Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a story about a rookie superhero but there’s absolutely nothing amateur about this web-slinging follow-up from Insomniac Games.
Who is Miles Morales?
Not a lot of people knew that there was a Black teenage Spider-Man with Puerto Rican ancestry in the comic books. But Miles Morales leapt into mainstream consciousness with the 2018 animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
A couple of months before that film, Miles was also already introduced to gamers in the critically acclaimed Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4. Spoilers for those who haven’t played the two-year-old game, but there, Miles was bitten by a genetically-enhanced spider so we knew he would eventually be playable as Spidey. We just didn’t realize it would come this soon.
The perfect storm of Miles’… media mileage in 2018 made Spider-Man: Miles Morales an anticipated title.
New Spidey, new powers
For the most part, the game plays pretty much the same as the one in 2018 but with some distinct changes.
Early on, you already get some of the web combat and traversal skills that you had to earn for Pete in 2018. Miles has a different skill tree involving two power sets distinct to him.
First is Venom Punch which is the bio-electric energy that Miles’ body generates. It later branches out into other abilities. Next is Camouflage which — sidenote: is probably my favorite ability in this game — literally turns Miles invisible and ups his effectiveness in stealth takedowns. The stealth skill tree doesn’t open up until you get to a certain point in the story.
There’s also a third skill tree that builds on Miles’ combat skills. He doesn’t have as many gadgets as Pete had, but he certainly has plenty of other tricks up his sleeve.
Other than that, combat and traversal is the same as Marvel’s Spider-Man game. Which is to say, it’s fantastic, kinetic, and an absolute joy.
New York’s only Spider-Man
The game picks-up right where The City That Never Sleeps DLC left off. If you didn’t play, that’s fine too. It has a very comic booky “Previously on…” intro that recaps the events of the previous game to get you caught up.
The recap already features the new face of Peter Parker. I can’t speak to how you will handle this change, but personally, I got over it real quickly.
The game drops you straight into the action mixed with basic tutorials. You’ll be taking on a rampaging Rhino in a high octane sequence that will get you hyped for the rest of the game. Fitting as Rhino was also the villain featured in the Miles missions on the first game.
After which, Pete tells Miles that he’ll be gone for a few weeks to accompany MJ (Mary Jane Watson) as she chases a story in Symkaria — the fictional country where Silver Sable is from.
The way these events seamlessly flow from one game is a testament to the solid writing team behind this franchise. That spectacular writing is evident throughout the entire game.
The two major forces that Miles will tussle with are The Underground and Roxxon.
Roxxon is a technology company and has been developing what they claim is a clean, sustainable energy source strong enough to power all of Harlem. The company also rose into power following the events of the previous game. They also have a legion of armed militia, supposedly to help keep the city safe.
The Underground, meanwhile, stands in direct opposition to Roxxon. Lead by an exceptional engineer called The Tinkerer, the group has managed to gain notoriety by taking down criminal groups in New York aided by their advanced weapons tech.
Right smack in the middle is Miles who is trying to protect the people from the inevitable crossfire. Exactly like that scene in the trailer where Miles says “can we not shoot at each other.”
Miles will later on learn that his connection to both groups is much deeper than even he could have anticipated. It sets up the true strength of the storytelling which, again like the previous game, puts a focus on the characters, their relationships with each other, and what motivates their actions.
This has a lot of heart. I didn’t bawl like I did in the first game, but I’m gonna chalk that up to having a deeper, longer connection with Peter than Miles. That said, the story is full of heart and lessons on navigating relationships with family and close friends.
Miles from start to finish
Spider-Man: Miles Morales trims a lot of the fat from the previous game. Here you only play as Miles both in his casual fit and of course in a Spidey suit.
If some people felt the pacing suffered in the previous game due to the MJ and Miles missions, there’s absolutely none of that here. You also don’t get the mini puzzle games that plenty of people thought were a drag.
