Hey, I get it- chances are you’re not thinking about the web-swinging your way across New York City right now. I reckon you’re gallivanting across the re-imagined American West at the turn of the century, searching for trains to rob, whiskey to drink, and that hat that was shot off your head fifteen minutes ago. Even though Red Dead Redemption 2 is at the forefront of every gamer’s mind, PS4 owners should definitely revisit Marvel’s Spider-Man for the new The Heist DLC. The $10 expansion packs an engaging new story that easily outweighs the slight problems the new content brings.
What made Marvel’s Spider-Man such a a beloved (and best-selling) game in the first place was the incredibly faithful adaptation of Spider-Man’s adventures. The Heist picks up right where the intial game left off, this time introducing the classic Spider-man villain/love-interest/hero(?)/sidekick Black Cat as she attempts to pull off a massive heist (hence the title) against the rival Italian gangs trying to wrangle control of the New York underground. The Black Cat is an excellent addition to the already staggering roster of characters in the game and is the first to who presents a sense of moral ambiguity in a world full of black and white heroes and villains.
The story, despite being quite heavy, packs a serious amount of humor with it- so much so it may even outshine the base game. MJ and Peter’s budding relationship brings a bevvy of laughs and J. Jonah Jameson’s rants are funnier than ever. Whoever writes the podcast snippets at Insomniac deserves a big ‘ol raise- or at least a holiday bonus- because triple J is hysterical.
The add-on does a wonderful job capturing the flirtatious yet somewhat antagonistic relationship between Black Cat and Spider-Man. Comic book readers are well aware of the pair’s romantic history, but the tension between the two characters is so palpable that even Spidey newcomers will easily be able to recognize the two’s romantic past. Despite how adorable MJ and Peter are together, the dynamic between Spider-Man and Black Cat is so natural and effortless that I almost felt myself rooting for them to get together.
Speaking of MJ, the DLC packs yet another boring, shoehorned mission that forces the player to control Mary-Jane in a lazy stealth mission. These missions completely derailed the initial game and this one mission does the same in the new content. Even if this sequence can easily be completed in under 10 minutes, it is nonetheless a frustrating chapter that pulls the player from the exhilarating experience of playing as Spider-Man for an uninspired stealth mission. Players don’t want to play as Mary-Jane- they want to play as Spider-Man.
If not Spider-Man, at least give players the option to control other super-heroes. It feels like a bit of a missed opportunity for Insomniac to not give players the chance to control Black Cat for a mission or two. Mary-Jane’s mission could’ve easily been replaced with one for Black Cat that would’ve not just kept up the action-packed pace of the story, but provided a dynamic new means of combat tailored specifically to Black Cat.
The Heist also introduces new, gatling gun-wielding enemies for Spider-Man to web up and they’re.. well, they’re just frustrating. I am happy that Insomniac made the attempt to add a new flavor of foes for player’s to takedown, but these new enemies were far more aggravating than they were challenging- especially in the climatic final battle. There’s a fine line between challenging and infuriating, and with these new enemies Insomniac leans closer towards infuriating.
Players hoping to see the DLC build off some of the cliffhangers from the initial game are going to be disappointed- but, then again, you’re kind of a fool for thinking Insomniac wouldn’t save these things for the inevitable sequel. Norman Osborn doesn’t even make so much as a cameo here, so don’t expect any updates on the symbiote material he discovered. Miles Morales, on the other hand, makes a few cameo appearances via phone calls, but merely hints at assuming a vigilante role without ever actually appearing in the game. His presence and insistence on becoming Spider-Man is frequent enough that I wouldn’t be surprised to see super-hero training between Miles and Peter be a part of the next installment of DLC, but I still expect anything like that will be relegated to the sequel.
Marvel’s Spider-Man is one of the absolute best games to release this year (right behind Red Dead Redemption 2 and just ahead of God of War), and The Heist does a great job recapturing what made the initial game so incredible. For just $10, this content pack is more than worth the price.