Sony’s not-quite-next-gen-exclusive not-quite-sequel still shoulders great expectations given it’s one of the few actual new games available to play on PS5 from day one. The good news is that it uses that great power responsibly, taking advantage of the new hardware to deliver a souped-up experience which offers a tantalising glimpse of greatness to come.
Arguably the real superhero at the heart of this tale is the PS5’s solid state hard drive (SSD), a deeply unsexy sounding piece of tech which nonetheless delivers an eye-popping performance. It’s all but vanquished load times, allowing Mile Morales to boot up from the PS5 homescreen in less than 10 seconds. In-game fast travel, meanwhile, finally lives up to that name, with new chunks of New York City loading quite literally in the blink of an eye.
Next gen graphical upgrades are more subtle but no less impactful. Miles Morales uses the same map as its 2018 PS4 predecessor but the Big Apple is noticeably busier this time out, while a switch in season ushers in impressive snow storms and winter weather effects. Omnipresent puddles also provide a handy opportunity for the much-heralded ray tracing technology to do its thing, the increased quality of reflections adding a tangible extra veneer of realism. And everything flies by flawlessly in 4K at 30fps - although disappointingly you’ll have to disable ray tracing to access the new super-smooth 60fps mode.
Perhaps inevitably, on PS5 the game itself almost feels like a secondary concern to the tech demo but developers Insomniac deserve credit for delivering an experience at once both familiar enough to appeal to fans of the first game but also with a strong identity of its own.
Much of this is down to Miles Morales himself, a likeable lead who owns the stage (once Peter Parker has been removed from it in laughably contrived fashion). For reasons that are never really clearly explained (but, hey, comic books) he can turn invisible and possesses Venom powers - bioelectric abilities which can short circuit machinery and stun bad guys. Both introduce interesting new rhythms and tempos to what were already balletic bust-ups - as well as providing opportunities for dazzling light shows which really pop on the PS5.