With Marvel’s Spider-Man having just celebrated its second anniversary, a full-on sequel arriving in time for the PS5 launch was always out of the question for developer Insomniac Games. However, the recently-acquired Sony studio have still managed to create a worthy follow-up with Spider-Man: Miles Morales, feeling more like a standalone game in its own right rather than the expansion-sized release many were expecting. Sure, it reuses a lot of what made 2018’s Spider-Man a power-selling juggernaut, yet it builds on that foundation with an advanced web of gameplay features and stunning visuals, veined with its own distinctive vibe.
Since his first appearance in the original game, we always knew that Miles Morales would one day be taking the reins from Peter Parker and that’s exactly what happens here. As a snowy New York settles in for the holiday season, OG Spider-Man hopes on a plane to Europe, leaving the city in his protégé’s capable hands. What could possibly go wrong?
What many loved about Marvel’s Spider-Man was how it gave us a slightly older, more experienced version of the iconic character, completely skipping Peter’s tragic origin story. Having been done to death so many times before, it let players hit the ground running while also leaving room for Miles to develop as a character. Finally allowed to take centre stage, there’s something instantly likeable about Miles, too. He’s younger and more naïve than his mentor while also flanked by a new, diverse cast of supporting characters. There’s a refreshing change of pace to Spider-Man: Miles Morales and how it aims for a more intimate narrative instead of reaching for the usual supervillain crisis.
If you’ve only just watched the credits roll on Marvel’s Spider-Man then, yeah, you may feel a sense of déjà vu as you come swinging into Miles Morales. Insomniac Games have repurposed their virtual rendition of New York City with new missions and side activities, but it’s still the same urban playground we’ve already spent dozens of hours exploring. However, we’d be lying if we said this was a notable downside – during our time with Spider-Man: Miles Morales that familiarity was never an issue, perhaps thanks to Manhattan’s wintery makeover.
Of course, Insomniac have reused more than just their open world from the original game. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is built around the same blend of fluid combat, stealth, and traversal gameplay, though they’ve layered Miles’ own unique powers on top for some rewardingly in-depth new mechanics.
One thing you will have noticed from the box art and pre-release media is Miles’s “Venom” bio-electric powers. They come in several supercharged flavours and help spice up combat encounters despite the limited variety of new enemies this game introduces. Pulling off those perfect cinematic combos feels endlessly rewarding with new skills keeping Spider-Man: Miles Morales feeling fresh throughout.
The main story should clock in at around 6 to 8 hours but that’s only if you’re deliberately ignoring most of the side content on offer. As in the original Spider-Man, you’ll find yourself constantly distracted as you go between missions, exploring landmarks, responding to crimes, and helping civilians who reach out to Miles via the FNSM (Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man) app. Again, some of these side activities have been reskinned for this semi-sequel, though they never feel like needless filler. Completing them will grant useful resources while also unlocking new suits to try out, including one inspired by Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse as well as the Bodega Cat suit.
If you’re looking for a game to show off what your PlayStation 5 can do, then Spider-Man: Miles Morales is certainly up to the task. Insomniac’s festive themed New York looks fantastically frosty to the point where you can almost feel the chilly weather while perched in front of your television, and the accurate ray traced reflections add a huge amount to the believability of the mirror-like windows that cover many of New York’s skyscrapers. The enhanced detail on characters – from clothing and skin textures to facial animations – has also been dialled up. While some players will prefer cinematic, high fidelity visuals there’s also the option there to a performance focused mode for a consistently silky 60 frames per second, though you lose out on the ray tracing in particular.