Spider-Man: Miles Morales Review
A year after the first game’s conclusion, Miles has trained under Peter and has fully integrated himself into the role of a Spider-Man, though he has yet to gain the experience. He must balance supporting his mother’s campaign for City Council and defending both his new home in Harlem and the rest of New York City from a gang war between the Roxxon Energy Corporation and a high-tech criminal army called the Underground, led by the Tinkerer. Peter tells Miles that he has to be like his late father and walk on the path to becoming a hero for the city of New York. While Peter needs to leave town for a few weeks, he leaves NYC under the watchful, but inexperienced Miles.
The original Spider-Man game was one of my favorite games to come out on the PS4. It nailed down virtually every aesthetic a Spider-Man fan could want in a game. From the flawless traversal through NYC, to fluid and very stylized combat, and tons of nods to the series with an engaging story to boot. Miles Morales stands on its own as a fantastic second entry in the series. Where with Peter Parker we were thrown into a story where Spider-Man was established, Miles is an origin story of sorts. One we are treated to that may be the first time for a lot of people not familiar with Miles. Miles is a VERY different person than Peter, in (not to diss Peter) all of the best ways. Miles by all accounts is a great kid, a good student, a great circle of friends, works at the homeless shelter, seems to be every bit as smart as Peter. But he comes from a different background we don’t often get to see presented front and center for a lead character. This is what makes this game from good, to great. For those not familiar, Miles comes from a mixed-race family; his father was black and his mother is Hispanic. He is proud of his roots and has a passion for music and style, all of which are represented greatly in this game. I won’t get into details due to spoilers but this is a story with elements that a lot of people will be able to relate to ala Black Panther. This is another milestone moment for entertainment, another great role model that kids can relate to, and is a hero to look up to.
The game plays out largely like the original, in fact on the same map. However, it’s been given a holiday facelift and honestly most of the time I forgot it was the same map. Except when I saw things like the Avengers Tower and other parts of the map. Traversal is done again by web-slinging your way through which again is an amazing feeling that Insomniac really nailed completely. Miles swings and feels different as he moves as well, which is a nice touch. You can also take the subway trains for fast travel again which leads to some funny load screens as we see Miles standing in full gear with others on the train. As you go through the map there are tons of things to do. First off you have your main missions which progress the story, you have holographic training sessions with Peter where he set up basically tutorials to show you different fighting styles and skills you can use, you can help stop crime as it happens thanks you a new App your buddy designed people can request Spider-Mans assistance, you can track down the sounds of the city to record as part of your beat making collections, collect time capsules and more. One of the really unique things this game does is the side quests really give you a sense of Miles’s purpose, to be there for the people of Harlem. He’s helping the restaurants, bodegas, barbershops, he really is the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man for the people who can sometimes be forgotten. Miles is such a genuine, loving person with his heart on his sleeve….the dude even knows sign language, which yes comes into play.
Graphics and audio design for this game, much like the original is fantastic. Graphically the team gave again NYC such a feeling but this time with snow, and a winter effect to it. The lighting and reflection effects are in full force and are absolutely stunning. The game ran for me from beginning to end with only one freeze which may be fixed in the day one patch, but overall the title didn’t drop frames, slow down, or anything no matter how quick the action got or how many characters were on screen. I don’t know how they manage that without my PS4 sounding like a jet engine but they did it. Audio design is also great as you hear the tightening and strain on the webs every time Miles swings from building to building, you hear every punch and kick connect. But what it a little more subtle is the sounds of New York. As I mentioned early the music is a big part of who Miles is and that plays out in this game, the subtle beats moving in the soundtrack, the way the sounds of the city flow in and out of that. Whether it’s the clanging of the subway train or musicians on the street in Times Square, NYC is in full effect.
Now besides Miles being a different person as I’ve stated above, he also plays a little different than Peter Parker. Miles has a bio-electrical ability he calls Venom, (not to be confused with the black symbiote from another planet who eats people) which allows Miles to expend energy to blast out big explosive attacks that leave his enemies reeling. The neon effects and such remind me a lot of Infamous Second Son. Miles relies on different skills and abilities really making him his own character in his own right. I can only hope that someday we get a game where the two Spider-Men are playable and we can choose back and forth. Of course, there are tons of suits and modifications to unlock with different enhancements and abilities, including the suit from Into the Spiderverse that comes with a mod to mimic the animation style of the movie which is super cool to see in action.
Now to stay spoiler-free, yes the game is shorter, the game took me about 8-10 hours I believe to complete and do the side-missions as well. With the plethora of games coming out this season, this was a welcomed thing. Not every game has to be 30+ hours, Mile Morales never outstays his welcome, but truth be told I didn’t want it to end. But it wrapped up with a great story really representing what it is to be a hero, to be better, to stand for your community. This game like its predecessor is a masterpiece and I cannot encourage you all enough to play it. With all that being said, can we let Insomniac Games take a crack at Avengers now? The quality of their Spider-Man games far exceeds that of Avengers.
A code for review was provided by the awesome folks at PlayStation PR.