As Miles Morales tracks a rampaging Rhino through the streets on a snowy Christmas Eve, I begin to think that maybe being Spider-Man isn’t all it’s cut out to be. I receive a call from his mother, trying to tell her I’ve been held up – “How does Pete do it?” Miles asks. “This secret identity thing stresses me out.” But then I catch up to Rhino and corner him in a factory. The fight is tense.
A less-than-confident new Spider-Man against one of the heaviest hitters in Spidey’s villains gallery – it comes down to the wire as the Rhino hurls chunks of concrete at me, and I slam him into the walls and tie him up with webs. Eventually, through one final, shocking punch, he smashes through the wall and collapses in a heap. As he collapses and I’m congratulated for my victory, maybe, I think, being Spider-Man does come with its perks.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is one of the PS5’s biggest launch title games. It comes with large expectations, as the follow-up to one of the most critically and commercially acclaimed superhero games of all time, Insomniac’s PS4 Spider-Man. Just like Rocksteady and the Batman: Arkham series, Insomniac knows that a good superhero game needs to get the powers right. And with Miles Morales, Insomniac shows that their first outing as Spider-Man hasn’t just been a fluke.
The swinging, as with the original game, is an absolute delight. Just like the ebb and flow of Batman’s gliding, Spider-Man’s swinging is rhythmic and even impactful, as web lines snap taut – you can feel the tension and rumble in the DualSense, which gives movement and combat ten times more weight than the PS4 game – as you reach the end of a swing, and you can hit the sides of buildings and immediately start sprinting up.
As an addition right from the start (and much easier to pull off), Miles Morales can show off in mid-air by holding down the □ button, and by pushing the stick in one direction or another, you can twist and flip through the air to gain XP. The movement is better than ever – it just feels tighter and even more satisfying. Insomniac seems to have honed the movement to a tee, with some new Miles-specific animations bringing the character to life with every action that he takes.
Also, there are boosts you can perform in mid-air by building Miles’ special ability meter, which launches you higher in the air so you can chain trick combos, and keep movement flowing.
While there is a fast travel system with lightning-quick load times, there’s practically no need to use it, since the movement system is just so much fun.
The combat is also slightly improved. The weight behind every punch can be felt in the rumble of the DualSense controller, as Spider-Man uppercuts, disarms enemies with webs, and yanks scaffolding down onto hapless mooks.
The only change to the combat system seems to be Miles’ specific new abilities – that is, his Venom Strike. You can do a variety of new moves, including an electric slam which launches all enemies in the vicinity into the air, and a solid strike of electricity straight into an enemy’s jaw, which always sends them satisfyingly across the room.
The story is solid Insomniac Spider-Man fare – Spider-Man must investigate a mysterious new set of villains trying to break into the Roxxon Corporation – but what makes the story are the personal relationships that Miles forges with other characters. Just like the other game’s understanding of Peter and the relationships that make him interesting – his relationship with Aunt May, with Mary Jane, with antiheroes, even his villains and with the people of New York City, Insomniac gets the interesting aspects of Miles Morales.
He’s a far younger and more naive hero than Peter, but also more forthcoming with his secret identity – he starts the game off with one of his best friends knowing his secret identity and giving him tips and chatting to him excitedly about the superhero life. This immediately gives Miles a different dynamic – he’s a younger, fresher hero than Peter, but with his own unique challenges to overcome.
Just like in the Spider-Verse film, he’s an inspiring and relatable young hero, who has an incredibly strong cast of supporting characters. While the story is a little on the short side for the asking price, it maintains a great pace, with memorable moments and stellar set-pieces.
The city is wide open just like last time, and you can go swinging and climbing to your heart’s delight almost as soon as the story starts. As the story progresses, new side content pops up. While some of it is fairly derivative – enemy chests to loot, mementos to pick up, and crimes to foil – the moment-to-moment gameplay is so addictive these things don’t feel like a chore as they would in other games.
Combat and traversal challenges are the icing on the cake, testing the abilities you’ve gained throughout the game, which includes the aforementioned Venom Strike electricity, and even camouflage, as well as new web shooter types, including holograms, drones, and mines.
When it comes down to it, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is one of the year’s strongest triple-A releases. It’s made by a developer with a clear passion for the Spider-Man IP. Insomniac is just going from strength to strength with this franchise.
With addictive gameplay, a compelling story, and simply amazing technology backing it with the Playstation 5’s new DualSense controller and the loading times – I didn’t see a single loading screen – Spider-Man: Miles Morales is one of the easiest recommendations I’ve given this year.
The only caveat is the length, but with a New Game+ mode out of the box and the ability to replay levels and with the side content, that too is balanced out. If you have the means and the money, pick this up. Miles Morales is stellar basically across the board. Are you ready?