The Heist has a lot to live up to after Spider-Man’s main campaign. Long and surprisingly emotional in parts, not to mention featuring some excellent boss battles, the story was a delight that felt too short despite its more than adequate length. Achieving that level of satisfaction from a shorter, smaller piece of downloadable content is a challenge, but The Heist is Insomniac’s attempt at pulling that off.
As the first of three planned DLCs to continue this story, The Heist features the catsuited Spidey villain/partner/love interest Black Cat, who got her suit back in the background of the main game. Cat has been forced to start stealing pieces of art from various places about Manhattan by Hammerhead, and the webhead decides to help her out, as ever. The story is good enough, but it’s a far cry from the quality of the main game.
This likely isn’t helped by a disappointingly short playtime of only a few hours, leaving little space for developing relationships and plot points to the same depth as the main game. A reason for the short playtime is likely the lack of content, too. There are a decent number of missions, but most of them are more of the same, and those that aren’t are in short supply. It has its moments, such as dual team stealth with Spidey and Black Cat which, whilst again good enough, served only to draw more comparisons to similar (and better) missions in Arkham Knight.
The internal logic of these missions is a little suspect once or twice as well, such as one mission where you fight enemies outside a building to serve as a distraction whilst Cat sneaks about inside. It’s stated during the cutscene before this mission that Black Cat absolutely cannot be seen, or her blackmailer will punish her, but then she comes back out of the building and joins in the combat! It enables some nice double team moves, but does precisely what they were supposed to be avoiding. It feels like an oversight that would not have made it into the main game, which was often meticulous when establishing its world and plot.
An earlier mission, where Spidey is fighting a gang of art thieves suffered not from narrative dissonance like the above, but from a small lapse in design. Whilst fighting these art thieves, occasionally one would grab some art and run to their van, forcing you to stop them before they get there whilst also fighting off the rest of them. These thieves continued for a good minute after the rest of the gang had been taken out, basically devolving into my Spider-Man hanging out by a van for 20 seconds and just webbing them up as they arrive. It was a small niggle but it stuck out after the main game featured few, if any awkward oversights in mission design of this nature.
Then there’s a little bit of a bait and switch. The Heist involves another supervillain whose identity I won’t spoil here, but is mentioned numerous times throughout the DLC in both cutscenes and idle chat between enemies. It is safe to say this character is the primary antagonist of this DLC, yet you don’t really see this person except for a few seconds in the final cutscene before you are left on a cliffhanger, waiting for the next expansion. There’s no real boss fight, no resolution, just a sudden ending where it felt like the sotry was about to get going.
In the end, I think The Heist has suffered from two things. The first is a lack development time – it feels rushed and there are oversights in logic and design – and that it’s placed as the first part in a three act story. By nature of being the first act, The Heist feels slow to start and the ending feels like it falls just where the story is about to pick up.
Perhaps all three acts together will be a complete package worth a purchase, but this just feels like more of the same, except rushed out to meet an audience and lacking the unerring attention to detail that made the main campaign so special. Whilst Black Cat herself is pretty excellent, the story around her isn’t one that is gripping, at least, not yet.