Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales Review (PS5) £49.99
Game title: Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Game description: The latest adventure in the Spider-Man universe will build on and expand ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man’ through an all-new story. Players will experience the rise of Miles Morales as he masters new powers to become his own Spider-Man.
Author: Sam Harrison
2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man for PlayStation 4 was a really special game for me, as you might imagine for a guy who named his only child after Peter Parker. The Pete that we get in Spider-Man 2018 is one of my favourite interpretations of the character and I’ve been reading Amazing Spider-Man every single month for the past 20 years. It’s probably in my top 10 games of all time.
That’s all to say that for me, Miles Morales has a lot to live up to. Spoiler alert for the conclusion of this review, but I think Miles Morales is a better game than Spider-Man 2018.
Spider-Man Miles Morales is set a little over a year after the end of the first Spider-Man game, in the intervening time Pete has been training Miles to be a new Spider-Man and the Morales family have moved from Brooklyn to Harlem. I assume the move to Harlem was so they could reuse the map from the first Spider-Man, which is largely unchanged in Miles Morales save a few new structures.
The rough (spoiler free) plot to Miles Morales is that Pete is out of town for a few days, leaving Miles as the sole Spider-Man in NYC. At the exact time that Pete goes away we also se
e the rise of a new gang of hi-tech criminals called The Underground, led by a mysterious character calling themselves the Tinkerer. You also see Roxxon, long time bad guy corporation from the comics, coming into Harlem and installing new power plants across the city that run on a crazy new energy source called Nuform. The Tinkerer and Roxxon butt heads early in the game and Miles tries to step in and everything goes downhill from there.
The story is pretty good, although fairly predictable (even without a lifelong Marvel obsession) but the side content is where the heart of the game is. Almost all of the side activities have a connection to Harlem or Miles’ family and their history with New York. Harlem feels like a much more real place that changes across the game as certain story beats play out and their embrace of Miles as “their Spider-Man” is really heartwarming. A few times across the ending and in one post-story quest I got a little emotional, and this version of Miles really captivated me in a way that the comics version of Miles hasn’t always done.
Miles and Pete start the game with a very similar skillset, web swinging and punching are shared across the two but that’s really where the similarity ends. Pete’s pockets are overflowing with gadgets and gizmos and special attacks whereas Miles only has four, and Miles has a special venom blast modifier he can use with a lot of his moves along with the power to turn invisible temporarily.
They talk about Miles having a venom punch but really the venom power can be applied to almost any ability, for example there’s a venom dash and you can pull the L1 button to trigger venom during most fighting combos. This really changes the game as you can add a stun effect and a chain lightning effect to the venom, which makes Miles’ fights feel completely different to Pete’s. Also the invisibility is excellent as it completely changes the way you take on stealth challenges. Where Pete would have to take out a room full of people in a certain order, Miles is a lot more free to move around as he likes, even walking or crawling right in front of most enemies.
I found the new gameplay stuff for Miles to be excellent, and I even used all four gadgets really frequently in play as they all had strategic uses in most combat sections. This is a sharp contrast to Spider-Man 2018 where I think I only used 1-2 gadgets and never changed my suit power because the web blossom was just too good.
The progression in Miles Morales is a lot shorter than Spider-Man 2018, where Pete had a max level of 50 and a pretty expansive skill tree Miles will max out at 20 and by the time I finished the game I had unlocked every item on the skill tree. Your mileage may vary on what you prefer, but being able to unlock everything easily felt pretty good to me. I will say that like Spider-Man 2018 I found myself only using a few of the abilities regularly and some not at all.
Technically and visually this game is a real marvel too. I played the game on PS5, my first playthrough in 4K with ray tracing and all the bells and whistles turned on and my new game plus in performance mode. I personally preferred to have all the bells and whistles honestly, as the game still keeps a solid frame rate and the loading times are still insane no matter what mode the game is in. With the 4K and ray tracing effects on I would say Miles Morales is without a doubt the best looking game I have ever played. Swinging by a building and seeing the realtime reflection of not just Miles swinging but also the world around you moving as they would in real life is honestly pretty breathtaking sometimes.
I mentioned earlier in this review that I played through this game twice, once taking the time to 100% the game and complete all side content but a second time where I only mainlined the main story for the platinum trophy in the new game plus mode. This whole process took me 19 hours, and while I did feel like I wanted more content on my first play through I didn’t enjoy the second run nearly as much and was pretty done with the game by the time I finished it. Personally I think the content to cost ratio for this game doesn’t really work out. Of course you’re paying an early adopter/launch game tax here, but when Ubisoft is selling Assassins Creed Valhalla for £2 more in the UK than Miles Morales for a much bigger game then if you have a strict budget for your video games I would probably recommend buying Miles in a future sale.
Back in university I started seeing somebody new and my friends gave me a lot of hassle about hanging out with this person too much. I eventually asked why and they said they just were annoyed because they wanted to spend time with me. This is basically how I feel about Miles, I don’t know if the game will be too short for you but personally when the main story finished I felt left wanting.
Also there are sections of the main story, especially the ending, that rely on you having played all the side content. I would imagine mainlining the main story would have you scratching your head at times saying “who the hell is that guy?”
The other two complaints I have are pretty minor – some of Miles’ dialogue doesn’t sound all that natural for a teen in 2020. It doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb or anything, but I definitely was taken out of it a little. Then again I’m a 34 year old British white guy so maybe I’m the one who is out of touch?
Finally a very minor quibble – way too many of the cutscenes are unskippable in new game plus. It always seems to be the story relevant cutscenes, which I understand for a first play through but I would like to see them become skippable in new game plus. Hopefully Insomniac patches this out, but it won’t ruin the game for you. If anything it will be the only time you have to check your phone during the game, as the load times are almost instantaneous.
All in all I had a lot of fun with Miles Morales. The story got me invested in its characters and Harlem felt like a living and breathing location. I got very emotional at the ending. I also loved the new gameplay additions and slimming down of side content so that you are only doing a small number of each activity. It’s like Insomniac got an editor to come in and look at Spider-Man 2018 and tell them what was wheat and what was chaff.
Overall this is a truly impressive second Spider-Game from Insomniac and I’m really excited to see where we go next with Miles and Pete. I just hope the next game we see is a little longer.
- New gameplay makes the game feel fresh
- Great story
- All the killer from Spider-Man 2018 with no filler
- Unskippable cutscenes
- Some weird dialogue choices
- Too short (for me)