Now this is the second game I jumped into on my PS5, right after finishing up Astro’s Playroom. I didn’t want to get into Demon’s Souls at first, since I figured it was going to take a good amount of time and commitment to get through it. So what’s more fun than a modern Spider-Man game to break in a console? I bought the full 70 USD version of the game that came with the remastered original, not because I thought it was a good deal or anything, I just want the best version of that original game for the next time I play through it. I do consider the price and the way they structured the upgrade to PS5 to be a bit anti-consumer, which is a topic we can get into later. A funny thing to note about this title and the PS5 is that I bought the PS5 version of the game, from my PS5, which I have to say it did download at a really fast speed and only took between 20-30 minutes for the whole bundle to download. What I noticed though, is that it also downloaded the PS4 version of the games onto my PS5. It’s a really odd thing for the system to do without even asking, this is not something people are looking for. If you have data caps on your internet you should be really pissed, and what’s the likelihood that someone downloading a PS5 version of a game onto their PS5 would also want the PS4 version at the same time? What are they thinking over there at Sony HQ? It’s dumb, fix it.
What struck me most about this game and the character of Miles Morales is the way he’s positioned in the pop culture of America between the games and movies. The previous game came out before Into the Spider Verse came out, and that game introduced his character into the game world, but now you have this larger game that is centered around this established character. The Spider Verse movie came out so strong that that version of Miles is who the character should be in the game, that’s the version we all love. So this character had a hard time being as good as that one and I don’t think he eclipsed the Miles from the movies performance and vibe. He’s a different person, a Miles from a different multi-verse and that’s okay in the end. You can unlock his suit from the movie and add modes that make him animate in the style of the film, which ends up looking really cool. Just don’t go in expecting that vibrant and alive world from the movie. It’s more of a realistic, grounded experience that feels constrained by the previous game.
In the game, you get a little bit of the musical flavor from the movie, a little bit of his style as a person, but it just doesn’t seem to have that insane and dramatic flair that the movie did so well at portraying. That hurt my impression of this game just the slightest as I played it, Miles would start dancing to a song and I’d just want the game to give me more of it and to pump it all up to 11. When you get past that point though, you find a game that has a story that grips you and carries you through the whole experience. It doesn’t drag it’s heels much, you learn about all the characters in his life through the story and missions. It becomes less about the city and more about the people in it. It becomes okay that it’s not Into the Spider Verse, it’s a continuation of a Spider-Man game and it’s going to lead into the next main title in the series.
If you’ve played the first Spider-Man game in this series, then you’ll know exactly what to expect in this one. It’s the 1.5 version on the way to the next full sequel. The combat is exciting, you get different powers than what Peter Parker uses, which makes it seem fresh. It’s just more of the same which isn’t that bad of a thing. Swinging around the city feels just as good as it did in the last game, the only major difference is that you do a lot less of it since you can basically fast travel around the map in the matter of seconds. That also helps in cutting down on the feeling of wasting time as you play this game. If you have a mission or side quest that you want to do on the other side of the city, just pull up your map and select the nearest fast travel point, you’ll be there in two seconds.
What makes this game feel next gen is the loading speed and the use of ray traced reflections present in the graphics mode of the game. On your first playthrough, I say don’t even start up the performance mode, keep it locked to 30 fps and see what ray tracing does to the world. If you switch back and forth to test them out, you really do notice the difference in performance and just how smooth the 60 fps is, but if you keep playing on 30 fps then it really does become less of an issue.
The reflections in the game add a lot to the way the world looks. Swing through a city street with buildings of glass on both sides and take in the added depth and believability on display. Plant yourself to the side of a building and see your character reflected perfectly on the glass. Walk up to the TV in your house and see the distorted image of your character on the curved tube of the TV. As a person into the graphical fidelity of games, this is something I couldn’t stop looking at in each new environment, we’re finally at a point where the horrible artifacting of screen-space reflections can be put to bed.
Once you get past the graphics, or at least admire them only on occasion and not all the time, the story in the game becomes the leading force. You get to experience Miles becoming his own version of Spider-Man at a time when Peter is on vacation. The arc of the story is nice and tight, with not a lot of down time or long, drawn out sequences. The game does play it really safe, which is both good and bad. It’s good in that it makes the whole game fun to play and enjoyable to watch, the bad is that it ends up lacking an emotional punch. I felt like the game didn’t take that many chances, Miles never really got angry at anything or anyone, and the trauma in his life has already past well before this game started. While he does experience a traumatic experience in this title, I feel like it didn’t carry the emotional weight that it should have.
Saying that, it’s okay that it didn’t. It’s nice to have this type of experience, not everything has to be a Last of Us game. Kids are going to play this and get a real kick out of it. Hell, everyone who plays this game will get a real kick out of it. The swinging mechanics are just spot on, it’s so fun to swing around and launch off the top of a building, then do a few flips before skimming the ground as you swing back up.
Oh yea, my two cents is that the new Peter Parker face is way better than the original from the first game. When I saw that guy on screen for the first time I couldn’t believe they made Peter look like that, didn’t fit the character at all. The face swap makes his character so much better for it.
I did experience a few bugs with this game. It crashed on me once, which might be the result of not quitting the game when I’m turning off my PS5, I usually just put it into rest mode and resume on next bootup. That shouldn’t be an issue though, although it is early days for the console. I also had an issue of playing it on the performance mode and getting massive stutters constantly. I closed out the game and reloaded it and that seemed to have fixed the issue. So just a few little patches to both the game and the system should resolve those issue easily.
Final Score – 8.8
A great little game. An even better value at a discounted price. If you’re going for the platinum like I was, you have to play the game again on new game +. I switched it to the 60 fps and skipped as many cut scenes as possible and was able to beat it in about 3 hours. That will give you a bit of context on it’s length. I’m happy I played it, can’t wait for the next full sequel.