EDITOR'S NOTE: Spider-Man: Miles Morales won "best music/sound" at the Tom's Guide Awards 2021 for gaming.
The PS5 is here, and it’s brought a brand new Spider-Man adventure with it. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a new standalone follow-up to Sony and Insomniac’s beloved Marvel’s Spider-Man, delivering more of the same thrilling web-swinging and fluid combat while putting the focus on a younger Spidey who’s still finding his way.
Despite being smaller in scope (Miles Morales is a $50 game, compared to $70 for many new next-gen titles), Insomniac’s latest superhero romp is an excellent successor to Spider-Man on PS4. Miles’ new combat and traversal abilities make him feel distinct from Peter Parker, and the game’s supporting cast is filled with likeable characters who will tug on your heartstrings by the end.
Miles Morales is also a great showcase for the PS5 itself, with amazing load times, a superior 60 fps performance mode and some truly spectacular uses of the DualSense controller. And don’t worry, it plays great on PS4 as well. Read on for our full Spider-Man: Miles Morales review to find out why it’s time to enter Sony’s spider-verse once more.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales review: Price and release date
Spider-Man: Miles Morales launches on November 12 for $49, and will be available on both PS4 and PS5. Buying the PS4 version will get you a digital code for the PS5 version at no extra cost. This works in reverse as well, as owners of the PS5 game will also gain access to the PS4 version. Players will also be able to transfer their save data when upgrading from the PS4 to PS5 versions.
If you spring for the $79 Ultimate Edition, you’ll also get a free copy of Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered: a PS5-optimized version of the original 2018 game, complete with all of its DLC. Pre-ordering either version of the game gets you instant in-game access to the T.R.A.C.K. Suit and Into the Spider-Verse Suit, as well as three extra skill points and the gravity well gadget.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales review: Gameplay
As someone who played Marvel’s Spider-Man obsessively, diving into Miles Morales felt like slipping on a pair of familiar, web-loaded gloves. Insomniac Games’ thrilling traversal system is once again the star of the show here, capturing the sensation of swinging, diving and wall-running through New York City better than any Spider-Man game before it.
Miles has some unique electric-powered tricks to set him apart from Peter Parker, and the PS5 DualSense controller adds to the immersion by delivering detailed haptics, and a slight bit of resistance when you squeeze the right trigger to swing from a building. But this is largely the same web-swinging that made Marvel’s Spider-Man such a masterpiece, and I once again found myself happily ignoring the main missions to get lost in bouncing between buildings and scouring the city for collectibles.
As with the traversal, combat in Miles Morales is familiar, with a handful of new twists. Dodging attacks, launching enemies into the air and yanking environmental objects at them feels as great as ever, but it's Miles’ electric Venom powers that really shine here.
The younger Spider-Man can use his bioelectricity to stun enemies, take out huge groups at once with a powerful slam attack and perform an especially satisfying finisher that essentially turns any encounter into a fireworks show. There are some trade offs here: Miles doesn’t have access to quite as many gadgets as Peter did, and his moveset seems a bit smaller overall. But having cool new electric powers to play with is a blast.
Miles also sets himself apart from Peter with a camouflage ability, which is a total game-changer in stealth sections. Being able to turn invisible with the tap of a button lets you instantly get out of sticky situations, and I felt like a true badass as I cleared out entire areas without being seen at all.
As a smaller, more focused experience, Spider-Man: Miles Morales trims some of that fat that I didn’t love about Marvel’s Spider-Man. Gone are the tedious slide puzzles from the previous game, as are many of the slow-paced walking segments that had you take control of Mary Jane Watson and a pre-superhero Miles. New to the mix are some light environmental puzzles, which, despite being pretty simple, added some nice variety between big brawls.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales review: Story
Spider-Man: Miles Morales acts as both a continuation and spin-off of Marvel’s Spider-Man, which focused on Peter Parker as he battled the nefarious Inner Demons gang. After discovering his powers in the previous game, Miles is now a Spider-Man-in-training under Peter’s tutelage, and suddenly finds himself as New York’s only Spider-Man when Pete leaves the country on a work trip. Oh, and a mysterious coalition called the Underground is waging war with evil energy corporation Roxxon all over the city. No pressure, Miles.
This sets the stage for a fun and enthralling origin story that sees Miles truly embrace the Spider-Man mantle. Nadji Jeter does a great job capturing Miles’ humor, youthful energy and devotion to his close friends and family, including his mother Rio Morales and his geeky, hilarious best friend Ganke Lee. You’ll once again hear J Jonah Jameson peddle anti-Spider-Man conspiracy theories on his Alex Jones-esque radio show, which is countered by local podcaster Danika Hart. The in-game social feed that shows the city reacting to major story events also returns, and it’s as amusing as ever.
