You can see the whole point of this game within the first five minutes.
Just like Sega used Sonic the Hedgehog to demonstrate the (then) high speeds of its new Genesis console in 1991, Sony wants Spider-Man: Miles Morales to showcase the performance of its new PS5 console.
The game is a launch title, and will be the first one many people play on PS5.
It paints Sony’s new system in a great light, effectively shouting: “Look how fast the PS5 is!”.
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To hammer it home even more there’s no loading screens or title cards when you launch the game, just a short animation before you’re encouraged to jump into the action.
When you do start web-slinging and wall running your way around New York City at the start of the game you can see the step up facilitated by the new hardware with big advances in the speed and smoothness of gameplay.
The graphics look great as you’d expect, but the detail receives a boost too: You can see much more and from further away, useful when you’re looking for the next skyscraper to swing off as you traverse the city.
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The new “Haptic Touch” on the fancy PS5 controller also adds new elements of immersion, with sizeable oomph in combat and subtle nudges for more subdued scenes. Big hits will shake the controller in your hand, but even when you’re watching a simple cutscene you can feel Miles’ hands moving through snow as it runs down a handrail. A cute afternoon spent reminiscing with an old school crush is made surprisingly human with small vibrations when she places a hand on his.
Spider-Man Miles Morales is the sequel to 2018’s well-received Spider-Man game, released alongside the Into The Spider-Verse movie that introduced the black Puerto Rican teenager Miles Morales to a wider audience.
As you might guess from the title, Miles gets a bigger chance to shine in the new game, with the Peter Parker Spider-Man we all know and some love, nicking off after the first mission, for a pretty hilarious reason.
We’ll avoid giving away any more spoilers about the story, frankly the plot is quite ancillary, even if it does have some great conflict and a few decent twists.
The gameplay itself is far too much fun to get wrapped up in the story.
Mastering your webslinging to speed around the city is even better than skidding around in stolen cars like you get in the oft-imitated Grand Theft Auto style open-worlder.
Between the Roxxon Energy goons and the Underground’s guerillas (not to mention New York’s rotating cast of regular criminals), there’s no shortage of enemies.
Swinging through the air to kick combatants off of rooftops only to save them from falling to the ground so you can keep beating them up is yet to get old.
Outside of the main story and the combat you’re given a huge map to explore, I didn’t get a chance to get around even half of it.
One frustrating aspect of the game will be familiar to those who have spent any significant time playing any other open-world style game.
With such a big world and so much to do, a lot of what you’ll find yourself doing is essentially busywork: Go to this location and push these buttons. Maybe you’ll get in a fight along the way or learn something new about the story, but a lot of the time you’re just performing a task.
Many of the first missions you’ll play are purely designed to educate you about a variety of “challenges” around the city.
There’s also the Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man app that you access by sliding left on the PS5’s new and improved trackpad.
People around the city can report crimes or ask for help in the app, which you can attend to at your leisure.
Most of these side missions are relatively simple and some are a lot more fun than others.
There’s nothing really wrong with this per se as the whole point is to provide a break from the more challenging story missions if you don’t have the time or desire to dive into one of those.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales might be more concerned with showing off the power of the new PlayStation but it still offers plenty of entertainment value outside of that. If this is where the bar is going to be set for the next-generation of gaming consoles we’re in for a good couple of years.
The game comes out on PS4 and is better on PS5 from $79.
An “Ultimate Edition” on PS5 also includes the 2018 Spider-Man game too for $109.