A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales is an action adventure game exclusively for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. The game, which is a sequel to 2018's Marvel's Spider-Man, casts players as Miles Morales as he grows into his powers as Spider-Man and defends New York from a variety of threats. Combat, like many comic book games, occurs frequently, and players will use punches and kicks, as well as webbing and electrical attacks, to defeat enemies. Enemies use firearms and explosives to attack characters as well, with some blood shown if people are shot. There's a scene where a character is tied to a chair and beaten, and some people are shown with cuts and injuries as a result of fights. "S--t" and "a--hole" can be heard in dialogue, and while there are some references to drug deals and drug items, these are fictional drugs set in the Spider-Man universe. On the other hand, this game features a strong amount of diversity across its spectrum of heroes and villains, embracing Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+, and disabled characters, while also promoting strong and positive themes like being yourself, helping others, and taking pride in your neighborhood.
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What's it about?
MARVEL'S SPIDER-MAN: MILES MORALES is the latest action adventure game to put players into the costumed feet of the popular wall-crawler. But this time around, instead of exploring a new adventure in the shoes of Peter Parker, players take on the role of his young protégé, Miles Morales. Taking place shortly after the events of the previous game, Miles' life has undergone a number of significant changes: he and his mom have moved from Brooklyn to Harlem, where his mom has decided to run for city council. He's shared his "spider secret" with his best friend, Ganke, a tech whiz that runs support via headset on the missions that Miles goes on. Most significantly, Miles has been getting trained in using his superpowers by Peter, who has faith that Miles can be just as good at being a "friendly neighborhood Spider-Man" as he is. When Peter is suddenly called away on a business trip for the Daily Bugle to Europe, Peter tells Miles that he has to become New York's only Spider-man in his absence. That, of course, is easier said than done. Aside from thugs that steal toys or hold up citizens, Miles stumbles into a massive citywide conflict between the Roxxon Corporation, which is opening business centers and locations around New York, and a street gang known as the Underground. Can Miles keep the peace and discover what it means to be a hero?
Is it any good?
This action game builds on the success of the previous title, and thrusts a new hero into the spotlight with a familiar, yet fresh spin on the wallcrawler. It's notable to see elements that have carried over as the Spidey story has continued in Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales. For example, if you swing by Fisk Plaza, you'll see it boarded up due to the Kingpin's arrest in the first game. You'll still see plenty of car chases, muggings, or crimes for Spidey to stop as he swings through the city, providing him experience to improve his skills. Thanks to Peter's training (which is furthered by a series of holographic challenges that are scattered around the city), Miles works on his combat, stealth, and traversal skills as he grows into his role as Spider-man, initially defending his neighborhood, but expanding that focus to the rest of New York City. Over time, he discovers and embraces his new abilities, like his powerful electrical Venom strikes that stun opponents or his camouflage powers that give him an extra advantage in landing stealthy takedowns of enemies. Chaining these moves together becomes seamless, and as you gain additional abilities and skills, you start to feel like the superhero as well. Similarly, this feeling carries over to web swinging through the city, thanks to the DualSense controller, where you actually feel the tension of your webs as you swoop through the streets based on how tightly you pull the triggers. It's incredibly immersive, and helps to draw you in as you move from one place to the other.
But the thing about the Spider-Man character has always the emotions and heart that the young man feels in balancing his superhero duties and his alter ego life. Miles, like Peter Parker, is trying to figure out his path: he's moved to a new neighborhood, with new friends and a new school. He's still dealing with the loss of his father. And he's got awesome responsibility as a new superhero. Without spoiling any plot points, the game does an incredible job of capturing his inner struggle as Miles comes into his own as Spidey over the course of the game. His self-doubt and confusion about what to do is replaced over time with faith in his abilities and a swagger that's confident without being cocky. This is coupled with the significant positive messages that are presented from start to finish. From the tagline of "Be Yourself. Be Greater," to Miles' incredible support system of his best friend Ganke, who's constantly motivating and helping him during missions, the game pushes Miles (and by extension, the player) to do good deeds and be a positive force in the world. What's great is that as the game goes on, the people in Miles' neighborhood are won over from being cynical about Miles as a knockoff to being someone fighting for them, going so far as to claim him during a pivotal moment by stating that, "He's OUR Spider-Man." It's just one of the feel good moments that lands perfectly without feeling forced or hokey. The biggest issue that arises in Miles Morales is that the game is somewhat on the shorter end. There aren't nearly the same amount of villains as the previous game, and if you're a veteran of action games, you'll probably fly through some of the content quickly. But don't let that throw you off – this title is a great showpiece for the PlayStation 5, and easily lays the groundwork for future downloadable content and sequels for this franchise.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales affected by the exaggerated comic book-styled visuals? Would a more realistic portrayal of action intensify the violence being shown? How can the violence in video games and comic books affect a younger audience?
What are some of the traits that define a "hero" in comic books? Do the powers make the hero, or is it the person? What are some of the traits that define heroism in the real world?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
- Price: $49.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Release date: November 12, 2020
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models
- ESRB rating: T for Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Violence
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: January 21, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.