‘Spider-Man’ releases their newest DLC: it Doesn’t Reinvent the Wheel, But it Spins Well
Written By: Anniemay Parker
The first of Insomniac’s ‘Spider-Man’ DLC ‘The Heist’ was released on the 23rd of October, laying the groundwork of a new storyline for New York’s hero. Felicia Hardy, known as Black Cat, makes an appearance along with Hammerhead who is talked about more than seen. His presence is felt as the opposing gangs attempt to ignite a gang war over USB drives containing confounding information about said gangs. Spider-Man is forced to work with his past lover and their shared history ultimately blinds him to the truth but also forces him to acknowledge once more how his actions influence the world he lives in.
Insomniac achieves at making Black Cat the mysterious and alluring anti-hero she has always been. There were moments throughout this DLC where I was frustrated at Spider-Man for his leniency on her behavior. But this anger is reigned in once you realize this stealing and “misdirection” of hers is a habit he knows he can’t break. But this sombre realization doesn’t snuff out the beauty and humor in this campaign.
The achievements, conversations and Spidey monologues make the whole DLC that much more rewarding. There is an abundance of laughter to be had as Mary-Jane Watson and Peter Parker attempt to get past the bombshell Black Cat drops on them at the beginning of the campaign. I always appreciate it when developers reinforce a sense of time passing in this virtual world as the two, now dating again, are much more playful with one another than in the main campaign.
In terms of story, it was much easier to decipher and piece together due to the short runtime but also the overtness of Black Cat’s lies. Unlike the emotions I felt for Doctor Otto Octavius and Martin Li’s eventual descent into tyranny, ‘The Heist’ made it much harder to be in this same mindset. The plot was very blatant in its delivery and I found myself unable to properly accept Black Cat as we are given nothing and when we are it ends up being a complete set-up. However, I don’t think this story-line was asking for us to be as ignorant as the web-swinger. I believe the players were meant to be face-palming at Peter Parker’s obliviousness (which is something he points out in side-missions and throughout the campaign) and that in DLC’s to come we may create the same relationship as we did with Octavius.
I do hope this does happen as Spider-Man succeeds when its story and characters are just as enriching as the bustling city itself. The final story achievement of the ‘The Heist’ entitled “Bye Felicia” made me laugh hysterically even with the cliff-hanger conclusion to the DLC. Spider-Man seems to share the players constant agitation at his own moral compass and tends to surmise the mindset of its players through his inner monologues spoken aloud. The endless scenes of Spidey getting conned by Felicia made me feel like an audience member at a horror movie: “No! Don’t go in there!” “For God sake, Peter. She’s lying to you!”
New York not only has the threat of the family gangs feud and Black Cat as Screwball makes a return in this DLC. Her ‘fans’ trying yet again to kill our red and blue hero for clicks. The Screwball missions adopt the same formula as Taskmaster’s boxes littered throughout the main campaign. With each utilising either your stealth, strength, web-swinging or gadgets (the most difficult of the missions). The chase missions were very reminiscent of Batman: Arkham City’s Zsasz missions but without the timer. These missions are perfect ways to get more crime tokens for those locked Spidey suits you might still have.
We are also given insight into the original Black Cat, Walter Hardy, through a collectible side-mission which involves finding and returning stolen art to Detective Mackey. This mission didn’t interest me in terms of collecting the art as the conversations and context you receive afterwards is far more thrilling.
As touched on, ‘The Heist’ is more of a filler and acts as the starting point/foundation for later DLC’s. Thus, the characters, story and gameplay aren’t blown out of the water as much as I would have liked.
I absolutely despised the mini-gun toting gang members who were relentless with their fire and required full attention to take down. Unlike the usual brutes, they could instantly break your webbing and had quick attack moves. It was a great challenge, but I still hated them with a passion. The street crimes make a return but do not go to all districts, containing the DLC. The suits of this DLC were a nice addition and reward for continuing the story but didn’t aesthetically please me. I’ll stick to my Punk Spidey always.
The web-swinging and exploration were just as beautiful as in the main campaign however some of the suits Spidey can wear makes it very difficult to see where you’re at and fully appreciate the city. However, the combat while quick and fluid is beginning to grow stale and I hope we may get more gadgets or AI buddies in these upcoming DLC’s to spice up the combat system.
Overall, The Heist is a fine addition to ‘Spider-Man’, even if it doesn’t reinvent the wheel. I do hope the next DLC will include more challenging baddies, deeper relationships, more involving side-missions and a great sync with Peter Parker as we did in the main game.