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access_time November 30, 2020 at 6:00 AM in Reviews by Paul Jennette

Review | Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

I didn’t expect Insomniac to come through with such a satisfying, fleshed out follow-up to their 2018 instant classic so soon. I’m glad to say I was proven sorely wrong. Seeing it revealed as a PS5 launch title was not only surprising, but admittedly a little worrying. I thought that we’d have to wait until 2021 at the earliest for the next title in the Marvel’s Spider-Man franchise, but here we are. Insomniac has really put their nose to the grindstone this time. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales takes everything we loved about the first game, improves on it and condensing it into an appetizer sized launch title that’s as exhilarating as it is sobering.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales takes place one year after the events of the first game. Miles is coming into his own as Spider-Man with Peter Parker serving as his mentor. Early on, Peter goes on a trip to Europe with Mary Jane, leaving Miles to defend New York while he’s away. His mother, Rio, is running for New York City council upon their move to East Harlem. New adversaries also emerge in an attempt to accomplish their nefarious objectives. Miles’ approach to being Spider-Man is very heartfelt and we’re consistently reminded of his aspirations and priorities as his incarnation of the hero throughout the 9-10 hour campaign.

There is a larger variety of side activities available this time around, each with a fun, community based task for Miles. His interactions with those close to him are on a level that I hadn’t previously seen from Spider-Man content in this medium. In some ways, although shorter, this story grips even harder than that of the first.

Gameplay for this entry is truly something to behold. The solid foundation that was set with 2018’s Spider-Man is only made greater with this new installment. Combat is even more fluid, the swinging is more satisfying and fun to watch, and the difficulty is far more even. I no longer feel like the enemies have no chance of defeating me, as I died many times. Miles has a smaller selection of gadgets than Peter, but they’re all super helpful. This is especially the case when considering enemies can easily overwhelm you. My favorite is the Gravity Well, a gadget that Miles can fire into a crowd of enemies and pull them in, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Miles’ bio-electricity attacks are truly what takes the combat to the next level. Miles can garner electric energy and use it in a variety of powerful (and super stylish) ways. These “Venom” attacks can also be chained together for crazy photo finishes. Speaking of photo finishes, I found myself entering photo mode almost every 30 seconds to make a cool action shot. I even found myself making comic based wallpapers during cutscenes. The photo mode is as robust as ever, with plenty of camera and lighting options.

Web swinging and traversal also gets a nice fine tuning. The web tricks are now performed with Square and Left Stick, as opposed to Triangle and Circle previously. There’s also a larger selection of web tricks to perform, a great addition considering that I love swinging with style. The animations are also generally more fluid and fun to watch. Miles’ style of swinging sets itself apart from Peter’s pretty clearly. A few subtle nods and poses in-between flailing backward dives and upside down swings help to give Miles his own identity.

The soundtrack is really something to behold and brings a lot of energy to the game. There’s far more variety in the in-game background music than the first Insomniac Spider-Man title too. Spider-Man-esque orchestral music accompanied by hip-hop traps beats with especially hard hitting drums. Miles’ affinity for beat making in this game really speaks volumes through the games auditory aesthetics. The game’s voice and motion capture performances are top notch as well. Nadji Jeter brings Miles to life in a role he makes his own. Jacqueline Piñol also shines in this title as Rio Morales, bringing an extra sense of family and culture to the game. Of course, Yuri Lowenthal continues to do fantastic as Peter Parker as well.

As expected, the game takes full advantage of the PS5’s SSD capabilities. There are no loading screens between cutscenes and gameplay, it’s like playing a movie. The visuals are sleek, precise and the best I’ve seen in a superhero video game to date. This game is truly beautiful. I played most of the campaign on fidelity mode, which utilizes ray tracing at native 4K, but limits to 30FPS. In the second act, I switched to performance mode, whichgoes for a silky smooth 60FPS in dynamic 4K. Using this setting really gave some interesting comparisons, especially during cutscenes. Both modes look great, but the dip back to 30fps after leaving performance mode is definitely noticeable.

I’m happy to say that Insomniac has impressed me in their ability to pull off such an entertaining title to kick off the next generation of gaming. Even if it isn’t that long, the fantastic gameplay and stunning visuals make this title shine. Maybe it’s just my love for Spider-Man, but Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales has pushed the standard even higher. I can’t wait to see what’s next for this Miles and this Spider-Man universe.

Final Score: 9.5 out of 10

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