Star Rating:

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Platforms: PS4, PS5

Release Date: Thursday 12th November 2020

Genre(s): Action, Adventure

Every so often in gaming, technology finally catches up with ambition.

'The Elder Scrolls' didn't really hit its stride until 'Morrowind' and 'Oblivion' gave the game its sense of expansiveness. While games like 'Gran Turismo' were incredible feats of graphics, other games used the same techniques and structures to do something more unique with them.

'Spider-Man', though it arrived well into the PS4's lifecycle, had a lot going for it but never quite made the big leaps it was reaching for. For anyone who played the likes of 'Arkham Knight', it was familiar enough territory and when you came right down to it, 'Spider-Man' felt more like general sketches than detailed drawings of what it could be.

After all, trying to squeeze the entire city of Manhattan into a game at a life-size scale was always going to be a major pressure on the PS4. That's why 'Spider-Man: Miles Morales' feels like the perfect game to launch the PS5 with. Not only can it comfortably fit the city's map and features, it does it so comfortably and without fuss that swinging your way through the city streets doesn't feel like the console is going to blast off.

In fact, you can handily do tricks and spins as you drop, before firing off another line and gently breezing your way over a building before another series of spins and tricks. The joy that comes from this is familiar, yes, for those who played 'Spider-Man', but here, it feels effortless. More to the point, the fidelity and the graphics are so crisp and clean, you can see every aspect of the design as you flip your way onto street lights and ride along the side of buildings.

As for gameplay, it's the same as 'Spider-Man'. The combat system is intuitive enough, but once you've worked out to how to beat the variety of enemies, you're merely going through the motions and clearly them out. It isn't as mindless button bashing as, say, 'Marvel's Avengers', nor does it have the same fluidity as 'Arkham Knight', but it's satisfying enough.

The story picks up around about the same time where 'Spider-Man' left off, with Miles and Peter Parker working alongside one another to keep New York safe. Parker heads off on a European trip, leaving Morales in charge just as nefarious doings begin to take off in Harlem, involving a tech conglomerate, some tech-heightened criminals, and all the side missions you can handle via the "friendly neighbourhood spider-app" that points you to them.

Really, what 'Spider-Man: Miles Morales' is a remix rather than a full song. It's taking the elements of the original, refreshing them or placing them in a new context, adding a few new lines and verses, and then spinning the whole thing up along the same rhythm as the original. The story, the cast, the gameplay - it's all familiar, but with a revitalised approach rather than a completely new one.

More to the point, it matches the ambition that the original had in a way it couldn't with the technical capabilities. For a launch title by Sony, this is a canny move as it demonstrates the PS5's powers in a familiar context to players, rather than placing them into a new experience with no frame of reference.

At around 10 - 15 hours of the main story, and many more in side missions, achievement hunting, and just the joy of aimlessly swinging through New York, 'Spider-Man: Miles Morales' may be conventional, but conventional's never looked or felt this good in quite some time.