reviewspidermanmiles

Review: Spider-Man: Miles Morales

In 2018, we met a young man who played a significant role in Marvel’s Spider-Man. Mile Morales and his family played a significant role throughout the game, helping Peter Parker and also setting the stage for an expanded universe. However, that game lets you experience New York as Peter Parker’s Spider-Man with teases of the potential sequels featuring Miles. During June’s Future of Gaming Showcase, Insomniac revealed a brand new title that puts Miles front and centre of his adventure.

If you don’t recall, Miles was bitten by a genetically modified spider in the first game before revealing to Peter that he had superpowers. One year on and with Peter as his mentor, Miles is stepping out into the world as a superhero, but he still has quite a bit to learn. Thankfully, there’s an entire game to let the journey begin and for the first official PlayStation 5 game I’ve been able to play, this is an excellent starting point for both myself and for Miles.

You can teach me to be Spider-Man!

After a brief introduction and a great recap of the events thus far, control is handed off to the player. Similar to the introduction found in Marvel’s Spider-Man, Insomniac Games delivers yet another wonderful opening with Jaden and Kid Cudi’s On My Own, taking us from the street level to the rooftops of New York City. The feeling of swinging through the city resonates and reminds me how iconic those moments were in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, with that iteration of Miles beginning his journey to save New York from the implosion of the multiverse.

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And the smile on my face as I swung and zip-lined across rooftops matches the smile I had in theatres during the iconic third act of Into the Spider-Verse. Insomniac nails the feeling of the movie, spinning that energy in a web of success. This is as important an origin as Peter’s was and much of that importance lies in Miles’ heritage: a half-black, half Puerto-Rican kid from Brooklyn. We see those cultures come together not only in our hero but in his environment, his home, his friends. The relationship between Mrs. Morales and Miles for me was a big part of understanding

When will I know I’m ready?

Insomniac extends Miles’ ambivalence not only in his personal life but also as a budding superhero. Playing as Peter Parker’s Spider-Man came after years of experience as the web-slinger but by handing over a baby-faced Miles to the player, someone who grows more confident each day in his powers but still has much to learn is an excellent switch up in gameplay. We see his inexperience reflected in how he handles himself with the best example of his innocence happening in the opening hour against a mistakenly freed Rhino. What was supposed to be a standard transportation mission ends up causing massive amounts of damage to the city thanks to the eagerness Miles expressed at trying to help.

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How Miles moves around the city while swinging is only the start, we see uncertainty. And as I played, I’d start to get more confident in not only how Miles moved, but how I wanted to get to my next destination. The end result was watching as poor Miles would fall from mid-swing down to the ground level below, landing with a thud. However, Miles is not a quitter so watching him pick himself up and try again was worth that momentary agony of hitting the floor.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Miles has his own powers to tackle The Underground, a new faction that’s taken up arms in New York City. A year after Devil’s Breath incident and one move to Harlem later, Miles is left to watch over the city after Peter and Mary Jane visit Europe on assignment for the Daily Bugle. Not long after being left alone, Miles learns he has Venom powers at his disposal. We learn of his bioelectricity ability, which gives him the ability to utilize electricity in combat and around environments. L1 + Square is Venom Punch, which stuns enemies and breaks any weapons that may be a nuisance. Another attack is L1 + Square and Cross, which when used in midjump will stun a group of enemies.

Miles uses a “Friendly Neighborhood Spider App” on his phone, developed by his friend Ganke Lee, and this allows Miles a way to tackle side missions and crimes in progress across the city. The idea is that citizens of New York City submit crimes to the app and Miles heads out to check out those leads. If you’re a fan of collectibles, there are lots for you to discover spread across the city with items such as Underground tech, time capsules, and puzzles.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

What would Peter Parker do?

Spider suits, gadgets, and new moves return and you’ll find yourself discovering many signature looks for Miles. Marvel’s Spider-Man included several iconic looks from years of publication history, so while Peter has a much larger wardrobe to pick suits from, Miles is able to choose from is decent and comparable You can choose from his starting costume, the T.R.A.C.K Suit, the 2020 suit, 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse suit (with added effects!). My favourite though is the suit we’ve seen in promotional materials since the initial reveal, the iconic red and black suit.

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Some of my favourite moments feature Miles and his best friend Ganke. Since Peter is off working with Mary-Jane on a story lead, Insomniac focuses on a few new faces and also familiar ones to fill the void left behind. The two friends challenge each other to be the best versions of themselves and together, they’re able to do some extraordinary things together. These characters feel like real people and it’s something we saw in 2018 with Peter Parker that’s continued with Miles Morales, a hero for a new generation and one of the most exciting Marvel characters in years.

It boils down to the way Miles perceives himself in the eyes of the public. Much of the game allows us to see how Miles seems himself and is always comparing himself to Peter and Spider-Man. Through the early hours, a lot of things that happen and go wrong happen not only because Mile is inexperienced but because he always tries to do things like the other Spider-Man. We see Miles come into his own through the narrative and it’s one of the reasons why I can’t decide which of the two games I prefer over the other.

Verdict

I’m having a hard time deciding which Spider-Man game I prefer after spending around 15 hours with Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Everything about this game oozes style, Nadji Jeter is the definitive version of Miles Morales thanks to his goofy and geeky take on the web-slinger. Soaring through the Highrise buildings of New York City has never looked better and the extra power of the PlayStation 5 makes things feel more alive than ever before. Miles is quick and nimble and his new Venom powers make playing as him much more enticing than regular Spider-Man. However, a lot of the same crime mechanics and activities return and while these are an option, feel much the same and don’t live up to the main story.

[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]