Sony’s PlayStation 5 is a major upgrade from the PlayStation 4, and it’s noticeable across the board in its design and functionality.
The PS4 is widely regarded as one of the best consoles in gaming history, if not the best, because of its phenomenal library of games and features. The PS5 builds upon the PS4 with a far more intuitive design to ensure gamers aren’t being distracted by loud fans or long loading times. The PS5 is blazing fast in every facet. The console can power on and load a game from a fresh reboot in a matter of seconds.
Most importantly, the PS5 boasts the greatest lineup of launch games in PlayStation and arguably gaming history. Astro’s Playroom is a joy to play and is already pre-installed on the PS5. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is easily one of the best launch games in history and is a wise choice to lead the way for the next generation. Led by Spider-Man: Miles Morales, the PS5 doesn’t just usher in this next generation of gaming, it kicks the door down.
Astro’s Playroom and the DualSense Controller
Astro’s Playroom is a great choice for a launch title, and that it’s actually included out of the box with the PS5 is a spectacular decision. Astro is an adorable character and an excellent choice to be Sony’s potential mascot. Making Astro’s Playroom a pack-in title to ensure people recognize Astro out of the box makes sense from that perspective, but especially because the game itself is so enjoyable.
Astro’s Playroom is far more than just a tech demo to showcase the new DualSense controller and its features. The game certainly does that in grand fashion as expected because the enhancements are felt as soon as the game starts. The new and improved vibration for the DualSense is more intense and sets it apart from Sony’s previous controllers. The face buttons and haptic triggers legitimately feel better than the DualShock 4, which to many gamers is the best feeling PlayStation controller ever.
The face buttons feel like they pop out just a tad bit more and L1/R1 are bigger, which feels a lot better than the DualShock 4’s thinner triggers because it doesn’t feel like you’re about to press L2/R2 as easily. The DualSense’s “options” button also pops out more compared to the DualShock 4’s button, which makes a big difference when having to press that button because it’s less likely to also hit the touchpad with it.
The speaker in the controller sounds great, especially in levels featuring wind or ice as it adds a nice extra touch from the TV speakers. The microphone allows for the player to blow into it like a pinwheel, and it will be interesting to see if developers decide to line into that for future games or decide that most gamers would prefer it not be a default option. We’ve heard for months now about the triggers being able to express the feeling of drawing a bow or having a gun jam, but it’s going to be extremely exciting to see how developers find ways to make their games feel even more immersive thanks to the awesome features of the DualSense.
Astro’s Playroom is more than just a great showcase for the DualSense; it’s legitimately a great platformer that is packed with a lot of secrets and Easter eggs. It shouldn’t be overlooked as just a demo and is something fans of platformers, and especially Playstation, should experience. Aside from sections demanding the touchpad, the rest of the gameplay is extremely tight and responsive. The graphics are stunning and vibrant on a 4K TV, with a fun mix of environments to showcase different lighting and shadows.
Astro’s Playroom is an important release so more gamers can experience Astro as a character beyond Astro Bot Rescue Mission on PSVR. Astro has now stared in two extremely fun releases and deserves to star in another game.
A controller is so essential to gaming experiences, and the DualSense truly pushes the PS5 as next-gen. In such a short period of time, it’s easy to say that the DualSense is one of the very best feeling and immersive controllers in gaming.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is one of the best launch games in history and the perfect way to jump-start PS5.
Fans of Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4 are in for a treat as Miles Morales is an incredible followup release. The game itself is a technical masterpiece, and it’s impressive the game is releasing just two years later. Everything that made Spider-Man one of the best games on PS4 returns in grand fashion in Miles Morales. This is an exhilarating spectacle from beginning to end.
The lack of loading, seamless transition from cutscenes to gameplay, audio design and graphical fidelity are all absolutely stunning. It’s a combination that allows gamers to become immersed in the experience and a perfect way to showcase PS5. In the original game, it was easy to be discouraged from using fast travel too much because of the load times (and it was so fun to swing around NYC), but because load times are essentially non-existent here, it makes more sense to use fast travel. The PS5’s ability to all but eliminate load times is one of its biggest selling points, and it’s noticed immediately when playing Miles Morales.
Like its predecessor, Miles Morales boasts one of the best introductions to a game. The core mechanics are explained in such a fun, mesmerizing and action-packed way. For those who haven’t played Spider-Man since it released in 2018, web-swinging through New York City as Miles Morales will feel right at home. It’s a testament to Insomniac Games just how well they nailed Spider-Man’s movement in 2018 that swinging feels so natural even after being away for two years.
The gameplay remains a standout and is still one of the best designed combat systems. The core mechanics are still a blast to experience, such as shooting web at enemies and swinging them around, sticking them to walls or kicking them off the side of buildings. Gamers returning from 2018 will definitely have muscle memory because the combat system is intuitive and damn-near flawless.
The finishers are some of the most satisfying cinematic attacks in gaming, with sound effects that truly enhance the impact of connecting the hit. The fluidity of the combat system itself is still the most jaw-dropping aspect. Being able to swing around a combat arena, jump off walls or between an enemies legs is such a joy to experience. And like any good sequel, the skills added will likely have fans missing them when returning to Peter’s game. For example, there’s additions to the stealth combat that, while can’t be abused, will definitely have fans yearning for when replaying Spider-Man PS4.
Stealth is just one of the improvements, though, as Insomniac Games managed to find engrossing ways to enhance the gameplay and allow for fun chain attacks to increase the combo meter. It’s only natural to wonder how they’ll be able to top themselves for Peter’s next game.
