Spider-Man: Miles Morales Review | ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man 1.5’

Mack Ashworth
Spider-Man: Miles Morales Info

genre

  • Open World

players

  • 1

Publisher

  • Sony Interactive Entertainment

Developer

  • Insomniac Games

Release Date

  • 11/12/2020
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PS4
  • PS5

rating

SPIDER-MAN: MILES MORALES REVIEW FOR PS4 AND PS5. There has been a fair bit of confusion leading up to the release of Spider-Man: Miles Morales about whether it’s an expansion to Spider-Man PS4 or an entirely new experience. After playing it, it’s easiest to describe it as “Spider-Man 1.5.” It’s entirely standalone and continues on from the 2018 release in a bigger way than the DLCs did, but it doesn’t feel like a full-blown sequel. This is more of what we loved from the original, but with some special twists that make Miles stand out in both story and gameplay.

Morales of the story

Spider-Man: Miles Morales Review

In Spider-Man PS4, players controlled a veteran Peter Parker who was at peak ability. After many movies, Parker’s origin story is a tired topic, and it was good to immediately jump into the role of an experienced webhead. With Miles, players are handed a hero who has been training alongside Peter Parker for a year, and so is useful but has room to grow. He must learn to balance his hero and home lives in his own way, while also getting used to his more unique powers.

Like we saw with Spider-Man PS4, Insomniac Games uses the success and popularity of hero movies to subvert player expectations. This happens again with Miles Morales, as heroes and villains are given their own unique spins, and it works well. Insomniac know that players will likely have seen the fantastic Into the Spider-Verse movie and so instead aim in a different direction.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales Review

New named villains are a little sparse with Insomniac opting for a more intimate clash. There are still multiple factions battling for dominance, which is as chaotic as you would expect, but the scale isn’t as large as it was in Spider-Man PS4.

Overall, the story is solid with some interesting character interactions and developments that set things up nicely for an obvious sequel.

With great power, comes great performance

Spider-Man: Miles Morales Review

Spider-Man PS4 wowed us in 2018 with awesome visuals and Spider-Man: Miles Morales is here in 2020 to do it again. If a game has a Photo Mode, it usually knows how good it looks. Sound design is on point, too, and I approve of Miles’ choice in music and how the game uses that in side-mission gameplay.

It’s wintertime in New York, which makes for a subtly different environment. It’s familiar, but different enough. What’s more, the focus on Miles’ new home in Harlem allows for an exploration of the culture there, making it feel more alive and, ultimately, worth protecting.

The addition of Miles’ more unique moves makes for some insane visual effects amidst combat, elevating it to become even more satisfying than the first game. The redesign of Peter Parker might be jarring to those coming from Spider-Man PS4, but I quickly forgot about it. He’s here, so deal with it and move on.

Get me 4K 60 FPS photos of Spider-Man

Spider-Man: Miles Morales Review

While I played through Miles Morales on PS4 Pro, where the experience was on-par with Spider-Man PS4, GameRevolution’s Jason Faulkner has also played the game on PS5. This comes with enhancements like a 60 FPS performance mode, haptic feedback on the DualSense controller, and 3D audio.

Short loading times are another big feature for PS5 players. However, they aren’t too offensive on PS4, despite the much slower storage drive. The fast travel system forces a load, but this only becomes a drag during collectible hunting with multiple fast travels in quick succession.

I’m usually critical of 30 FPS, especially in action games, but Insomniac really knows what it is doing. The stability of the frame-rate helps make 30 FPS bearable, with motion blur giving the illusion of enhanced smoothness. Of course, 60 FPS would be better, and that is now an option for those playing on PS5.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales PS5 vs. PS4

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales has feature parity between PS4 and PS5, meaning players get the same content on both console. However, the game gains significant graphic and performance advantages on PS5.

There are two graphics modes PS5 players can choose from:

  • Fidelity Mode is capped at 30 FPS and features ray-tracing, enhanced lighting, and additional VFX. This picture in this mode is rendered from a 4K base, meaning there’s no upscaling performed when playing it at that resolution.
  • Performance Mode renders the game at 60 FPS with ray-tracing, enhanced lighting, and additional VFX turned off. The picture in this mode is upscaled to 4K from a lower-resolution base (likely 1440p).

