Spider-Man: Miles Morales delivers with yet another electrifying story, solidifying Insomniac as master storytellers. Although Miles Morales is much shorter than it’s predecessor, the gameplay received a welcome surge with the new venom abilities, making every second feel awesome. Of course, balancing the difficulty of any superhero game is a tricky act, one that Insomniac seems to have fumbled. Regardless, Miles Morales is a technical showcase for the PS5 with beautiful graphics and buttery-smooth gameplay.
Insomniac, the masters of movement, build excellently on Spider-Man 2018’s foundations, keeping much from the original whilst adding flair throughout. Swinging through New York feels equally fantastic, but the extra animations add another layer of depth to Miles. Each swing is a microcosm of Miles’ journey through the game, from cocky Spider-Man wannabe to absolute badass. The cocky dive from a building, occasionally followed by a frantic, panicked scramble, but ultimately swinging like a pro. It visually represents his personality, and it also just looks fantastic. If you liked the feel of 2018’s Spider-Man, not much has changed. The added visual flair in Miles Morales will be an excellent layer of icing on the cake.
Combat is All Flair, No Challenge
Combat receives more meaningful additions in Miles’ iteration, with the newly-added venom abilities and camouflage. These new abilities, which Miles discovers rather early in the story, are the keys to kicking ass. Whether you want to focus on stealth or open combat, you’ll zip through rooms of baddies in minutes. The venom abilities add an electrifying flourish which looks excellent on the PS5. However, whilst they certainly look cool and make you feel like an awesome superhero, they also make the game significantly easier. Venom attacks are extremely powerful and easily wipe the slate clean when you are in a spot of trouble. They instantly cancel out any enemy attack, whilst Miles’ ability to go invisible is yet another get-out-of-jail free card in the middle of a fight. If you haven’t yet entered combat, camouflage allows you to creep around enemies and wipe out entire rooms without an ounce of strategy or thought.
Miles Morales swings into the spotlight in Insomniac’s sequel, and he brings one of the best Spider-Man stories to date. Watching Miles grow out of Peter’s shadow holds a impactful message that our differences make us powerful. After all, Miles has some crazy new abilities, which often allow him to keep fighting even when Peter Parker can’t. His development throughout, culminating in the realisation that he is Spider-Man (rather than a sidekick), is told well. Miles earns the respect he deserves from citizens of New York, whilst also showcasing his strengths as the protagonist. Peter’s story is common knowledge these days, so it felt great to be surprised by the twists and turns of Miles’ tale. However, this story is crammed into a rather short campaign that doesn’t do it justice. It charges along at breakneck pace, when the story clearly needs more time to breathe. Discovering villains just to beat them within a matter of hours is rather anticlimactic.
The Mixed Bag that Never Sleeps
Whilst combat changes (in both good ways and bad), the open-world design is painfully bland. It’s a huge downgrade from Spider-Man 2018; a disappointing reduction that solidifies Miles Morales’ status as an expansion rather than a true sequel. In Insomniac’s first attempt with the IP, New York was filled with sightseeing opportunities and lots of cool Marvel easter eggs. Black Cat and Taskmaster had cool side-quest storylines that weaved throughout the game, leading up to epic encounters that were not to be missed. Miles Morales‘ open world, on the other hand, feels poorly designed. Most campaign missions end in a group of icons filling the city map, such as a series of different collectibles to jump between. This is boring when it’s just music clips to find or Underground caches to uncover, but it’s forgivable. These are, after all, just ways to add extra layers of detail to the story.
However, introducing the Underground and Roxxon bases in the same way is undeniably poor. Since they are all laid out at the same time, each is as pointlessly easy as the last. There’s no scaling challenge that offers any sense of progression in this aspect of the game, nor is there much reason to complete them other than ticking objectives off a map. These enemy bases could have been the perfect way to challenge the player, progressively becoming harder until an epic finale that leaves Roxxon and the Underground permanently crippled. Instead, they are poorly-executed entries on a checklist.
Miles’ Friendly Neighbourhood App is, thankfully, a novel way to introduce crimes and side missions around New York. It feels as if something is always happening around the corner, even if there are a lot of gang wars, robberies and not much else. New York certainly does feel alive, but not as jolly as you’d expect for a game set during the holidays. The constant bleeping to signify another crime becomes pedantic, preventing you from just relaxing in the sheer beauty of the city.
Of course, the enhanced visuals over it’s predecessor also help Miles Morales‘ New York feel vibrant. Both the draw distance and textures are massively improved, with the 30 fps Fidelity Mode offering incredible levels of detail. Insomniac have the gone the extra mile though, as many developers have with the power of the new consoles, and offered an alternative 60fps performance mode. This version still looks stunningly beautiful, but also feels incredibly smooth. Both are excellent ways to enjoy the game, with neither exhibiting any drops in frame-rate whilst I played.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales Review Verdict
Miles’ story is an electrifying ride that is over far too soon. Insomniac swing their writing talents to new heights, whilst the movement feels as fluid as ever. However, the combat is far too easy, showing that they haven’t mastered the superhero genre just yet. Venom abilities especially make combat scenarios incredibly simple, removing any notion of challenge. The visual flair they provide is stunning though, as every single punch feels epic. Likewise, swinging through New York is a thing of sheer beauty. Miles Morales is a technical showcase for the PS5, proving that the new console certainly provides the generational leap that we all crave. Whilst New York may be riddled with boring collectibles and trivial enemy bases, the visual spectacle is reason enough to spend hours web-swinging through the streets.