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May 2024

Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Nixxes Software
Release Date: Nov. 18, 2022


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PC Review - 'Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales'

by Cody Medellin on Nov. 18, 2022 @ 8:00 a.m. PST

The latest adventure in the Spider-Man universe will build on and expand Marvel's Spider-Man through an all-new story.

The release of Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered in August solidified how serious Sony was in getting its games on the PC and how smart of a purchase Nixxes Software was. Not only did the game come through fully intact, but it also did so with features that bested the PS5 iteration, giving PC players the chance to experience a more definitive version of the hit Insomniac game. Unlike PlayStation fans who had to wait two years for a sequel, PC players only had to wait a few months after the first game for the port of Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

Miles Morales takes place after the events of the last game, and plenty of changes have occurred. Miles and his mom have moved from Brooklyn to Harlem, while Miles' best friend is staying with them for the holidays. His mom Rio has decided to run for city council on a platform that pits herself against the local energy company Roxxon, which is looking to go worldwide with its experimental power source by papering over parts of the neighborhood. He's also starting to grow into his superpowers and getting training from Peter Parker to become the city's second Spider-Man. After helping to save a botched prison transport that included Rhino, Peter drops the news that he's going on a work vacation for MJ, leaving Miles in charge of the city for the first time as diverse forces predictably start to boil over.

Many of the Spider-Man games in the past have taken place at a time when the hero was already established, and that even applies to those based on the first Sam Raimi film. You have a character who's already set in their ways with quips, ready to fight against a rogue's gallery of villains. The previous game took that template but started to add in the personal relationships that make the character more well-rounded. This game runs with the idea that personal relationships away from the costume are important, but Spider-Man is still new to the job. It isn't necessarily an origin story but more of a tale of the character in their early years fighting crime. There's awkwardness and lots of second-guessing, but it feels natural with an ending that feels well-earned when the credits finish rolling.

The game doesn't dwell on the misery experienced both in and out of the costume. You're seeing Miles struggle with teenage stuff, like not finishing homework, trying to awkwardly reconnect with someone they haven't seen in a long time, getting a final notice to pay the rent for the apartment, or having to leave a date due to impending doom. The J. Jonah Jameson podcast is still there, but you have the option to silence that in favor of the more positive one from Danika Hart. The neighborhood bodega and restaurant help ground Miles with a more positive setting, as you see both Spider-Man and Miles interact with the neighborhood in a way that deepens the connection so he lives up to the moniker of "Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man." Combine that with scenes of him hanging out with family and friends, and you get a story that still contains some drama but remains lighter when compared to most web-slinger fare.

As far as gameplay goes, what you're seeing takes the blueprint of what was done in every aspect of Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered but adds in some changes to make it feel unique for Miles Morales. The swinging is a good place to start, as the mechanics are exactly the same as before, allowing you to round corners with ease or get a little midair hop before going for another big swing. What's different here is that you can do a straight dive in the air before going for a web swing. You can also start doing flips, so he feels more acrobatic or showy. There's still a bit of awkwardness to the process, not in the controls but in him sometimes twisting around or having limbs splayed out; it shows that he's still trying to get the hang of web swinging instead of automatically having Peter's experienced grace.

Combat retains the fluidity of the first game, so the comparisons with the Batman Arkham series are still apt. You'll glide around from enemy to enemy with ease, flipping over them or tossing them into the air before slamming them down with a web pull. Building up a high combo also gives you the chance to use a finishing move.

Aside from the flashier flips and lack of quips, the differences come down to Miles' venom powers. Electricity means the ability to stun a wide area of enemies on a slam or delivering a more powerful electric uppercut. Stealth means being able to turn invisible so you can buy yourself time and not have to beat up everyone in the room. You also have a few gadgets at your disposal, like a gravity well to pull in enemies and a holographic clone that can deal damage while distracting foes, leaving them more open to your attacks.

Everything helps, since most combat takes place against Roxxon soldiers and the Underground, a gang with access to high-tech transforming weapons, so the fights aren't cakewalks. Beyond the actual fighting, you have puzzles that are classic in nature. Instead of fixing circuits and flipping switches, you're solving manual labor puzzles, like one early on where you need to pull train cars in a way that gets three of them back in circulation. There's nothing that is an extreme brain teaser, but it does provide a break from the action.

