I remember it like it was yesterday… It was September 7th, 2018, and Insomniac’s Spider-Man was just released for the PS4. I had been patiently waiting for it to drop since it was announced in 2016 and this was it… that day was finally here. I picked up my copy from my local GameStop, booted it up, and fell in love. It was everything I had ever wanted from a Spider-Man game. The web-slinging was top notch. I still remember how intense it was flying through New York zipping from building to building while spinning and flipping around. The combat was oh so smooth. A perfect blend of web-shooting, acrobatic strikes, and gadgets only Peter Parker himself could think of. In my opinion, it took what the Batman games did, but did it even BETTER. But the most important thing of all was the story.
We’ve heard Peter Parker’s tales as Spider-Man over and over again since his inception. Somehow Insomniac managed to take all these familiar characters and give us a fresh new take on that story. But they didn’t just give us a fresh new take on Pete… Insomniac introduced us to a young boy by the name of Miles Morales. If you’ve kept up with the comics, or you watched the 2018 hit movie “Into The Spider-Verse”, then you might be familiar with this Spider-Person. If you aren’t, I’ll take this moment to introduce you to Insomniac’s interpretation of what I consider my favorite Spider-Person.
NOTE: The following section contains spoilers from Insomniac’s Spider-Man.
At the start of Spider-Man, Miles Morales is a 16-year-old kid from Brooklyn. His father, Jefferson Davis, is an officer for the NYPD. His mother, Rio Morales, is a teacher. Much like Pete, Miles is a bright kid with a thing for technology. We’re first introduced to Miles by seeing him record a battle between Spider-Man and the Inner Demons on his cellphone. It was pretty easy to tell Miles is a fan of Spidey. At one point in the game, Jefferson Davis is called in to help Spider-Man investigate a shipyard owned by Fisk. The two of them manage to crack the case, but not without Davis getting injured. This heroic act earned him a medal from Mayor Norman Osborn… yes, Norman Osborn is a mayor in this universe. During the medal ceremony Mister Negative, the main villain of the game, and the Inner Demons attack. Bombs go off, and as one approaches the podium Jefferson Davis commits one final act of heroism and intercepts it right as it’s about to go off.
The game cuts to a black screen and suddenly we’re back, but this time playing as Miles Morales. It’s a heartbreaking scene as he tries to make his way through the destruction. He manages to find and help his Mother… but as he finds his Father he realizes there was nothing he could do. A week later the game cuts to Jefferson’s funeral where Peter Parker is in attendance. Peter, knowing what it’s like to lose a father figure, tries to comfort Miles. But at the moment, it meant nothing to him. Eventually, Peter has Aunt May reach out to Miles’s mother, suggesting that working for the F.E.A.S.T. shelter could be a way to help Miles process his grief.
If you’ve seen Into The Spider-Verse you know Miles gets bitten by a radioactive spider during an amazing scene in a sewer where his Uncle Aaron a.k.a. The Prowler helps him work on a piece of graffiti he’s been sitting on in his notebook. Insomniac went a different route as Miles gets bitten by a radioactive spider during his time at the shelter. After the events in the shelter, the game brings its focus back to Pete. By the end of the game, Insomniac shows us how different this story is as we witness the death of Aunt May.
Miles shows up at her funeral, this time trying to comfort Pete during his moment of grief. A true bond and friendship blossoms between Miles and Peter. During a post-credits scene, we see Miles and Pete have a conversation where Miles reveals that he’s got radioactive spider-powers. In an act of trust, Pete reveals that he’s the one and only Spider-Man. Insomniac released a few DLCs to follow up the game’s storyline and in those, we witness phone calls and text messages between Pete and Miles, with Miles BEGGING Pete to show him the way of the spider. Hesitant at first, Peter decides to take Miles under his wing and show him how to become a Spider-Man.
At this point, I knew Insomniac was going to give us the chance to play as Miles Morales. On June 11, 2020, Insomniac confirmed that for me as they announced Spider-Man: Miles Morales on both PS4 and PS5. I remember watching the trailer and absolutely losing my shit. Into The Spider-Verse had made me such a huge fan of Miles, and after seeing what they did with him in the previous game, I was dying to play an entire game dedicated to him. I headed over to Amazon, tossed a preorder on the game, and patiently counted down the days until it arrived at my doorstep. Due to a slight delay in shipping, instead of getting my copy on November 12th, I received it 5 days later. I did everything in my ability to avoid spoilers on the internet and considered myself lucky. I threw the disc into my console, installed the game, and began my journey as Miles Morales.
Warning: I’ll be going into spoilers about the first mission in the game, as well as some of the side missions.
