Developer – Insomniac Games
Publisher – Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s) – PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed)
MSRP – $49.99
Release Date – November 12, 2020
Back in 2018, Insomniac Games released what many believe is the best Spider-Man game of all time and arguably the best superhero game of all time (I remember a time when everyone thought Sucker Punch was developing this). Spider-Man PS4 can only be described as a success with it gaining universal acclaim and having the record (before this year) for fastest-selling IP in PlayStation history with 3.3 million units sold in 3 days.
Quite honestly, I expected their next installment in the Spider-Man universe to be a continuation of Peter Parker’s story. I and many others were pleasantly surprised when at the PS5 Reveal Event earlier this year, we got the official announcement trailer for Spider-Man Miles Morales.
Immediately, my interest was piqued not only because it meant we get to play more Spider-Man but we also are guaranteed to encounter a fresh narrative experience separate from Peter Parker. I was excited from the get-go and I purposely avoided a lot of the info from Insomniac themselves and the Game Informer footage that was published sporadically up to launch. I wanted to know as little as possible so I could go into this title not knowing what to expect from Insomniac this time around.
Spider-Man Miles Morales picks up a year after the events of Spider-Man PS4, where you take on the role of Miles Morales (obviously). Insomniac Games needed to set a different tone for Miles Morales that was distinct from its predecessor. They did just that in the first 5 minutes when you are hit with the vehement music, “Where We Come From” by Lecrae.
The soundtrack, in general, was chosen so tremendously. The main theme is as valiant sounding as it was in the original installment 2 years ago. Other pieces such as “I’m Ready” and “My Time” (which is used in an outstanding way) set the mood immensely.
Coming from someone who isn’t the biggest fan of the narrative from Spider-Man PS4, Spider-Man Miles Morales feels like a complete 180 on that aspect. Not a single second is wasted and not a single main mission feels meaningless in the slightest.
Without spoiling anything, Miles is dealing with the responsibility of being the other Spider-Man that New York depends on. Throughout his entire journey, Miles undergoes events that shape his relationship with friends and family and starts to understand the weight of the position he’s been put in. The narrative left more of a lasting impression on me than I expected and it helps that I was able to connect with so many personalities over the story.
Spider-Man Miles Morales does something in half the time of its original that most games can’t do with 2x the time. It gives you a cast of main and side characters that feel so distinct and well-developed for the little time you see most of them. For example, a deaf character that probably has about 5 full cutscenes in the entire game left me with a smile on my face with each interaction I had with her. It’s a testament that Insomniac just gets Spider-Man.
The attention to detail with tons of destructible environments is apparent right away and the environments themselves feel more varied. The lighting is better polished and the ray-tracing is instantly noticeable. Granted, this is mostly because I played this game on the PlayStation 5 but if anything it’s a compliment to how Insomniac used the new hardware, though it’s not all bright spots.
I experienced a couple of noticeable bugs that broke the flow of some big combat/story moments. Dialogue would frequently be ahead of the subtitles that were on screen, especially during a lot of the podcasts. I even had a hard crash that forced me to restart my entire game, thankfully it has autosave. None of these are issues that hindered my overall experience in the slightest, but I’d be lying if I said they weren’t apparent.
Spider-Man Miles Morales manages to right some of the wrongs of Spider-Man PS4. Insomniac saw the feedback from what people didn’t enjoy and made sure to take those criticisms to make this game better. The stealth missions with MJ were by far my least favorite aspect of Spider-Man PS4 and this time around they’ve been removed altogether.
Of course, there are side activities and just like the first game, I’m mixed on them overall. You have the usual enemy hideouts that need to be cleared out, collectibles scattered across the map, and the side missions that are enjoyable for the most part. Then there are the side activities that I don’t enjoy such as the sound samples and the open-world random crimes. The mission structure in terms of side content isn’t all that different from the first game honestly and it’s one of the things I wish Insomniac altered a bit more.
If there’s one thing unanimously praised by Insomniac, it’s their captivating gameplay. If anyone were to play Spider-Man specifically for the combat, I think it’s safe to say you’re going to be satisfied thoroughly.
The overall mechanics of the combat system isn’t that different from the original but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some substantial changes. The main component of Miles’s skill set is his venom power that coincides with most of his big moves. This venom power along with the smoothness of the PS5 version of this title makes the gameplay in this much more fun than the original. That’s not to say the combat in the original isn’t fun because it is, Insomniac was able to change just enough for the overall gameplay experience to be more fulfilling.
I didn’t delve into the various mods, for the most part, never felt like I needed to upgrade them for the entirety of my playthrough, I mostly focused on gadgets and skills. All of this and I haven’t even mentioned camouflage. If you saw the gameplay preview back in September, you’ll remember this ability. It wasn’t the most useful in full-blown combat, but it made taking out enemies stealthily more dynamic and precipitous.
One thing that hit me the entire time I was playing this title was the heart that Insomniac put into it. With releases this year such as The Pathless, Ghost of Tsushima, and so much more, Spider-Man Miles Morales stands up there with those titles as some of my favorite games of 2020. I don’t know what’s next for the Spider-Man universe, I assume it’ll be a story that follows both Peter & Miles, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Insomniac managed to make my experience in Miles Morales more memorable and satisfactory than the original in 2018. Various elements such as the forced stealth sections with MJ, basic and repeating side activities (albeit, it’s still prominent in this entry), and certain narrative aspects held down the original just a tad in my eyes. Those elements aren’t in this entry and If they are, they’re not as prevalent.
Spider-Man Miles Morales is a worthwhile expansion to its predecessor, and a title I highly recommend. I couldn’t have been more satisfied with my experience and this is a great way to kick-off the next-gen of PlayStation along with Sackboy & Demon’s Souls. Now all that’s left to do is wait for Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart early next year, which I am eagerly anticipating.
Rating - 9/10