Before Marvel's Spider-Man had even hit the shelves, Insomniac was already laying the groundwork for what content would be coming to their web slinging action adventure game post-launch. This expansion, titled The City That Never Sleeps would be broken up into three separate packages. Each of which contains new story missions, enemies, challenges, trophies, and spidey suits for players to enjoy. The first DLC chapter, The Heist, centers around the return of Felicia Hardy AKA Black Cat, and her ties to the mob. Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson now find themselves entangled with some of the most infamous crime families in New York City.
Cleaning the streets
With MJ and Spidey officially working as partners now, they team up to investigate and stop the Hammerhead crime family from stealing a famous art piece from the Manhattan Museum of Contemporary Art. Players come face to face with Black Cat for the first time at this missions conclusion, thus kicking off a fun romp through the criminal undergrounds of NYC as Spider-Man tries to get to the bottom of Black Cat's return, while Peter has to sort through the ramifications of a past relationship.
The Heist was a shorter experience, taking me about 3 hours to power through the main narrative and, for the most part, I quite enjoyed my time with it. Insomniac manages to keep all of the flavor that makes the original game so amazing, while tossing in a few new elements to keep things from getting stale. I was worried that The Heist would just be a couple more hours of the same exact things I already did during the main campaign but with a new coat of paint, but was pleasantly surprised with the amount of new gameplay additions.
Brand new toys
Taking a closer look at some new gameplay elements, there is a sequence in which Spider-Man has to stop around a dozen enemies as they all attempt to escape with different art pieces from the MOCA. Having to swing around the museum like a madman, zipping from enemy to enemy, frantically trying to make sure not a single one made it past the front door was an exciting new style of play that I wasn’t at all expecting. The gameplay changes don’t stop there either. The Heist introduces a brand new enemy type as well: Minigun Brutes. You thought the regular brutes were an issue? Wait until you get a taste of the fully automatic rain of heavy fire that is the minigun. I’m not embarrassed to say the lion's share of my deaths while playing through the DLC missions came at the hands of these new foes from the depths of hell. My favorite part about the minigun brutes is that they forced me to adapt and develop new ways of approaching combat and pushed me outside of my comfort zone.
For the completionists out there, The Heist DLC adds several new miscellaneous collectibles and tasks to complete around NYC. These include new screwball challenges, stolen painting collectibles, and a spider-drone minigame where players have to defuse bombs planted on the streets of Manhattan. The screwball missions pretty much work as an extra set of Taskmaster challenges, but with a gameshow spin on them and a much more annoying host pulling the strings. The stolen artwork collectibles have a pretty interesting backstory to them, but I’ll let you experience that one for yourself. That being said, they function very similarly to the backpacks scattered around NYC, find one and get a little nugget of info from the past. The Spider-Drone missions however are hard to compare to anything done in the original game. Playing a crime mission entirely as one of Spider-Man’s gadget was a neat prospect, but wasn’t my favorite part of the DLC. That being said, I didn’t feel compelled to go back and finish off any of the new side events. Similar to many of those in the full game, they just sort of felt like busy work. However, players who refuse to leave any stone unturned will be rewarded for their efforts with a sweet looking Scarlet Spider II suit.
The add-on also comes with two other new costumes: the Resilient Suit and the Spider-UK suit. I wasn’t much of a fan of these two suits, unfortunately. The metallic design used on the resillient suit comes off as clunky. The rectangular shape in the center of the UK suit is kind of ugly, and the colors are fairly dull. Both of these suits just lack the pop that so many of the other available costumes posess. which was kind of a bummer. Fingers crossed that some of the most badass suits are yet to come!
Cat's got your tongue?
The aspect of The Heist I’m most excited to discuss is the story itself. We got a little bit of Black Cat via the stakeout side missions during the original game, but she really takes center stage in this first round of DLC. With the Cat being one of my favorites in the rich history of Spider-Man characters, it made me so happy to see how perfectly they nailed her persona. As with every other character in the game, Insomniac manages to stay true to who Black Cat is, while putting their own unique spin on her. This can be greatly attributed to the voice acting of Erica Lindbeck. She so wonderfully captures the charismatic charmer that is Felicia Hardy, and many of her conversations with the webhead sound like something straight out of a comic book. Amy Johnston does all of the motion capture for Hardy/Cat, and does a superb job at encapsulating the ever seductive and playful nature of Felicia. These two performances come together to create the conniving thief that we hate to love.
The way Spider-Man and Black Cat play off each other is easily my favorite part of The Heist. Their chemistry with one another is off the charts and I completely believe these two characters have a long and bumpy history, and it’s evident how their past still weighs heavily on the conscience of Peter Parker. Although 95% of what we’re told about Peter and Felicia’s troubled relationship is so easy to believe, there’s very particular plot point (which I won’t spoil) about their history together that the writers try to convince you to buy into that was honestly never convincing. I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with the idea had it been a throwaway piece of info, but the greater portion of this story hinges on this one story point. It’s the cause of Peter’s own inner turmoil and creates a little tension between him and Mary Jane. It’s also used in attempt to better humanize Felicia Hardy and to make audiences sympathize with her. The problem is, I saw right through it the moment it was introduced.
Weaving things together
There are also some pretty minor additions in The Heist to make note of. Detective Mackey is introduced, mainly used to set up one of the new collectible missions but actually has as really fascinating story behind him. I hope his character gets some more shine in future DLC. Spider-Man has some new quips and is hilarious as ever. Insomniac even went as far as to record some new segments for J. Jonah Jameson’s talk show. One of these new segments, in which he talks about the resurfacing of Black Cat gave me the biggest laugh of the entire game.
Overall, Insomniac’s first DLC outing for Marvel’s Spider-Man proves to be a worthy one. While it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, it adds more activities for players to dive into and features a fully fleshed out story with some pretty memorable characters. The best thing The Heist has going for it is that it gets to build on top of the spectacular foundation laid with the original game. Although there are one or two sizable missteps, I’m chomping at the bit to see where The City That Never Sleeps goes with its next installment.
These impressions are based on a PlayStation 4 download code provided by the publisher. Marvel's Spider-Man: The Heist DLC is available on digital stores for $9.99. The game has been rated T for Teen by the ESRB.