Spider-Man is back, albeit with a new man under the mask, to kick off the next generation of consoles in glorious style. This is a follow-up extension of one of the best games of 2018, and Insomniac have a new set of tech tools to play with to show off what they can do. This is a much more condensed experience than Spidey’s previous outing, but it’s big on heart and is a great demonstration of the power of the PS5.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is also available on PS4, but if you do have a PS5 then this is the perfect title to swing into. It’s the closest you’ll come to controlling movie quality graphics, plus all the added benefits of the PS5 (haptic feedback and HD audio)make this game one of the first must-plays this generation. This isn’t quite Spider-Man 2 so expectations should be held into check. However, in a time when about 4-5 80 hour games have come out – this is a breath of fresh air, and to be honest I’d love to see more condensed stories like this.
It was never going to be an easy thing following up on 2018’s masterpiece that was Marvel’s Spider-Man. However, Mile Morales builds on nearly everything that made 2018’s title so great, plus adding some extra features and a new lead character that has all the charm and wit you’d expect of Spider-man. Into The Spider-verse introduced many of us to Mile Morales, and this draws from the same humour and charm that the movie did and does a great job with Miles, the slightly reckless Spiderman in training.
The game is set about a year after the first game and we’re given a quick catch up at the start if you either missed out on the game or happened to forget the events of the original. Miles and Peter meet up in the opening mission of the game to take on Rhino after a wreckless Miles tries to help, but unfortunately frees a bunch of enemies and Rhino himself, leaving Peter badly beaten and bruised. Miles discovers some powerful new abilities in his battles with Rhino, and leave him out cold and eventually saves the day. Peter’s called away with MJ and the Bugel on assignment, leaving Miles as ‘the only New York Spider-Man’ for a few weeks, leaving Miles a little shellshocked, but excited at this news.
Swinging around the city feels fantastic as it always has. Swinging from skyscraper to skyscraper, running up the face of the building and leaping off mile-high buildings has never felt more fun. This is quite literal too with the haptic feedback and the graphical improvements. Miles adds his own personality to the traversal feeling slightly awkward and squirming all over the place, making him feel not quite as fluid as Peter, but unique to Miles himself. There’s an element to Miles and the way he moves suggesting he should be wearing some kind of L plates… and in his own way he’s very charming.
This is a game where travelling from A to B is great. Some recent games like Red Dead Redemption 2, sometimes you just want to skip to the destination, but Spider-Man rewrites the rules on in-game travel and makes it a joy every time. This is further enhanced by the power of the PS5 in either of the graphical modes. There’s the raytracing a 4k capabilities, or you can play a 60fps… both look and feel great. You can feel the webbing hook into the buildings and sometimes when you rush and dive off a building you’re heart goes into your mouth. Sometimes I genuine felt a little twinge of vertigo as I dove off a huge building only to shoot out some webbing at the last minute to fly through the Big Apple and then we-zip forward to land gracefully on some traffic lights. This has to be a new benchmark for traversal in games.
New York has been given a lick of paint, new missions and the whole place breaths like a bustling city should. As you travel around you pop in and out of missions with ease. The power of the PlayStation once again comes into focus as the loading times are barely there, able to load massive areas with incredible detail in seconds. Combat feels very good once again. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans of the original game as the game flows from combat to exploration in a very seamless manner. One minute you’ll be on the top of a building scouting out the zones, next minute you’ll be web-shooting and duffing up a bunch of bad guys or the latest big bad boss.
It’s worth mentioning the opening scene with Rhino, which is a spectacular start to the game. Rhino bursts out of his armoured vehicle and Peter scraps with him while Miles takes care of the smaller minions. When it’s Miles’ turn to take on Rhino you end up riding him through a mall as he struggles to getaway. It’s an opening scene that’s second to none and really sets the scene for the game.
When it comes to combat Miles has a few tricks up his sleeve including camouflage, where he can go invisible for a few seconds. He also has venom abilities which flow through his body like electricity allowing him to charge up some seriously heavy attacks with punches and acrobatic kicks. Miles’ new abilities give you a new path to explore on the skill tree, plus new dimensions to battle.
Spider-Man Miles Morales builds on the first game in so many ways. Given the success of the first instalment, Insomniac’s job here was to tweak and add small additions. Miles works great as the lead from a narrative point of view, but also from a gameplay perspective too. Miles’ Mum, Rio Morales, plays an important role in the game and Gank Lee too, Miles’ close connections play a big part here and it leaves you with a warm feeling once you’ve played it. I can’t say too much about the extended cast without giving away too much, but there are some fantastic characters in here. Gameplay and action-wise this is very high up there on the charts, however, the story does run out a steam a little bit perhaps demonstrating it’s more on an expansion rather than a fully-fledged sequel. No doubt Insomniac will be back with a bigger, better, more impressive Spider-Man sequel in the not-too-distant future.
It would have been nice for this to fully embrace next-gen and leave behind the PS4 diving headfirst into PS5. I know that doesn’t make the most business sense for Sony leaving there 100+ million PS4 console install-base without a Spider-Man this holiday season, but in some ways, the game feels held back by previous the generation. This is always the way with new consoles, you don’t really get a clean break and then many of the titles that come out straddle the border between last-gen and next-gen.
I would have personally preferred the game to be more like Demon Souls and taken on the full capabilities of the PS5. I guess we’re going to have to wait for that one. I haven’t personally played it on the PS4, but have heard that some bugs are present. My experience on the PS5 was fairy fluid, and since I started playing there’s also been a raytracing 60 fps mode added, which is just glorious. I still can’t help but feel Insomniac were holding back a little bit in terms of features, which seems like an odd thing to say given the graphical and performance fidelity of the game. It’s hard to convey through videos and writing, but looking at Demon Souls next to Spider-Man and there is a difference.
Overall, Spider-Man: Mile Morales is a great expansion to 2018’s Spider-man, more than living up to the high expectations that game set for itself and in many ways it succeeds. The combat is as enjoyable as every, the traversal and movement are fluid and fun as you’d expect. Given it’s 2020 and I imagine it’s been tough to make a game like this working from home, I can help but get excited for what Insomniac may have in store for us next, now knowing the capabilities of the PS5 and the talent they have in their studios. All-in-all it’s a great PS5 game that respects your time and doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publishers: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform: PS5, PS4
Availability: November 12th 2020 (19th UK)