Spider-Man: Miles Morales (2020) (PS4 Version)

I’ve said before that Spider-Man has always been one of my two favorite Super Heroes, tied with Batman. Batman was definitely my first with seeing the 1989 Keaton movie with my mom on opening day in the theater when I was 4. Spidey though, was more prominent in my childhood, thanks to the awesome animated series, the ToyBiz action figures and the plethora of video games like Maximum Carnage featuring Green Jelly’s soundtrack.

When the PS4 Spider-Man game came out in 2018, I was blown away that they got the swinging feeling just as good as the Spider-Man 2 game on the original Xbox. I’ve played all the Spider-Man games before, and even the Beenox ones that everyone seems to hate, although I actually quite like most of them. They aren’t mindblowing, but each one is fun and has some pretty decent stories along with really great voice acting. But that is neither here nor there, we are talking about 2020’s Spider-Man spin off title for PS4/5…

And that’s where I need to get something off my chest for a minute. This has nothing to do with the actual game, but the hardware side itself. The PS5 came out a week ago, and is impossible to get if you actually have a normal job that doesn’t pay you to hang out in your pyjamas all day and pretend to work. I was unable to get a PS5 and by the looks of it, won’t get one for several more months. I wanted to play the new Spidey game, and was at least relieved that they allowed me to but the PS4 game, and luckily it is cross buy, so I also have the PS5 version as well.

Sadly I doubt I’ll ever actually load up the game ever again, since 1, I already beat it 100%, and 2, I didn’t care for it that much.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a spinoff side story that takes place a bit after the events of the first PS4 Spidey game. There are two Spider-Men swinging around New York and the citizens know it. Miles, the smaller one is referred to as “The Other Spider-Man'' and not really having a identity of his own, which the game does a fairly good job at giving him throughout the course of the game… but in typical New York fashion, it’s framed as New York being sectioned off into the boroughs of NYC…. which I’ve never understood. Especially in Marvel, the Boughrous are treated like huge gigantic spaces of completely different locations and layouts… when in reality it's just several different blocks of the same boring large city. They act like Harlem is completely different than Brooklyn, when they are only 13 miles apart in the real world. It's something I’ve never understood about New York, and the game feeds into the whole “New York is so amazing” thing that has always put me off.

Anyways, Miles is trying to learn how to be a Spider-Man and also have his own identity. They take a lot from the new Marvel Spidey movies with having his friend be his “Guy In The Chair” and also keep his identity a secret from his mom. Also with the Into The Spiderverse movie, they’ve cribbed some ideas and characters from that as well. Namely Miles’ uncle Aaron Davis as the Prowler. Which I think is fine, but I’d love to either have a clear divide of characters and stories from the Marvel Movies, Sony Movies, Sony Games and Comics. It’s way too confusing to have this many overlapping characters.

The game itself is a good blend of familiar territory of New York, gussied up with a snowy overlay that sets the game in Christmas, which is perfect for the real life release of the game being a Christmas game… too bad that Christmas in California is still 80+ degrees in the middle of November… so it really doesn’t feel very festive.

Peter Parker Spidey says that he’s taking a bit of a work/vacation with MJ in Europe, so he’s gonna leave the city in Miles’ hands, and  it's the perfect setup to give Miles a role that feels earned and not forced with lazy writing.

I really enjoyed getting back into the web shooters and did remember just how much fun and enjoyable the combat of this new series is. Dodging, using a Arkham Asylum halo around the head to indicate an incoming attack or Spidey Sense, always feels slick and smooth, nothing feels cheap, even when surrounded by what feels like fifty enemies at once. The combos and the large bag of animations make the combat encounters feel fresh and new even compared to the Parker Spider-Man. Counters and punching feel solid and left me smiling from ear to ear as I got plenty of punches off on bad guys, that made me feel like I bobbed and weaved around them like a boxer.

Sadly, the powerups and gadgets felt almost entirely useless compared to the previous game, as I never really cared about any of them, nor did they feel fun to use. The single power that I did like using, is what Miles names is “Venom”... which is absolutely insane to use a power called Venom, when Venom is a symbiote and also part of not just the cannon of this game’s universe, but both the overarching story beat with Harry Osborne using it to get better, thanks to Oscorp’s technology, and the Stinger cutscene at the end of this very game. It’s a huge oversight and a pretty big issue from a continuity and universe building aspect. It’s like naming  your first son Pete, then naming your second son Pete too.