What the game does retain are the collectibles around the city. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to swing around the city as you collect tech parts, some memorabilia, and sampling some city audio to tie in Miles’ interest in music.
This also retains some story-rich side missions which you can access through an app developed by “Guy in the chair” Ganke Lee. If he seems familiar, that’s because he’s the character where Ned Leeds in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Spider-Man was based off of.
The side missions yield plenty of rewards — most of which are the various suits that you can try on. Howard and his pigeons also make a return which is a nice little touch. You may have also already seen Spider-Man the cat. He, too, is part of the side missions.
Be Greater. Be Yourself.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales takes everything that was great in Marvel’s Spider-Man but spins it in Miles’ webs. In doing so, it completely embodies its “Be Greater. Be Yourself,” tagline.
You get distinct changes such as the power sets and the sound that plays while Miles is swinging across the city. And while this is fundamentally the same game as its predecessor, it never for a second feels like a cheap reskin.
What we have here is a well-paced, high adrenaline action game with a lot of heart. Having to go solo for a few weeks, Miles comes of age and learns what it means to take on the responsibility that comes with being Spider-Man.
The game was reviewed on a PS4. All images were taken from public posts of Insomniac Games.
The industry’s next big thing: Cloud gaming explained
It’s gaming on the go, but for internet that’s not slow
Everybody’s getting into gaming these days, and you can’t blame them. With the pandemic continuing its ravaging ways in the world, people turn to their consoles or PCs for some action. However, not everyone can afford all the expensive PCs and the next-gen consoles when they come out.
Instead, a new player comes into the fray with a pretty great idea. What would happen if you can just play your favorite games from any device? Also, what if we told you that this won’t take up space on your device at all? This is basically what cloud gaming offers to you: a way to play games from any device at any time!
So, how does that actually work? What do you need to ensure quality gameplay, and should you even consider it?
The basics of playing on a cloud
On paper, it’s pretty easy to understand how cloud gaming works. Basically, you have access to a library of games from a cloud storage service. When you subscribe to the service, you can virtually play your library from any device regardless of the specs. Also, you don’t have to worry about storage problems since these games are stored on a server.
It’s no joke when these companies tell you that you can play your games on any device. With their dedicated data servers, they make sure that the games run smoothly once you access them from the cloud. On your end, you will need a strong and consistent internet connection to play the games smoothly.
Several companies already have cloud gaming software available for people to subscribe to. Some examples include NVIDIA’s GeForce Now, Microsoft’s xCloud, and Google Stadia — all of which store PC games on a server. These companies even take the time to update their server hardware every so often to bring the best possible quality.
System requirements for cloud gaming
Much like your ordinary PC or gaming console, companies that run cloud gaming servers need certain equipment to run smoothly. First, these companies must set up active data centers and server farms that run the games. These data centers ensure that games are up and running, while reducing latency. In other words, these serve as the powerhouse of cloud gaming.
Next on the list is the network infrastructure necessary to send these to the users. To ensure that people don’t experience lags when they play their games, companies also invest in acquiring proper data connections. However, in most cases, this isn’t something these companies have control over; it’s mostly coming from their available internet service providers.
On the front-end, companies also provide dedicated hardware and software to house the cloud. For example, NVIDIA integrated GeForce Now into their own cloud streaming device, the NVIDIA Shield back in 2013. Meanwhile, Google Stadia relies heavily on using pre-existing Google software like Google Chrome and the Stadia App.
Something great to offer, for the most part
Cloud gaming services offer something unique in the industry. Essentially, it eliminates the user from investing so much into buying expensive PCs as it allows people to play from virtually any device. Whether it’s on a smartphone, laptop, or even a smart TV, people get access to games at high frame rates without an RTX 3080.
Furthermore, the game and save files are stored on the cloud, and don’t take up any storage on your devices. This is greatly beneficial for people who are already running on limited storage space, especially if they play Call of Duty: Warzone. With everything stored on the cloud, you don’t need most of the 512GB of SSD storage.
