Ever since its announcement, Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales has had a confusing position on whether or not it is a full sequel or a mini-adventure. Before we get into the game, let's clear this up. The game is a mini adventure and can be beaten in a single weekend - story plus side quests. Think of it like Uncharted Lost Legacy. As the name suggests, this adventure is all about Miles Morales who is coming to terms with what it means to be Spider-Man and how to balance his personal and superhero life. While a lot of the gameplay mechanics are the same as the 2018 game, there is enough new here to make the game feel fresh. The game has the tried and tested summer blockbuster feel to it we’ve seen in 2018. So let’s break down Spider-Man’s last adventure on the PS4.
Like we said above, the story this time is that of Miles Morales. At the end of the 2018 Spider-Man game, we saw Miles training with Peter on being Spider-Man. The game picks up with training almost ending and Peter telling Miles that he won't be around for some time as he is going on a work trip with Mary Jane Watson. This leaves Miles as the only Spider-Man in the big apple to protect the city and he must come to terms with the whole “with great power comes great responsibility” factor. He must also learn that its ok to make mistakes, and these blunders are the character development moments we’ve seen in the animated movie Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse.
Without spoiling too much, know that the story has the standard set of characters you’ll encounter - a friend who is your tech support on call, a mentor telling you how to deal with a situation, and a villain with some human motives, to add a personal touch.
The story treads tried and tested paths and like we said above that isnt a bad thing. There is one moment in the game where you unlock a new suit and the moment gave the same goosebumps I felt when the same thing happened in Into the Spider-Verse movie. The writers of the story really know how to fill the game with moments to pull at the strings of your heart.
The gameplay elements like swinging, traversal and combat are largely unchanged when compared to the 2018 game. What we have this time around are new enemies, some new abilities and some new moves. The gadget wheel has reduced to a handful of gadgets. You also have the standard upgrade tree with three different upgrade paths.
Kicking things off with traversal, you start with the basic ability to swing and gradually unlock moves that make traversal a lot more fun. Like the ability to jump off a ledge for some extra speed. The controls and most of the traversal moves are identical to 2018’s game, with the biggest change coming in the form of the animations. Miles has a clumsier approach to swinging like he is learning how to do it right on the job. If you’ve played 2018’s Spider-Man, you will feel right at home with the traversal.
When it comes to combat, this is where we have some interesting changes. There are a handful of gadgets this time around in your gadget wheel, but you have new abilities. The first one is unlocked early on called the venom punch. You build focus as you fight and dodge attacks and can use this focus to either heal yourself or deliver a damaging venom punch. You can upgrade the venom punch as you progress and these upgraded abilities are handy against a certain type of stronger enemy in the game. When you upgrade your Venom ability to its fullest, it can be used to deliver a devastating blow that has gotten me out of a bunch of sticky situations.
One more addition is Miles’ ability to go completely invisible. This is particularly helpful in regaining stealth and anonymity status just like you would in the Batman Arkham games by jumping onto gargoyles. Once you get the hang of stealth, it is easy to clear a rooftop full of enemies without being seen. This can be a sort of hack or a cheat as when things get too tough, you can simply go invisible, climb high in a corner where no one can see you and wait.
The invisibility is also included in a bunch of clever side missions. One mission has you get up close to people to gather intel, so on and so forth.
The ability to regain stealth was one of the shortcomings of the 2018 Spider-Man game and its smart implementation is appreciated here, especially if you are one that wants to tackle some challenging areas quietly.
Like the previous game, you have multiple suits you can unlock and each suit brings with it a set of powers that you can mix and match as per your preference.
While the main quest is nothing short of the regular puzzle mixed with combat followed by a boss fight followed by traversal, the side quest this time around are presented in an interesting way. You have an app on your smartphone (in the game) on which you get requests for help. These could the usual, stop a store from getting robbed or one of the new additions, stop a helicopter from getting hacked. You will also help a citizen find his cat and even click pictures of license plates of cars. Its doesn't have the same rinse repeat formula as 2018’s Spider-Man but there are only so many new additions mixed with some tried and tested side quests. You also have the standard set of collectables and villain hideouts to clear in the game.
The entire map of NYC is available for you to traverse, just like the 2018 game, but this time it's the winter and rooftops are covered with snow with popular landmarks sporting Christmas decorations. It also feels as though some of the building and traversal hotspots have been moved around because I found it a lot easier to get from one end of the map to the other without hitting the irritating roadblocks.
Unlike the 2018 game, this one doesn’t have the side missions where you don a different character and play some sneaking stealth sections and that’s good. This is Miles’ story through and through and apart from a few missions here and there, you are Spider-Man swinging through the city.
