Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered ended on an interesting note, with Miles Morales displaying his powers to Peter Parker. It was then followed up in The City that Never Sleeps expansion, showcasing Miles taking the first leap under Peter’s guidance, the first step in becoming Spider-Man.
While fans of the original title on PS4 had to wait two years to experience the follow-up game, I got to jump from Spider-Man Remastered released a few months ago to Spider-Man: Miles Morales, giving me a far more cohesive experience to connect and compare the two games.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is presented more as a standalone expansion in the same vein as Far Cry New Dawn or PlayStation’s own Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, building a relatively smaller focus story within the same engine and environment.
Even though Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a continuation of the first game, it stands on its own quite well, and by the end of my nearly 20-hour-long playthrough, I was left pleasantly surprised and excited about the future of Miles in Insomniac’s upcoming Marvel titles.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Review (PC) - A new protagonist, new power, and a new platform
Marvel’s Spider-Man took an uncharted path, skipping over the all-too-familiar origin story of Peter and focusing on his storied years of being Spider-Man. In contrast, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is very much the origin story of the titular character, which sees him becoming worthy of the mantle. After all, with great power, comes great responsibility.
Great power (Gameplay)
From a gameplay perspective, Spider-Man: Miles Morales looks very similar to its predecessor. Be it swinging throughout the city, or the free-flowing combat while taking on multiple enemies, the gameplay premise initially appeared the same from one arachnid title to another. Yet, as soon as I picked up the controller and pressed the right trigger to swing, I realized how Insomniac Games had set the two 'Spider-Men' apart. While it might not strike a new player, coming right from Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered to Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the difference between the two, from a gameplay perspective, is certainly noticeable.
While both Peter and Miles have a similar set of base powers, each brings a unique style to their movement and combat that very much reflects their origin. Seamlessly swinging through the high rise of Manhattan or effortlessly dispatching a gang of thugs, Peter showcases a free flow of animation that reflects his experience and comparatively muscular build. When compared to Miles, the young protege exhibits a clumsy yet agile animation, clearly pointing at his inexperience and leaner build.
A new addition to Miles’ arsenal is his Venom Powers, a bio-electric discharge that lets Miles stun enemies as well as heal himself. During the combat section, this ability came in quite handy and rejuvenated the familiar sets of combos and air-juggling enemies, but never once felt overpowered.
Furthermore, the Venom Powers also allows Miles to become invisible, adding another layer to the stealth mechanics. While personally, as a sit-on-top-of-the-bar-and-perch-takedown-enemies player, I did not use it outside of a handful of scripted situations, but I certainly appreciated its addition to Miles’ arsenal. As I progressed through the story, I unlocked more Venom-Powered skills in the skill menu alongside his other abilities, and it became a natural part of my combat arsenal.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales shakes up the suit ability system with a new mod system that allows players to equip four mods, each of which provide a passive ability. While it initially seemed to be an interesting idea, it soon fizzled out to be underwhelming, wherein I simply equipped a few mods and never really felt their effects in the game.
Greater responsibility (Story)
The story picks up right where it left off with Peter training Miles to be Spider-Man, and properly kicks off after a particular kerfuffle involving one big Rhino breaking free from a convoy and charging across the city. Peter informs Miles that he will be traveling to Symkaria to assist MJ as her photographer, leaving New York under the protection of Miles, as the city’s now only Spider-Man.
While Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a relatively shorter campaign, it tells a more personal story of Miles. The narrative brilliantly fleshes him out while introducing interesting side characters like his neighbors. From Rio Morales stepping up the be political whilst dealing with the loss of her husband and supporting the family, to Genki becoming the man in the chair and helping Miles be Spider-Man, the character developments come up quite well.
Throughout the story, there are multiple mentions of the close bond between Miles and Phin, but even with the strong performance, it felt lacking somewhere, thereby making Phin’s characteristics somewhat bland in certain aspects. Phin and Miles are described and shown in cutscenes as best friends from middle school, but the relationship felt more like lab partners doing experiments together rather than a strong connective bond.
