I don’t usually go back to games after I’ve finished them. Even games I loved, like Horizon Zero Dawn, I’ve usually moved on by the time I put down the controller. There are too many games to play and not enough time to play them. But just like with Insomniac’s previous new game, Sunset Overdrive, I couldn’t get enough of Spider-Man. I played through Spider-Man twice. So you’d better believe that I swung into the DLC the second I could. And with Red Dead coming out in just days, my window was small. Spider-Man‘s first of three DLC chapters, “The Heist,” has arrived. It introduces one of Spidey’s most beloved anti-heroes and one of his silliest villains and give just enough content to fill an evening or two.
The whole of the downloadable content for Spidey is called “The City That Never Sleeps,” and revolves around two Spidey classics: legendary burglar Black Cat – Felicia Hardy – and flat-headed mobster Hammerhead. In this opening DLC, we learn that Hammerhead has the Cat snatching a piece of art for him, and Spidey sets about chasing her down to find out what’s going on. Black Cat isn’t one to work with the Maggia – that’s Marvel’s stand-in for the mafia, because that’s one brand name you don’t want to run afoul of when your headquarters are in New York City – and Spider-Man wants to know why.
The Heist isn’t a complete story, but rather the first chapter of one. It ends on a cliffhanger, leaving us with some questions I won’t get into here.
What you’ll get out of the DLC is a few hours – I’d say about 3-5 depending on your skill level and how much of a completionist you are – and the promise of a fresh Spidey story.
There’s enough to fill an evening or two packed into “The Heist.” From a ten-thousand-foot view it’s kind of a “more of the same” situation. A new set of story missions, collectibles, challenges, and crimes. But while it is indeed more, it’s not just that. You’ll rewire a few circuits and even decode some chemicals just like in the main game, but most of the activities you’ll be engaging in are fresh.
The collectible this time is stolen art. An officer has you helping him close up a few old cases before he can retire, finding stolen art left behind by the original Black Cat – Felicia’s father. The collectibles themselves are fun to find and there aren’t too many of them – only 10. What makes them worthwhile is exactly the same thing that made so many of the collectibles in the main Spider-Man game worth checking out. Each time you pick one up, you get a little bit of story about these characters. It fleshes out Felicia’s story and it made me want to grab the pickups as soon as I could. The amount of story devoted to these actually feels pretty generous. Each one takes a minute or so to pick up and gives you a couple minutes of conversation between Spider-Guy and the officer.
I wasn’t as fond of the new Challenge missions. TaskMaster was silly and fun in the main game. Screwball, who was introduced briefly, is closer to annoying than to silly, with her O-M-Gs and likes and subscribes. It seems pretty clear that she’s supposed to be annoying, but she’s still annoying. The challenges themselves are straight-forward enough to pass pretty easily, but tough enough that you could do them a bunch of times if you can stand Screwball’s grating voice. That’s really the worst part about it.
The DLC also introduces new “crimes.” There are some good old ones, like beating up guys robbing a store or mugging someone, but you’ll also end up defusing bombs and having to stop cars that don’t just have mobsters in them, but hostages, too.
But the Black Cat is really the central point of this tale. Just as the main story focuses on characters like Doctor Octopus and Mister Negative, it’s Black Cat that’s at the center of this story. Insomniac has once again retained the core of Black Cat’s character while riffing on her look and feel. She’s still the same seductive character that seems torn between her good heart and her almost compulsive need to steal. Her presence creates friction between Peter and MJ, but it’s handled believably. In actual gameplay, I found myself chasing her and working with her and enjoying it.
It’s hard to tell if it’ll live up to the standard set by the main story or not. This is just the first part of a three-part story, so I don’t know if Spidey can stick this landing. This episode can be purchased as a standalone for $9.99 and, while it’s fun enough, I’d recommend either picking up the season pass that nets you all three chapters or just holding off to see if it does end up being as good as the main Spider-Man game has us expecting. While the DLC stands apart from the game, it’s very connected to the other chapters, and doesn’t stand on its own.
But with that said, I’m thrilled to be back in Manhattan. Swinging around still feels incredible, and I enjoyed pursuing both Black Cat and the stolen art across the city. Spider-Man is awesome, and this is more Spider-Man.