to fast travel to points around the city are also gone as that functionality is also instant now. That is a bit sad to me though as I enjoyed seeing the subway scenes with someone sleeping on Peter or Peter hanging onto the outside of the train. The game isn’t perfect technically though as I did notice some glitches in the world and with the AI at times but they were minor and hopefully will be corrected in a patch.
The audio work is just as good as the rest of the game as music, sound design, and voice performances are all stellar. Nadji Jeter does a great job of portraying 17-year-old Miles and while Yuri Lowenthal is mostly only in the game as Peter via phone calls his performance is as good as always. The mother of Miles, Rio Morales, and his best friend Ganke are also great additions to the cast. The musical score has some really great new hip hop beats to it that fits the character of Miles and he even has his own version of the theme song which was a nice touch. Every punch, kick, web shot, and other sound effect also sounds as impactful and satisfying as you would expect. The DualSense controllers’ features are used a bit here but I wouldn’t say this is the best game to play to see what the controller can do. Web slinging provides some feedback in the triggers that is noticeable but not a game changer while the haptic feedback vibration is used and felt when unleashing Mile’s Venom powers among other things. The speaker on the controller is also used at times which is a nice touch I always appreciate. For the trophy hunters out there, this game has 50 trophies to earn including a Platinum. It’s another pretty easy list that anyone who Platinumed the last game should have little problem with.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is very much a continuation of what Insomniac Games built with the last game but when that game was a game of the year contender is saying that such a bad thing? It’s one of the best launch titles I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing and it shows off the graphical, performance, and fast loading capabilities of the PlayStation 5. The story and world activities are also a bit more focused this time around due to the shorter run time which is a good thing in my opinion. Anyone picking up a PlayStation 5 should be suiting up as Miles as it is nothing short of a heart warming fun time.
*Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is available now on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. Reviewed on PlayStation 5. Review copy provided by PlayStation for this review.
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales$49.99
- Fun, action-packed story that fleshes out Miles as his own character
- Refined combat system with some fun unique new abilities that help set Miles apart
- Does a great job of showing what the PS5 can do with awesome ray tracing support and near instant loading
- Excellent audio design and great voice-acting performances
- Has a few bugs and glitches that need to be worked out