Then there are the side missions, which are also similar yet different. Random crimes can still occur, but you're getting them via an app instead of a police scanner. There's no need to uncover a map via radio tower hacking, but you can go to spots to learn more moves and combat techniques. You can find parts to build new gadgets and upgrade your skill tree, which is more compact to allow for various suits to gain new abilities. The side missions also feel more grounded this time out. You may not deliver pizzas, but you do look for a lost bodega cat, something that's worthwhile since you can take that same cat into fights and give them their own Spider-Cat costume.

The whole package comes together with the same quality as the original, but if one had to find a complaint with the game, it would be its brevity versus its predecessor. The main campaign can be finished in half of the time as the previous game, and completing every side-quest only brings the total playtime closer to the previous game's base campaign. There's also no DLC in the pipeline to extend the experience further. On the one hand, it can be seen as a negative since this Spider-Man is different enough that you'll want more reasons to keep playing in Miles' universe. There's also a distinct reduction in boss fights, so this isn't an opportunity to fight Miles' own gallery of villains, although this makes Tinkerer more memorable since the only other costumed villain you'll fight is Rhino. On the other hand, it means that the entire journey is tight and doesn't rely on random quests or cameos to pad things out. It never feels like it's dragging, and all of the tasks feel necessary.

The game's DualSense support has carried over from the PS5 to the PC rather well. The subtle haptic feedback gives the presentation more texture, while the sounds coming from the controller's speakers are a nice touch. Adaptive triggers can be hit-and-miss for some, but the sensation is similar to that of Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered. Alas, the same controller restrictions from other games remain in place, so the only way to get this working is via a wired connection. Don't expect this kind of immersion if you want to go for Bluetooth on the controller instead.

The audio is awesome all around. The sound effects retain the same kind of quality and punch as before. The voice acting is excellent all around, and the inclusion of casual Spanish is a nice touch as you swing around the neighborhood. It's the music that'll catch your attention, as it takes the score of the previous title and mixes it in with hip-hop beats to create something that feels unique to Miles Morales without feeling tired. The inclusion of vocal tracks in some scenes also makes the game feel like it was inspired sonically by "Into the Spider-Verse." It's a good choice, since that may be how a number of players were introduced to the character.

Graphically, Miles Morales is perhaps a little more impressive than the previous game by virtue of its setting. The Christmastime setting means that you're getting a slew of particle effects, including falling snow, cold breath, and smoke from street grates. Otherwise, the same things that Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered got praised for apply here as well. The environments look stunning, and the improved draw distance keeps things feeling alive, especially with the amount of people and cars out there. The people are gorgeously rendered in cut scenes and in-game, and the amount of visible detail is tremendous. You get a better sense of this in the title screen, where things are so detailed that you can even make out fingerprints on the headphones.

PC owners are getting some improvements over the PS5 iteration — even more than the previous Spider-Man title at its launch. The standard things from Sony are here, like ultrawide support, uncapped frame rate, and full HDR support. Ray-traced reflections can be turned up to its highest setting, but for those not sporting the latest video card and CPU, turning down the presets a tick can create some magic. Various forms of DLSS and DLAA are here, including AMD's FSR 2.1, so Radeon owners aren't left out of performance gains via upscaling.

Like many of Sony's other big PC games, this is coming in at a Verified status for the Steam Deck. Unlike Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered, it's already running better than expected out of the gate thanks to the implementation of FSR 2.1. With a Medium preset, the game can be locked to 30fps but often shows hints of going beyond that. All of that gives you roughly two hours of playtime on a full charge, which is really good for something that looks this gorgeous. One thing to keep in mind is that the default control scheme uses the system's motion controls, so don't be alarmed if moving your Deck results in jostling the in-game camera.

Much like its predecessor, Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales is an exercise in how to do a superhero game right. The movement is exhilarating, the combat is well done given the bevy of options at your disposal, and it contains more than enough to keep you busy but not bored. The fact that it can do all of this in a more compact package (in terms of gameplay hours) is a testament to tight design, while the story is more compelling thanks to a new cast of characters. With a presentation that's better than the PS5, provided you have the hardware to push things, Miles Morales is an easy recommendation for PC players.

Score: 9.0/10

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