Review: Spider-Man: Miles Morales

 Swinging through Harlem learning to be a hero.

Console: PlayStation 5

If you haven't noticed already I'm quite a fan of Marvel so both of Insomniacs Spider-Man games were on my 'to buy' list in case I ever got a PS5. Now that I have a PS5, a quite unexpected turn of events about which you can read more here, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the perfect game to see what the console can do. It was the systems big launch title after all! So, how is the pseudo-sequel/spin-off of Marvel's Spider-Man? A short but sweet experience with some epic moments.

Let's dive in.


After a year of training under the OG Spider-Man, Peter Parker, Miles has become a pretty competent Spider-Man though still struggles with the responsibilities of his new role. Peter informs Miles that he and his girlfriend Mary Jane Watson will be leaving the country for an assignment and entrusts the protection of New York up to Miles for the next few weeks. The timing for Miles to protect New York on his own isn't the greatest. A gang called the Underground have started causing chaos with its new, high-tech weaponry provided by them by their new leader: The Tinkerer. Her vendetta against the Roxxon corporation and its head of R&D Simon Krieger, himself far from a saint, threatens to tear the city apart.

If Miles is to save New York from the storm that's coming he will have to step up as both Spider-Man and Miles Morales.

Just as the story was a big drawing point in the original Spider-Man so is it with Miles Morales. The gameplay, which I'll get into later, is good and fun but the story is the game's real MVP and it's pretty entertaining. It brings in a slew of Miles Morales characters from the comics such as Ganke, his Mother and the Prowler while throwing in some (reimagined) Peter characters such as the Tinkerer and even some very obscure comic characters. Yes, Simon is not a character invented for this game like I initially thought. Peter and J. Jonah Jameson are really the only characters from the main game that make a meaningful appearance in the game with the latter only being heard through his podcast.

The game's main villain the gender bend 'The Tinkerer'.

If you were hoping for a continuation of Marvel's Spider-Man you will be left disappointed but that really isn't what this game is about. This is Miles' game and you feel it. The story puts a lot of emphasis on who this version of Miles is. How he deals with the 'with great power comes great responsibility' motto, balances his hero and personal life and Miles facing his first true moral conundrum. The story is, in this latter sense, a pretty typical Spider-Man story. A new threat rises, Spider-Man tackles learns that there is a personal connection, makes mistakes, hits a low point only to rise to the occasion.

It's predictable in that sense but it´s still a good story. The characters in particular are well done. They´re interesting, 3 dimensional and with strong performances from their actours. The only exception to this is, a bit disappointingly, the villains. Krieger is exactly what pops in your head when I say ´evil and little zany CEO´ while The Tinkerer is all over the place. I can see that they wanted to create a complex villain. One which you can understand why she feels she has to do what she´s doing, sympathize with but they just ended up creating one that you can't get a beat on and suffers as a result. Kind off similar to Karli Morgentau from The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Disney+ series now that I think about it.

That is quite a bit of text to dedicate to just the story but it is a big drawing point of the game and, let's face it, the only substantial new thing in this package. The rest of the game is lifted almost wholesale from Marvel's Spider-Man with only minor tweaks and additions.

Miles navigates NYC by jumping, web-slinging and running along and up walls and buildings. You can also use the subway system to fast travel if you don’t feel like web-slinging to your destination. With the power of the PS5, these fast travel points bring you to your destination practically instantaneously. There are also some environmental puzzles to solve using Spider-Man’s abilities as well as stealth sections and the occasional moments out of the suit where you interact with the environment for story reasons.

In combat, you have five actions. Dodging, physical strikes, web-based attacks and Miles’ unique venom blasts and camouflage. Webbing can be used to incapacitate enemies and stick them to nearby objects, taking them out of the fight. Spider-Man can also use the environment to fight, jumping off walls and throwing objects like manhole covers, grenades and webbing-restrained enemies. The venom blast is an extra powerful attack that stuns enemies once the meter has been filled with combos and successful dodges. The camouflage makes Miles’ invisible for a short time. Perfect to get out of sticky situations or to take down your enemy through stealth. Aside from these actions Miles also has some gadgets, like grenades, he can use to take down enemies or to distract them during stealth sections.

When the time is right Miles can perform an awesome, cinematic, takedown.

New is also the Spider-Man neighbourhood app with tons of side-quests and a view on criminal activity in the city and a slew of new challenges for the player to tackle or to just enjoy the killer soundtrack. From challenges that test Miles' basic moveset to finding mementoes from Miles and his friend Phin there's enough side-content to keep you busy in-between, and after, the campaign. There is once again a whole slew of cool Spider-suits to collect such as the Into the Spider-Verse design for Miles. They're cool suits but I stuck with Miles' iconic getup for my adventure. I'm basic like that. So yeah, there's a nice amount of content here for you.

Conclusion

In comparison to Marvel's Spider-Man, Miles Morales is a smaller game. The story, cast of characters and the stakes are much smaller. Nonetheless, it's well worth your time and money. It's a short but sweet experience with a good story, excellent characters and fun and well-designed gameplay. It might still be a little too expensive if you consider what the game lifts wholesale from the original but for what I paid, I feel that game was worth it.

If the price/value is an issue for you then no worries. These days you can get the game for much cheaper these days.

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