Australia's own Cate Shortland directs this origin story for Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (and first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe), also starring Florence Pugh as Yelena, David Harbour as Alexei/The Red Guardian, Rachel Weisz is Melina, Ray Winstone as Dreykov and William Hurt as Thaddeus Ross.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a new console generation’s first few games are either a bit crap or shallow tech demos. You don’t even have to go back far to see the trend. The launch/near launch titles on the PS4 were Killzone Shadow Fall (pretty, shallow) and Infamous Second Son (pretty, shallow). Well, it’s all just a bit of history repeating with Spider-Man: Miles Morales providing a beautifully rendered, not terribly deep introduction to the beefy new PS5. However, just because it’s a bit simple, doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a sequel/spin-off from Marvel’s Spider-Man, the very solid title from friendly neighbourhood Insomniac Games. This time around the player is thrust into the scuffed sneakers of Miles Morales, who revealed his superpowers at the end of the previous game. Peter Parker, the OG Spidey, has to bugger off overseas, leaving New York in Miles’ hands. Which would be fabulous, were it not for the arrival of a new big bad, The Tinkerer, who is using a kind of programmable matter to wreak havoc on the Roxxon company and, by extension, the city itself.
There’s a lot about Spider-Man: Miles Morales that works really well. Miles is an affable, engaging character and his relationships with friends and family give the entire story a lot of heart and moments of genuine pathos. The gameplay, like the previous title, is superbly kinetic, and swinging through New York has lost none of its charm, particularly when played at 60fps. The fluid, dynamic movement is an utterly engaging joy. Combat too, with Miles’ added Venom Powers, feels slick and acrobatic and the addition of new enemy types is extremely welcome.
On the downside, the game is short – 5-7 hours or so – and all the busywork, map-filling content in the world can’t hide that fact. Despite its slender length, there’s also a perturbing amount of filler. One mission in particular had Miles having to power up a bunch of generators to enter a building followed by… powering up another bunch of generators to use a McGuffin inside the building!
The plot, also, is serviceable rather than spectacular, with the villains never feeling particularly iconic and the combat scenarios skewing a little samey. Plus, there are a number of technical problems with the game, particularly on the higher visual fidelity modes, that led to dramatic crashes from time to time. Sure, this is to be expected when early adopting new tech, but it’s still a pain and should be noted.
And yet, despite all of that, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a damn good time. Superb graphics, flawless animation, fast-paced movement and concussive combat combine for a light but compelling experience. If you own a PS5 this is basically a must-own, despite niggling issues and a hefty price tag.