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Monday, December 5, 2022

Spider-Man: Miles Morales in the PC test: A great experience, but at a high price

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After Peter Parker, up-and-coming spidey Miles now swings onto the PC and cuts a similarly good figure here. However, he brings a little too little net liquid with him.

Spider-Man is a hero for everyone!  At least that”s how it”s often said. In truth, however, Spider-Man was for a long time primarily a hero for consoleros. While the Spider-Man was particularly successful on the PlayStation, he was rarely given really good adaptations on the PC.

But that has changed in the meantime! At the latest with the release of Marvel”s Spider-Man on the PC, Spidey fans with home computers can also look forward to a more than worthy version. Insomniac has not only delivered the best Spider-Man game, but also one of the best superhero adventures ever. You can read about this in detail in our (test of the PC version).

Peter Parker has already successfully swung through urban canyons on the PC. But there is (at least) one other spider man! And those who experienced Insomniac”s first game know which one, of course. Towards the end, the young Miles Morales also gets the ability to stick to walls via a spider bite and now ventures into his first PC adventure like his great role model.

The boy from Harlem with Latin American roots does at least as well as Peter Parker. But he also sets such a fast pace that the youngster runs out of breath much faster.

What Miles Morales takes from Peter Parker

Even though there are now over a hundred Spider-Man variants thanks to the multiverse and countless iterations, hardly anyone enjoys as great a reputation in the fanbase as Miles Morales. Miles differs quite a bit from the original from Queens thanks to his multicultural background, but basically has a lot in common with Peter.

Miles, too, must first digest the death of his father figure before he sets out to hunt down criminals as a masked vigilante. He also comes from a very humble background, but possesses a brilliant mind and great technological expertise. These circumstances become clear in the game right at the beginning, so you don”t necessarily have to have played the direct predecessor.

(Initially, Miles doesn''t have a proper costume yet, but Peter''s old mask and a winter jacket.)
(Initially, Miles doesn”t have a proper costume yet, but Peter”s old mask and a winter jacket.)

It does, of course, add a little to the emotional attachment, as Miles already played a relevant role in Insomniac”s first Spider-Man – albeit without spider powers. A year later, that has changed and the hero-in-training now has to maintain order in wintry New York on his own, while Peter takes off to Europe with Mary Jane for a holiday.

All in all, however, Miles follows the same daily routine as Peter. New York is a splendid and extremely lively backdrop, which he traverses by means of a net swing. The stylish movement alone is a reason to explore every corner of the snow-covered city.

Apart from the missions of the main story, there are only quite repetitive activities to discover, such as finding time capsules, criminals” quarters or crates full of material, but the rewarding unlocking of lots of costumes and the entertaining gameplay ensure that there is never a dull moment.

(Costumes can be upgraded with modifications, but there are no more special abilities.)
(Costumes can be upgraded with modifications, but there are no more special abilities.)

It”s just always fun to beat up gangsters thanks to the fluid combat system and acrobatic interludes, or to hang them from the shadows under the rafters using spider webs.

What Miles Morales does better than Peter Parker

Miles Morales isn”t just a spin-off, though, offering the exact same gameplay experience as its predecessor alongside a new story and hero. And that”s primarily because Miles has different spider powers than Peter.

Of course, he can also stick to walls, sense danger with his spider sense and, thanks to self-built web casters, completely spin enemies in. But it doesn”t stop there. Miles learns early on that he also has a special connection to electricity. Miles can emit powerful bright yellow electricity pulses with his hands.

(Miles can generate bioelectricity, easily electrocuting enemies.)
(Miles can generate bioelectricity, easily electrocuting enemies.)

Similar to the finishers on the combo bar, Miles” “battery” charges up when he hits enemies and successfully dodges attacks. You can then put the charges into special attacks that both trigger explosions and electrocute enemies. The main villain”s gadgets often even have to be deactivated first by means of these literal electric shocks, so that Miles can then unleash a storm of backpipes unhindered.

This not only sounds powerful, but also plays like it, adding an extra layer to the already fast-paced battles. However, this does not make the fights against dozens of enemies at the same time too easy. The situation is different when it comes to sneaking. Miles can simply make himself invisible with skin, hair and a mask. This is also only possible to a limited extent, but still takes some of the hardness out of the already not too demanding sneaking passages.

(At the push of a button Miles becomes invisible and can thus save himself from dicey situations.)
(At the push of a button Miles becomes invisible and can thus save himself from dicey situations.)

A very special strength of Miles is also his environment. After all, he lives in Harlem, which is largely Latino and African-American – just like Miles himself. The portrayal of the people, their music and their direct connection to their hero shows another noticeably different side of New York. The story is also a bit more personal and a bit smaller, but not a bit less intense.

Where Miles Morales lags behind Peter Parker

It would be even nicer only if smaller didn”t also mean shorter in this case. But this is exactly the point where Miles Morales clearly falters and is left behind, especially in comparison to his role model. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is just incredibly short.

(Miles'' New York is also full of activity, but it plays away surprisingly quickly.)
(Miles” New York is also full of activity, but it plays away surprisingly quickly.)

