After swinging through New York in spectacular fashion, Spider-Man is back in the first of three DLC packs, collectively called The City That Never Sleeps. With The Heist, Insomniac Games give returning players new challenges, suits, collectibles, and of course a new story to experience as they swing elegantly through New York in a package that doesn’t overstay its welcome and understands its strengths but doesn’t do anything unexpected.
Spider-Man has successfully saved New York from its biggest threat and gotten back together with his Daily Bugle reporter, MJ. When she gets a new lead on a story, she requests that the Friendly Neighborhood Spider check on something for her at the art museum, which naturally leads to an encounter with some goons. That’s not all though, because Black Cat makes an appearance after only being a cameo throughout that main game.
Since Peter has been Spider-Man for eight years, he already has a relationship with Black Cat. The chemistry between Spider-Man and Black Cat is felt immediately. Clearly, the two have had a relationship, personally, professionally, and romantically. The writing team at Imsoniac know exactly how to showcase their sexual tension. Black Cat speaks in innuendos that tease both Peter Parker, who seems to suddenly question his rekindled relationship with MJ, and Spider-Man, who wishes Black Cat would have stayed on the straight and narrow path. It was hilarious hearing Peter stumble over his words, and hint at his past relationship to Black Cat to MJ, who showcases a bit of jealousy when she hears these details. In the base game, MJ and Peter’s relationship felt real, you could relate to the tension between two former lovers that don’t want to admit that they still have feelings for each other. The DLC hasn’t changed that relatability.
Of course, you’ll spend most of the time chasing after Black Cat as she steals from the mob families. What should be a classic story is enhanced by the performances by Yuri Lowenthal (Peter), Laura Bailey (MJ), and Erica Lindbeck (Black Cat) feel natural and leave you wanting to spend more time with these characters. More importantly though, are the personal reasons why Black Cat is robbing these families. More shocking, is how Spider-Man is roped into it, but I don’t want to spoil it here. The brief story ends on a cliffhanger that makes this episode feel like the beginning of a comic book story arc. It’s a good thing Insomniac plans on releasing the rest of the packs before the end of the year.
Spliced in the story are new challenges from everyone’s favorite internet obsessed villain, Screwball. Similar to the Taskmaster challenges from the base game, Screwball Challenges range from combat, races, and tech challenges. Since Screwball loves to be flashy for her online fans, periodically, she’ll request that you perform certain actions for a picture that helps boost your score. I didn’t mind these challenges in the base game, and my feelings haven’t changed in the DLC. If you loved these, you’ll continue to here.
I’ve made my feelings known about how much I loved chasing down the collectibles in Marvel’s Spider-Man, and I’m happy to report that I’m still very much in love with it. Part of the reason is how simple, yet satisfying, collecting these items is. The other reason is the excellent swinging mechanics. The final ingredient is the story told with these collectibles. Spider-Man is asked by a retiring detective to help recover some stolen paintings from the original Black Cat. The pay off is well worth it in the end, and just like the base game, you’ll be rewarded with new story bits after each painting you collect.
The Heist lasts only a few hours; you could easily complete it in one or two sittings. I enjoyed the bite-sized experience of this first episode, which is why it was puzzling to why the game forces you to not be able to continue the story for an amount of time. Again, similar to the base game, Spider-Man will say that he should explore the city while he waits, which equates to you swinging around and stopping crimes until the next story mission pops up. The way I played, I completed everything I could as soon as I could, so by the second or third time Spider-Man recommends this, I had nothing to do other than swing around New York.
As you are able to read, there are a lot of similarities between The Heist and the base game. This could be a development restriction since this DLC launched about a month after the main adventure. This will be a disappointment to some since there isn’t much different here.
I couldn’t help but fall in love with the three main cast members yet again. Their performances were fantastic, the writing is once again top-notch, and swinging through New York felt like putting on a comfortable pair of underoos. The new challenges felt like remixes of old ones, and the collectibles once again proved to be a fun distraction. The lack of new mechanics makes The Heist feel like an encore to an already great game.