The Venom power is explained by Miles’ BioElectrical new power than manifests itself, as well as his new ability to turn invisible, or “Camouflage '' himself which comes into play in the story in a couple key scenes. One is too comically unbelievable, and the other gives a more serious tone, that actually made me sit up and hold my breath while watching. The Powers are unique enough for the game, but I never used the Invisibility unless forced to for a couple times. And while the Venom powers were literally a blast to play around with in the combat encounters, the story basically never explains why he has them, and somehow everyone, even the villains call them “BioElectric Powers” even though there is no way anyone else would know about them or what was actually happening. They’d just see Spider-Man shoot electricity out of his hands. They’d be more likely to call him Electro than “Oh he has BioElectric powers now!”

As with the first game, the graphics are absolutely stunning, with incredible depth and detail given to Spider-Man’s suits. The fine amount of stitching you can see just gives more realism as  you can see some fibres of things not able to be seen with older definition games. The suits don’t have as much variety as that of Peter Parker’s suits, but I don’t expect them too. I did however love the Prowler suit that unlocks after a really fun and different side quest that involves using sound effects from the city to make a song. And the basically Daft Punk Spider-Man costume which I rocked for the majority of the game. There are some others, but none of them stood out to me at all. The end game suit, which is just a sweater wearing Spidey, with a backpack is nothing special, but it comes with the added bonus of a cute little kitty that you save early on, who’s name is also Spider-Man… it’s a bit goofy, but that is the charm of the Spider-Man character, is that it walks a fine line of goofy and cheesey and endearing perfectly most of the time.

The main story of making Miles deal with both trying to be Spider-Man and keep relationships with friends is something we’ve seen a thousand times, and I actually think they do a fairly good job with having pretty much everyone find out that he is the other Spider-Man, from his mom, and his uncle and even his friend who he reconnects with. While giving it a much more realistic reasoning, that he’s still young and can’t cover his identity as easily, that it’s pretty easy for his uncle to immediately know its him and also making the identity really not that big of a deal, with the ending being very similar to that of Spider-Man 2’s train sequence. Spider-Man being demaksed doesn’t really matter, because he’s just a kid, it’s not really that interesting. He’s a kid like thousands of others in New York.

My biggest talking point about this game would probably be that it just didn’t need to be its own stand alone game. Instead this is what the actual DLC should have been. The Black Cat and Silver Sable stuff was so light and cheap that it wasn’t necessary to the story at all, nor did it give anything new or of substance. This game however has the same world/level, same citizens and cars and buildings…. Just covered in snow. The only real difference is the new characters introduced and the enemy types. If this was made back in the early 2000’s, it would have been called an expansion pack, because it’s MUCH bigger than DLC. But it’s not so big that it could get away from being sold as a full retail package. It's fairly short, clocking in somewhere around 8 hours or so for 100% completion, which I actually enjoyed because I was able to complete it in a single weekend right before I had to leave for out of town.

One real big issue, which if I knew about prior, would have made me rethink my purchase; is the propaganda that is all over the game. Which really shouldn’t be surprising by now, but it wasn’t something I was thinking about after having to deal with moving and driving over 6,000 miles in a car over the last two weeks, It just wasn’t on my mind. There is a side quest that involves helping various people around the neighborhood and ends with a gigantic BLM mural and screenshot like it was made specifically as marketing material. It’s disgusting that this terrorist organization has infiltrated the gaming scene so much and is forcing its propaganda that has nothing to do with a Spider-Man game into it for kids and people to see. If I knew about this, I probably wouldn’t have bought it.

Besides that lone aspect, the game really is just more of what made the Spider-Man game from 2018 fun. It’s a solid expanded DLC campaign that opens up the world and side characters more, giving more character development that is really needed in more games. Small little easter eggs connecting this side story to the larger game never feels forced, and Miles does feel like a significant addition that is worthwhile and not tacked on needlessly. I would have preferred to have more smaller side quests and less collectables, but for what is contained within the game, it’s a pretty good smaller game. Sadly that is also its downfall. The pricing of games jumped up $10, making this game $50 instead of what it should be, which should be $40, or even more appropriately $30. It’s not worthy of the full priced game, but the arbitrary price hike now gives us the same amount of game, for more money. How this became acceptable is beyond me, but hey, if anything that this year has shown me, is that there is more stupid people willing to go along with anything as long as the media tells them they should, so I’m not that surprised.

S-M:MM or more appropriately, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a solid game on the PS4, although, my launch Day PS4 has definitely shown it’s not up to the task of new games as much anymore. I did experience times at the end where the screen dropped to single frames or even froze completely for about 20 seconds before resuming gameplay. Also the first time with my PS4 in the Seven years that I’ve had it, that gave me a crash and corrupted data, literally on the final cutscene of the game. Nothing horrible as I just had to watch the cutscene again and had a previous save auto backed up, but it was a bit of a scare nonetheless. For what the game is, which is a smaller side story, it’s a good game and one that I enjoyed playing though.