Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the long-awaited sequel to the heavily-lauded PlayStation 4 exclusive, Marvel’s Spider-Man. With such heavy expectations to live up to, how does Miles Morales fare?
Let’s find out.
(Note: Big shoutout to my friend Gerrel for sending over the screenshots I took. PlayStation’s system for uploading screenshots could use some work.)
1 - Visuals
Visually, Miles Morales is a beautiful game. On my PlayStation 4, the snow-hit streets and rooftops of New York City are a sight to behold as you fly through the air, narrowly avoiding cars, light poles and other obstacles. With the game set during the holidays, the lights glisten in the night and provide respite from the darkness of the sky above.
That said, the visual monotony of NYC in winter does start to seem one-note after a while of playing. Still, the game flowed well visually; the aforementioned snowy areas of Manhattan as well as the characters’ design helped set the cold yet invigorating mood.
Speaking of which, the character design is great. Insomniac did a great job diversifying the non-playable characters (NPC) roaming the streets of the city. Whenever Roxxon or Underground enemies are on screen, there’s enough detail to differentiate each enemy type. Additionally, designing certain factions as a specific color aids in distinguishing who they are.
Even with all the hues on screen, Miles Morales didn’t have an issue rendering and showcasing color. Of note, toward the end of the story, the different colors seamlessly complemented the action on-screen, leading to a moment where I had to stop and say, “Wow, who knew there was such beauty in destruction?”
On the flip side, there were moments early in the story when cutscenes sputtered, and there was a particular cutscene where snow came through a closed window. Though the latter is minor, the former could be considered a bigger issue. Thankfully, the issue wasn’t consistent as the game progressed.
Overall, Miles Morales’ visuals get four stars.
2 - Audio
As a whole, the voice acting (VA) in Miles Morales is top-notch. Nadji Jeter plays Morales perfectly, delivering a believable performance as a teenager struggling with an enormous weight on his shoulders along with other responsibilities.
Credit also has to go to Troy Baker and Jasmin Savoy Brown’s – Simon Krieger and Phin Mason, respectively – performances. Baker’s affable portrayal of Krieger along with Brown’s take on Mason really gives life to the characters they play. Also, Brown and Jeter’s chemistry gives off the impression that the two have known each other since childhood and makes the story more engaging (more on the story later.)
The sound effects are well done too: punches have weight behind them and swinging through Manhattan, cutting through the air sounds great. Hearing NPCs converse with one another on the street or the sirens from police cars speeding through tight intersections sets the mood well. It immerses the player in what it’s like to be Spider-Man, patrolling the streets of the city.
Additionally, as a youth growing up in Harlem, Morales is surrounded by many different musical styles. Players even have a choice of what genre gets played at home – via an old record player – in certain sections of the story.
However, the musical mood of the game is centered around hip-hop. While Morales is swinging through New York, a hip-hop remix of the swinging theme from Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018) can be heard, which is perfect for Morales.
Hip-hop also plays an integral role in some storytelling aspects of the game, further lending credence to how important hip-hop is to Morales and the game. All the audio mixing in Miles Morales combines for an unforgettable experience.
Miles Morales’ audio gets four-and-a-half stars.
3 - Story/Progression
Simply put, the strongest aspect of Miles Morales is the story. Although the main story might take anywhere between 5-10 hours to complete, it doesn’t feel like it’s shortchanging you: the story is deep and Morales’ growth is palpable. From a teenager trying to keep up with Peter Parker to eventually becoming Harlem’s very own Spider-Man, Miles Morales does a great job of showing you Morales’ progression as Spider-Man and a person.
Additionally, the villain’s motivations are clearly defined and it makes sense why they are doing the things they do. The game also does a great job of fleshing out tertiary characters as well, like Rio Morales and Ganke Lee – Morales’ mom and best friend, respectively.
Miles Morales flows really well, narratively-speaking. The tone is set from the beginning and it doesn’t really deviate from that at all: be yourself, even if it gets tough.
To that end, the different designs of Morales’ Spider-Man suits really add another layer of depth to the game. From wearing a ragtag version of Parker’s suit with Adidas sneakers to having his own suit, the character design in Miles Morales is very well-done and, again, shows Morales’ growth as a character.
Miles Morales’ story gets five stars.
4 - Gameplay
Miles Morales plays like a standard beat-em-up: face off against a group of enemies, use various combos to defeat said enemies, and continue to progress. Rinse and repeat. Players can also explore the city to find collectibles, stop crimes in progress, loot enemy caches and so on.
With each completed mission, side mission and activity, players get experience points (XP), tech parts and activity tokens. XP is used to level up to unlock certain abilities while tech parts and activity tokens are used to unlock more suits and modifications.
Miles Morales isn’t necessarily a difficult game, but it takes time to get used to. Attacking and defending takes very quick reflexes, which makes sense considering that you’re Spider-Man. But, even on the “Amazing” difficulty – the normal mode, if you will – I had to re-do specific sections repeatedly because the amount of time to go for an attack and then dodge was miniscule.
While Miles Morales was frustrating at certain points, it played well once you got the hang of it. Swinging through New York takes a bit of time to master, but soon, players will be performing tricks while swinging fast and high.
The combat is very satisfying with certain button combinations working well. Particularly, the introduction of “Venom” attacks – supercharged attacks that do extra damage – gives another layer of strategy when fighting enemies.
Be that as it may, Miles Morales’ gameplay did feel repetitive at times. More often than not, the gameplay sometimes reverts to “go here, sneakily or loudly defeat these enemies, then go to a pathway and repeat.”
Shortly after taking the screenshot above, the enemies literally split apart from one character and multiplied. Also, once the camouflage ability is unlocked, quietly subduing enemies becomes extremely easy and though some enemies can counter the camo, they don’t necessarily pose a threat.
Though those aren’t necessarily the biggest issues, it does dock some points from the creativity of the game. Regardless, Miles Morales is a very replayable game, especially for completionists.
Miles Morales’ gameplay gets three-and-a-half stars.
5 - Context
When Morales was first introduced in 2011, the character was met with mixed reactions. While some applauded Marvel’s direction by having a person of color be Spider-Man, more conservative audiences saw it as a ploy for “political correctness.” Nevertheless, fans have embraced Morales almost as much as Parker himself.
Perhaps one of the reasons for Morales’ popularity is his biracial background. Born to an African-American father and a Puerto Rican mother, Morales is the first person of color to be Spider-Man.
In the game, his biracial background is on full display, often speaking in Spanish during certain moments then switching to English when talking to specific characters. The representation doesn’t stop there though.
One of the more prominent side characters, Hailey Cooper (pictured above), is hearing-impaired and communicates through sign language. Not only does Morales treat her like a friend, he also communicates with her in sign language as well.
The LGTBQ+ community is also represented in-game as well, with some characters getting quality side missions that help move the story along.
Being able to accurately portray specific communities – in this case, the LGBTQ+ and Deaf communities – is a big step forward in proper representation, and Miles Morales does a great job of doing so. Lastly, there are different color options available in the settings for color-blind players.
Miles Morales’ context gets five stars.
In all, Miles Morales is a worthwhile experience. The story is engaging, the game looks and sounds great and it’s one of the few games out there that has an extremely diverse and well-represented cast of characters, which is always great.
Though the gameplay might seem repetitive at times – especially with the objectives remaining fairly similar throughout – there’s still a fair amount of people watching Miles Morales on Twitch. Overall, it may not be the most in-depth game, but for $50, it’s definitely worth the money.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales gets 4.4 stars.