Today marks the launch of the first downloadable content (DLC) release for Marvel's Spider-Man for PlayStation 4. The full package is entitled "The City That Never Sleeps", comprised of "The Heist," which launches today, "Turf Wars" in November, and "Silver Lining" in December. Each release furthers the journey of Insomniac Games' version of Spider-Man.
The Heist picks up following the end of the Spider-Man's main plot, in a city dealing with the power vacuum left behind from the defeat of Wilson Fisk and Mr. Negative. Into this space steps the Maggia, an international crime syndicate whose local chapter is run by an enhanced mafioso named Hammerhead. Alongside the Maggia's attacks is the distraction of Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, a career thief who shares a past romantic relationship with Spider-Man.
In a previous article, I hazarded a guess that Hammerhead might feature in the second downloadable release, Turf Wars. That looks to be borne out in the Heist, which gives us glimpses into the hard-headed criminal, but never lets him take center stage. The Maggia is here as a replacement to Sable's forces or Mr. Negative's gang; random criminals for Spidey to dispatch as he swings around the city.
Instead, The Heist focuses almost entirely on the Black Cat. Marvel's Spider-Man traded heavily on hints of the romantic past between Peter Parker and Mary Jane, and The Heist does the same with Spider-Man and the Black Cat. There's a push and pull in their dance across the rooftops. Spider-Man wants to save Felicia, believing her gifts could be used for good purposes. Cat just wants to profit, save her own skin, and have fun while doing it.
It's clear the romantic feelings between the two aren't entirely gone; the Black Cat is open about her attraction and Peter goes so far as to hang up on Mary Jane when Felicia re-enters the picture. Felicia is the ex-girlfriend that Parker can't quit, even if he knows he's going to get played. There are some great moments between the pair, and voice actress Erica Lindbeck finds the right balance between playful and seductive.
Though Peter Parker isn't seen much in The Heist, his supporting cast does get a chance to make their presence noticed. Mary Jane is present through most of the story, helping Peter with the investigation while also dealing with her feelings about his ex. Miles' conversations pick up from the end of base game, handling his youthful energy and new status quo. And J. Jonah Jameson is back with wrong-headed radio rants, including a funny one about reboots with female characters involving the Black Cat.
The Heist plays around with existing features found in the base game. The DLC exists in its own version of Manhattan, accessed through the pause menu. When activated, The Heist has its own completion counter and strips away a number of activities like Bases. You can still open up police stations, take photos of landmarks, and find backpacks, but otherwise The Heist has its own challenges.
The primary story is split out into varying mission types. In the beginning, Insomniac plays around with the base-style stealth mission by offering a location with a unique mechanic. The Maggia are stealing works of art from a local museum; you have to stop them before they get away, while also participating in the normal fisticuffs. One other Spider-Stealth section has you teaming-up with the Black Cat to clear an area of enemies, playing up how well the pair used to work together. There are a few chase sections too, though one involving a moving transit train is a bit annoying if you stick to the directions originally given. And for those that hated the Mary Jane/Miles stealth sections, there is one in The Heist, though it's a version where MJ has a taser so she can takedown foes.
The Heist has its own crime type, Maggia Crimes, which act as remixes of what came before. One new addition are Spider-Drone missions, which have you finding bombs with your handy robotic friend. Otherwise, the rest are mix-ups: solve a scientific puzzle and then defuse some bombs, or beat up a group of criminals and then chase after a getaway vehicle. Like before, completion requires finishing off five of these crimes in each district.
The playable content is rounded out by a new collectible, the art originally stolen by Felicia's father, Walter Hardy. The backstory here fills out the type of man Walter Hardy used to be, providing more insight into Felicia. There are also new Screwball Challenges, where the reality show villain repurposes other Taskmaster's Challenges for her own gain. The highlight of Screwball's activities are her new PhotoBombs, which have you traversing through a specific spot or defeating enemies in a highlighted region for extra points. It's the same stuff you've done in the base game, but with a new presentation and some additional flavor.
Not every district has new activities though. The Maggia seem to have skipped Harlem, the Upper West Side, Chinatown, and the Financial District. This actually works out, because it means you won't get too tired with finishing the new missions and activities; Insomniac seems to have figured out the right amount of content to feel satisfying without getting too tedious. All told, it took me around 3 hours to completely clear The Heist, with one hour being the story and the rest being activity cleanup.
The episode has an ending, but it's clear that all three downloadable releases will tell an overarching story. I don't know if the Black Cat will appear in the rest, but Hammerhead was built up here and will likely be a major face in Turf Wars. You can pick up The Heist by itself for $9.99, but I don't think that's the best way to engage with this. I wouldn't be surprised if the final tally for the $24.99 The City That Never Sleeps pack is a 10-12 hour romp that wraps up this version of Spider-Man until the sequel.
As a continuation of Marvel's Spider-Man for PlayStation 4, The Heist is okay. The Black Cat is the focus, as the rest is remixed mission and challenge types, and three new costumes. (Two of the costumes you'll unlock simply by playing through the story, while the last one requires full completion of The Heist.) If you're in too deep with Spider-Man, it's worth picking up, but I do wish The Heist was a bit meatier overall. If my speculation is right, the later DLC releases will build upon what's found here, offering a satisfying expansion once all three updates are out.
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