Spoilers for Spiderman: Miles Morales follow! You hath been warned.
I remember the State of Play when Spider-Man: Miles Morales was announced and Lem's excitement for the game. I had finished the original Spider-Man game, concentrating on the main story alone. The mechanics of the game were amazing (see what I did there :)), but the Batman style combat tended to wear after a bit. So, overall I was not very hyped about this game, just merely curious.
When the game was released, I heard good things about the photo mode. The game developer, Insomniac Games, had added a number of new options including a lighting mode, which assisted in some beautiful shots (and scary ones, if misused). However, I heard that the game's story was really short, around 6 hours or so.
My friend got the game when he got his PS5. Spider-Man: Miles Morales truly showcased the power of the console with the Ray Tracing and 4K. The reflections on the shop windows and on cars looked so realistic. And New York! New York looked so beautiful covered in snow. It was going to be fun swing around the city and I wanted to see how it would hold up in the PS4. I could not wait till I got my PS5 to try this game, so I settled on trying this game in the PS4 itself.
New York in Winter
New York held up it's beauty in the PS4, looking like a Winter Wonderland, decorated for Christmas. It was crowded and lived in, a feeling I was missing a lot in Cyberpunk 2077.
Swinging around the city, I was reminded of the first game and the freedom of going anywhere you wanted.
Into the Spider-verse
The game has an amazing soundtrack, very reminiscent of the Into the Spiderverse movie. In fact, the game does not shy away from it's identity, making direct references to the movie.
It does not spend too much time hyping up the reveal of Miles' uncle as the Prowler and makes that as an upfront revelation, dealing more with the relationship between Miles and his uncle.
They introduce a side quest for us to learn more about the fallout between his uncle and his dad in the form of finding the right sounds around the city, but it fell short for me and I couldn't wait for the intro one to finish so that I could get back to the main story.
The side quests are very similar to the ones in the first game. There was a little fun in finding the time capsules and the Underground caches, but otherwise I did not waste any time in trying the virtual training missions or the ones where you had to deactivate reactors in labs around the city.
With a new Spider-Man, comes new Powers. And dang, should I say, the new powers are pretty sweet. The Venom Punch and it's combination feel different from the characteristic Spider-Man powers and make for a nice new addition to the combat.
I enjoyed my time with the Venom powers, mixing and matching to create some epic fight sequences.
We have a new Spider-Man, so it makes sense, we will see some new characters, like his friend Ganke, who seems more like a sidekick. He even makes an app for people around the city to report crime. That was a really nice touch on the developers' part to give us side missions.
Then we have Miles' mom, who is running for office in Harlem. She is a great character, well represented in the game, with lover for her son and her husband, who if you remember, was killed in the first game.
There is Phin and her older brother, Rick, childhood friends of Miles, who had lost touch with. Phin is an interesting character, who shares her love for science with Miles and we see how close they were through a series of flashback sequences.
You even get to see Peter and Dr. Octavius in one of the flashback sequences.
The Main Story
Coming to the main story, it felt more like a movie, which is a good thing. Short and compact, in the times of open world 100 hour games. The story starts out strong, with the mysterious Tinkerer attacking Roxxon convoys to stop the free energy reactor from powering up Harlem. We soon find that the Tinkerer is actually Miles' childhood friend, Phin, who is out to take revenge for the murder of her older brother by Simon Krieger, the head of R&D at Roxxon Corporation.
But soon it enters cliched territory. Check if you have heard this before:
Hero has a childhood friend, who he has lost touch with. They meet again after all that time. Friend turns out to be the villain. Friend was betrayed and plans to blow up the corporation responsible. Hero tries to stop friend by trying to gain false trust. Friend finds out secret identity of hero and gets angry. Friend blows up building but has a crisis of conscience after doing the act and sacrifices their life for redemption.
That is Spider-Man's story in a nutshell. It is as cliched as they come. I have noticed that Hollywood has a tendency to sacrifice/martyr the good-hearted villains rather tan actually punish them, unless there is a sequel. Good hearted villains need to sacrifice themselves for redemption. Life is not possible for them after they realize their mistake.
This long-running troupe is like an easy way out and the game doesn't even take the effort to try to be better. It even makes a point that the sacrifice would not have been needed if she hadn't created the problem in the first place. It's like the lazy writing comment in Deadpool 2, a self-referential joke, where since they acknowledged it, it cannot be criticized.
It seems like the whole thing could have been talked out been Miles and Phin. Why Miles could have even broadcast the fact that what Phin is doing is dangerous and will cause more damage than what she has anticipated, but no, she is only ready to listen after they have a boss fight.
Then there is the faceless Underground, who are introduced as a secret organization just behind fame and power. Yes, Phin it's a good idea to give them all the powerful weapons because they sure will return it to the cops and surrender, once you have taken your revenge.
I understand the need to introduce factions, but at least it made some logical sense in the first game. Here, there is no care given for establishing lore or dealing with any of the repercussions that the story will have.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. It seems the game tried to go for something in those lines, but it fell short of creating a memorable story. It did start out strong by introducing the characters and their motivations, even taking the real Spider-Man out of the equation by sending him on vacation. But as the story progressed, it did not make sense and started grasping at straws near the end to make the story work.
Overall, I was glad that the game was over when it was o else I would have found it too tedious. I am disappointed by the direction they went with and hope that they will avoid such bad writing in the future. The gameplay and the world is just perfect, but it is the story where the game fails. It's a one time experience, which will surely be more enjoyable for the PS5 experience.