Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered is a welcome PlayStation 5 touch-up to one of the better blockbuster hits on PS4, and a nice accompaniment to the cross-generation Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Both games benefit greatly from Sony’s newest console.
Marvel’s Spider-Man, first released in 2018 for PlayStation 4, is one of the better recent examples of an open-world action. It still suffers to some extent from bloat and map icon clutter, but less so than its contemporaries. It made up for that with one of the most intrinsically satisfying modes of traversal and a genuinely heartfelt story that isn’t afraid to look beneath the hero’s mask.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales—a standalone follow-up in the style of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy—manages to build upon all of that. Its shorter form lets it avoid the common pitfalls of the genre, instead opting for a more impactful focused adventure with optional objectives that are more closely tied to the main themes of the game and don’t overstay their welcome. A story centered on Miles Morales, a Black / Latino kid from Brooklyn who’s now living in Harlem, doesn’t squander the opportunity to explore that identity and challenge the gentrification that’s been plaguing Harlem for decades.
I reviewed the PlayStation 4 versions of both games previously—Marvel’s Spider-Man right here at Shindig, and Miles Morales over at DigitallyDownloaded.net earlier this month. Everything I said in those reviews rings true for Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered and the PlayStation 5 version of Miles Morales; they are the same games, after all. But PlayStation 5’s extra power, tactile feedback in the DualSense controller, and handy system features like activity cards let both games, excellent as they are to begin with, shine brighter than ever.
As seems to be the case with just about every PS5 game, the most noticeable difference in Spider-Man Remastered / Miles Morales comes from the feedback mechanisms in the controller—namely, haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. Their use here is relatively subtle, but that’s part of what makes them work so well. Things like web-swinging and melee combat were already satisfying in the PS4 games; on PlayStation 5, the DualSense controller works to underscore that rock-solid foundation.
As you swing through Manhattan, the controller vibrates in a way to simulate the effect of the wind in your face (or at least, in your hands). It’s a muted, slightly uneven rumble that seems to sweep across the controller. As you swing faster, the sensation ramps up—ever so slightly, but noticeably enough to help convey that extra sense of speed. Likewise, there’s just that little bit of resistance on the trigger that you hold to swing, replicating the feeling of tension on Spidey’s webs. It’s never so firm that you have to strain to press the button, but enough that you can feel it.
When solving the lab circuit puzzles in Spider-Man Remastered—which see you attaching components to a circuit board in order to create a flow of electricity from one point to another—there’s now a nice little click as you rotate the components and snap them into place. This comes through the adaptive triggers, with a short, sharp jolt of resistance to create that sensation of locking the piece into place.
In combat, each different attack you might dish out and get hit with has its own unique haptic signature, adding another layer of weight and impact to the action you see on screen. When you get hit, you can now feel which direction the attack came from. In Miles Morales, Miles’ electrically-charged Venom powers have an almost tingly feeling, helping to further identify him as his own Spider-Man with his own unique powers. None of these are things that you couldn’t know just from looking at the screen and hearing the sound effects, but it’s an extra sensory layer that helps to connect what’s happening on screen with the player in a much more convincing way.
Spider-Man Remastered and Miles Morales might be the best demonstration I’ve seen so far of what the PlayStation 5 SSD can do. Loading screens are a thing of the past; going from selecting “continue” on the main screen of either game to being back in Manhattan with control over your chosen Spider-Man takes about 2 seconds. (The first time takes a bit longer by virtue of opening cutscenes.)
Likewise, fast-travel is now almost instantaneous. I never really bothered with fast-travel in the PS4 versions of either game, in part because of the inherent fun in swinging around the city, but mostly because the loading time made “fast” travel not especially useful except for travelling from one end of the map to the other. On PlayStation 5, it’s something I use all the time, because it is now far, far more convenient.
This also feeds nicely into both games’ use of Activity Cards—those context-sensitive cards that pop up when you press the PlayStation Button, letting you track trophy progress or quickly jump into your next mission. While not an exhaustive list, at any given time there’ll be cards for your next main mission, one or two side quests, and a couple of different collectible trackers. A press of a button on any of these cards takes you directly to the mission in question, and given the almost non-existent load times, you can dive right in almost immediately.
That’s particularly handy when you want to switch from another game, with the activity cards being available from the PS5 dashboard as well. For Spider-Man Remastered and Miles Morales, those cards can be used to launch the game directly into your chosen activity, and even that happens quickly—I can go from playing something else to playing Spider-Man in about 20 seconds (I timed it). A lot of this has to do with the PS5’s universal features, but Spider-Man‘s particular use of Activity Cards helps to make that process as quick and streamlined as possible.
Spider-Man Remastered and Miles Morales on PS5 come with some nice graphical enhancements over their PS4 counterparts—not to the point of feeling like a whole new revamp (in the way that, say, Demon’s Souls is), but to help add another layer of sheen to some already impressive-looking games.
Ray-tracing has been one of the big buzzwords for this new console generation. In layman’s terms, it’s essentially a technology that allows for much more lifelike, dynamic reflections than we’ve seen before, and it’s something that Spider-Man Remastered has been a particular poster-boy for with that screenshot of Spidey clinging to a window. But that image doesn’t really capture where the ray-tracing effect is at its strongest, which is in motion. A detailed reflection in a screenshot is one thing, but seeing how those reflections and lighting effects dynamically update in real-time as you move the camera or swing past a window is something else entirely.
To go back to the web-swinging that’s so core to what makes these Spider-Man games so captivating, what you have on PlayStation 5 is a Manhattan that feels more alive and responsive than ever, with every window authentically reflecting everything around it and those reflections responding to your every movement. The absence of such reflections can be just as significant, too—many of the cars you see driving around the streets are polished to a sheen, but it’s not unusual to see some that are dirty or a bit scratched up. The way the light doesn’t reflect as much off those surfaces, in juxtaposition to the cleaner parts of the car that it does, adds another layer of texture to the world.
That said, there are places in both Spider-Man Remastered and Miles Morales where the effect is a bit overplayed—in particular, the abundance of puddles throughout the city’s streets. Often, these puddles seem more reflective than they should be, based on their surroundings and weather conditions, to the point of being a distraction. There’s a weird effect from time to time where it looks like the water is bubbling away—almost like the effect of raindrops hitting the water’s surface, but a distorted version of that, and happening when there isn’t a raindrop in the sky. It’s a minor thing that’s easy to ignore, but given the attention to lifelike detail everywhere else, it’s an odd anomaly.
Beyond ray-tracing, Spider-Man Remastered and Miles Morales on PS5 benefit more generally from the console’s improved graphical processing power. Textures are more detailed, especially for main characters’ faces; weather effects are more lifelike and prominent, especially noticeable in Miles Morales‘ snowy winter setting; particle effects for attacks and the like are more detailed and impactful; the games run more smoothly in general, and both have options for a 60 fps mode with slight reduction in fidelity. The increased level of facial detail doesn’t make the complete change of Peter Parker’s design any less odd—I still haven’t got used to it—but I guess that’s what it is.
Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4 was an excellent game, and Spider-Man: Miles Morales even more so. The PlayStation 5 versions don’t fundamentally mess with what made them great in the first place, but they help take both games to another level. The tactile feedback that comes with the DualSense controller works to emphasise everything that makes Spider-Man‘s movement and combat so satisfying, loading times are practically non-existent, and digital versions of Manhattan have never looked better.
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Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales are developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Miles Morales is available now for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4; Spider-Man Remastered is available for PlayStation 5 as part of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition.
A review copy was provided to Shindig by the publisher.