Although the core mechanics carry over from Spider-Man PS4 to Miles Morales, so did the same minor hiccups in movement and camera angles. For example, there’s still the possibility of swinging into the side of a building when trying to turn a corner if not positioned correctly, not launching at the right point or the camera repositioning to an awkward angle during some fights. Granted, some of these instances are either rare or on the user since the movement and combat systems are so dynamic, but they haven’t been eliminated. Otherwise the gameplay is still fulfilling the dream so many gamers envision when they think about controlling Spider-Man.
Perhaps most importantly for this game, Miles is instantly an engaging character from the start. For fans who may only have experience with Morales through Spider-Man PS4 or the movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, this game will truly help people feel connected to such a wonderful character.
One of the best things about Peter Parker is how he has layers (smart, funny, flawed, etc.) and is such a relatable character. Insomniac Games does a great job of making sure Miles follows in those footsteps. Peter is known for his quips, and Miles does the same while also sporting relatable lines and inner thoughts. One of the standouts for dialogue is when Miles talks to himself about Peter as he attempts to follow in his path to defend New York.
Spider-Man PS4 was probably more emotional of a story than fans envisioned. Insomniac Games once again taps into that same emotion with Miles Morales to kick-start the next-gen with an incredible story to join its fantastic gameplay. It’s not the easiest of tasks to make people care about Miles as much as they do Peter, given that Peter has been in the spotlight for decades, but Insomniac Games pulls it off. This is an excellent story to bring such a beloved comic book hero to life in gaming.
There’s a lot of depth to Miles, but a big difference in this game compared to the last is that Miles is more like the Spider-Man most people know and love, who is still trying to figure out how to be Spider-Man. The inherent nature of Miles being more naive and starting out his journey works very well for the story but also the gameplay mechanics and upgrade systems.
Collectables, like in the previous game, help to flesh out Miles as a character and learn more about his past and relationships.
Some of them require some creative thinking to obtain but are worth the time investment to obtain. Like in Spider-Man PS4, it’s enjoyable that they’re not just littered on the map from the start and are staggered throughout the story. This helps keep the pacing of the game intact, even if gamers decide to go on a binge between story missions. The same applies to upgrading skills, gadgets and suits, which are tied to certain missions and/or obtaining enough activity tokens.
The tokens are earned through completing missions and side activities around NYC, with some including specific bonus objectives to earn more tokens.
Spider-Man PS4 was already the best model of New York City in gaming, but the added elements of winter and Christmas are incredible. This isn’t just slapping on a coat of paint to NYC; there are details throughout the entire city to make sure it feels unique from 2018. There’s dynamic weather, with snow you can see sticking to Spider-Man’s suit. There’s authentic-looking snow across the streets and trees, Christmas lights on windows, plus icicles and frozen water.
Civilians populate NYC as one would expect them to be if visiting during the holidays. They’re dressed to the occasion, some with the holiday spirit and others gathering in Times Square for festivities. Pedestrians walk with umbrellas when it’s snowing, and they’re of course dressed accordingly for winter. It’s extremely impressive and helps set this game apart from 2018, since Insomniac Games could’ve easily placed this directly after Spider-Man PS4 to save themselves the effort, but the details here should not be overlooked.
It’s only natural to think about the sequel to Spider-Man PS4 taking place across different times of the year now that two variations of NYC have been constructed.
The sound design is authentic, from common noises in NYC to sirens to Miles’ webs. It all sounds as it should, whether through the TV speakers or a headset. People in NYC react differently to Miles than they do Peter, with some even questioning the authenticity of Miles as Spider-Man. The fact that there’s so many different dialogue options and sequences makes it even more impressive of a game because there are so many details packed in. The same applies to all of the different suits Miles can unlock and how people interact with him.
The voice acting is fantastic throughout the game, especially from lead actor Nadji Jeter as Miles. It’s easily one of the best voice-acting performances of the year. The rest of the voice acting is great too, especially Miles’ confidants and J. Jonah Jameson being a highlight despite his anti-Spider-Man propaganda.
Everything just feels as it should when playing Miles Morales. The DualShock 4 is an incredibly comfortable controller, but the DualSense is a natural progression. It is slightly bigger but still extremely comfortable to use for a combat-heavy game like Miles Morales. The new L1/R1 triggers being wider are more helpful for combat sequences, and the improved vibration kicks in at the right times to enhance the story experience.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is simply a phenomenal game and a must-play for fans of Spider-Man, whether that be the video game or the characters themselves. Miles is an awesome character, and his journey is reminiscent of Peter’s journey when he was learning what it meant to be Spider-Man. Even if this was to be somebody’s first experience with a Spider-Man game or the characters, it’s an extremely satisfying experience because the gameplay, graphics and technical achievement of Miles Morales are outstanding.
The PS5 is a must-own for any gamer. It carries over the historic lineage of PS4 while looking ahead to the future to push the medium forward as the total package. The console itself is brilliantly designed to ensure it says silent and cool while also being incredibly fast to operate. It’s an extremely intuitive system, and it’s exciting to think about how Sony and developers will think of ways to enhance the experience.
The DualSense controller is expertly designed with features that will allow games to be even more immersive than they already are. It is a step up from the DualShock 4 and easy to understand out of the box why this is next-gen.
The DualSense, Astro’s Playroom and Spider-Man: Miles Morales truly showcase next-gen and are highlights for the most exciting time to be a gamer.