Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales | Games of the Year 2022 | Popgen Tech
I’ve been through a lot of Spider-Media this year.
In addition to rewatches of Into The Spider-Verse and No Way Home, I read six volumes of Spider-Gwen, seven volumes of Miles Morales, and a mix of classic and modern Amazing Spider-Man storylines that I never got around to . The past. I’ve also made it partway through a replay of the 2018 Spider-Man game and watched most of (the quiet brilliant and my 2022 earworm) Spidey & His Amazing Friends.
It’s partly because I’m a huge Spider-Man fan but it’s more of his world than I’ve experienced in a year – and that’s largely thanks to one Miles Morales.
A solid sequel that not only lives up to the original, but improves upon it in many ways
I got Insomniac’s 2020 semi-sequel as a birthday present earlier this year (but it debuted on PC this year, and therefore counts). And, at the risk of repeating all the things people said when it first came out, it’s absolutely fantastic.
Naturally, it helps that it builds on the groundwork laid by the 2018 masterpiece but what impressed me the most is that it feels different enough from the previous title, and those differences can range from significant to subtle.
Like the previous game, Miles Morales throws you into the action from the start but compared to its predecessor’s relatively stop-start tutorial at Fisk’s headquarters, the rush to reach the prison convoy, Rhino’s inevitable escape, the furious chase and fierce battle that ensued. everyone seems to be in a hurry. You’re instantly drawn back into the world of Spider-Man and feel like Miles, desperate to keep up with and prove yourself to the OG Spidey.
The combat will feel familiar if you played the first title, but it’s still as accessible as ever if you didn’t. The fact that Miles knows most of Peter Parker’s moves from the offset (and is taught less than an hour into the game) means you pick up where you left off – a refreshing break from sequels that come for complicated reasons so that you remove the abilities that you are used to.
And then there are Miles’ unique abilities: Venom Blast and invisibility. The first makes you feel stronger than ever in 2018’s Spider-Man, encouraging you to face a bigger crowd of opponents and play in the superhero fantasy these titles are built on. The ability to disappear, meanwhile, helps with any stealth sections and gives you more options when taking out baddies spread out in an area without alerting them. Again, stealthily taking out goons one by one without their comrades knowing provides a power that never ages.
The fact that the moment-to-moment gameplay is so familiar, but with enough extras to keep it from feeling the same, means you can appreciate the other changes Insomniac made to Miles Morales.
First, the storyline. While Spider-Man 2018 did a solid job of reinventing the classic characters, especially the final villain, anyone with a vague awareness of the webhead’s rogues gallery knew what was coming. Most of the game’s first and second acts feel like they’re building to a plot twist that we all know is coming, and while it’s well executed, I enjoyed the Miles Morales twists more.
More than any other title in this franchise, Miles Morales gives you the feeling of being a Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.
The plot is more personal for Miles; not only is he fighting someone near and dear to him, the main villain is targeting his home. The stakes may be that all of New York City is in danger, but the focus is entirely on Harlem and saving the people Miles grew up with. The way the story is paced and built up, the finale was even more gripping for me than Peter’s final battle.
The use of Harlem and its inhabitants is another major difference to Miles Morales. Previous Spider-Man games let you loose in Manhattan, but there was no connection to any particular place. It’s a sandbox for you to play with, a model village (well, city) that serves as a backdrop for your spandex-clad antics. Miles Morales, however, spends more time in Harlem than any other part of the city. You’ll start to recognize landmarks, like the street with Spider-Man graffiti from the opening cutscene, or the corner shop where we meet the cat named Spider-Man. It makes it personal when you go back during the climax and see Harlem burning. This is your home and it needs to be protected, not just some collection of buildings where you have to bash more enemies into submission.
This extends to side quests. Peter Parker’s additional missions are usually delivered by complete strangers, but so much of what Miles can use comes from people he already knows. We accompany him on his journey of trying to protect his identity, to improve his reputation as New York’s newest Spider-Man, while simultaneously helping those he cares about. More than any other title in this franchise, Miles Morales gives you the feeling of being a Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.
Even the little things. The fact that Miles is flying through the air and hanging on as he swings is a subtle reminder that he’s only been a superhero for six months (compared to the eight-year veteran Peter of the previous game). The short, sharp length of the main plot (as Chris said last year, we need shorter AAA games). The exciting scavenger hunt to find audio messages from Miles’ father. John Paesano’s musical score, which is perfectly in line with his 2018 work and which he feels is a better fit for Miles (and has become my go-to ‘let’s get this shit done’ working music).
Insomniac’s Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales injected more fuel into my appreciation of the wall-crawler. It’s a solid sequel that not only lives up to the original, but improves upon it in many ways, and while I’ve come away from replaying Spider-Man 2018 (that game is longer than you remember), it’s quite I can easily see myself going. back to Miles’ adventure many times. In fact, since it’s set at Christmas, I might just do it next week.
Roll on the arrival of Spider-Man 2 next year.