It’s important to mention that Spider-Man, along with Batman, is my favourite comic book hero, and not just because he’s popular but for so many other reasons, so you could bet your bottom dollar I was going to own this game at release, and not just because it was part of a bundle which was the only means that GAME would sell a PS5. A favourable coincidence to say the least, and a chance for me to learn more about Miles Morales himself and how he fits into the Marvel universe and fits into the tight clothing of one of Marvel’s most loved heroes.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales continues following the events of its predecessor, where we had already seen Miles due to his father’s involvement with Spider-Man’s activities and how he tied into the story. Miles was also a playable character during brief moments, with similar tasks as Mary Jane, so never being in direct contact with enemies but acting as support characters to the titular hero.
What we already knew about Miles was that his father was a hero cop, saving Spider-Man’s life before ultimately losing his own when matters in New York escalate due to the immensely rising criminal activity. This also prompted Peter to approach Miles as something of a big brother, encouraging him to volunteer as the local help centre Aunt May worked at to do something to help people as a way to manage his grief.
Eventually, Miles gains powers of his own, relatively similar to Peter’s but with a couple of distinct differences that Miles discovers for himself. Without giving a full recap on the first game, the next one starts with Peter and Miles assisting in transporting Rhino, as his giant ass is being flown over New York to be detained, because carrying what is essentially an animal themed WMD over a city of millions was clearly the intelligent choice. What could go wrong?(What indeed…)
Well, exactly what you would expect to go wrong, as the not-so-gentle giant is freed and starts doing what he usually does and causes some public disturbances. Miles tags along in apprehending Rhino and even saves Peter from serious harm, along with saving the entire city. He instinctively uses a new ability, strangely dubbed the “venom punch” (nothing to do with the villain but more so because it stings, despite it being bio-electrical in nature, and also because there is a feckin’ Spider-Man villain, almost an evil Spidey, with that name), and manages to defeat the big guy, in a sloppy-ish manner showing his inexperience, but effective enough to show that he is still capable and has plenty of room to grow.
(Is this a Dark Souls crossover?)
Peter will then go on a vacation to Europe with MJ for a few weeks, believing that Miles will be able to handle things for that time, having won the hearts of many in New York and getting the head start Peter never had due to his tutelage. What can go wrong…again? As always, the universe decides to flip the table over in a brutish display of dominance and puts Miles in the deep end after a host of new villains and paramilitary types show up. Thankfully, Miles is equipped with a suit made for him by Peter, as a gift, and some placed holo-drone training machines to help Miles master his abilities, that will assist him in taking down these new threats.
Alongside Miles is his best friend Ganke, a tech prodigy that also needs to remind us how young he and Miles are by making him a social media account, because being a hero without your own version of twitter just wouldn’t appeal to the younger ones these days. This social media account, the Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man App, or FNSM App, allows Miles to be updated by every-day citizens when they reach out for help. It’s also used for people to follow his activities, and in terms of gameplay it’s to generate side quests and for reports of crime to appear on screen but is also tied to the main story.(“Noooooooo…I need to see how many likes I got!”)
With everything a new budding hero needs, Miles is ready to face the dangers that await in the form of Roxxon Energy, a company that happens to be building questionable technology and structures that just so happen to be potentially dangerous (and of course it is), and a bunch of terrorists led by “The Tinkerer”. These two parties have plenty of beef with each other and decide to go to war with only Miles that can fight for New York and defend the people.
The story follows very well from the last game, and with the updated everything the facial animations and detail on the characters and their surroundings are phenomenal, and the incredible voice acting just lends to the wondrous dialogue between each character. There is definitely heart-felt warmth in the interactions between Miles, his mother, Ganke and Peter whenever any of them engages with one another, as they feel like real connections.
What I found very disagreeable, although appreciate there was likely some good reasons as to why it occurred, was change of the model actor for Peter. Not only for this game, but also the remastered first game. There may have been a very good reason for this, and I have no issue with the newer guy himself (other than him looking like a 15-year-old), but the face I remembered was the Peter from the first game, it just looked ridiculous and removed the immersion a little.
(You can hear the voice cracking from here!)
At least it’s not his game though, and he is absent for the most part, but to be fair he still does a brilliant job, so the actor himself is not a problem. In terms of overall gameplay very little has changed, other than everything getting some extra polish, but that’s a good thing. The controls were already very responsive and controlling Miles as he swings through the city felt nice and smooth, even for someone as rubbish at it as I was. The combat mechanics are exactly the same, but Miles has his own set of animations to reflect his unique fighting style of a kid that hasn’t gotten the years of experience but was more athletic than the nerdy Peter.