Miles Morales is a more compact game than Marvel’s Spider-Man narrative-wise, and you can probably get through the main story in eight hours or less. It also effectively recycles the game map from Marvel’s Spider-Man, but with a new winter theme, complete with snow and holiday decorations. But despite being smaller in scope, Miles Morales is a worthy follow up to the excellent story told in Marvel’s Spider-Man, with all of the emotion, spectacle and sheer fun we’ve come to expect from Insomniac’s spider-verse.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales review: Collectibles and extras
It wouldn’t be an open-world Spider-Man game without tons of collectibles and side challenges to go after. While Insomniac’s New York isn’t quite as densely packed with activities this time around, there’s still plenty to do in-between missions.
A new in-game app lets you stop nearby crimes and tackle side missions, and you’ll find plenty of combat and traversal challenges, as well as collectible items that allow you to gain new skills and upgrade your gear. I found the collectibles and side activities in Marvel’s Spider-Man to be more engaging (especially going around taking photos of NYC landmarks, and finding backpacks filled with Spider-Man lore), but was still motivated to scour the city for in-game goodies for hours on end.
As with Marvel’s Spider-Man, there's no shortage of cool Spidey suits to unlock, many of which pay homage to Miles’ comic book history. There’s a suit that lets you carry a literal bodega cat around in your backpack, as well as a truly breathtaking Into the Spider-Verse suit that mimics the beloved film's unique animation style.
Spider-Man’s robust photo mode was one of my favorite things about the previous game, and Insomniac made it even better this time around. The improved photo mode in Miles Morales lets you set up virtual lights for better illumination, change Miles’ suit on the fly and employ a wider range of fun filters and frames.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales review: PS5 and PS4 performance
As one of the PS5’s marquee launch games, Miles Morales does a great job showing off what Sony’s new console is capable of. Insomniac’s New York looks more lifelike and stunning than ever on next-gen hardware, with skyscrapers and puddles that reflect off of one another realistically thanks to the system’s ray-tracing capabilities. The game’s vibrant color palette pops off the screen in 4K, especially when Miles’ black-and-red suit and yellow electricity powers clash with the purple armor and weapons of the Underground.
Miles Morales offers two visual modes on PS5: Fidelity, which prioritizes graphics with ray-tracing and a 4K resolution at 30 frames per second, and Performance, which delivers a steady 60 fps with ray tracing turned off and upscaled 4K. While the game looks great either way, I couldn’t go back once I turned Performance mode on. Zipping through Manhattan at 60 fps felt like a complete game changer, and made the game’s kinetic traversal system and tight combat feel even more fluid. I switched between the two modes often to compare quality, and noticed very minimal sacrifices to visual fidelity with Performance mode on.
The PS5's DualSense controller adds to the immersion, allowing you to feel the detailed resistance of Miles' webs when swinging around New York City as well as the more satisfying, rumbling impact of Spider-Man slamming the ground to take out big groups of enemies. The game makes full use of the DualSense's haptics during cutscenes, providing subtle but extremely specific vibrations to match things such as an incoming subway train or the stomp of Rhino's feet. This feedback works in concert with the controller's built-in speaker, allowing you to both feel and hear the buzz of Miles' electric Venom attacks or the thwip of his web blasts.
Fortunately for those not upgrading to next-gen hardware, Miles Morales plays just fine on PS4 as well. You’ll have to settle for 30 fps gameplay at 1080p (on a standard PS4 at least), but the game’s cutscenes and open-world Manhattan still offered plenty of visual detail on Sony’s older console. The biggest difference comes down to load times. While Miles Morales loads instantly on PS5 due to the system’s SSD, you’ll be waiting upwards of 20 seconds to get from the main menu to gameplay on PS4. My only gripe with the PS4 version is that the frame rate appeared to dip slightly below 30 fps on a base PS4 during busier moments.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales review: Verdict
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is both a great showpiece for the PS5, and a satisfying continuation of the universe first set up in Marvel’s Spider-Man. The web-swinging and combat feels as great as ever, the characters and story are engaging, and Insomniac’s open-world New York City is once again packed with fun things to do.
The PS5’s fast-loading SSD, DualSense controller and powerful GPU all shine here, but it’s worth noting that most of what makes Miles Morales great can still be enjoyed on PS4. No matter how you play it, Miles Morales is a spectacular standalone adventure that already has us chomping at the bit for Insomniac’s next spider-outing.