However, one of the biggest issues with cloud gaming revolves around the thing it’s based on: the internet. Specifically, it’s on the user’s internet connection as these services require the fastest internet to run smoothly on any device. Basically, you will need either an Ethernet or a 5G wireless connection to ensure the lowest latency possible.
That infrastructure isn’t readily available in most markets, which is a prominent issue among several third-world countries. Furthermore, even if there are companies that have 5G in their pipeline, these same providers also put data caps on it. Even if the user can play at an optimal frame rate, they’re doing so with a restriction in place.
Does this new player have any place?
With the world continuously opening its arms to the gaming industry, innovation becomes the forefront of success. Companies come up with a variety of gaming technologies that seek to cater to a wide variety of people. From individual hardware to pre-built systems, gaming often revolved around these things.
With cloud gaming, it gives people not just another option within the mix. Rather, it seeks to challenge the notion of availability and accessibility, and give it a viable solution. Essentially, it takes away the physical hardware limitations on the user’s end, and makes it available for everyone.
But like most gaming technologies, everything is still limited somehow. These systems still experience bottlenecks both on the manufacturer and the user’s end. In the end, it will depend on how much you’re willing to shell out for them, and how willing you are to accept the risks.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege next gen versions now available
For both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S
These versions will allow gameplay in 4K and up to 120 fps, depending on the mode chosen by the players (performance or resolution), among many other improvements. Players will be able to upgrade their version on the same family of devices at no extra cost.
Current players on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One will also be able to keep their progression. Cross-generation play is also available within the same family of devices, allowing PlayStation 5 players to face PlayStation 4 players, and Xbox One players to face Xbox Series X|S players.
Cross-play between different families of consoles or between PC and consoles is not currently supported.
Players on next-gen consoles will be able to experience Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege with the highest graphical enhancements the game has yet to offer. These enhancements will offer multiple options for prioritizing either performance or resolution, granted players are equipped with a compatible device:
- 4K resolution (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X) / 1080p (Xbox Series S)
- 120 fps (PlayStation® 5, Xbox Series X)
- DualSense wireless controller capabilities for even deeper immersion (PlayStation 5)
- Activities support for the most popular playlists so players can dive into the game faster (PlayStation 5)
The following features are also being implemented for an enhanced next-gen experience on all platforms:
- Better accessibility (readability options, text to speech and speech to text)
- Quick start (optimized login flow, streamlined intro sequence)
- Ubisoft Connect overlay
This next generation of hardware provides the latest tech and features available, and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege will keep improving to leverage all the new opportunities afforded by these new platforms.
A somber look at the PlayStation 5 crisis
Can’t buy a PlayStation 5? You’re not alone
In 30 minutes from the moment I’m typing this sentence, Walmart, one of the few American retailers selling the PlayStation 5 online, will restock its console shelves with an undetermined number of units. If the restocking goes exactly as it has in the past few weeks, the retailer’s website will crash within the first few minutes. When it goes back up again, everything will have disappeared from the shelves.
If you’re one of the millions of gamers looking to bag a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X for the holidays, such an experience is familiar to you. Both Sony and Microsoft have fumbled their respective launches, leaving most of the hopeful without a console.
After weeks of the same, attempting to buy the new consoles and leaving empty-handed has turned into a shared global experience. Many are wondering when (or if) they are getting the device. Unfortunately, things aren’t as simple as they once were.
Day zero: zero stock
On November 10, the Xbox Series X and S dropped online for the first time. Though Microsoft’s console didn’t share in the same hype as its Sony counterpart, the new Xbox sold out within minutes. Faced with an even larger demand for the PlayStation 5, everyone portended much of the same for Sony’s console. Unsurprisingly, it was.
Days later, on November 12, the PlayStation finally launched. As expected, in the brief moment that “Buy Now” buttons opened, every retailing site either crashed or stalled. Most stores held a one-time drop. Meanwhile, Walmart did drops throughout the day. And, expectedly, every drop, one-time or gradual, sold out.
