The character of Miles Morales has been in the periphery until much recently with the well-received Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse movie, bringing over that momentum into the games sphere as well with Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
He takes a starring role in this PlayStation exclusive title from Insomniac Games, and holds his own in this sequel/spin-off of the original 2018 game — shining even brighter than his red and blue counterpart in some aspects as well.
New kid on the block
Following the events of the first game, Miles has been accompanying Peter Parker’s Spider-Man around on patrol but is thrust into the spotlight when Peter goes overseas, leaving him in charge of keeping New York safe as the new Spider-Man.
Naturally, it isn’t all smooth sailing. A group called The Underground is at odds with emergent energy company Roxxon and stirs up trouble around the city, which Miles’ Spider-Man must resolve on his own.
As Miles’ debut campaign, the plot may not necessarily unwind any shocking revelations or twists, but it still is very much an engaging story to play through. This conflict in Spider-Man: Miles Morales is on the shorter end in terms of length compared to the 2018 game, but it doesn’t mean it is smaller in scale. There are still some big set-pieces as you go through the story and very memorable fights as well.
But perhaps the best part of the Spider-Man: Miles Morales’ campaign is how much it fleshes out Miles’ character. Miles was not a character that I was particularly fond of in the first game. But in this game, he has been given a great deal of backstory and personality — supplemented through side characters like his mother Rio Morales and partner-in-crime Ganke Lee.
Throughout the story, I saw Miles grow as a character into one I could root for, and it certainly validates him helming this game and other future Spider-Man titles.
The entire city map from the original returns in Spider-Man: Miles Morales, but being a resident of the neighbourhood of Harlem, you’d find yourself returning to the area more often than not for the campaign’s story. You’ll be getting yourself acquainted with the area’s residents more and more as the game progresses, which adds a sense of belonging to the community.
There are other forms of distractions to do around the rest of the city as well. Before leaving New York, Peter has set up challenge stations for Miles across the map, which help teach some of the game’s mechanics as well as testing your skills.
Challenge stations vary under three different categories: combat, stealth and traversal, and doing them not only gives you activity tokens to use to purchase upgrades, but also unlocks new skills to use in your arsenal.
Ganke also develops an app for you early in the game, which allows people to contact you for your help with stuff around the city of New York, essentially acting as the hub for all of your side missions.
It’s a nice distraction from the main story, with each of the side requests giving unique scenarios for Miles’ Spider-Man to do, including helping to locate and rescue a lost cat and retrieving some stolen toys from a gang.
Aside from recurring alerts of crime happening around the city, you’ll also be tasked with sneaking into villain hideouts and dismantling their operations. Likewise, with the 2018 Spider-Man game, there are extra challenges you can attempt to earn more rewards as you clear these levels.
Rounding out the activities in the game is the return of collectables hidden within the map. Things like time capsules and weapon caches from The Underground provide just another reason to swing around and explore before playing through any of the missions.
Sting like a spider
As you progress through the story, you’ll come head-to-head against the goons from The Underground and Roxxon, and Miles has the tools to deal with them.
While combat operates much the same way from the first game, Miles is a different beast to Peter’s Spider-Man. He has the added benefit of electrically charged Venom powers to use, which bring extra sting to his usual attacks.
You can access these powers by holding L1 in combination with the face buttons on the controller, allowing you to make attacks like propelling enemies into the air or dealing a devastating punch that stuns them.
These attacks are powerful weapons in Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and you’ll need to build them up through a meter by doing combos on the enemies or dodging their attacks. Venom powers are wonderful additions to the game, and once you’ve got a handle on the combat for the game, they are spectacularly satisfying to see when you execute them.
Unfortunately, gadgets (which you can choose by holding R1) are lacking for this game. Miles only has four to choose from compared to Peter’s eight, and the ones that he does have aren’t the most useful in active combat. Considering how powerful Venom attacks are in the game, it was probably best to limit gadgets, but I would have liked at least one that was fun to use.
In addition to the new Venom powers, Miles also has gained the ability to turn invisible to bring a new dimension to stealth in Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Pressing up on the D-pad activates his invisibility, and you can use it to sneak up on an enemy sight unseen or bail out if a group of people have spotted you.
You can further improve Miles’ new powers and combat prowess by investing in the skill tree in the menus, divided separately into combat, venom and camouflage. By levelling up, you’ll earn skill points which you can use to upgrade your skills.
Next-Gen New York
Though the game is available on the PS4, the PS5 is the best place to play Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
New York looks the best it has ever been in the game. Aided by the increased details found around the city and the use of ray-tracing to pull off real-time reflections, the game makes the world feel more alive than ever.
Luckily, you don’t have to sacrifice frame-rate to enjoy these visuals. Insomniac Games have done an excellent job of supporting the game further after its initial release and have patched in the option to include a silky smooth 60 fps frame-rate alongside having ray-tracing; it is the best of both worlds.
While it isn’t as overt as the pack-in Astro’s Playroom on PS5, Dualsense does add to the experience with haptic force feedback for specific situations, like delivering the sensation of trains going over tracks. The adaptive triggers also add a slight tension at the end as you hold them down to swing too.
Finally, you can commemorate your time in Spider-Man: Miles Morales further through Photo Mode, which makes a return to the game. Images can be customised with filters and stickers as you attempt to show off your creative side.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is another cap in Insomniac Games’ feather as they prepare for the next Spider-Man game.
Though this isn’t a full-fledged sequel, it still is very much a game you should not miss — delivering justice to Miles’ character alongside an engaging story as well as great additions to the combat formula. This is one of the guys to own for PlayStation 5!
Additional visuals courtesy of PlayStation Asia.