Okay, I get it. This review is really late. This review got started, and then sat in my drafts because Cyberpunk 2077 kept me very distracted in the little bit of free time that I had. But now, final exams are finished and I am on winter break finishing this up at two in the morning. So, what is this new entry of Spiderman about?
Spiderman returns back to New York City but this time we are playing as Miles Morales. For those who didn’t play Spiderman 2018, Miles is a teenager who befriends Peter Parker. Miles ends up getting bit by a spider and you can guess how the rest plays out. When the game starts, you can watch a summary to fill you in on all the events from Spiderman 2018 involving Miles but I would recommend trying out Spiderman Remastered if you never played the original. It is way too good of a game to skip. But you didn’t click on this article to find out if Spiderman 2018 is any good. So how is Spiderman Miles Morales?
As always, I won’t be diving deep into the story to avoid spoilers but I will give you the bare minimum. The story of Spiderman Miles Morales throws you in the middle of a war between Roxon and the Underground. Roxon is the Tesla of the Spiderman universe and the Underground are a bunch of rebels who have no business being as well trained as they are. As Miles, you do your best to protect New York City while dealing with the challenges of being a teenager. Overall, the beginning of the story is just as good as Spiderman 2018. However, the second half of the story starts to feel weaker. One particular spot is when Miles trusts someone to watch a person of interest (who I won’t name), even though minutes prior he said how he needs to keep an eye on this person because he knows that they want to harm this particular person of interest. You could catoragize this as bad writing or just Miles being naïve but either way it doesn’t make much sense besides wanting to push the story forward.
This may sound like I’m caring too much but I believe that attention to detail is important in these big budget games. In the 2018 game, Spiderman works closely with the police throughout the main story. In the intro to Miles Morales, both Spidermen work with the police. However, midway through the main story, the police disappear. During one mission, Miles discovers an enemy base filled with money and weapons. If this was Spiderman 2018, Peter would contact the police and they would usually be seen arriving as you swing away from the crime scene. However, Miles just swings away like nothing even happened, leaving the door wide open so that any child could just walk in there and grab a rocket launcher. Another example is a major main story plot point so I don’t want to spoil it, but there is a need for the police at a certain emergency at the end of the game and they are no where to be found. It’s like the police are there for the first half of the game and the side missions but they forgot about them for the final half of the main story.
So to summarize: The first half of the story is really good. The second half had a lot of moments that felt so poorly written that it made me pause my game so I could write about them in my notes. I should all emphasize that when I say poorly written, I mean poorly written compared to Spiderman 2018. That game’s story set my standards really high.
At first glance, you would think the gameplay would feel pretty identical to Spiderman 2018 considering that there hasn’t been much time between them for them to evolve mechanics. This is fairly true but there are definitely some changes. The combat is the same idea but with a lot of new moves and animations for Miles. The most notable is the use of venom which is a form of electricity that Miles can use during combat to take down enemies. There is a decent amount of side content in Spiderman Miles Morales but it felt lower quality compared to what was in Spiderman 2018.
If you are playing on the PlayStation 5, you do have some new things you can check out. First off is raytracing. Insomniac Games does a really good job with it but there was no going back to it after I switched to 60 frames per second mode. Swinging around the city with that smoothness is incredible. It is worth noting, that Insomniac Games added a 60 frames per second with ray tracing in 1080p mode which is how I probably would have played the game if it was available back at launch. The PlayStation 5 controller also showcases their adaptive triggers when you swing through the city. While it is a nice touch that adds some immersion, I thought they could have done more with it. Astrobot’s Playroom set a very high standard for how developers should use the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback.
Early in the game, a character spills some food on a carpet (think Kevin Malone and his chili from The Office). Instead of going to the bathroom for cleaning supplies, he goes to a computer to do some work and then makes his way to the bathroom after you grab another item. That was the only notable bug. It was a very polished experience.
I still stand by my original thought that this game was not needed (I felt that there was no need for a smaller standalone game since we just had Spiderman two years earlier). A fourth DLC releasing with Spiderman 2018 Remastered or some flashbacks in the next mainline Spiderman game (which is rumored to have both Peter and Miles as playable characters) could have easily told this story without some of the filler. However, this was still a great Spiderman experience. Miles was an amazing character. Seeing New York City around Christmas time changed up the map enough to make it not feel overly repetitive. The gameplay evolved much more then I expected it to (mainly thanks to the 60 fps enhancement). This game really made me think about how in the world Insomniac Games is developing so much at once while keeping it at the highest quality.