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The PS5 makes being Miles Morales feel super

Through the long history of the Marvel Universe, Spider-Man has been prefaced by plenty of adjectives — Amazing, Spectacular, Sensational — to signify his excellence. Playing as supercharged Spider-teen Miles Morales on the brand-spanking-new PlayStation 5, the latest “Spider-Man” gaming experience invokes another: Ultimate.

Setting aside the excellent (if short) story and entertaining series of tasks and challenges dotting the vibrant and detailed Manhattan map, “Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales” vibes with the next generation platform in ways that perfectly showcase the potential for Sony’s latest console. Scenes that slip seamlessly from cinematics to gameplay show off the lightning-fast processing power and load times, sure, but it’s how the PS5 amplifies the game’s most appealing aspects that make the pair a perfect complement.

“Marvel’s Spider-Man” for the PS4 succeeded by making players feel like a hero. With some simple button taps and easy-to-remember combos, you could sling webs, pummel adversaries acrobatically and swing through skyscraper canyons. You felt powerful, but that sensation stopped at the screen and soundbar. “Miles Morales” and the PS5 work in concert to further heighten those same sensations, primarily through the remarkable DualSense controller.

Vibration packs are nothing new to gaming, but are also nothing compared to the feelings produced by the DualSense. The controller doesn’t just rumble when the screen shakes, as so many past titles did, it provides precise vibrations so your hands actually feel what your in-game alter-ego is experiencing. When something triggers your Spider-sense, there is not only a handy little visual cue, but also a warning tap from the controller to your hands. The message: Time to move.

Swinging through the New York City skyline, you can feel the tension in the controller’s triggers as you arc above the streets and it buzzes with the wind when you dive. When you vault off rooftops there’s a subtle pop that emanates outward from the center of the controller as you vault into the sky. And it thrums when you unleash a Venom punch, building in intensity and dissipating when Miles delivers the blow.

After finishing the game, I fired up the PS4 version of “Marvel’s Spider-Man.” The controls were nearly identical, but they just felt … soft. The triggers just felt squishy. I’d had the PS5 for less than a week and I already felt like something was missing in a game that blew me away when I played it just two years ago.

The sights and sounds likewise make “Miles Morales” more immersive on the PS5. At a family dinner in Miles’s apartment the voices of those gathered diminish as you meander further away or dip into a side room. Even in the middle of a melee, you’ll hear the bad guys firing off one-liners from all around you. If they’re behind you, it sounds like they’re standing behind you. The closer they are, the louder the quip. For some of the game’s more meaningful encounters, you can creep into earshot and eavesdrop as the henchmen banter about the bad guy stuff they’re doing, sometimes even expressing their reservations. It may not be much, but it still gives depth to the NPCs beyond them being mere digital punching bags.

And then there’s the ray tracing. I’ve owned a 4K TV for a while now, but this was one of the first times I really felt like I owned a 4K TV — that’s the showcasing effect this game has for the PS5. When you perch on a ledge and see your reflection in the window, and the reflections of the Empire State Building in the distance, and a jet liner soaring into the sunset, it really is a marvel. It really feels like you are inside this world the developers at Insomniac have created.

In our review of the PS5, Elise Favis noted how lightning-quick the game’s fast travel feature is. Here’s the thing: I never wanted to fast travel because swinging through the streets and leaping over boulevards just felt so good.

For the most part, video games are a power fantasy and super hero games are the epitome of that. When you play them, you want to feel that power, and on the PS5 with “Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales” that’s literally exactly what you do. Feels good, man.

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