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Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can. Apparently, a spider can produce a sequel to popular games that sell especially well. Spiders have pretty good business sense. 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man from Insomniac Games was more fun than it really needed to be to justify its massive sales, so it’s no surprise that now we’ve got a sequel in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Does all that web-slinging still stand up a couple years later?
It’s tough being the new guy in town! It’s even tougher being the new superhero in town, especially when you’ve got the same gimmick as the city’s headliner. Miles Morales has to deal both with moving to a new part of New York and dealing with the temporary departure of Peter Parker, leaving him as NYC’s head vigilante. Miles will have to figure out how to navigate his rocky personal life, a churning gang war and the difficulties of superhero life…and he’ll have to do it all on the job, since it’s not like crime’s going to stop just because the original Spidey’s taking a break.
If you played 2018’s Spider-Man game, you know exactly what to expect from Miles Morales. You’re still Spidey, after all, even if it’s a new guy under the mask, so you can expect to handle things just like Spidey would. That means swinging around New York, climbing up walls, bounding around enemies and having a great time while you do it. Combat is basically a take on the Batman: Arkham formula, where you’ll need to string together attacks, dodges, special abilities and gadgets into an endless string of battle. Once you’ve got a handle on how everything works, it’s a joy to embody the webslinger.
Naturally, it’s not all about fighting and slinging. There’s plenty to do around New York, including time trials, collectibles to find and, if you’re feeling sociable, just stopping off on the streets and high-fiving a random passerby. You’re encouraged to really get to know the city and lean into the responsive movement mechanics. It’s a nice touch that helps make the open world feel alive even when you’re not going through one of Miles Morales’ fantastic setpiece battles.
While Miles Morales doesn’t stray too far from its predecessor, there’s definitely a few significant changes here and there. For instance, Miles possesses special electrical Venom powers that can be used to supercharge his attacks. Naturally, in true Arkham fashion, the second you get a new toy there’s going to be new enemies that require you to use it, so you can expect to manage dodging, attacking, throwing out gadgets and using Venom. Keeping all the plates spinning can be tough, but it’s always satisfying.
That’s really the central point of these Spider-Man games: they’re incredibly satisfying. They’re pure fun in a way that the awkward, hamfisted Avengers simply couldn’t deliver. While that game thought that the enjoyment of video games is all about collecting five different currencies, searching for and equipping gear that gives tiny percentage-based buffs and looking through an endless list of microtransactions, Miles Morales realizes that the fun of a superhero video game is that you get to be a superhero.
Just as in the previous Spider-Man, Miles Morales really lets you get into the hero’s shoes. Combat is fast and fun, swinging around is exhilarating, and while Miles ends up feeling like an expansion more than a new game, it’s still built on rock-solid fundamentals.
As for the visuals and performance, well, they’re stunning…and I say this having played the PS4 version, because who can find a PS5 these days? I assure you that every puddle is present and accounted for and the game runs as smooth as spider silk. All the Marvel money thrown behind this game was well-spent, especially considering the voice acting performances – which are hammy in all the right ways – and the simple fact that the PS4 version doesn’t feel like a complete waste. The shiny new PS5 may boast 4K ray-tracing magic, but PS4 users are still getting the complete package here.
The bottom line is that we’ve learned that it’s somehow possible to drop the ball with superhero games…and here comes Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales to show us how it’s done once again. Exploring the city and taking down bad guys is as enjoyable as it was a couple years ago. Even if you can’t get your greedy hands on the next-gen PlayStation 5 needed to play the technically superior version, don’t fret: Miles Morales looks good, runs great and is plenty of fun to play in any form. Check it out.