This review is for the Playstation 5 version of the game.
When Marvel introduced the character of Miles Morales in 2011, it was one of the most controversial decisions in the history of comics. The concept of a new Spider-Man had been tried before, replacing Peter Parker with Ben Reilly in 1994’s “The Clone Saga,” a crossover storyline that ran in each Spider-Man comic at the time. It is widely considered to be one of the worst comic books ever written.
So replacing Peter Parker with Miles Morales, even if it was just in the “Ultimate” Marvel Universe, was met with backlash. Critics of the decision suggested it was a politically correct publicity stunt and that Miles would be forgotten by both Marvel Comics and fans.
Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri, in response to the controversy, wrote that Miles should be “judged on the quality of his stories, rather than on his appearance or ethnicity.” And if we’re going to judge Miles based off of Spider-Man Miles Morales, the latest entry in Insomniac Games’ Playstation exclusive franchise, not only is he a worthy replacement for Peter Parker, but one of the most well written Marvel characters since the company’s inception in the 1960s.
The game follows Miles left alone as the only Spider-Man in New York City on Christmas, working to stop a criminal syndicate called the Underground and the nefarious Roxxon Corporation.
While the story is not as intricate as Marvel’s Spider-Man, that doesn’t mean that the game’s story is lackluster. Far from it, actually. The game’s writing is full of the same mix of humor, action and emotion that made the first game great.
On the subject of humor, however, I do have to acknowledge something: Miles is simply not as good at his quips as Peter is. In this game he’s a novice, so it’s understandable, but part of what made the first game so enjoyable is that Peter always had something funny to say to the villains.
That being said, part of what makes Miles such an endearing protagonist in this game is that he’s inexperienced. In Marvel’s Spider-Man, Peter had been Spider-Man for eight years, he knows the ropes, something that the game’s story benefitted from. Spider-Man Miles Morales benefits from the opposite way, now that we’ve seen an experienced Peter Parker, seeing a story from the perspective of someone who makes a lot more mistakes and, at the same time, is naive, helps the story to feel unique and exciting.
Miles also plays differently than Peter. He has abilities that Peter did not have in the first game, specifically that he can turn invisible and can use electricity based attacks. Both of these moves, which feature branching skill trees, helps make Miles feel like his own Spider-Man in combat. Furthermore, Miles has unique animations in and outside of combat. Rather than just reskin Peter from the first game, they made Miles a unique webslinger.
While the game looks gorgeous and plays very well, I did occasionally run into some mild technical problems and glitches. Sometimes animations wouldn’t load, and occasionally I would have to restart a level from a checkpoint because an event in a mission wouldn’t be triggered and I would be stuck. Luckily, these issues don’t happen very frequently.
That being said, the game is still a phenomenal follow up to one of the best PlayStation 4 games and a worthy entry to the new next gen lineup. Hopefully Insomniac will be able to deliver again when they release the next game in the series.