Only a handful received consoles on launch day: lucky pre-order purchases, even luckier same-day buyers, or, more likely, bots.
Rise of the machines
Most of the outcry revolves around despised bots refreshing every site and buying every stock before real people can do so. The bot’s owners, all of them scalpers, resell their supply at dramatic premiums. Hours after the initial launch, eBay had auctions going up to US$ 2,000. At the time of this writing, most entries hover around US$ 1,700. (For reference, the PlayStation 5 retails for only US$ 499.)
Neither Sony nor any authorized retailer explicitly commented on the bot takeover. Some (eventually) installed captcha measures to hopefully weed out bots from humans. It did little to stave to onslaught. Scalpers (or worse, scalper networks) thrived under the online-only purchasing system.
Should we, then, blame bots for the year’s most botched launch?
Bots, logistics, or supply?
Currently in our sights, bots and scalpers are easy targets. The systematic supply grab owes a lot of its shortages on the automated schemes of bots. Some scalper networks have even defended their actions. Supposedly, creating a scalping ecosystem creates jobs for scalpers who may have lost their jobs from recent furloughs.
However, a launch is hardly only a matter of consumers. There’s supply and demand, too. Didn’t Sony and Microsoft foresee the demand months ago?
Drumming up intense hype throughout the past few months, both companies naturally predicted a surge. It still wasn’t enough.
Sony, through the PlayStation’s official Twitter account, confirmed “unprecedented” demand for the PlayStation 5 series. It was still a surprise. Echoing the same, Sony Interactive Entertainment President Jim Ryan told a Russian outlet that “absolutely everything is sold.” Unfortunately for gamers, current predictions still estimate shortages lasting until spring next year.
Sony and Microsoft are hard-pressed to make more devices as soon as possible. However, with current COVID-19 restrictions, manufacturing facilities can’t work at full capacity. And it’s not just on the manufacturing side.
Recently, a logistics source confirmed that a lot of resources are still devoted to shipping COVID-19 aid, including PPEs and masks. With a potential vaccine on the horizon, supply transportation will certainly feel the crunch, leaving little room for less essential products like gaming consoles.
So, who’s to blame?
More than bots, scalpers, manufacturers, or logistics companies, the ongoing PlayStation 5 crisis pulls the curtain from an inherently broken system from a pre-COVID-19 era. The current global economy was, and is, ill-prepared for a global emergency.
Companies, manufacturers, and logistics did not anticipate an overwhelming demand for emergency products. Even now, the world is still aching for aid: from simple masks to scarce ventilators. We’re seeing the flaws only now because the new consoles are home appliances. Other launches this year weren’t as in-demand as the PlayStation 5. For example, with everyone staying indoors, not a lot of people are exactly lining up for a new iPhone 12. (Sorry, Apple.)
On the other hand, a lot of people truly are jobless from a crumbling economy. Albeit a lackluster excuse, scalper networks do have a point that some people are reduced to less-than-stellar ways of making money amid the pandemic. (Not to defend scalping, though. It’s still a shady business.)
Throughout this entire shortage, one thing is clear: The world, as we know it, cannot adequately save itself from a global emergency. The fault inevitably rests on both individuals and systems who persistently refuse to accept the realities of the pandemic: from anti-maskers who put more people at risk to companies who haven’t prepared for the surge to governments who can’t provide aid for its citizenry.
Should you still get a PlayStation 5?
If you’re still inclined, Sony promises more stock before the end of the year. Anyone can still try their luck for a fresh device from the factory. More realistically, you can wait a few months without the new console; by then, Sony should have ironed out a lot of kinks and bugs.
No one is judging you if you do. No one is judging you if you don’t. But if you’re worried about the fear of missing out, just remember that not a lot of people have the PlayStation 5 yet, as much as we all would want one.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, remember the new stock I mentioned 30 minutes ago? Sold out in less than ten seconds. Go figure.
SEE ALSO: Sony PlayStation 5 Unboxing
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