Time played: 25 hours
The launch of a new console is always an exciting and rightly celebrated event, but it’s rare that a game as good as Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales is around to share in the festivities.
Launch line ups tend to be devoid of big hitters, and often have a habit of bringing gamers’ sky high expectations plummeting back down to earth. While Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales is certainly a cross-gen game at heart, the PS5 manages to elevate the experience substantially thanks to its two display mode options, incredibly fast load times and crystal clear 4K visuals.
It’s a beautiful looking game, then, and a fitting sequel to 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man, but it’s more akin to a generous expansion than a full-blown successor – think Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and you’re on the right lines. That means it’s a more condensed experience overall, though no less entertaining. Expect spectacular, jaw-dropping set pieces, Hollywood-rivalling voice acting, and sensational HDR implementation throughout (if you have a capable display).
- Check out our PS5 review
- Check out our reviews of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S
- PS5 vs Xbox Series X: which console should you buy?
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales price and release date
- What is it? A sequel to Marvel’s Spider-Man
- Release date? November 12, 2020 (out now)
- What can I play it on? PS5 and PS4
- Price? Standard edition is $49.99 / £49.99 / AU$80, while the Ultimate Edition is $69.99 / £69.99 / AU$125 and comes with a remaster of Marvel’s Spider-Man.
- Miles exudes charisma
- Snowy New York is a wintry wonderland
- Traversal is still exceptional
The star of the show is – perhaps unsurprisingly – young Miles Morales. The seventeen-year old New Yorker is instantly likeable and refreshingly... well… just nice. He loves his friends and family, cares about others, and is the type of good-hearted person we can all strive to emulate. In a world where too many loud voices are vying for attention and genuine acts of human kindness are few and far between, Miles' wholesome personality really resonates. There’s no unnecessary bravado or sense of misplaced confidence.
It makes the character all the more believable for it, as Miles learns to juggle his new dual life. Acting as a normal teenage kid while helping save New York as Spider-Man is no easy task after all, even with an excellent mentor like Peter Parker. But Miles also has to cope with less heroic feats, such as adapting to a new environment after moving to Harlem with his mother. The end result is a story that feels engaging from the outset, and is delivered with exceptional presentation values from the very first moments through to the last.
Miles is entrusted with protecting a snow-enrobed New York after Peter heads on a well-deserved vacation, and the events that take place while Pete’s away ultimately help shape Miles into the hero the city needs. However, Miles will also uncover some secrets close to home that will force him to make some difficult, life-changing decisions.
The game begins in dramatic fashion as you team up with Peter to halt a rampaging Rhino, who's careering through everything that's within his path. It's the perfect introduction to Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales and an impressive teaser of what awaits during the game's captivating story.
Steering Rhino through a packed mall while sat atop his giant shoulders is an arresting moment, and the seamless switch between gameplay, quick-time-events and cinematics is achieved with aplomb. It's easy to forget how close video games are to mimicking the best Hollywood has to offer, and Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales only helps drive home that the gap continues to diminish.
Come out swinging
- Textures have never looked so real
- The SSD is a game changer
- Ray tracing implementation is impressive
Just like in Marvel’s Spider-Man, the moment you take control of Miles Morales as he takes his first swing through the bustling city is a spectacular thrill. The difference the PS5 makes is immediately apparent, too, with impressive draw distances, far more densely populated streets and ray-traced reflections all catching the eye.
In fact, you feel the benefit of Sony’s new hardware as soon as you start the game. Booting Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales takes mere seconds thanks to the PS5’s super-fast SSD, allowing you to jump into the game at breakneck speed. You can also bypass the main menu entirely and jump into specific challenges from the PS5’s home screen, which are displayed as Activity cards.
While it would be a stretch to say that Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales is something that only the power of the PlayStation 5 could provide (remember, a version of the game is headed to PS4, too), this a gorgeous-looking title regardless of the extra graphical flourishes. The biggest benefit that the PS5 version brings is the aforementioned ray tracing, which brings realistic lighting and reflections to the game, instead of the usual smoke and mirrors that we’ve been used to. You’ll get to see Miles’ reflection in an office block as you swing past, for example, and while that might sound like a small addition, its impact is quite impressive.
Textures and material work are also worthy of praise. Everything from the glistening sheen of Miles’s Spider suit to the bobbly bits of wool visible on worn jumpers look extremely convincing, and it really adds an extra level of fidelity. Character models are a bit hit and miss, though, and a clear reminder that Spider-Man Miles Morales is essentially a super-charged PS4 game.
- Loads of Spidey suits to unlock
- New gadgets and abilities keep things fresh
- Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man app is a nice touch
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales puts you in the figure-hugging suit of the younger web-slinging hero who, naturally, brings his own unique abilities to the table. His Venom moves are the obvious highlight, surging a yellow electrical current through certain attacks, but Miles also feels more nimble than his mentor Peter Parker.
Not only are Venom moves spectacular to look at on a HDR display, they’re also extremely enjoyable to pull off. You can smash through stubborn enemies and perform some shockingly effective crowd control techniques using Miles’s new found powers. Oh, and you can also turn invisible for a short period of time, making stealth sections far more forgiving. It’s enough to make the original Spider-Man’s abilities seem pretty generic by comparison.
