Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, review: A polished, exuberant sequel that can’t help playing it safe

Insomniac Games’ blockbuster sequel to 2018’s ‘Spider-Man’, hits all of the same sweet spots

Louis Chilton
Thursday 12 November 2020 16:55
Comments
Spiderman: Miles Morales - trailer
Leer en Español

When Stan Lee and Steve Ditko first conceived Spider-Man in the early 1960s, they wouldn’t have known what a video game was, much less how well the format would suit their web-slinging creation. But, as the PS4’s Marvel’s Spider-Man proved two years ago, Spidey is the perfect video-game avatar. He’s superpowered but not deathproof; he can fight, climb and travel with a fluidity that seems custom-designed to navigate the three-dimensional urban environments that furnish so many modern AAA game releases. Spider-Man was a hit with players, and the new spin-off sequel, subtitled Miles Morales, was a no-brainer for Sony and developers Insomniac Games.

Shifting the focus away from Peter Parker, the sequel turns to Miles Morales, Spider-Man’s younger protégé who is also blessed with arachnoid powers. With Parker out of New York for a while, Miles is left holding down the fort as the resident neighbourhood do-gooder – and he’s called upon to do a lot of good, and fast. This mostly takes the form of beating up baddies – either going hell-for-leather and brawling with a small army at once, or picking them off stealthily, webbing them to walls and from lampposts one by one. But the gameplay also incorporates gathering collectables, solving simple puzzles, and manoeuvring your way around the city’s rooftops.

The 2018 animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse laid much of the groundwork for Miles Morales in the popular consciousness, familiarising the public with Miles himself, some of his relatives, and the idea of multiple canonical Spider-Men. There are visual echoes of the film in the way the character swings through the air, flailing his arms less gracefully than his older, more composed predecessor. A Spider-Verse costume can also be unlocked, in one of the game’s more overt nods to its cinematic cousin.

Miles Morales is, however, in a similar position to 2017’s Uncharted 4 spin-off, The Lost Legacy. Which is to say, it’s short, with a story that’s over in around 12 hours, and very similar to its acclaimed predecessor – perhaps too similar.  This is most grating in the game’s Manhattan locale. While beautifully rendered and, by most accounts, uncannily true-to-life, the original Spider-Man’s city lacked for vibrancy, and Miles Morales uses a largely unchanged map. The combat is a little slicker here, though, with a greater range of attack possibilities, and the graphics, especially in the PS5 version, are substantially better: its next-gen iteration surely ranks among the most visually impressive video games ever made.

Truly great sequels need to take risks, and Miles Morales is probably too keen to play it safe. But why twist when you have a winning hand? It’s an ecstatic, empowering thrill to swing through the city as Spider-Man – and it’s never been realised more viscerally than here.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in