When Marvel’s Spider-Man hit the PlayStation 4 back in 2018, one of the major positives critics had about the game was that it made them feel like Spider-Man. This statement has since become a little notorious as now it’s seen as hyperbole and even deserving of a little ridicule. But here we are two years later with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and there’s honestly no better way to describe how it makes me feel. “Feels like Spider-Man” carries a much different weight here as it instead has become reinvigorated with a new sense of ownership. It’s our Spider-Man that we feel like this time around.
After being introduced during the events of Marvel’s Spider-Man, Miles Morales has taken the center stage. While there was some debate over the fact that Miles essentially has what could be considered a much smaller adventure, it’s no less important than his predecessor. In fact, Miles’ debut adventure is a much bigger deal in terms of what his outing means for the future of superheroes and video games as a whole.
Although Miles Morales made his debut in the comics, the character's been breaking its way into the mainstream far more in the last few years. Not only did he have a starring stint in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but cartoon appearances and more set the stage for this starring role in the video game. Sony, Marvel, and Insomniac Games obviously felt the electricity in the air and delivered the right game at the right time.
Because while detractors can highlight the flaws in that it's just a much more compact experience than its predecessor, those critiques are kind of missing the point. It's not that it's a shorter experience or pared down, it's been brought back down to Earth. Although Miles isn't always associated with the standard Spider-Man mantra of great responsibility coming with great power, Miles Morales is the first real experience that makes this a tangible part of the package.
One of the best things Miles Morales does over its predecessor is building its missions around the actual neighborhood Miles finds himself in. Rather than taking on random tasks, Miles gets requests from those actually seeking help in his neighborhood, and as the player, you get to see how those requests not only build up Miles' overall reputation but further cement his place in the neighborhood. Though I can't speak to all of Miles' experience, I can note how for the first time a game didn't treat me like an "other."
Miles truly embodied the "friendly neighborhood Spider-Man," and the world of Harlem feels alive as he visits bodegas, looks for a new place to get a haircut, and adjusts to his new surroundings. It was a way for the player to naturally adjust to this new part of the world as although it literally was the same New York from the predecessor, highlighting a different part of it helped emphasize the unique spirits and flavor of each borough.
Outside of the content of the game's story, Miles Morales is an even more monumental shift for video games as a whole. As one of the main launch titles for PlayStation 5, it shows a commitment to a Miles-led future. Because Marvel's Spider-Man's official sequel might return to Peter Parker, but it's likely fans will be expecting to play as Miles right alongside him. Miles put a stamp on yet another major pop-culture entry with this game, and now the franchise has a brighter future than ever.
Even beyond all of these major cultural advancements, Miles Morales deserves a place on any "best of" lists for the year simply because it's so much fun. It's more Spider-Man, and is that such a bad thing? Swapping out Peter's gadgets for Miles' electricity-infused powers makes for far more engaging battles, and it's a much more pleasant experience to complete for those seeking to unlock 100% of everything the game has to offer.
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a game of the year for not only what it manages to accomplish with Miles as a character, but what it does to the Spider-Man formula overall. It shows that Marvel's Spider-Man wasn't a fluke, and there's definitely a way to keep the fun of that initial experience growing and evolving with each new entry. It's a great debut entry for a Spider-Man who viewed himself as small, and now it's a lead into a much larger experience following a much more confident version of the Miles we have come to love.