I have a bit of a history with Spider-Man games. In fact, my first Spider-Man game was also my first console experience.
When I was 12 the Spider-Man movie directed by Joxer the mighty, otherwise known as Sam Raimi came out in theatres. It was my first real introduction to Spider-Man and I adored it.
It was probably my first time watching a superhero movie and featured an awkward nerd who thinks they’re pretty funny and lucked out with powers. You could say I related and had aspirations.
I had dreams where I got spider powers. They actually kind of sucked because I still lived in Mandurah, a relatively small city south of Perth in WA and my dreams were very aware of this. I changed into my suit unglamorously on the top of a car parts shop that I’d passed regularly and noticed the roof had raised walls around it.
Mandurah also lacks skyscrapers and the web slinging in my dreams did not miss this detail either. There was a lot of swinging into the ground. The dreams weren’t as much fun as they could have been.
My First Spider
Neither was the Spider-Man movie tie-in game on the original Xbox, but I didn’t know that. Every time we went to the shops I’d find the display consoles and they were all running the demo for this game. I would play for as long as I was allowed.
Eventually, I managed to get all my teachers at school to sign a form saying I deserved an Xbox (I did not, lol) to help convince my parents. The game I wanted with it? Spider-Man.
I didn’t have much gaming experience at this point so I didn’t really have a concept of games being good or bad. If they felt bad, I just assumed I was bad at them. I actually enjoyed playing the in hindsight not good Spider-Man game because I didn’t know any better. I could barely pass any levels and unlocked everything with cheat codes. It was a simpler time.
Nowadays I’m pretty good at knowing when a game is good or bad, subjective as this may be. I’ve been reviewing games for nearly a decade, so you’d hope I’d have learned something.
Building the Web
Since then I've played most Spider-Man games, always searching for one to be as good as watching the original Spider-Man film made 12 year old me feel like they could be.
Spider-Man 2 sticks out as being a good time when I was able to rent it from my local Video Ezy. I also really enjoyed Web of Shadows but it still felt like they weren't living up to the potential of how fun being Spider-Man should feel.
Marvel’s Spider-Man came out on PlayStation in 2018. That was a good Spider-Man game but to me, it wasn’t a great one.
It has excellent web swinging. Much much better than both Mandurah dreams and the previous games. However, I never really fell in love with combat and the story is a variation on one we’ve heard a million times before. Good, but not great Spider-Man.
Why Miles Morales
This years’ sequel Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales has absolutely improved upon the first. To the point where, I think we may finally have a great Spider-Man game.
And, yes, like I said, I’ve played Spider-Man 2.
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, for my money is the best Spider-Man experience you can play right now. If you’re lucky enough to have a PS5 to experience these next gen games on.
And I think a big part of that is because they chose to focus on Miles rather than Peter Parker.
Peter Parker has been done. To death a bit. He’s great but we already know he’s Spider-Man. We already believe in that Spider-Man.
Miles Morales is probably the second most famous Spidey around at the moment. Partially due to the very excellent Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie from 2018, but he’s been gathering fans and momentum for a good while now regardless. Miles is a Spider-Man for our times. He can also easily exist in a universe alongside a Peter Parker Spidey. Narratively, it’s just such a smart choice.
Insomniac even introduced us to this universe’s Miles in the previous game so it doesn’t feel weird. But in that game, I wasn’t a big fan of his more toned down persona and dweeb style. It actually made me quite apprehensive about the sequel, rehashing a game with a new guy I didn’t even like yet.
But instead, all of this gave us a Spider-Man we could feel like we were starting from scratch with, without making us relearn how to swing.
The intro sequence alone in Miles Morales is so clever because it teams Miles with Peter Parker. In these moments you’re given the context to be rehashing the basics, rather than relearning them. If you mess up Pete will even cover for you. It’s also the first time we get to see Miles dig deep and prove he can be a true Spider-Man which is why it makes sense when Peter passes the torch, if only for a holiday.
As dumb as it is have one Spider-Man officially endorse the next generation as the consoles make the same transition is pretty cool. No wait, it's just dumb. But I like it.
We also learn about Miles’ trademark powers. This Spider-Man has bioelectricity and can turn invisible, which I’ve honestly always thought made no sense and makes him super overpowered but they’re cool so I don’t care.
The reason I mention it is because Miles’ abilities really save the combat for me.
The invisibility makes stealth sections feel much more powerful. There was a lot less waiting around for enemies to walk under me and more opportunities to safely cause distractions or even just take them out. It encouraged me to experiment with these areas more which made them feel more fun and Miles more like a superhero.
His absolutely bullshit venom electricity is really fun to use too even though it’s largely similar to how things worked in the previous Spider-Man game.
You can build it by performing tricks as well as fighting. There’s also abilities you can unlock to help generate it faster and it has other uses. The decision between using it as an attack that dramatically helps with defeating some enemies and the need to use it to restore health hits a much nicer balance. I remember rarely using these powers in the first game because they often felt weak or not worth it over healing.
This tweaked version encouraged me to use it more frequently and more importantly, it’s powerful enough that using it actually feels worthwhile. They also look really cool to use, which adds to the power fantasy of being the, once again, completely bullshit powerful Miles Morales.
Because you’re playing as this somewhat stuffy unfamiliar Miles, the story has its own identity.
Sure many of the themes and arcs are similar, but I wasn’t seeing characters I’d watched a million iterations of doing the same things again. Overall it’s a bit rushed and probably could have done with some more missions, but I came to learn and appreciate Mile’s motivations and aspirations as his own Spider-Man.
I actually really came around on this Spider-Man. It’s got all the things that were good about the previous game and delivered on becoming greater. It even kept the seriously good web slinging but through an even more beautiful next gen New York.
That’s why Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the penultimate Spider-Man experience you can have. Aside from watching Spider-verse again.
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales was reviewed on a PS5 with a digital copy of the game kindly provided by Poem group.