Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Insomniac Games
Growing up with Peter Parker as MY Spider-Man, I didn?t care much for the introduction of Miles Morales as another Spider-Man (or Ben Reilly before him for that matter). So when Insomniac?s first dabble with the web slinger came out and included Miles Morales I was a bit hesitant, but following that game and the release of Into the Spider-verse, I?ve grown to appreciate the character. Now with the release of Spider-Man: Miles Morales, we have a full story with Miles taking top billing while Peter is away on vacation (yes, really), so it?s not a direct sequel in as much as it?s an expansion in my opinion. But who am I to complain? We get more Spider-Man and when Insomniac Games is at the helm, that?s a very good thing.
The story picks up a little bit after the original game and also features a recap to get you up to speed without spoiling too much of the original game if you still haven?t played it. The opening mission teaming with Peter was an awesome way to kickstart the game and really get you right into gear; I won?t go more into the mission, but it features a super fun boss fight. The story is a bit more linear than the first game, and it played out very similarly to the DLC from the original game. Side missions and objectives are scattered throughout NYC but there?s not nearly as much to do. Some side missions are nearly identical to the first game and others even have some fun with the fact that you?re doing the same collecting you did last game (pigeon facts!).
Missing is some of the collectibles I enjoyed tracking down in the first game, I really wanted to see Miles chatting to himself about the Avengers? tower or the Baxter building as you approached them, but instead you get time capsules to find which connects Miles to his friend/love interest, Phin.
While the story hooked me (and like I said before, I could always go for more Spider-Man), I was disappointed in the bit of ?Avengers Syndrome? this game had. Oh you don?t know what ?Avengers Syndrome? is? Well, that was introduced two months ago in Square Enix?s Avengers, with the sparse amount of super villains that you fought in the game despite having an expansive Marvel license. Miles Morales suffers from a bit of that, despite having more super villains than Avengers had in it at launch (which is crazy to think of as I type this out) but coming off the first game which had a really good amount of villains, it felt like I was fighting more thugs and less boss fights.
For the amount of things that got carried over; map, mission types, some gadgets (more on that later), etc? I kinda expected some more innovative boss fights like we had in the first game (hello, Electro and Vulture fight). The funny thing is with Miles? abilities you feel more powerful as him than you did as Peter. Miles has some electrical charging powers that he?s just discovering throughout the story, which means you unlock more and more of them as you play and at times you can feel a bit overpowered. I should also mention as with the last game there?s a skill tree to upgrade your abilities, including these electrical abilities, which are called ?Venom?-attacks. Maybe I just don?t know enough of Miles lore but isn?t it odd they would call these moves ?Venom? when that?s one of Peter?s main villains and he could be coming to a future game? This might be a question for whoever created the namesake for the comics as I assume it wasn?t created for just the game.
So Miles? has some new moves and abilities but what about his gadgets? The gadget count is drastically reduced from the previous game, totaling only four gadgets, but when you consider all the ?Venom? moves you have, I guess it balances out. Two of the gadgets return from the first game (Web Shooter and Gravity Well) and the other two are brand new (Hologram Decoy and Remote Mine). I enjoy using the gadgets, especially in the stealth areas of the game and not having a whole lot to choose from started to make those areas feel pretty repetitive. That is until I unlocked another ability that?s exclusive to Miles. While I?m sure its not something new to the character and has been in the comic, I?m going to avoid spoiling it in this review as it was a cool moment in the story.
It?s easier to probably say what?s new and not what?s returning as so much of this game has been carried over from the original. Also returning is the vast costume options, along with some modifiers that can be equipped. In the original game these modifiers sometimes gave you new powers and buffs, while this release mostly gives you better percentages for damage, or more gadget slots to use. The costumes are unlocked similarly to the last game, by collecting different token types via side missions and main missions. While I don?t know the Miles lore well, I did really dig some of the costume designs.
I?m glad Insomniac set everyone’s expectations for this release way before launch, because like I said before, it?s not a true sequel and feels like an expansion in my opinion. Now that?s not a bad thing, because a new Spider-Man game with their tight engine in a beautiful rendered NYC, with a captivating story and excellent voice acting, hits on nearly every level. Sure it feels a lot like the last game, but that?s not necessarily a bad thing given some of the other bad Spider-Man games that have come in the past. This is a great detour from Peter?s story before we get the true sequel on the next gen consoles that really pushes this franchise to levels no other super hero franchise has been before (that?s right, look out Arkham series).
We probably would have preferred a $40 price point for what?s included in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales but at $50 it?s still a great buy, and also one of the cheapest launch PS5 releases. So if you were disappointed by Avengers and were waiting for the return of Spidey, it?s time to suit up with Harlem?s newest hero.
PS5 Version Impressions
So let’s of course talk about Spider-Man: Miles Morales for the PlayStation 5 that Insomniac surely also put a lot of time into to get ready for the console’s big launch (read our first impressions of the console, here).
The next-generation version is, fundamentally, the same game as the already great PS4 version (which Paul, as our resident “Superhero Editor”, detailed above). We had the opportunity to play through the entire experience on the PS5 as well, and the enhancements and options, especially in the visuals department, are fairly substantial as compared to the PS4/PS4 Pro title. By default the PS5 version runs in “Fidelity Mode”, which outputs an insanely clean 4K image at a rock solid 30fps with ray-tracing, enhanced lighting, reflections, shadows and effects. I played through most of the game in this default mode and also made sure to put in a couple of hours with the “Performance Mode” which renders a dynamic 4K image at a silky smooth 60fps, but with no ray-tracing and apparently lower quality effects. I’ll be honest, while switching back and forth from the settings, I had a difficult time pointing out the lower quality visuals in Performance Mode and didn’t notice the resolution waver from what looked like a 4K image much at all. Fidelity Mode did have more numerous and accurate reflections being rendered on essentially any surface or material that you would expect them to including vehicles, buildings, glossy floors, wet roadways, etc. With Spider-Man: Miles Morales being a relatively fast moving game, there’s not always an opportunity to even notice the absence of those finer details. So… super smooth framerate or more accurate reflections and effects; It’s nice to have a choice when playing the PS5 version.
Miles Morales also taps into some of the built-in PS5 features including activity cards, more granular Trophy tracking, improved controller feedback and seemingly 3D audio. But the real next-gen enhancement, in my opinion, is the lightning quick SSD loading times or basically the complete lack of loading times anywhere in the game. You can load up a saved game, jump into an activity, restart or fast travel completely across the map and barely have time to start counting down. Fast travel is especially amusing since Miles ascends subway steps within 3 seconds of initiating travel from the map. And since fast travel subway stations are everywhere, bouncing from side-mission, to task, to collectable, to challenge takes no time at all enabling you to clear them off the map/checklist with little effort. So for all you completionists out there, knocking out Trophies in open-world games just became that much easier.
So the PS5 version is clearly the superior experience if you have the choice and would be a worthy launch title for those lucky enough to secure a console pre-order in the near future. I 100% agree with Paul’s overall assessment of the game itself, and the PS5 enhancements don’t affect our final grade.
Note: Sony Interactive Entertainment provided us with a Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales PS5 and PS4 code for review purposes.