While Miles is still learning what it takes to be Spider-Man, and the responsibility that entails, you’re not necessarily hampered by his rookie hero status. Your skills can be upgraded and improved over time of course, much like Miles’s array of Spidey gadgets, but the game re-treads many gameplay mechanics from 2018’s smash hit.
The free-flowing, combo-chasing combat system that was successfully pioneered by Batman: Arkham Asylum remains intact, complete with more calculated sections that see you pick off enemies one by one using various traps, distractions and, of course, sticky spider webs. While we still think Arkham Asylum and subsequent Batman games do a better job in representing how enemies react to their colleagues being neutralized one by one, it’s still incredibly satisfying when you bundle up a bad guy in a webbed cocoon or knock out a hapless foe with a well timed trap.
You’ll need to utilize all of Miles’s move set to overcome the various types of enemies in the game, of course. Some require that you lay the smack down aerially, while others will need softening up with a few Venom attacks. Each enemy type poses a different challenge, and learning how to approach each encounter is the key to success. Combat continues to be engaging, if a tad familiar, and can pose a stern challenge at higher difficulty levels, though we did find the camera to be problematic at times.
Traversal is arguably Spider-Man: Miles Morales most enjoyable gameplay mechanic, though. Diving off the edge of a vertigo-inducing building only to fire out a web just before you scrape across the asphalt is simply exhilarating. You can shoot yourself forward at a moment's notice, perform aerial tricks as you freefall towards the ground and take in snowy New York in all it's glory as you fly through the air. Fast travel is available, but swinging through the city is so engaging and perfectly captured that it honestly never gets old. There's just so much joy to be had in simply being Spider-Man.
- Performance is rock solid throughout
- Three visual modes give gamers’ choice
- Swinging through New York at 60fps is a delight
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales is hopefully the first of many PS5 titles that give players the choice of how they want to play, and there are now three modes to choose from after the game received a new update: Fidelity, Performance and Performance RT.
Fidelity is the default setting and features graphical settings like ray-tracing, enhanced lighting and additional effects. It uses temporal techniques to provide the best image quality possible, but you’re locked at 30 frames per second. Performance mode, meanwhile, does without these graphical enhancements and upscales to 4K from a lower base resolution. Performance RT mode keeps ray tracing and 60fps, but reduces the resolution to around 1080p, lowers the reflection quality and reduces pedestrian density.
While ray-tracing is certainly an impressive graphical effect, offering realistic reflections and lighting that simply wouldn’t have been possible on the last generation of consoles, we found ourselves gravitating towards the game’s Performance or Performance RT modes thanks to its numerous benefits.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is at its best when you’re leaping off skyscrapers and zipping over the bustling New York streets below – a higher framerate keeps the onscreen action looking silky-smooth and allows all the world’s detail to shine.
Input latency is also reduced when opting for 60fps, making combat feel more fluid and responsive when you’re beating up bad guys. We also found that animations appeared more life-like as a result of the higher framerate mode, even without the lack of graphical flourishes found in Fidelity mode. We didn’t experience any noticeable drops or hitches, either, which has often been the case with Performance modes on the last-gen PS4 Pro, that weren’t really worthy of the name.
Power in your hands
- The DualSense’s adaptive triggers are used rather sparingly
- 3D audio is subtle yet noticeable
- Plenty of challenges and side quests
One element that did disappoint, however, is the game’s use of the PS5 DualSense controller's feature set – or lack of. Swiping left on the touchpad brings up the game’s app, but the use of haptic feedback and adaptive triggers is rather uninspiring, and didn’t really delight us as much as we initially hoped. You can feel slight tension while web-swinging in the triggers, which eventually loosens once your web snaps. It’s novel, then, but hardly as impactful as we'd hoped.
Though the game’s main story clocks in at around 10 to 12 hours or so, there’s plenty of content to enjoy after the credits roll. From traversal, combat, and stealth challenges to accepting side quests and preventing crimes using the game’s 'Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man App', there’s enough content to justify the game’s slightly steep price tag.
Side quests are thankfully more than just "travel from point to a to point b" affairs, and you’ll be rewarded with tokens that can be used for upgrades upon their completion. There’s enough variation to keep things interesting, too: one mission sees you saving a store owner’s cat, while another will have you scanning an underground network of pipes to help restore a local food shelter’s water supply.
Collectibles are also scattered across the city and include things such as mementos from Miles's childhood and mini-challenges that help flesh out the games backstory and characters. Most involve reaching a specific destination to seek them out, but again, because traversal is so satisfying, the journey there is part of the appeal.
With so many superhero films being pushed back because of the pandemic, Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales is comfortably the best action blockbuster of this year. While we wouldn’t consider it a must-have game to show off the power of the PS5 – honestly, Astro’s Playroom does a far greater job of showcasing the potential of Sony’s new console and controller – it’s yet another excellent PlayStation exclusive that will have fans of other consoles eyeing Sony’s system with envy.
- PS5 vs Xbox Series X: which next-gen console should you buy?