‘Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales’ review: a web-slinging wonder brimming with potential

A moving, well-paced introduction to the next-generation of gaming consoles

Marvel’s Spider-Man was great, wasn’t it? Easily the best Spider-Man game in decades, heralded by a team that understands the character and the importance of embodying such a superhero through gameplay. Insomniac Games got everything right the first time, and it’s no surprise that Miles Morales is a similarly effective knockout.

Here’s a game that ushers you into the next-generation of video game consoles in savvy style. Ray tracing is cool and all, but switch into performance mode for that 4K resolution and 60fps fluidity, and you will never look back. A game with such remarkable detail and meticulous animations deserves to be seen at the highest refresh rate possible – it just feels like the way it was meant to be played.

Spider-Man
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Credit: Insomniac Games

Watching Miles curve through the air, zipping over building tops and webbing up goons from a precarious perch is an inimitable sight on the PlayStation 5. The new console is put to work, powering the game’s amazing visuals and blazing fast load times. The funniest thing is that the start menu interface is prefaced by Miles on his phone in a subway car, but I can’t even check mine before the game gives me control. This launch title is Quick with a capital Q. By proving the potential of the PS5, Miles Morales has already won one battle, but what about the rest of it?

Perhaps the most contentious issue when talking about Miles Morales is its length. The game took me around 10 hours to complete, and I spent five more wrapping up side quests and collectables. The original game’s campaign was about double that length at 20 hours, but cost the same price as Miles Morales does. But the condensed runtime isn’t necessarily a negative, although I’m not entirely sure. There’s a lot of chaff in open-world games, and there was quite a bit of flab in Marvel’s Spider-Man. But there’s none in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Given how terse it is, it’s all killer no filler, all the way through.

Most story missions in this superb spin-off offer smashing set-pieces and exciting, iterative gameplay that will constantly keep you on your toes. Morales’ venom moves bring even more hack-and-slash nuance to the combat, and you also get to swing around the city as much as you like, as Spider-Man. It’s hard to get bored of that, and when you go hands-on and feel the ‘thwip’ pulsing out of the triggers on the DualSense, it really speaks for itself.

In many open-world games, you get bored of travelling from A to B, but in Miles Morales it’s the polar opposite. There is nothing I love more than watching Miles move through New York City, pulling off tricks in mid-air, using his venom jump to renew his combo line and landing creative combos like we’re playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skydiver. I could do this all day, and I did, over an excellent long weekend with the game.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Credit: Insomniac Games via Game Informer/YouTube

The narrative in Miles Morales is also a real pleasant surprise. With Parker on vacation with Mary-Jane, an under confident Morales must step up to the plate and prove himself in his mentor’s absence. We watch Miles come into his own as a superhero who thrives off of empathy. He lives to help the people in his community, and most of the game operates on this very personal human level, where you get to see first-hand the change that a truly friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man can bring to his constituents.

It’s something that was somewhat missing from the original game, which had more blockbuster ambitions. Insomniac has written such an endearing character here, one that I’m desperate to see more of in the future. His undying loyalty and devotion to his superb supporting cast of friends and family lead to complex conflicts and emotional adrenaline bolts that really land, cutting through the absurd vigilante veneer.

Sure, there are gut-wrenching, existential arguments that play out over frenetic fights in the late game that really amp up the emotion, but Miles Morales also offers some of the most uplifting side stories I’ve played in a while. There’s a plot line that follows a deaf character in this game that really moved me, just on the basis of two people caring for each other in a difficult moment. I really wasn’t expecting to get so emotional when I booted up this game but it really builds to something special, and the tight pacing really helps.

There’s also plenty to do when you wrap up too. Many of the collectibles are well-thought-out – including one standout that has you tracking samples from NYC street sounds – and the ability to combat random crimes throughout the city keeps things fresh well into New Game+. This post-game mode has its own exclusive abilities and features that are well worth unlocking. I can definitely see myself slowly playing through it again just to get another fix of this sensational superhero story. It’s safe to say that the runtime really doesn’t matter when the core of the game is so spectacular.

‘Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales’ is out now for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

Our Verdict

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales builds on the super solid foundations laid by the 2018 original, delivering an essential spin-off for fans of the first game with a surprisingly powerful narrative. Insomniac Games has crafted a well-paced package that is just as long as it needs to be, delivering a gorgeous next-gen intro that is full of heart and humour. Don’t miss it if you’re picking up a PlayStation 5 this holiday season.

Pros

  • An empathetic narrative that really resonates in our current climate
  • Killer new skill moves develop a tried and tested combat system
  • Remarkable fidelity at 4K resolution 60fps on the PS5

Cons

  • Not much has changed gameplay-wise, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing

 

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