Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a game that not only builds on the incredible foundation that was Marvel’s Spider-Man with a new protagonist and mechanics, but cuts out a lot of the bloat that plagued its predecessor. The refinements overall result in a tremendously well-paced experience that every Spider-Man fan should check out as long as they aren’t using a launch PlayStation 4.

In Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, you play as the titular Miles Morales who has been tag-teaming New York City alongside his mentor and OG Spider-Man, Peter Parker. The main conceit of the story is that Peter and Mary Jane have gone on something of a working vacation in Europe, leaving Miles to be the sole protector of New York City for the next three weeks. Peter, having never been able to take a break from protecting the city gets a much needed respite from it, while Miles finally has his chance to prove that he’s just as legitimate a Spider-Man as Peter is.

That chance comes when Miles uncovers a new gang that’s risen from the ashes of the defeated criminal enterprises from 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man, along with a corporation doing unsurprisingly unscrupulous things. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales doesn’t waste much time before thrusting you into the heart of this ~10 hour experience, keeping the story and the intrigue moving at an enjoyable brisk pace. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales also cuts out all of those dreadful stealth missions where you played as “not-Spider-Man,” which is an overwhelmingly good decision.

What I love about Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is that not only in its storytelling does it respect your time, but the missions and side activities have been tuned in such a way to keep things fresh and engaging without bogging you down with an enormous activities checklist. To be clear, the game does have mildly repetitive challenges and side activities within it, but their volume has been greatly reduced. While random crimes are still recycled ad-nauseam, the bigger side missions are all unique in their structure. It’s one of the few times I’ve been able to look at a follow-up to a game and see a developer actually respond to the criticisms they’ve received.

When you start Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, you’re already way more capable than Peter Parker was in Marvel’s Spider-Man. Allowing you to have access to advanced swinging mechanics and combat abilities right from the jump makes the game much less of a grind, while also making narrative sense as well considering there would be no reason for Peter not to teach Miles all he’s learned in the course of his adventure.

From top to bottom, I had an excellent time with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales both from a narrative standpoint and its new gameplay mechanics. Miles has access to electrically powered attacks, dubbed “venom strikes,” as well as an inherent cloaking ability that I probably didn’t use as much as I should have. Miles doesn’t have the same amount of gadgetry and tech that Peter had in his game, but these abilities more than make up for it. Besides, there was only like one or two suit modifications and gadgets worth using in Marvel’s Spider-Man.

My only real issue with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales comes with its technical performance. Being that this is a cross-generation game appearing on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, the game felt half-baked on my launch PS4 in a way that Marvel’s Spider-Man did not. At the beginning of the game it both ran well and looked incredible, but as time went on, the cracks started to show. My running theory is that as time progresses in the game, the time of day and weather also change with it. When nightfall would hit or snow would fall, the game would run heinously in a way that I imagine newer hardware could handle with ease.

I experienced a ton of frame rate hitches and even had the game just lock up in certain places for a few seconds, but to its credit the game never crashed or made me lose progress. But it really made the best part about these games, which is to say the swinging around, feel like a chore. Having to battle the frame rate every time I dared to take to the skies truly detracted from an otherwise outstanding game. Even aside from that though, the version I played was plagued with other technical errors like dialogue just not playing in cut-scenes, cut-scenes just freezing completely, and my least favorite of all, the game playing two music tracks on top of each other. That last one was something that literally ended up giving me a headache until I rebooted both the game and console.

It’s a shame that the technical quality of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales wasn’t up to snuff, because the rest of the game was so good that it made me power through these issues just to see the end. Hell, I still want to hop back in and sweep up all the stuff I missed, but I’ll have to wait until I can get my hands on a PS5 before I attempt it. If you’ve got a system capable of running it properly as well as a love for Spider-Man as a concept, I cannot recommend Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales enough.

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