Miles Morales takes place a year after the events of Spider-Man. Miles and his mother Rio had moved back to her childhood home of Harlem. Rio, formerly a teacher, is now running for Mayor. Peter Parker had been spending time with Miles trying to help him sharpen his skills, but was still hesitant to leave him on his own. In the first mission of the game, we’re introduced to Miles wearing a suit somewhat similar to the hoodie one he wore in Into The Spider-Verse. Underneath the hoodie, he wears one of Pete’s old suits. And instead of his iconic Jordans, he’s rocking a fresh pair of Adidas which was met with plenty of mixed reactions. Some sneakerheads arguing that he got a massive downgrade to his swag.
During this mission, Pete has called on Miles to help him out in guarding the helicopter transport that’s taking Rino to the raft. The carrier has an issue, and Miles eager to show that he’s ready to take on responsibility jumps into action. Unfortunately, that only makes things worse as Miles brings down the transport busting it open and releasing Rhino on a rampage in front of a Roxxon energy complex. Rhino starts to beat on Peter to the point of knocking him unconscious and Miles takes over. It’s during this fight we see the first thing that separates Miles from Peter: Venom Power. Miles zaps Rhino with a blast of bioelectricity and brings things to an end. We see Roxxon executive Simon Krieger show up to take Rhino into custody. Miles apologizes for the rampage at the facility and Krieger tells him not to worry as the complex was going to be demolished anyway.
After these events, we’re treated to a scene where Miles and Peter share a pizza together. During this touching moment between mentor and student, Pete gives a gift to Miles: his very own brand new Spider Suit. After he delivers the gift, Pete informs Miles that he and Mary Jane are going on a trip together for the holidays and that for the next few weeks Miles would become the one and only Spider-Man. And of course, like any 17-year-old given great responsibility, Miles begins to question his own abilities. Pete reassures him that after the events that unfolded that day, Miles was more than ready to take on the responsibility of protecting New York… and if for whatever reason Miles was worried or had questions, Pete was just a phone call away. At this point, the world opens up and Miles begins his journey as the one and only Spider-Man.
Now that I’ve set up the story for all of you let’s talk about the gameplay. Insomniac managed to utilize the philosophy of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” and personally I felt that was a great idea. The combat is more or less the same: Quick acrobatic strikes, lots of web-shooting, and a ton of gadgets thrown into the mix. But what makes it different from the last game is Miles goes and injects his own flair into it. The way he weaves in and out of combat, how he punches and kicks, his entire move set feels fresh and unique. The game also utilizes the unique abilities Miles has as Spider-Man: His venom powers and his camouflage ability which you earn a bit later in the game. This allows you to set up fights where you go in camouflaged, beat on someone, pop out of stealth, zap them with some venom powers, web someone up to a wall, and then pop right back into stealth. It’s these two abilities that allow the combat to have a fresh take unique to Miles Morales.
Now let’s talk about web-slinging. The system is still just as fluid as it was in the last game. You swing from building to building gaining speed and momentum. You can run across the sides of walls and even straight up a building. You zip forward and sling yourself through town. And you can even do tricks just like Peter Parker did in the last game. But, just like the combat, Miles adds his own flair to his web-slinging style. From the way he flies through the air, you can already tell he’s separating himself from Pete. One of my favorite tricks unique to Miles is the dive where he’s laying back texting on his cellphone. He’s got all sorts of crazy spins and flips that remind you he’s nothing like Peter Parker.
Of course, all the action in the world means nothing if the story and side quests aren’t there right? I won’t spoil anymore of the main story for you but what I sill say they delivered an experience that will take you through a massive range of emotions. The game takes place in Harlem and by the end of it, the citizens of Harlem call Miles “their Spider-Man.” because they feel so connected to him. It’s not that Pete isn’t a bad Spider-Man, or doesn’t care about Harlem. It’s because Miles invested so much of his heart and soul into Harlem.
His best friend Ganke creates an app called the “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man App” or “FNSM App” for short, which is a direct line for the people of Harlem to reach out to Spider-Man for help and acts as a form of side missions. The thing about this app is you get some “serious” requests such as recovering a truck full of lost toys, and saving someone stuck on a skyscraper… but then you also get simple tasks such as pulling someone’s stuck truck out of the snow and simply taking a selfie with a fan. One of my favorite missions involves finding a bodega owner’s lost cat. Because Miles makes himself so available to the people of Harlem, they have this bond with him. They feel connected to this Spider-Man simply because he wants to do everything he can to help them, even if its some simple mundane task.
