I waited until obtaining a Playstation 5 to experience Spider Man Miles Morales in next generation glory and decide if it is a fitting launch title.
Having waited until 2020 to play Spider Man (released in 2018) the game feels like a evolutionary title rather then a revolutionary advancement. Which to be fair is exactly what was communicated by the console designers prior to release.
The game itself is the core game as the 2018 version, but Insomniac appears to have taken feedback from the previous version and refined and tightened the elements to minimize the frustration experienced by the previous entry. There are expanded difficulty options to provided options for your experience and the story has been tightened to have less filler. Instead there is a intentional request that you play the game twice through new game + mode (due to an achievement) which lets you experience the story once more with foreknowledge and focus only on the main story if you want to just get through it. The controls have been refined and the ease of swinging through the city feels improved.
Graphically the game is very similar to the 2018 version, but where it advances is in the subtle moments of the cutscenes and the animations. The textures used on clothing in the Christmas dinner scene screams it was trying to push the envelope of detail. The high definition suits worn by Miles have so much detail and they remain high detail whether it is in combat or swinging through New York City. The fluid animations used during free movement clearly have been inspired by the Into the SpiderVerse movie and they are impressively detailed. I never felt liek the game suffered with all of the crazy action and animation going on in the game. The only complains I could find during the game was a single instance of texture pop in on a small object, but this was experienced right after doing a spider sense to highlight the object in yellow, and an awkward arm animation (walking T pose) while the characters were climbing a ramp in the museum.
The quick load times are borderline blink and you miss it when you use fast travel which is a huge quality of life improvement. You honestly can struggle between the joy of swinging through the city and encountering randomness or taking the 1-2 second quick travel option to get closer to your objective.
The game has a Black Lives Matter mural added to the game and while it is culturally significant that this is present at all the implementation felt hollow. The mural is present after completing neighborhood side quests and is effectively just a texture on a wall with no story beat connecting the mural to the quests that were completed. The neighborhood quests were not linked to the Black Lives Matter topic and the game goes out of its way to avoid any police narrative despite Miles’ father being a slain police officer from the previous game. The main story narrative did not suffer from this fact, but if you are a proponent of the BLM struggle this might have been a missed opportunity.
Throughout the playthrough of Spider Man Miles Morales I struggled with the concept that this product justified a cost of $69.99 the new price for AAA games this console generation. While I finally decided it felt like a legitimately full game (if you play through it twice) and not a large DLC for a full game price I am unsure it is worth the full new price of $69.99. I can only say that inflation is hitting the console generation and we are having to adjust to the new prices just like we did when they raised from $49.99 to $59.99 as the standard price. The lack of the definitively better versions on the new consoles (evolutionary vs revolutionary) makes it harder to swallow, but it is likely the standard to come. Some of the future titles will likely be fully justified to charge this price (looking at you Horizon 2, God of War Ragnarok) and it is also comforting that not every title is jumping to this price point (SackBoy A Big Adventure: 59.99)