Miles Morales steps up and delivers a knockout performance as the Spider-Man we need right now.
Developer – Insomniac Games
Publisher – Playstation
Platforms – PS4, PS5
Spider-Man, one of the most popular and celebrated super heroes of all time, is no stranger to video games. In fact, Spider-Man’s video game legacy is almost as long as his comic book career.
Spider-Man was even the first Marvel Comics hero turned into a video game, starring in the classic Atari 2600 game simply titled Spider-Man. Many different Spider-Man games have come and gone in the time since. As varied and as popular as some of those games were, it wasn’t until Treyarch’s Spider-Man 2 that somebody came close to capturing the most important part of the webbed hero, the actual web swinging itself.
Spider-Man 2, at the time of it’s release in 2004, was a blessing and a curse. It revolutionized movement in open world games. It also was the first game to really capture the feeling of playing as a super hero. Up until that point, most super hero games were top-down action games, 2D side-scrolling beat ’em ups, or just terrible N64 games. Superman 64, anybody?
The problem with Spider-Man 2 isn’t so much the game itself, but more of the shadow it had cast over every Spider-Man game that has followed since.
Many new Spider-Man games have been made since that 2004 release. Some were nothing more than licensed trash, while some were actually decent. None of them, however, could match the sky-high expectations the fan base had from Spider-Man 2. It was a thorn in the side of many a developer. You couldn’t even dream of making a Spider-Man game without somebody on the Internet screaming about the web swinging.
A silly thing to worry about, but there was some truth to the complaints. Spider-Man is, in large part, the webs and the mobility it grants him. Web swinging, and the freedom his movement gives him in traversal and combat, is key to his character.
Fast forward to 2016 – Marvel itself is a pop culture giant. Some would argue that Marvel IS pop culture. Then Sony dropped a bomb at E3 when they announced they would be releasing a major, exclusive Spider-Man game developed by the extremely talented team at Insomniac Games.
Immediately the crowd went nuts, the Internet exploded and fans all over were right back to that very same question that has plagued developers the world over for years.
“How is the swinging? Is it like Spider-man 2? Can you sling shot? How is the sense of speed?” All of the same questions that every other developer could not seem to answer.
Insomniac was different from the rest. Right away they embraced the comparisons. They vowed to become the new standard for Spider-Man going forward.
Almost two years after its initial release, Marvel’s Spider-Man revived the webbed hero in the video-game space in his biggest and best game ever.
Insomniac had big plans and made sure to avoid the problem so many other Spider-Man games failed to realize. You need to do more than just make the web swinging good to make a great Spider-Man.
For the most part, they pulled it off to perfection. Marvel’s Spider-Man did away with an origin story, deciding to pick up with Peter Parker eight years into his Spidey career. Through out the game, the story of Miles Morales was carefully woven into the new universe.
Side-stepping Peter Parker’s origin story allows for a much deeper plot to take shape by focusing on the origin of Miles Morales. Instead of following any single comic or film plot, Insomniac instead has decided to take some of the best pieces of Spider-Man lore and weave their own unique story out of those legacies.
Miles Morales is Insomniac making good on the promise of Peter and Mile’s story, and where they left off in it’s ending.
Insomniac goes beyond expectations and makes Harlem just as much a character as Miles himself. For a long time the city itself was merely “there;” structures that exist to be used as swing points and not much else. Insomniac truly goes above and beyond with its environmental storytelling.
Do yourself a favor and walk on the streets for a bit. Everything on the ground is dense and hyper-detailed. NPCs fully react to you and your heroics. They laugh with you, cheer you on, or give you crap for making a mess. It’s a small detail, but one that goes so far in selling you on the rest of the world.
Spider-Man, more than Batman, Superman, or almost any other hero, is a hero for the people. Miles Morales is a hero for people who look like me. Minority representation is missing so much in Triple A gaming. He is rooted and grounded in a way the more fantastical characters could never be. That’s a very integral facet of Spider-Man as a hero, and Miles Morales as a man.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales kicks off with shortly after the end of the previous game’s ending. Miles and Peter are escorting a convoy of raft prisoners on the eve of Mile’s mother having a big Political rally.
The world then opens up to the player and presents opportunities all across New York. Side missions range from hacking VR simulations using the Spider-Man app to stop crimes.
To say much more about Miles Morales in terms of plot would do it a disservice, as the core plot is much shorter than the previous game. The short length isn’t a bad thing however.
The condensed plot allows ample room for Miles to grow as a hero, and the major set piece moments are jam packed all the way up into the game’s ending.
The sidequests allow for tons of opportunity to explore and level up if you want to give yourself much more time in Mile’s shoes.
Miles Morales also demonstrates the power of the next generation. The controller haptics and insane load times the new SSD transform the open world experience.
If you liked the previous game, Miles Morales is a no brainer and it’s absolutely worthy of the full price.