Critipeg: Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5

Insomniac Games’ Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales follows the adventures of the rookie Spider-Man, Miles Morales, in his attempts to save Harlem and all of Manhattan. 

In this game, Spidey takes on the corrupt corporation Roxxon and a high-tech terrorist group called the Underground – led by a masked vigilante known as Tinkerer. 

This game is nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece packed with action, heart and Spidey-themed fun. 

The graphics, textures, animation and overall aesthetic are spectacular. The attention put into detail – like trash on the pavement or spray-painted murals on buildings – bring New York City to life. In particular, Harlem – Morales’ neighbourhood – is bursting with personality. The use of vibrant, bold colours add an extra pop to the environment, creating the perfect playground to explore. 

A notable and welcome feature is the many BIPOC non-playable characters (NPCs) seen roaming Manhattan's streets, as opposed to the usual surplus of white NPCs one tends to see in video games. 

The combat and web-slinging mechanics of the game are also masterfully done. In battle, Morales has a vast array of abilities, skills and powers. The game allows the player to take down enemies in straight-up combat with punching, kicking, swinging, web-slinging, flips, tricks, gadgets, etc. The stealth mechanics in the game are also done well. They enable Spidey to covertly string people to walls and ceilings, lay traps and misdirect enemies with well-placed webshots. 

This, in addition to the equally expansive traversal mechanics creates an incredible experience. The player can swing, flip, pull and parkour their way around the city, or if need be, use the optional fast-travel system, which allows Spidey to automatically travel from one area to the next. But, with the controls being smooth and satisfying to use, the fast-travel system (for the first few playthroughs, at least) isn’t all that needed. 

Outside of the exemplary gameplay, the game’s story also meets the mark. The game’s plot isn’t particularly innovative, but it doesn’t need to be. The story takes classic superhero narrative conventions and adapts them to match Morales’ background. 

The story puts a focus on family, love and community in a way that’s tied closely to Harlem. Plus, the game takes the opportunity to celebrate Harlem’s artistic culture by featuring side characters who are artists and are shown spray-painting gorgeous murals. This is deeply gratifying, especially for those who are connected to Harlem or know about its history. 

What’s even more satisfying is how, by completing a series of side quests, the player can unlock a special Spidey-suit that’s found beneath a stunning Black Lives Matter mural. This is one of the many fist-pumping moments the game dishes out.  

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is fantastic. Outside of a few minor crash issues and bugs on the PlayStation 4, the game is pretty solid. While it’s shorter than its predecessor, it allows for a full campaign without repetitive side quests or slow moments. As a bonus, the game is set up to welcome new players and get them up to speed on the events of the previous game. It’s definitely worth picking up and playing.

Published in Volume 75, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 25, 2020)

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