Updated: Jan 20, 2019
When it comes to The Heist, the first installment in the highly anticipated trilogy of DLC packs for the critically acclaimed Marvel’s Spider-Man, it often feels like a natural continuation of the original main campaign. It features similar elements including twisted and surprising developments of iconic characters from the ever-grossing Spider-verse and gameplay that is reminiscent to any player of the original game. Players will feel right at home as The Heist is implemented and set in the exact same gameplay and mission layout, with little room for innovation and differentiation. Starring Black Cat in a brand-new sprawling story of an approaching gang war in New York City, The Heist chronicles the return of Black Cat and the consequences that shimmer from it, even including a daunting and surprising twist that will leave fans stunned with confusion. Ultimately, however, even with a mostly impressive story and natural instincts on where to take the experience, Marvel’s Spider-Man – The Heist simply doesn’t do enough to justify its price point, resulting in a middling experience that is more repetitive than innovative.
The story of this two-hour DLC expansion has frequently been cited as a rather unsatisfying justification for players to return to the game, especially with its predictability factor. These are all common complaints that do hollow the experience at times. A riveting plot thread consistently devolves into a dull, predictable affair, and with such a short length, these riveting plot threads often come too far in between sequences. In addition, due to the split attribute of the DLC with the later installments being released in separate expansions, any sense of emotional resonance or poignancy is lost upon the player. Even with a seemingly dramatic conclusion, the experience as a whole still feels unwieldy due to how shallow it has been until the dramatic crescendo of the third act. These elements as a whole never truly sink the story-far from it. It has exceptional moments of bravado that solidifies Insomniac’s bold and innovative take on this character and his lore. But with such predictable elements littered in the fray, it becomes increasingly difficult to both find and savor these moments of genius.
Easily the highlight of this experience, character-wise, is Black Cat, a character who was briefly mentioned in the original game as nothing more than a cameo. Her inclusion here is handled with due respect with her writing and character design flourishing with style. The way her actions and presence impacts the story proves to be one of the most poignant moments, even if these instances are few and scattered with little acknowledgement to pacing.
As for the gameplay, it is almost completely reminiscent of what was offered in the original game. Outside of offering a brand-new clan and mission type, the combat and core mechanics are all largely intact. There also seems to be a clear difficulty spike, with later instances of combat featuring a wide cascade of power-house enemies flooding the screen all at once. To a less experienced player, this decision may prove frustrating as it can often slow down the pace of the game when the screen is frequently inhabited by a fallen Spider-Man. But to a more experienced player, it offers a unique challenge that isn’t always available in the original game. In addition, The Heist introduces a new mission type for the randomized crimes all over the game’s map. Using the Spider-Drone, Spider-Man is able to locate and diffuse car bombs in a set time limit of under two minutes. This mission isn’t unique or extraordinary by any means, but it adds a new coat of variety to the experience, lending this DLC some cushioning for the arguments against its practical necessities.
As a collective whole, The Heist is an unwieldy, disjointed, and unsatisfying experience to casual players of the original game due to its ludicrous price point and lack of innovation. While hardcore fans may cherish this DLC with open arms, it’s hard to see the general public latching onto this new bite-sized update for the game especially with more exciting releases such as Red Dead Redemption II launching today for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One being on the horizon.
Score: 5.6 out of 10