The main story can easily be completed in five to six hours if you already have experience from the predecessor. If you take in the (very entertaining) side quests and open-world activities, you might get ten hours of pure play time. In fact, you whiz through Miles” skill tree so quickly that no skill in it really feels earned.

Now, short games are not necessarily a bad thing and some people will certainly be happy not to have to spend 30 hours or more on an open-world adventure. But for 50 euros retail price on Steam, Miles Morales feels very reduced in terms of content. Especially since it is clearly more like a standalone add-on than a full-fledged sequel. For comparison: Marvel”s Spider-Man costs 10 euros more at the normal price on Steam – and that includes all DLCs.

(The skill tree is filled up in no time, often you unlock several skills directly.)
(The skill tree is filled up in no time, often you unlock several skills directly.)

How good is the PC version?

On our test systems, the PC version of Miles Morales cuts a really good figure. As with the predecessor, the PC benefits from the graphical overhaul that Insomniac made for the PS5. If you have the appropriate hardware, you can enjoy Miles Morales on the highest settings, including ray tracing in 4K and ultra-wide.

But even if your PC is rather weak in the chest, you can get this action gem running. Of course, it can never be completely ruled out that various problems may occur on certain systems. However, we did not notice any crashes, graphics bugs or sound problems during the test. More details can be found in our hardware check:

Miles Morales in the hardware check

We took a closer look at Spider-Man Miles Morales with an eye on the technology. How well does the PlayStation port work for the PC?

First of all, the overall impression: In the short, approximately two-hour play session, no unexpected errors occurred There were no crashes, freezes or other problems such as display errors. Everything worked as it should

As far as performance is concerned, the picture is similarly solid: As Miles Morales, we swing through the streets of New York just as confidently on a Radeon RX 580 as on an RTX 3070 or even an RTX 4090. Whereby it should be said about the RX 580 that it does not reach the 60 FPS in Full HD including medium settings in the scenes we reviewed at the beginning of the game.

In order to play smoothly, we have to switch to the “Low” or “Very Low” preset. Here, the official system requirements apparently do not quite match reality – at least not without the FSR scaler, which is offered as an option. By the way, the current Radeon driver 22.11.1 was used, which is already supposed to be optimised for the friendly neighbourhood spider.

The RTX 3070, on the other hand, delivers in 4K at the highest settings without ray tracing and Nvidia”s proprietary DLSS on target at 60 frames per second.

The RTX 4090 is also particularly interesting. Unsurprisingly, the Geforce flagship copes effortlessly with 4K and the highest level of detail. Even when ray tracing comes into play, it doesn”t need DLSS to deliver well over 60 FPS.

If we add DLSS, or more precisely the RTX-40-exclusive DLSS 3 (mode quality) including frame generation, it sometimes goes in the direction of 200 FPS and occasionally even beyond – in 4K with ray tracing, mind you. And all this without any noticeable loss of quality.

What is rather suboptimal, however, is the control with mouse and keyboard. In principle, Miles Morales can be controlled in this way and the incredibly important movement through the alleys of New York via the net line works perfectly. However, at some point in the battles you will wish you had a gamepad again.

Spider-Man is a game that is all about combos and a quick sequence of movements. On the keyboard, this sometimes results in extremely spasmodic key hammering. It”s nothing you can”t get used to, especially since you can determine the assignment completely freely, but it”s not intuitive. So if you absolutely must have a mouse and keyboard, we advise you to choose a lower difficulty level.

(The battles in particular can be hectic, making it much more difficult to control via keyboard and mouse)
(The battles in particular can be hectic, making it much more difficult to control via keyboard and mouse)

Otherwise you should really take a gamepad, especially since the adaptive triggers of the PS5”s Dualsense are also supported on the PC, which makes both the swinging through the urban canyons and the battles a whole lot more intense.

How you ultimately hop through New York as Miles is entirely up to you. The trip will definitely be worth it, especially over Christmas – even if you won”t necessarily be busy for very long.

Editor”s conclusion

Actually, I”m a bore and still like the classic Spider-Man best. With Miles Morales, however, I still had a lot of fun. Because whether it”s Peter, Miles or someone else under the mask doesn”t really matter at the end of the day. Especially not when the core gameplay is as brilliant as in the case of Insomniac”s Spider-Man games.

It simply never gets boring to take a running jump off the roof of a skyscraper, plunge face-first several hundred metres into the depths, only to stick a web to a wall just before impact and swing acrobatically around the next corner. The movement and the fights are so stylish, so fluid and so grandly choreographed that I can spend hours in this world. Even then, by the way, when there isn”t really that much more to do in the world than chase criminals.

And this point is reached surprisingly quickly in Miles Morales. Which is normally not so dramatic. But when you consider that basically full price is expected here and besides Miles” bioelectric powers there aren”t that many innovations compared to the predecessor, I find that a bit irritating. Miles Morales is by no means a bad game, but I wouldn”t necessarily recommend it to you at the normal price. Unless you really feel that even without side quests and activities you can still spend a very long time wandering around wintry Manhattan on your own.

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