There are advantages to both of these modes. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is an excellent game to showcase ray-tracing. New York City really comes to life with real-time reflections, and the feature adds to the contrast between day and night gameplay. Seeing the sun or the screens of Times Square flickering off the glass is stunning.

However, Performance mode showcases the fluidity of swinging through the city and gives a more visceral, fast-paced feel to combat. Switching between the two modes really shows the drawbacks of 30 vs. 60 FPS, with the quality of the game’s animations being much more noticeable in Performance mode.

Luckily, the game has almost zero load time, so players can switch between the two modes practically at will. The only caveat is that it will set players back to the last checkpoint as the world reloads. Still, the game autosaves so often that this is a very minor annoyance.

We suggest players mix and match between the two graphics modes to get the full effect. When swinging through the city and enjoying the sights, use Fidelity mode to drink in the beauty. Then, when fighting baddies in a more subdued environment, switch to Performance mode to enjoy the excellent animation and fluid fighting.

Ultimate Spider-Men

Spider-Man: Miles Morales Review

Swinging around New York in 2018’s release felt incredible, and it’s just as good now. Insomniac has clearly put in the work to make Miles’ swing style more unique and his new combat abilities can also be used to gain additional height and speed while traversing the city. It doesn’t get old, even after tens of hours of collectible hunting across both games.

The combat also matches the fluidity and intensity of its predecessor. It’s satisfying to work up a combo and deliver some justice with a big Finisher. There are plenty of new abilities to unlock and combine, too, which take Miles’ Spider-Man in a different direction to Peter’s. These moves greatly assist with crowd control so that Miles can focus on taking down the biggest threats first.

I’ve died more than a handful of times while completing the main and side-missions, as powerful enemies are able to take Miles out pretty quickly on the Normal difficulty. Thankfully, there are five different difficulties and fantastic accessibility options beyond that. You can make the game much easier to play for those who might otherwise struggle, or much harder for those wannabe web-slingers.

My biggest worry was that Miles and Peter would feel too similar, but Insomniac has done a good job differentiating them. Miles is also more powerful in certain ways, though he doesn’t make Peter’s version completely obsolete. I’m looking forward to hopefully switching between both characters in the presumed sequel or maybe even seeing co-op implemented in some way.

Same old swing and dance

Spider-Man: Miles Morales Review

Main missions offer a solid mix of traversal and combat, and I’m happy to say that forced non-hero stealth sections are gone from the campaign. Playing as non-hero Miles and Mary Jane wasn’t any fun in Spider-Man PS4, so I’m glad that’s been avoided here.

Once the 7-9 hours of story missions are complete, it’s time for side content. As we saw with Spider-Man PS4, the New York map becomes littered with points of interest. This results in a lot of busywork for players wanting to 100% the game and/or hunt down the Platinum Trophy. If you liked doing it in the first game, then you’ll enjoy it here, too. I’m personally a fan of it, and Miles does give unique lines that expand the story each time he finds a collectible.

There’s also New Game+, which is required to fully complete Miles’ skill tree. Skippable cutscenes aren’t consistently available, though, which can be a bit of a drag for repeat playthroughs.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales Review | The Final Verdict

Spider-Man: Miles Morales Review

As a showpiece for the PS5, Spider-Man: Miles Morales delivers stunning visuals at 60 FPS with Performance Mode or enhanced 4K visuals with Fidelity Mode. It’s a safe choice for a great-looking, great-feeling title that plays superbly well and remains entertaining until the very end. It just doesn’t push the envelope as far as I would have liked, and I expect some of Insomniac’s crazier and braver ideas are being saved for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.

For $50, players are getting 7-9 hours of story missions, combined with the optional 10+ hours of side content, much of which is collectible hunting. That doesn’t strike me as a great deal at launch, but the free upgrade from PS4 to PS5 does help soften the blow. When the price is right for you, this PlayStation exclusive comes with my recommendation, as it further bolsters Sony’s arsenal as we enter the next generation and beyond.


Spider-Man: Miles Morales was reviewed on PS4 Pro with code provided by the publisher.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

4
Rating
Box art - Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Miles' Spider-Man feels unique.
Combat is fluid and super satisfying.
Swinging around New York still hasn't gotten old.
Accessibility and difficulty options are fantastic to see.
PS5 graphical enhancements.
A fair challenge on tougher difficulties.
$50 launch price.
Few named villains to fight.
Main story is relatively short.