If you thought that Miles Morales was just a glorified expansion for Insomniacs phenomenal Marvels’ Spider-Man, then you would be right. But you would also be wrong because unlike the DLC for Spider-Man that eventually made up The City That Never Sleeps expansion, Miles Morales is so much more.
Set after the events of both the main Spider-Man title and the City That Never Sleeps DLC, Miles Morales throws you into the shoes of, well, Miles as he has now officially taken on the mantle of Spider-Man. Some months have clearly passed with Miles joining his mentor, Peter, on various wall crawling shenanigans but it’s still early in Miles career and he’s greener than evergreen lawn. Thanks to some convenient plotting, Miles is left to look after the Big Apple on his own and so begins a trial by fire that encompasses all the things that have made Spider-Man stories so great and endearing coupled with more of the same amazing gameplay from the main title.
After a bombastic opening that, in many ways, mirrors Spider-Man’s takedown of Wilson Fisk in the main game and which serves as a primer, Miles slows down to pop you into “a day in the life of” for Miles himself. As with Spider-Man, the story takes centre stage in this tale with some fantastic characterisations and a narrative that, while having twists that are easily seen, is just as emotionally wrenching as Peters was. Family, friendship, revenge, vengeance, all these themes are explored and demonstrate that the curse of being Spider-Man isn’t only borne by one person and is, in many ways, a chosen mantle. By the end of the tale we have betrayal and heartbreak, validation and redemption. If the road to being Spider-Man is traveled through tragedy, then by the end Miles has certainly earned his running shoes.
From a gameplay perspective, Miles is definitely more of the same. While Harlem is a primary focus for Miles story, you still have all of New York to run around. There are the usual items to collect, in the form of time capsules that flesh out Miles and his friend Phin’s past, and challenge points that unlock new skill buffs for Miles. Insomniac opted to flesh out some of Peter’s backstory as well by tying this to completing the challenges. Villain hideouts return for the two new bads, The Underground and the corporate nightmare, Roxxon, each with their own mini-objectives to complete to earn Tokens. As with the main campaign, Insomniac slowly doles new additions out over the course of the campaign to break up the pacing between the story and upgrading.
Mechanically Miles plays and handles the same as Peter. Web-slinging, dodging, combat combos are all the same, meaning that you don’t have to learn a whole new movement system. What sets Miles apart though are the different combat animations, his new Venom and camouflage power set and his pure speed. Miles ricochets between enemies like a rogue pinball making the combat a lot faster than Peter. Miles’s new Venom power sets, which include a Venom Punch, Venom Dash for quick Flash level speed strikes and Venom Blasts not only add some needed variety to combat, but can also help Miles in traversal. The new camouflage system works wonders for stealth runs but has a quickly depleting ability bar, keeping it from been an OP move for stealth aficionados.
Production design across the board is stellar. Miles is animated wonderfully, especially his awkward web-swinging that looks like a disaster waiting to happen, to the unlockable Into The Spider-Verse movie suit which is animated at a lower frame rate to match the movies animation speed. Visually Miles is absolutely gorgeous. New York looks wonderful during the snowy winter and the games visuals look amazing thanks to the PS5’s power and loads just as quickly too.
The game sports three visual modes, one of which was added in a patch after release. You’re looking at Fidelity mode, Performance Mode and Performance RT.
Fidelity presents the best visual experience for Miles Morales with a rock steady 30fps, new lighting systems and, of course, ray-tracing. The level of detail overall is just mindboggling, from the crowded streets to the individual fibres on the main characters outfits and the particle systems flashing around. Most noticeable is the ray traced lighting that adds a wonderful sense of vibrancy to the game, which is saying a lot when you consider that the original game on PS4 is still a total stunner. Ray-traced reflections are fantastic as well. New York is full of reflective surfaces, from passing cars to glass windows, to the metal and glass lenses on Miles’s suits and even on the ice packed surfaces. And all of it running super smoothly too.
Performance Mode is more in line with what you would have on the PS4. So while the game still looks stunning, ray-tracing has been disabled meaning you’re losing out on reflections and the new stunning lighting models. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the game doesn’t still look good though. What you do gain is 60fps gameplay.
Finally there’s Performance RT which strikes a balance between the two modes. Limited ray-tracing is enabled in this mode to keep it running at 60fps. There’s also a notable differences in crowd amounts and there are fewer pedestrians and cars in total.
Overall, I opted for the fidelity mode for my entire eight hour play through and didn’t regret it one bit.
Miles isn’t entirely perfect though. There are some bugs that I noticed. Most notable was that occasionally, especially in the game’s final fight, the game didn’t recognise my inputs. Second, there are plenty of moments when you head to street level and the crowds just stand still and stare at Miles like extras from Invasion of The Body Snatchers. It looks super weird. And lastly, the wall crawling just feels off. It’s fine when you’re running straight up a building but try to crawl in any other direction and the controls kind of spaz out since the camera doesn’t lock behind Miles but chooses to focus on him head on. These are small issues in what is otherwise a polished package.
Visuals10/10 The Best
Audio8/10 Very Good
- Gorgeous visuals
- Super-fast load times
- Fantastic story
- Great combat
- Into The Spider-Verse suit
- Creepy pedestrian bug
- Wall crawling is awkward
- I wanted more. . .