Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the perfect console launch game.
A standalone expansion to Insomniac’s 2018 superhero hit, Spider-Man: Miles Morales provides another dose of web-slinging open world action. Though as the name suggests, Peter Parker isn’t the star of this outing. After witnessing his skills taking down a supervillain in the game’s electrifying opening, he decides that Miles Morales is ready to take his place while he has a short break. Plus, nothing else major could go wrong for a while, could it?
The answer, is of course, a resounding yes. With Peter Parker gone, Miles is left to deal with another major threat to New York City. Though it’s a lot to take on his young shoulders, he’s determined to see it through without Peter’s help. Besides, the story is more personal this time around. There’s not only the story of a hero taking on crime here, but also of Miles stepping up and looking out for those around him. And there are some very important choices he’ll have to make.
The gameplay, however, remains largely the same. You swing around the city like it’s your playground, finding collectibles and stamping down on crime when not tackling story missions that drive the narrative forward. It’s not all for naught, either: the experience, skill points, activity tokens and tech you earn along the way will enable you to develop Miles’ skills, gadgets and equipment, giving you a nice sense of progression and expanding your options for dealing with the many thugs and general wrongdoers you encounter on your journey.
When it comes to thwarting criminals, Miles has got some neat tricks up his sleeve that further enrich the fast-paced combat found in the original game. A range of literally electrifying Venom skills become available as you progress, allowing you to lay the hurt on your enemies when you have enough energy stored. Even better, your Venom attacks leave enemies stunned, too, opening them up for further attacks. They also give you more options. When facing off against an enemy equipped with a shield, for example, you can yank it out of their hands the good old-fashioned way with your webs, or you can stun them with a Venom attack to instead open them up. It’s up to you.
Of course, stealth is always an option too, and for that you’ll be thankful for Miles’ camouflage ability that renders him invisible. You can use it to move through groups of enemies undetected, or as a get out of jail free card when trying to pick off enemies without being seen doesn’t go to plan. Used in conjunction with the gadgets and abilities available to Miles, stealth is definitely a valid option in Spider-Man: Miles Morales, even if only to thin out enemy numbers before slinging in for some fisticuffs.
Miles’ newfound affinity with electricity also presents some puzzle opportunities. In addition to making use of your sticky webs to move around objects and clog them up to keep them held in place, you’ll find yourself powering up generators with an electrified punch or connecting power points with tethers. There’s nothing too taxing on the old noggin, and if you do get stuck clues are at hand. But the puzzles presented to you do break up the web-swinging and goon-punching rather nicely.
That’s what really makes Spider-Man: Miles Morales such a pleasure to play: the way it balances each aspect of its gameplay. Journeying from one point of the game’s open world to another is always entertaining because of the sights and sounds and the sheer fun of swing from building-to-building, cranking out the odd trick in between. Then you might find yourself solving a puzzle, using your advanced vision to find clues, or laying on some pain to some miscreants. Perhaps a mixture of them all if you head into a story mission.
Being a standalone expansion, completing Spider-Man: Miles Morales‘ main story will take under ten hours if you head straight through it. Take in your surroundings while engaging in side missions and tackling impromptu bouts of crime, however, and you’ll find that playtime boosted by a few hours. Make it your mission to find all collectibles and you can add yet another few hours. Then there’s New Game Plus to consider, which opens up additional skills to unlock, and there are multiple difficulty settings. The icing on the cake is a varied range of unlockable suits, each offering their own unique look and perk. There’s a lot to get out of the game if you dig it.
And of course, there’s the fact that Spider-Man: Miles Morales might just be the best-looking game available right now. Two graphical settings are available on PS5, and they both look incredible. The ray tracing-laden Fidelity mode is the way to go, however. It may cap the game at 30fps, but it still feels smooth. And the implementation of ray tracing here might be the best I’ve ever seen; it’s astounding just how much detail and realism it adds to each scene. In conjunction with textures so sharp they could cut you if you stare at them for too long and utterly sumptuous lighting, it’s a dazzling display of the power of the PS5. And that’s just what you want from a launch title.
Perhaps I’ve been dismissive of Spider-Man: Miles Morales in calling it a standalone expansion, because while it may indeed be shorter than Insomniac’s first Spider-Man outing, it’s not just a simple continuation of the story designed to wring out a bit more moolah from your wallet. Think of it as a more focused sequel instead, as that’s what it actually feels like. It’s free of story bloat, and the gameplay has most definitely been expanded upon and improved. Plus, since when has an expansion looked so much nicer than the game it’s building upon? This is a timely release that demonstrates the power of the PS5 with style, and if you aren’t picking it up alongside your console, you’re simply doing things wrong.