Title: Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Developer: Insomniac Games
Release Date: November 12, 2020
Reviewed On: PS5
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
What Insomniac Games delivered in 2018 with the release of Marvel’s Spider-Man, was a truly stand out gaming experience while staying faithful to the comic book source material. Still, the addition of a few unique story-beats made the adventure feel unique yet, familiar. Now, the team has delivered Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales as a PlayStation 5 launch title, and what we get is a few reused elements that make up a much more refined experience.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales puts players in control of the new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, as Peter Parker is basically training him in the ways of the spider. The two work together to take out bad guys, but Miles attempts to handle things like Peter would, which causes him to make mistakes. As Peter leaves for vacation, Miles is left with protecting the city where he finds himself wrapped up in a massive power struggle between a few different entities.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales campaign is much shorter than Marvel’s Spider-Man, but this only forces the developers to focus on story beats without the added fluff. It’s great to be a part of Miles’ journey as he comes into his own. A few different external sources test the new web slinger’s morality as he must make some difficult choices. This is something that Peter has dealt with before, but seeing Miles tackle it in his own way, separates the two more dramatically.
Miles appears to have some special powers that he discovers over time, such as invisibility and a shock wave attack. These play into abilities and combos as they are needed to take down certain foes. The moves are unlocked throughout the campaign and allow players to take on missions much differently than how they would as Petar. The stealth mechanics are emphasized but don’t expect enemy AI to be too concerned with their colleagues hanging by the ceiling.
While Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales shows us a much different type of Spider-Man, a lot of this game is strikingly similar to Marvel’s Spider-Man. From the city landscape to some of the side-missions, returning fans will find many resemblances between the two titles. Sure, it’s snowy now, but as I was playing, I felt like my overal experience was closer to an expansion than a true sequel.
However, the second you get into combat, you’ll see how Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales sets itself apart. The battle system is just way too good. Combos are expertly paced, giving players time to decide how they wish to tackle a situation. Dodging is responsive as you can dodge out of a combo, and tying in special abilities is seamless.
Somehow, Insomniac Games have found a way to create a comfortable action-based battle system that uses almost every button on the controller. You feel your fingers flow across the buttons as Spider-Man responds to your every action. What’s more fascinating is when you realize that you aren’t mashing buttons. Instead, you are making strategic choices of how to chain together attacks. It’s just as beautiful to watch as it is to play.
Miles has an app that allows him to take on additional side-missions, with some having their own storyline. It gives you something to do between campaign missions that aren’t entirely in your face or demanding. In fact, all of the optional collectibles can be paced while progressing through the campaign. Simply going from one place to another will lead you to time capsules, special training missions, and optional fights. There’s also an added layer of puzzle elements that don’t always work, but they do get rather creative. Most of the time, you’ll be connecting energy sources together, investigating crime scenes, or moving objects to progress. It’s a harmless way to break up the action and doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Each event is rewarded with experience, tokens, and materials that can be used to upgrade your gear. This is another relatively hands-off system that unlocks naturally for the most part throughout the game. Upgrades include passive abilities, shorter cooldowns for skills, and improved combats techniques. For the most part, it’s all relatively straightforward, but Miles’ unique abilities add a new layer of complexity to his skill set when compared to Peter. Attacking and dodging fill up his special gauge, which allows him to use electrifying Venom attacks or heal. This brings strategy into the mix when deciding whether to heal or Venom Punch, a group of enemies.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales gives us more maneuverability than ever before. You feel the action and speed in the DualSence controller as you make your way across the city. Sure, you’ve been to these locations before, but seeing the world through the eyes of Miles puts a spin on this entire experience. I should add that fast travel is no longer a tedious choice as loading screens don’t break up traveling from one side of the city to another. I’m one not to use Fast Travel if only because there are times where I feel I can get there quicker without it, but it’s now a no-brainer.
Building up to Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales’ climax offers some great moments of superhero storytelling. However, the adventure lacks significant boss encounters. Most of the enemies you encounter are just generic grunts, and the times that you do encounter someone who isn’t the main antagonist, you’ll be hard-pressed to remember them a minute after the fight. It might have been tough to incorporate some of the more prominent Spider-Man villains into this story, but I think there are some moments when they are needed to sell the universe. Roxxon Energy Corporation is the perfect villain for longtime fans, but it’s a tough sell for those who aren’t wholly invested in the franchise’s lore.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales expands this series with the addition of a new protagonist. There are some excellent moments of storytelling here as we watch Miles become adjusted to the superhero lifestyle, which is something a bit overplayed through the eyes of Peter Parker. While some moments seem to resemble more of an expansion than a true sequel, the advanced systems, unique battle system, and beautiful environment make this a must-own for any PS5 owner.
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