Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Studio: Insomniac Games
When Insomniac unleashed their take on everybody’s favourite friendly neighbourhood superhero in the fall of 2018, it rapidly become a game of the year contender. The third-person action adventure title immersed fans worldwide as they found themselves swinging around New York City in 23-year-old Peter Parker’s shoes.
The game was a massive hit, having been critically praised on just about every level from the an enticing, emotional narrative, well-round and developed characters, an extremely fun combat loop, and, of course what might just be the best web swinging traversal since 2004’s Spider-Man 2 (sadly, without the inclusion of that pizza delivery minigame). By year’s end, it became apparent that this was not only one of the best games of 2018 for many, it was deemed one of the greatest superhero games of all time. This only begs one question in regards to the hugely anticipated follow-up, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, can Insomniac hit another home run?
Taking place approximately a year after the events of the previous game, Spider-Man: Miles Morales follows our titular protagonist (a role reprised and brilliantly delivered by Nadji Jeter) who’s been under the mentorship of one Peter Parker since discovering his newfound powers and has assumed the role of a new Spider-Man.
Yuri Lowenthal returns as Peter Parker but after the OG web-head announces that he’s taking a much needed break overseas, his appearances are few and far between. The safety of New York is left in Miles’ hands and our young hero soon finds himself caught in the middle of an ongoing turf war between Roxxon Energy, and the Underground, a high-tech criminal organisation.
The ‘straight outta Brooklyn’ Spidey is backed up by a great supporting cast, including Griffin Puatu as your best pal; Ganke Lee, a tech wizard who acts as a trusty support with all things Spider-Man; Jasmin Savoy Brown as Phin Mason, Miles’ childhood friend; Ike Amadi as uncle Aaron Davis; and Jacqueline Piñol as Rio Morales.
The games main campaign should net you between 6 – 8 hours of playtime depending on your speed. Storywise, it’s a standard superhero affaire full of big set pieces, jam-packed action, and a number of plot twists along the way. While the length is noticeably shorter than the first game, the substance of the story more than makes up for it, and, with the edition of New Game plus there’s always room for replayability.
Alongside adjusting to his new super identity and all the responsibilities that come with it, Miles is also adapting to changes in his personal life, having recently relocated from Brooklyn to Harlem, and, supporting his mom’s new political career which plays a significant role within the campaign. A majority of big story beats take place in Harlem and this really helps emphasise how, in contrast to Pete, Miles feels much more like a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man who’s still finding his footing and learning how to be his own hero. This is not only reflected within the games writing but also through the various side missions you can undertake: helping the residents of Harlem resolve their problems which, yes, does involve rescuing a cat called Spider-Man.
As well as side missions, there’s an abundance of activities to keep yourself busy with, including holographic training challenges left by Pete, and, collectable time capsules. While none of these are incredibly exciting, they’re still fun and will keep you swinging around the city for longer. Something that does play a unique role in this respect however is Ganke’s newly invented ‘Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man App’, a convenient and easy way for citizens to reach out to Spidey with any problems. Not only is this a welcome addition to the game’s UI, it also does a great job of utilising the Dualsense controllers touchpad.
In terms of combat, the core gameplay loop hasn’t changed, which isn’t a bad thing since it’s as infectious and satisfying as ever. Miles does have some unique powers though that shake up combat enough in comparison to the first game. These include his signature ‘venom strike’, the manipulation of bio-electricity to stun and damage enemies, and the handy ability to camouflage that allow players to employ some great stealth tactics.
Like Peter before him, Miles also gets a snazzy array of unlockable suits, each boosting unique mods and powers. At launch there are currently 19 suits available with designs that pull inspiration from the game universe, various comic storylines, and, the 2018 cinematic hit ‘Into The Spider-Verse’, which features a mod that perfectly mimics the movies animation.
Finally, we can’t finish this review out without mentioning the music and sound design. As per the original game, the orchestral score here swells as you pick up momentum while swinging but this time it’s cleverly infused with hip-hop beats and samples. Beats that Miles would definitely have on his personal playlist, all the more cementing the fact that this is truly his world and story.
Ultimately, this is an absolutely worthy follow-up to one of the best games of the last generation. The shorter length lends itself perfectly to Miles’ story: the story of a young man developing his own identity as a hero while trying his best to live up to the mask he wears.
Despite being an altogether smaller package, Spider-Man: Miles Morales doesn’t pack any less of a punch than its predecessor and Insomniac have knocked it out of the park once again.