The side missions go further than the FNSM App. At one point, Miles becomes stressed out with the duties of being Spider-Man. His Uncle Aaron, aware that Miles’s behavior has been off, decides to help his nephew out. Unlike the Into The Spider-Verse Miles who’s a graffiti artist, this Miles is a music producer. Aaron talks to Miles about the time when he and his father worked on a mixtape together. They decided to use all the sounds of the city as the samples for the mixtape. Aaron sends Miles on a hunt to find all the sounds both he and his father used to make a mixtape in hopes it would give Miles time to destress and inspire him to make a mix of his own.
Another form of side missions revolves around Peter Parker leaving a set of training holograms for Miles that help him hone his techniques and abilities. At one point Miles cracks a joke going “I wonder what people think when they see me just running around punching the air and talking to myself?” which adds humor to what seems like an insane task.
There’s also a really touching storyline that revolves around a scavenger hunt set up for Miles’s Birthday. His father left a set of recordings before he passed away for Miles to seek out. Each recording takes Miles to a part of the city where his father shares a memory that both him and Miles had at that location. Even though Jefferson isn’t physically in the game, you still get to see how great of a father he was, what kind of realtionship he had with his brother Aaron, and how much he cared for Miles. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry at multiple points during this hunt.
Of course, I can’t end this without talking about the most important thing you want from a Spider-Man game: the suits! Insomniacs Spider-Man gave us a HUGE selection of Spidey suits from comics and movies, as well as ones unique to the game. Miles Morales doesn’t disappoint as it gives us 19 suits to unlock in the game.
You have the iconic “Into The Spider-Verse” suit that has an entire ability set that slows the frame rate of Miles down to replicate the effect from the movie. Every time you punch or kick someone you seem WHAM! and POW! pop up on the screen.
At the end of the side mission that Aaron gives you to collect music samples, you’re gifted what I consider the second-best suit in the game, Purple Reign.
But the best suit in the entire game comes to you after you beat it.
Remember how I told you about the mission where you rescue the bodega cat? At the end of the game, the bodega owner is so grateful for saving his cat and everything you’ve done for Harlem that he asks you if you can take his cat, Spider-Man, on some of your adventures. You’re given a suit with a hoodie and a backpack. In this backpack is the most adorable little orange tabby named Spider-Man. He even gets his own little mask. As you swing across town and even get into combat, little Spidey just sits in your backpack observing things. At one point I was getting my ass handed to me and Spidey was just calmly sitting in the backpack bathing himself. As someone who’s been a cat dad, I can confirm that this would be something a cat would do. But he isn’t all just show. Sometimes when you activate a finisher Spider-Man will leap out of your backpack, smack the shit out of the baddie, and jump right back in. There are so many other great suits but these are just a few of the ones I felt needed to be mentioned.
I poured about 30 or so hours into the game so far, but that’s because I went out of the way to do the side content. If you decide to power straight through the storyline you’re looking at about 10 hours and honestly, that’s my only complaint. Insomniac’s version of Miles Morales is so well done that I wish they gave the guy more time on his solo adventure. I loved Insomniac’s Spider-Man. They did a great job giving us a new take on Peter Parker. But at the end of the day, the story is still so similar. We all know about Peter Parker and his life as Spider-Man. We all know about Aunt May and Uncle Ben. We all know about the entire rogue gallery of villains he’s faced.
Some of my friends have said they’re burnt out of Spider-Man between all the movies, comics, and games. But one thing they all say is they loved Into The Spider-Verse because it put a brand new Spider-Man front and center. It told a story none of us have heard before.
I personally feel the world isn’t sick of Spider-Man… we’re just tired of hearing about Peter Parker. I feel the solution to that is Miles Morales. His journey is a brand new story that we’ve never seen a Spider-Man go through. I’m 32 years old and I’ve loved Spider-Man since I was a kid. But as I sit here and write this article, I realized my love for Spider-Man is no longer about Peter Parker. My love is for Miles Morales, the 17-year-old biracial kid from Harlem.The Spider-Man who’s still learning what it’s like to have great power and great responsibility. The Spider-Man who was told “Don’t do it like me… Do it like you.” and does exactly that.
Insomniac, if you’re somehow reading this please do us all a favor: Give Miles Morales the full-length game he deserves. I don’t want to play him as a side character in Spider-Man 2. I don’t want to play him in a DLC Expansion. I don’t want another 10-hour spin-off game. I want Spider-Man: Miles Morales 2, and I want it to be given the same care and attention that Spider-Man 2 is going to be given. Because at the end of the day, in my honest opinion, Miles Morales is the Superior Spider-Man.