Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Review

Published: Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - 12:00 | By: Robert Scarpinito
Developer
Insomniac Games
Release Date
November 12, 2020
Series
Spider-Man
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)
PlayStation Store
Webslinging Into Next-Gen Hardware

Spider-Man is back, and he’s here to welcome the PlayStation 5 to the world. His new protege is the star of the show though, and Miles Morales carries that great responsibility with pride. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales plays and feels largely the same as its last-gen predecessor, but that isn’t a bad thing.

Miles brings some new bioelectric powers to the table, adding a fresh coat of paint to an already-fun formula. Above all, though, this game is a fantastic showcase of what the next generation of gaming can look and feel like, and it feels pretty good.

 
 
Marvel's Spider-Man Miles Morales
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Next-Gen Gaming with Last-Gen Webslinging

First and foremost, the PlayStation 5’s tech is impressive, and Spider-Man: Miles Morales knows it. Load times are practically nonexistent, and the story seamlessly transitions between locales without skipping a beat. Need to fast travel across the city? No problem, you’re already there. Finished an indoors mission and ready to head outside? Fling yourself through a window and launch yourself into the cold winter air of New York City. These moments previously needed a loading screen between them, but now it all loads faster than Spider-Man can quip.

Like many games in the previous generation, Spider-Man: Miles Morales comes with two types of performance modes: one that favors fidelity, and another that favors a locked, buttery-smooth 60 frames per second. Both are equally impressive, so no matter which you prefer, you’ll be satisfied. The fidelity mode keeps the game running at 30 fps, but you’ll get RTX in exchange. Miles’ real-time reflections in glass and mirrors really stand out, even when you’re rapidly swinging through the city. The level of quality simply outpaces anything done on previous hardware, and that little touch makes the next generation feel like it’s here.

The DualSense controller delivers here, too. Much like the HD rumble in the Nintendo Switch, the haptics feel like they’re on another level. You’ll feel the rush of the wind as you zip by, and heavy footsteps like Rhino’s feel thunderous in your hands. The adaptive triggers don’t stand out too much here, but you’ll feel some tension when you press all the way in while swinging around. It’s a nice little bonus while you travel through New York, but it doesn’t do much to alleviate the tedium of searching for collectibles.

Marvel's Spider-Man Miles Morales
Actually, the cat in a backpack steals the show.

Miles Morales Steals the Show

Where Spider-Man: Miles Morales stands out most is in its titular character: Miles himself. He’s an earnest young man who learns a lot about himself in this coming-of-age story. Voice actor Nadji Jeter delivers here, convincingly portraying a geeky, 17-year-old nerd who’s still figuring stuff out. He learns some hard lessons along the way, and watching him grow makes him a very compelling lead, especially alongside his ever smart-mouthed mentor, Peter Parker. Fans of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will feel really familiar with this depiction of Miles.

His connection to the people of Harlem really shines through in this game, too. While he’s here to protect the city, his focus on Harlem makes him a local hero. It’s Christmastime in New York, meaning it’s the perfect time to help your fellow neighbor. Who better to do that than your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? Insomniac did an excellent job creating a cast of likeable characters around Miles. His relationships with friends, family, strangers, and adversaries are at the core of this story, and they really sell the big moments, especially toward the end.

In terms of narrative beats though, this game doesn’t break any new ground, and a lot of it can feel pretty typical for a comic book story. The big villains are telegraphed hard, and most if not all of the twists will be obvious hours before they come. However, the strength of the characters help the ending hold up well, and if you grow to like these fun folks of New York, you’ll enjoy what the story has in store.

Marvel's Spider-Man Miles Morales
The city has a lot of character too.

Electrifying, Web-Defying, Familiar Combat

The Spidey-flavored Arkham-style combat is back again, but Miles brings his own twist to Spider-Man: Miles Morales. His Venom powers (not to be confused with one of Pete’s archnemeses) create a new dynamic in combat. The new Venom resource bar replaces the last game’s Focus, and the resource can be tapped into to heal or launch a devastating, electrified attack.

Certain enemies have special armor or weapons that counter your normal attacks, but Venom breaks through it. These attacks also apply Venom Stun, and some of Miles’ abilities play off that status effect. For example, later upgrades spread the stun via your webs, or restore some HP on hit. The system is surprisingly robust for a short experience that takes less than 10 hours to roll credits. Above all, slugging someone with an electrified fist always feels cool, especially with the help of the DualSense controller.

 

In addition to the Venom powers, Miles has the ability to turn invisible, which makes the already-easy stealth sections child’s play. In some ways, there’s something exciting about being a stealthy superhero that can clear a room full of gun-toting goons in less than a minute. Even if you get caught, you can pop off your camouflage and go right back to the webslinging espionage. However, this can make Spider-Man: Miles Morales feel almost too easy, especially when the bigger brutes can be beaten with one stealth hit.

Marvel's Spider-Man Miles Morales
This and the other Venom powers always look and feel pretty cool.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to unlock all of your cool abilities in your first playthrough. All the abilities at the end of the gadget and skill trees are locked behind New Game+, meaning you’ll have to play through the story again to unlock Miles’ full potential. By the time you get to the end, you’ll likely have some collectibles or side quests to wrap up, which makes the perfect fodder for playing with these new powers. It feels like an odd design choice to not reward players for rolling credits by letting them play with these powers as they explore New York.

All of that aside though, the combat will feel largely similar to the game’s predecessor. If you enjoyed Peter Parker’s take on Spidey fighting, Miles’ will be familiar, much like most of this game.

Marvel's Spider-Man Miles Morales
With two Spider-Men, there's a lot to look forward to in Insomniac's next game.

The Dawn of a New Era

For the few lucky enough to snag a PlayStation 5 on day one, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales easily deserves to be one of the first games you try on the system. It’s flashy, fun, and festive, with a wonderful cast of characters to boot. The wintery city of New York makes a wonderful playground for exploring the power of this new console too. If your only option is to play it on the PS4 though, the characters and gameplay are still worth experiencing, even without the shiny next-gen bells and whistles.


TechRaptor reviewed Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales on a PlayStation 5 with a copy purchased by the reviewer. The game is also available on PlayStation 4.

Review Summary

8.0
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s still a fun romp through New York City, with likeable characters and electrifying Venom powers.

Pros

  • Fantastic Characters Carry the Story
  • Swinging Around is as Fun as Ever
  • Venom Powers Look and Feel Cool

Cons

  • Narrative is Pretty Predictable
  • New Game+ Weirdly Gates Skills

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Robert Scarpinito TechRaptor
Features Editor

When I'm not talking about my love of Persona, I'm probably playing or writing about games. I'm waiting for the day I can be proud of the DC cinematic universe. Catch me on Everything in Poderation, the Internet Culture Podcast that dives into the intersection between the internet and nerd culture.