Overall, the gameplay, while quite similar to 2018’s Spider-Man, does have its distinguishing features. Peter Parker has laid training exercises for you around the city and finishing them is an incentive as each one of them grants you a new ability in either traversal, stealth and combat. Some upgrades are reserved for a New Game Plus mode which should be enough incentive for die-hard fans to spend another weekend with this game. If you enjoyed 2018’s Spider-Man game, then this one has all the right improvements. From adding the ability to take down an enemy when crawling on the side of a building (which you couldn’t do earlier) to regaining stealth, it's a fun package.
Spider-Man Miles Morales: Graphics
The game looks stunning on the PS4 Pro so one can only imagine how much better the game can look and run on the PS5. For fast travel, you have subway stations which are located all over the city. On the PS4, fast travel takes 20 to 25 seconds, but if leaked videos on the internet are to be believed, this is down to a mere 2 seconds on the PS5.
Fast travel aside, the character models from Miles in his different unlockable Spider-Man suits to the snow-filled city of New York and some of the villains all have a level of detail that is carefully crafted and look stunning. Swing fast throughout the city and you will notice the occasional pop in and there was one time where I reached a graffiti texture on the wall which appeared 10 seconds after I reached it. But these niggles aside, the game looks stunning on ageing hardware. The swinging animations deserve special mention as you can juggle through different moves and there is no place where the animation of the characters looks like a jump cut. It is smooth all around.
Coming to the character models, the game has a neon coloured colour pallet for its villains giving them sort of a cyberpunk theme. On a good HDR display, this makes some of the night-time battles, like the one on the bridge we saw in the gameplay demo and the final boss battle pop with colours.
There is no dynamic day-night cycle which is a tad sad as some of the missions that do take place in the night look really good. Overall, the game is an improvement visually over 2018’s Spider-Man but the true testament to its improvement will be felt on the PS5, which we sadly don't have access to just yet.
The music in the games deserves special mention. And just like Into the Spider-Verse was filled with some of the best-selected songs to go with the theme of the movie, the same can be said for the game. From the opening sequence where you start swinging for the first time, to the signature movement of getting a suit, the song selection of the game is brilliant.
The voice acting deserves a special mention too. Yuri Lowenthal makes a comeback as Peter Parker with his new visual design and we have Nadji Jeter who dons the role of Miles Morales. He does a convincing job of a young man who has the feeling of more responsibility than he thinks he can handle. You also have the legendary Joel AKA Troy Baker in a key role and let’s leave it at that.
New York is a bustling city and the sound design of the game ensures you feel so. From the busy streets filled with the sounds of people and vehicles to the speaker on the controller adding a swish every time you shoot a web to swing and the thud of you leaping off the side of a building, it all sounds great. There are some story-specific missions where you walk the streets of Harlem and wearing a nice pair of headphones in this sequence is a must as you will hear a lot of chatter around you.
I’m not sure if I’m allowed to talk about a specific side quest where you hunt for sounds from the city, but let’s just say, there is one side mission that involves you listening to sounds in the city.
Since the PS5 boasts of 3D audio, there are some missions which have beeps and blurps coming from different sides to help you triangulate its position. While this effect is absolutely absent from the PS4, even with a pair of headphones, I’m curious to experience it on a PS5.
Here is a tough question to answer. Should you get Spider-Man Miles Morales? The asking price for a short adventure is now Rs 3,999 and considering the game can be beaten in a weekend or two weekends if you want to unlock everything in New Game Plus, it feels kind of expensive. Rs 4,999 is the new norm for games that take hours and hours to finish and while I love an adventure that can be enjoyed over a weekend, I think they need to have a slightly lower price tag.
Fans of the Spider-Man franchise and those that love action cinematic games will undoubtedly enjoy it. The game has a heartwarming story, some interesting new gameplay mechanics, an incredible sound design and is visually stunning even on a PS4 Pro connected to a 4K HDR TV. Some gameplay mechanics and side missions are reused from the old game. If you haven’t played the 2018 Spider-Man game you can still jump into this one and enjoy it. There is a story recap for you newcomers as well. The price-conscious gamers can wait for a discount or price drop before picking this one up.
Tested on: PS4 Pro
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PS4, PS5
Price: Rs 3,999
Release date: November 12
We played a review copy of Spider-Man: Miles Morales on a PS4 Pro.
|Release Date:||17 Dec 2018|
Sameer Mitha lives for gaming and technology is his muse. When he isn’t busy playing with gadgets or video games he delves into the world of fantasy novels.
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