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Marvel's Spider-Man

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEE (EU), SCEA (US)
Developer: Insomniac Games
Release Date: Sept. 7, 2018


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PS4 Review - 'Marvel's Spider-Man' The Heist DLC

by Redmond Carolipio on Oct. 25, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Marvel's Spider-Man features the web-slinger's acrobatic abilities, improvisation and web-slinging, while also introducing elements such as traversing with parkour, distinct environmental interactions, new combat, and cinematic blockbuster set pieces.

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Characters abound within the multiverse contained in Marvel's Spider-Man, and for the most part, I know either a little or a lot about all of them — except for Felicia Hardy, the enigmatic master thief known as Black Cat. That changes in The Heist, the first part of a DLC trilogy entitled The City That Never Sleeps that aims to flesh out Insomniac's open-world epic about the friendly neighborhood webslinger.

Before, Hardy only appeared in the game as a sultry, playful and narrative voice that dangled verbal and visual carrots in front of Spidey during a series of optional, picture-taking puzzle side-quests. If you managed to persevere and find everything (except Black Cat herself), you received some goodies for your trouble. The Heist gives Black Cat the stage, where players meet her in her clever, white-haired and masked glory during Spidey's investigation into an art theft at a museum. What follows is a brisk, entertaining caper that accentuates Spidey's battle against classic organized crime instead of a monumental struggle against super-powered beings. For a moment, thieves, mobsters and thugs dominate the night, as the story branches into the what makes Black Cat tick as well as a simmering war among crime families who no longer have the Kingpin lording over them.

The touch-and-go, sexually-tense-but-slightly-immature chemistry between Black Cat and Spidey is my favorite part of the story, which I found to be well told, if short (though probably appropriate for DLC length). The catch-me-if-you-can nature of their relationship bleeds into action, as players are left to mine for clues and chase leads that Black Cat intentionally leaves behind. You end up coloring all this is interaction with some different characters, like the mobster Hammerhead and a detective on the verge of retirement who worked the Black Cat case decades ago. It turns out the OG Black Cat was none other than Felicia's dad, an angle that opens some windows into the character makeup of Black Cat herself.

As entertaining as the storytelling arc and banter among the characters are, The Heist generally plays it safe, simply adding a variety of different activities similar to the palette of tasks and side-quests that we've already seen. There's crime across the city to stop, but this time, mobsters are behind the trigger instead of mercs, mystically powered masked men or escaped prisoners. There are pieces of art to be found scattered throughout the city, apparently hidden by Black Cat Version One ages ago. Engaging in these tasks carries the benefits one would expect: the chance to level up, more tokens for better gear, new suits with different powers, and the general gratitude of the people you save.

Sometimes, DLC is used to bend a game in different directions or perhaps even introduce some brand-new gameplay elements. The Heist doesn't quite do that, seemingly content to add wrinkles instead of dimensions, which is very much a "first part of a series" thing to do.

Wrinkles are still entertaining, though. For example, the first story mission in an art museum asked Spidey to, yes, fight off a bunch of thugs, but he also had to stop some of those goons from running off with random pieces of art. This ended up being a lot more challenging than one might expect, and it broke the monotony of simply knocking out dudes. Thanks to a combination of timely web strikes, conscious defensive positioning and battle drones, good was done in the name of art preservation. Also in that first mission was some deft detective work, where Spidey used tech in his suit to piece together a handprint from a security guard in order to open an electronically locked door. Some side missions featured an interesting riff on the use of the Spider-bot drone, which I had to use to scramble around an area to find and disarm bombs placed under cars. There were also some new Screwball stunt challenges and a new type of "big" enemy thug who carries around a chaingun.

Marvel's Spider-Man: The Heist might not have been revolutionary, but perhaps it's not supposed to be yet. It is the first part of a series of DLC, and as such, it leaves a lot of unresolved questions. I feel like I've officially "met" Felicia Hardy, and I'm certainly looking forward to where her story goes next.

Score: 7.8/10

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