He moves quite well when fighting multiple enemies, and with the new bio-electric attacks it adds a little extra oomph to his punches, and it comes with new skills as well that tie into these extra abilities. Many of the enemies fall into similar archetypes, with similar methods of dealing with them but there are some minor changes so that they don’t become too familiar, and fighting isn’t just a repetitive chore but almost cinematic. Miles will also attempt those little witty quips, and even if they aren’t as funny, they still accomplish what they set out to do, which is to humanise him a little. He’s a teen with superpowers fighting bad guys, so it’s natural to expect him to try and come off with some cheesy one-liners, and a little insult here and there, it’s part of being a crime fighter.
(“3…2…1 and CLEAR…shit, he’s already dead!”)
The graphics are truly something to behold, no matter if you’re watching a cutscene, running up buildings, pounding on criminals or leaping into the air, everything is just seamless. Whether it’s up close, or you’re looking at everything from a distance whatever is on your screen is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, with nary a glitch or stutter.
The city is rife with activity, with so many people walking the streets, having conversations, moaning about the daily grind, and reacting to what happens around them. The beauty of it all is that New York isn’t just some open world that begs to be explored for some monotonous discoveries that amount to nothing more than an excuse to look at unimportant shit. NY is more of a backdrop for missions, a large area in which to freely manoeuvre so as to get the best out of Spider-Man’s signature web swinging, his agile fighting, and to fight enemies in the air, on top of a building, or on the ground, and enemies can even vary between the three.
He is a “friendly neighbourhood” Spider-Man after all, and the neighbourhood is an assured requirement. Citizens will gawk and comment as you swing past, some take photos, and if you dare walk amongst them many will shout out to you, some even approaching for a high five or fist bump. Even better, is that you can almost go full Spider-Man 3 cringe and start finger gunning at people you walk past. It’s not a huge feature but being able to just be appreciated as a hero, instead of citizens blindly walking their pathways, and seeing how Spidey is a part of the city as much as anyone else, makes NY feel like a living world space.
(GET ME PICTURES OF SPIDEY BOOTY!!)
The story and characters are fantastic, and I really tip my hat off to Miles. I was a little uncertain with his introduction, being wary of him turning into Spider-Man junior, but he has a good identity of his own, even if he has similar circumstances and characteristics to Peter. He’s very intelligent, and attends a prestigious school, lost a male role model/family member is a tragic incident, acquires amazing abilities through a spider bite and learns how heavy the weight of responsibility is at such a young age. Miles is what can be categorised as a “good kid”, kind of like an “Izuku Midoriya” type (if you haven’t watched My Hero Academia, just watch it, it’s one of the best).(Our editor is a fan….)
He is an honest, friendly, and good-natured person that was strongly influenced by the kinder people in his life and has great examples to follow. His father was a hero cop, his mother campaigns to be city mayor in order to help people, and is well loved in her community, he befriends Peter, volunteered for Aunt May at Peter’s suggestion, and strives to do good, and not for any personal gain. He is a charismatic guy, and although he was sincere about not feeling ready to be the hero of the city, rather than arrogantly believing he was some kind of super star, he also shared Peter’s struggles of being a person and dealing with his own life issues.
(SWEET CHIN MUSIC!!!)
What stops this game being perfect, for me, is how damn short it is. Sure, there are activities out there in the world to complete, and they’re nothing huge that you’re pushed into doing; they’re still a fun distraction if you want to draw the game out a little rather than finishing right away. Taking down enemy groups at hideouts, training with drones, and dealing with some disasters since not all problems are crime-related, are entertaining. But this felt like an extended DLC instead of an individual game.It could be played without having experienced the first, if you’re at least willing to read up on the story of the first, which was short too, but this could have benefitted from being more than a game designed to show off the PS5 at launch, if they had faith in making this a real sequel and giving Miles more than a few hours of screen time. Spider-Man, whether it be Peter or Miles, is a name that carries a great legacy in comic heroes, and so deserves a full AAA title status. A larger game, with some DLC, and perhaps back and forth gameplay with Miles and Peter, perhaps even a co-op mode with world events/missions that are built for two people working together, but without losing its focus as a single player game, just a means for someone else to join in and take control (with an AI as back up). Overall, it’s great fun and worth being in your library.