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REVIEW: Spider-Man: Miles Morales Swings to New Heights
Posted by Yuri Mangahas November 11, 2020

Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man nailed what other games associated with the web-slinger couldn’t. By distilling equal amounts of charm, adventure, action, and to some extent, early adulthood drama, the game became one of the best titles on the PS4 platform. Spider-Man easily fulfilled players’ fantasy of swinging around the metropolis, all while fighting criminals and saving the day. 

 

Now, a new web-slinger has risen to take up the mantle and save Harlem. Question is, would he live up to everyone’s expectations?

 

Into the Miles-Verse

Spider-Man: Miles Morales directly follows the events of its 2018 predecessor and the DLCs that came after the main game. Thanks to a quick recap, it was established that Miles had been training under Peter Parker’s tutelage to help him put his newfound spider powers to great use. After Pete departs to join Mary Jane on a news assignment abroad, it is up to Miles to unravel the mystery behind an impending war between energy conglomerate Roxxon Corporation and a high-tech criminal resistance army called the Underground. 

 

Yes, Peter looks a whole lot like Tom Holland already.

 

The game did a great job of showcasing our new protagonist’s struggles early in the game. He is clearly a younger, inexperienced hero, and his clumsiness is reflected in the way he zips around the environment taking out thugs with a flurry of fists and kicks. His doubts as a superhero will serve as the foundation of the narrative, as the player controls Miles throughout his entire adventure to see him grow into the web-slinger he is destined to become. 

 

While the game is brief and shorter than its predecessor (you can finish the game in 10 hours if you’re not the exploring type), it manages to develop a number of characters and their interconnecting relationships beautifully. Miles will banter with his closest friend Ganke, as they develop a “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” smartphone app to help out local residents. Or, he’ll work alongside his mum, as she seeks to be elected as a representative of Harlem. 

 

The game is essentially a coming-of-age tale for our new protagonist and his childhood friend, Phin.

 

 

The strongest bond is between Miles and Phin, two friends who have grown apart over the years, only to discover demons they both hold upon reconnecting. Giving such relationships additional room to grow would have been welcome, but Insomniac does a stellar job given the restraints it is seemingly working under.

 

Of Sparks and Venom Fists

Like I said earlier, Miles’ moveset differs greatly in a sense that he fights much clumsier and raw than his mentor, and Insomniac translated that smoothly into the game’s combat system. Unlike Pete, Miles can blast his enemies to pieces and launch them with bursts of bio-electricity, which can be used for a number of applications such as overloading generators or linking circuits in fascinating puzzles. 

 

Nothing feels better than winging a Rider—-I mean, Spider Kick.

 

Similar to his comic book iteration, Miles can also employ a camouflage skill to hide himself from enemy sight for a short duration of time. Players can exploit this mechanic to carry out stealth takedowns from the air, or escape from losing battles. 

 

Much like the previous game, you’re slowly but surely given a selection of side activities to complete across Manhattan, which help provide points for upgrades and flesh out the otherwise limited campaign. Miles can uncover monuments to his relationship with Phin, or record urban sounds to help piece together a makeshift mixtape. Of course, you’ll also find evil bases to conquer and procedural crimes to prevent while swinging about the place. 

 

Some missions in the game will require the player to go stealthy.

 

It’s an infectious cycle of content that I was spurred onto complete simply because navigating Manhattan is so much fun with superhero acrobatics. While it feels bad that some of the side-missions feel generic at best, they aren’t detrimental to the overall experience the game offers, regardless of how brief it is.

 

Different Vibe, Same New York

While the original game is set primarily in Manhattan, Spider-Man: Miles Morales spends a huge chunk of its time in Harlem, with the new setting exuding a multi-cultural vibe unlike its predecessor. In a way, it effectively reflects Miles’ heritage, having been raised by an African-American father and a Puerto Rican mother. 

 

The subway train sequences highlight Spider-Man: Miles Morales’ Harlem vibe.

 

The jazz and R&B music in the background even blends perfectly into the game’s intended vibe, and in essence, deviates Spider-Man: Miles Morales completely from its predecessor. Miles’ passion for music, street fashion, and science bleeds into the overall aesthetic, which is positively bursting with colours as Christmas lights reflect off the dark winter streets – a stark contrast to the conflict inbound in the latter stages of the game.

 

Be Greater

 

In conclusion, Spider-Man: Miles Morales has surpassed its predecessor’s bar in more ways than one. Its brief, yet compelling story, raw combat system, and a slew of new features make the game a great experience to boot.

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