This relationship is supposed to add to Miles’ emotional baggage, as he is now supposed to fight his best friend, who has become the Tinkerer, but due to the lackluster character development, it never really materializes.
Compared to its predecessor, Spider-Man: Miles Morales’ stakes are more personal, focused on the life and relationships of the protagonist, and the bland nature of Phin’s characteristics fails to truly sell the urgency and its importance. A protagonist is as good as his antagonist, and whilst both Roxan and the Tinkerer provide Miles with substantial obstacles to overcome in terms of overall narrative, it falls short of the brilliant performance provided by the actor.
This is Miles’ world (open world and music)
Miles’ first mainstream media debut beyond comics was through the 2018 animated movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Besides the unique visuals and the interesting story premise, the movie and to an extent Miles' character were defined by its phenomenal soundtrack.
Be it Post Malone's feel-good Sunflower or Blackway’s edgy What’s Up Danger, a hip-hop soundtrack has become synonymous with Miles’ character, and Spider-Man: Miles Morales certainly continues that trend. While it does not feature any iconic or instantly recognizable tracks, the OST sets Miles’ atmosphere distinctly apart from that of Peter's.
The open world is the same Manhattan from Marvel’s Spider-Man, with a fresh coat of snow and some new structural changes. It also brings back the different types of activities across the districts, but reduces the total number due to its relatively smaller scope. Jumping right from one game to another, I felt at home with a familiar structure paired with the responsive swinging mechanics.
Swinging beyond the PlayStation (PC performance)
Spider-Man: Miles Morales was one of the PS5’s launch titles, utilizing its higher performance to present an elevated gameplay experience with ray-tracing and higher fidelity output. Nearly two years later, it has finally made its way to PC alongside more versatile performance and graphical tuning. While I did not get to try out ray-traced performance, I still got to tweak with a number of settings.
My setup is very much reflective of the recommended settings for 1080p 60 fps, which the title was more or less able to sustain with a mix of medium and high settings. Turning every settings option to very high dips the framerate to around 45-50 fps, which is still playable. While obviously not maintaining the detailing of higher resolution textures, even on low settings, the game looked visually impressive, while providing a much higher framerate.
It should also be noted that I faced some graphical glitches, including weird pop-ins and one particular instance of frame drop that is more or less ignorable, and considering PlayStation's previous record, I expect them to be fixed within the month of launch, if not a day one patch. I would recommend targeting a minimum of 60 fps while maintaining high settings.
While Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is best enjoyed with a controller, it's great with a Keyboard & Mouse setup as well. Nixxes has maintained the tried-and-tested control layout from Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered, and it does provide a healthy alternative if the player doesn’t have a controller in hand.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, while not a proper sequel, is a perfect follow-up to Marvel’s Spider-Man, building upon it to deliver a short and focused story fleshing out Miles’ character with a personal stake. While the antagonist felt somewhat lackluster, Miles and his supporting character elevated it to an amazing title.
The PC port once again retains PlayStation’s reputation for a refined experience with its older titles, while adding diverse graphical settings and Keyboard-Mouse control. In my limited time with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, I quite enjoyed my time with Miles, exploring a snow-covered Manhattan while listening to the amazing soundtrack.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales provides a smaller but necessary chapter in Insomniac’s Spider-Man Saga and perfectly sets up Miles as the co-protagonist of the upcoming Spider-Man 2. The game is certainly worth experiencing, especially right after Marvel's Spider-Man, be it on PC or PS5.
Final rating for Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Reviewed on: Windows PC (Review copy provided by PlayStation)
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC
Developer: Insomniac Games, Nixxes Software
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment (PlayStation)
Release date: November 12, 2020 (PS4/PS5) | November 18, 2022 (Windows PC)