Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales – Review

Beyond the title, Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales wastes little time in making clear that this game is not a straightforward sequel to the original title with Peter Parker. After a short adventure with the original Spider-Man, Peter hands Miles the keys to the city as Peter leaves for a European adventure. As New York’s only Spider-Man, surely there is nothing that can go wrong. While the web-slinging, narrative and gorgeous rendering of New York City will all look familiar to fans of the Marvel Spider-Man series, Miles Morales brings some fantastic additions to mission structure and combat skills that make this standalone title a memorable adventure of its own and look the best it ever has with this version on PC.

Keeping with visuals for a moment, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is stunning on PC.  I recently picked up a gaming PC that has an RTX 3080 card and it makes this title look like one of the most beautiful games I have played in a while.  The real-time reflections are really impressive and have stopped me in my tracks on more than one occasion to just admire my surroundings.  Mile Morales looked amazing on the PlayStation 5 but looks even better now on PC.

Structurally, Miles Morales feels very similar to its predecessor, which is a compliment. Like virtually every open-world game, there are a plethora of side missions, objectives, and other points of interest to discover on the map. Most of these points of interest, though, do not appear from the outset but are rather cleverly unlocked in ways that tie into the main story. For example, as you begin to learn more about the Underground, a group of hackers and vigilantes looking to make their mark on the city, you begin to uncover Underground hideouts spread throughout the city. By tying them into the story so seamlessly, I never felt as though I was doing anything superfluous or unnecessary as I completed these tasks. They all seemed to provide me with a new understanding of some of the lore of this universe and the different characters and organizations that make it up. At the very least, I was always sure to find additional resources to upgrade my suit and skills which made it all worth it.

Another reason I never tired of these side missions and objectives is because of how much fun it is just to be and play as Spider-Man. While shooting webs to swing throughout the city is just as enjoyable as it was in the first game, all of Spider-Man’s traversal abilities have an added depth in Miles Morales that Peter Parker’s adventure lacked. For pretty much every ability you can imagine, there are benchmark challenges that can be tracked and met. Whether it’s just diving off a building in free fall or simply swinging around the city to marvel (pun intended) at its beauty, virtually every minute spent playing this game is either advancing the story or making progress toward some of these challenges in the game. This system feels similar to playing skateboarding games like the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series where all the different moves you can perform are all constantly earning points and adding to your score, making every second you spend in this game feel valuable and worthwhile.

One of the most significant aspects of this game that truly make it feel like its own adventure worthy of the Spider-Man name is the new combat abilities available to Miles. Gaining some of these abilities early in the game, Miles has a variety of venom-infused attacks that power up and allow for additional uses as you progress throughout the story. One of the most satisfying is the venom punch, which can be used to send even the most powerful brutes slamming into the wall. Of course, like any overpowering ability, there is always a cooldown time until it can be used again, but it still provides an added layer of depth and complexity to the combat system beyond the more traditional combat of the original game.

Another important ability that Miles gains that are a game changer in combat are the cloaking ability that allows Miles to become invisible. Being able to turn invisible to confuse enemies takes much of the frustration out of some of the stealth combat missions. While most (if not all) of the time these encounters are stealth optional anyway, those seeking to take their enemies out from the shadows won’t need to worry about needing to run into haystacks or crowds of people (like certain other stealth games) or even worse, needing to restart from the nearest checkpoint. Rather, a simple press of up on the d-pad will turn you invisible and provide you with an opportunity to escape to the rafters until they finally decide to stop looking for you. As much as I loved the additional combat moves that the venom powers give you, I almost always chose the stealth options whenever possible. One particular mission a few hours into the main narrative places you in a cylindrical room with two or three floors of enemies that is a master class in methodical stealth combat, as you slowly can pick off and use sneak takedowns on each of the enemies as you make your way to the bottom floor.

The biggest issue the game has is an identity crisis, and I don’t mean with Miles struggling to balance his teenage life with his crime-fighting superhero life. The game still struggles with whether it wants to be a large-scale standalone DLC like Uncharted: Lost Legacy (a comparison that this game will likely never be able to completely shake) or a sequel that introduces new ideas, albeit in a more limited way. One of the things that made Lost Legacy work as a standalone title was its ability at various moments in the game to capture the scope and majesty of the original game and its beautiful Indiana Jones-style set pieces. Miles Morales, on the other hand, has very few moments that capture some of the same emotional highs and lows of the original game. The narrative and story are not bad in any sense. If it’s approached from the sense of being a third DLC package, it’s far and away the best DLC for the original game. As a standalone title, sequel or not, it just doesn’t capture the same feel as Peter’s adventure. Uncovering this massive web of conspiracy in the city is extraordinarily fun, with several twists, but it just never reaches the scale that it appears to be trying to reach. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience by the end of the game, but I couldn’t help but want to spend more time getting to know the characters introduced to us in Miles’ new Harlem neighborhood.

Despite a smaller narrative than I was expecting (in terms of scale and not time), Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales still provides a great gaming experience on my PC. It’s hard not to get a little emotional, or nostalgic at least, to see New York City during Christmas as it once was, filled with people bundled up in winter coats and decorations everywhere.  The additional combat and traversal systems, coupled with the main protagonist that is impossible not to like make this a great game to play whether you are a Spider-Man fan or not, even with the limitations in the story.

Score: 8.5/10

Originally posted on Gaming Target


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