Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales begins with its titular teen superhero riding the subway. While the second Spidey scrolls his socials, players are brought up to speed on the previous game's Miles-specific events. When the recap concludes though, it becomes clear fans are in for a different day-saving experience than the one Insomniac Games delivered in 2018.
This point immediately hits home when the PlayStation 5's DualSense controller comes to life in your hands. The peripheral doesn't just rumble as the subway travels over its tracks, but duplicates that very specific, rhythmic cadence that'll be familiar to anyone who's ever used underground public transportation.
The effect's impressive on its own, but what's more striking is it feels completely different than the vibration felt when Miles emerges from the subway; the controller continues to rumble on the streets, but now replicates the more unpredictable feel of New York City's chaotic traffic.
The DualSense's ability to up the immersion impresses throughout, whether you're feeling Miles' powers flow from one side of the gamepad to the other, experiencing extra trigger tension on the tail end of a web-swing, or simply enjoying the impact of a grateful civilian's fist-bump.
But the tech's organic implementation into the game isn't the only way the PS5 breaths new life into Spidey's stomping grounds. Before long, Miles is treating the city like his own personal playground — and fans are treated to the platform's graphical prowess.
As Miles swings above bustling streets, you'll spy snow-covered trees darting the sidewalks, festive decorations adorning storefronts, and occasional flocks of pigeons silhouetted against the blazing sun.
While the stunning level of varied detail will have you gleefully attempting to ogle every nook and cranny of NYC, seeing it all dynamically stare back at you from the city's shiny skyscrapers and reflective puddles is what will ultimately drop your jaw.
Of course, while haptic feedback and ray tracing deserve credit for cranking the immersion a few notches, the next-gen tech only plays a supporting role.
It's Miles Morales' engaging, emotional narrative and polished gameplay that not only make it a fantastic follow-up to Marvel's Spider-Man, but a worthy standalone installment that's more full-featured game than phoned-in spin-off.
Clocking in at approximately half the run-time of its predecessor, there's no question you'll spend less time beneath the mask. But it's also a leaner, meaner experience, one that feels more focused in both its storytelling and acrobatic action.
Gone are the mini-games, collectibles, and additional — arguably less fun — playable characters that occasionally made its predecessor feel like it was borrowing too liberally from the familiar, open-world playbook. That's not to say the game doesn't have its own versions of these elements.
On the contrary, it's map's packed with optional challenges to tackle and items to collect, but they're also more closely tied to either the narrative or Miles' progression. Everything you do feels meaningful, whether it's expanding the plot or working toward building a better Spider-Man.
Speaking of beefing up the web-head, combat and traversal will feel comfortably familiar to anyone who swung, kick, and punched their way through Peter Parker's story. And skill trees, gadgets, and different suits once again ensure you're able to tailor this new wall-crawler to your preferred play style.
But the game doesn't merely rely on what previously worked, instead allowing Miles to make his own mark with unique skills and powers. The most significant are Venom abilities, bioelectric attacks that pack a punch.
The glowing moves come in a variety of flavors, from a melee strike that'd make the Hulk proud to an area of effect ground-pound capable of stunning multiple targets.
The upgradable tricks make Miles a true force to be reckoned with, and strategically combining them with his more traditional attacks is an absolute blast.
He needs the extra power, though, as the game's primary antagonists — Roxxon Energy Corporation and The Underground — quite literally bring the big guns. The former's security force leverages gear powered by a volatile resource dubbed Nuform, while the latter's hardware is outfitted with a programmable matter capable of conjuring all kinds of devious weaponry.
Luckily, Miles also brings a new camouflage ability, granting him temporary invisibility. Evolved through a dedicated skill tree, it's a welcome addition that makes stealth play a viable option for those preferring to strike from the shadows.
Miles Morales is also packed with stunning set pieces, offering fans ample opportunity to sharpen these new abilities against a slate of iconic foes. And while you'll actually ride one of these legendary villains — steering it like a rampaging bull through a busy shopping center — within the game's first 30 minutes, it's the story and characters that are most memorable.
Miles is extremely likable, and his interactions with friends, family, and Spidey-adoring citizens are filled with genuine heart. Some of the narrative's best moments unfold when Miles isn't hidden beneath the mask, but strolling through a Harlem street festival with his buddy Ganke, helping his mom prep Christmas dinner, or reminiscing over a time capsule with his friend Phin.
Of course, it's the creative collision of all these elements, from the engaging story and polished gameplay to that extra bit of immersion PS5 players will experience, that make Miles Morales not just a phenomenal follow-up to Spider-Man, but a thrilling interactive adventure that stands on its own merits.
Whether you're anxious to swing back into Insomniac's Spidey universe, dig into an absorbing, standalone superhero tale, or see what all those horses beneath the PlayStation 5's hood are capable of, Miles Morales fits the bill like spandex.
- DualSense integration significantly ups the immersion.
- Fantastic, emotional storytelling and nuanced characters.
- Great mix of familiar Spidey gameplay and new Miles' abilities.
- Will be difficult to play PS4 version after experiencing on PS5.