Spider-Man Part 13: Oscorp Tower Defense

By Shamus Posted Thursday Apr 25, 2019

Filed under: Retrospectives 54 comments

Spider-Man heads back to FEAST. He changes into civilian clothes to check on Aunt May and break into Martin Li’s office. We do some extremely light puzzling and find a secret room behind Martin’s office. We find a diary that depicts Li as struggling against some sort of demonic power, but I don’t know if we’re supposed to take that literally or not. It really feels like the writer has assumed we’ve read the comics.

We also recover the file from the start of the game that talks about Devil’s Breath. We still don’t know what it is, but we know it figures into Martin’s plans and we know it’s called friggin’ DEVIL’S BREATH so it’s a safe bet it’s not a dessert topping.

There's actually a bill of lading (a description of goods for shipping) for this bioweapon? Laying aside questions of why you would meticulously document something so illegal, where the hell were you shipping it?
There's actually a bill of lading (a description of goods for shipping) for this bioweapon? Laying aside questions of why you would meticulously document something so illegal, where the hell were you shipping it?

Martin Li shows up just as Peter leaves Li’s office. They have a guarded conversation. Martin seems to know Peter was snooping around in his stuff, and Peter knows that Li is the leader of the Demons, but neither of them seems to know how much the other knows. Li is friendly towards both Peter and Aunt May.

When the conversation turns to current events and the recent attack on the city, Martin assures Peter and May that they’ll be safe as long as they “stay out of places you shouldn’t be”. This is horseshit, by the way. Martin’s plan is to release a bio-weapon capable of causing a pandemic. Again, I feel like the writer is trying to characterize this guy but I can’t make sense of it because it was never explained how his Yin / Yang deal works.

Does Pete know Martin has super-powers? Since we skipped the moment where Peter discovered Martin was a supervillain, we don't know how much he knows about his adversary.
Does Pete know Martin has super-powers? Since we skipped the moment where Peter discovered Martin was a supervillain, we don't know how much he knows about his adversary.

What does the writer want me to conclude from this exchange?

  • Is Martin telling the truth and he really thinks Peter and May will be safe because he plans to launch his attack elsewhere?
  • Is there some sort of dual-personality thing at work here that prevents Li from understanding the scope of his alter ego’s plans?
  • Is Li deliberately lying to them because he wants them to stay in the city and die when he unleashes Devil’s Breath?
  • Is Li just trying to reassure his friends, and he has no idea whether or not they’ll be safe?

This is important because Spider-Man thinks he can “save” Li, or that Li still has “goodness” left in him. Without understanding how this dual personality thing works I just can’t get invested in this part of the drama.

Thank you for not making this a quick time event to beat up homeless guys.
Thank you for not making this a quick time event to beat up homeless guys.

When Peter leaves FEAST, he’s jumped by some homeless dudes who have been mind-controlled by Li.

  • Did Li attack Peter because he’s figured out that Peter is Spider-Man?
  • Did Li attack Peter because he caught him snooping around his office?
  • Did Li attack Peter because Peter mentioned that he was at the Osborn rally, which led Li to believe that Peter was a fan of Norman Osborn as a politician?

Peter overcomes the homeless guys easily. This happens in a cutscene, which is fine. While I normally disapprove of how many fights this game resolves in cutscenes, I don’t need gameplay to steamroll this handful of mind-controlled homeless guys.

I can’t even tell what Li was trying to accomplish. Was this meant to kill Peter, or was it supposed to be a beating to teach him a lesson? Li’s character is incredibly frustrating for me because it leaves me with this constant feeling that I missed a cutscene or important dialog exchange. The story is constantly assuming I understand things it has never explained about Martin Li. I know earlier I said this writer knows what they’re doing, but there is something wonky in the Martin Li plot and I’m very curious what went wrong.

Partners?

I know you came over for dinner, but before we eat let me tell you all about this stealth section flashback for you to play through.
I know you came over for dinner, but before we eat let me tell you all about this stealth section flashback for you to play through.

Peter and MJ meet up for dinner. This is part of a background C plot where Peter is still pining for his ex-girlfriend while the writer teases us with the mystery of why they broke up in the first place.

Eventually we’ll discover that MJ broke up with Peter because he was overprotective of her. Peter, always motivated by guilt over what happened to Uncle Ben and his fear that the people he loves will be hurt by his super-heroics, is driven by an almost pathological desire to keep her safe. That would be fine, except she’s an investigative reporter in a comic book world and thus her job requires her to sneak around and dig up secrets on dangerous people. They care for each other, but his need to protect her is directly at odds with her career. Their relationship can’t continue until they solve this impasse.

MJ says that since they’re working together now, they should be “partners”. Peter agrees right away because he likes MJ and is happy to be around her. MJ thinks that being “partners” means that they can work together and Peter will let her do her job. However, she never makes it clear what she’s expecting from this relationship and Peter never asks. This is a pretty classic young adult blunder. They’re entering into a working relationship without making the expectations clear. Peter still plans to protect MJ and she expects she’s going to be able to sneak around super villain hideouts without Peter protecting her from doing her job.

Speaking of sneaking around super villain hideouts, MJ explains that she recently had to break into a garage where the villain Tombstone is doing some stuff that’s not worth getting into. I guess now is a good time to talk about the…

Non-Superhero Stealth Sections

It looks like my goal is straight ahead, but as any videogame designer will tell you: The longest distance between any two points is a stealth section.
It looks like my goal is straight ahead, but as any videogame designer will tell you: The longest distance between any two points is a stealth section.

In terms of pacing and story, these bits of the game are good. We get a break from the swinging and brawling to do something a little different. Playing as a normal human can help us appreciate the super-powered gameplay when we jump back to Spidey. Handling a flashback info-dump as a stealth section is a good way of following the gamedev axiom that showing is better than telling, and doing is better than showing.

On the other hand, these sections are incredibly shallow in terms of gameplay. Your goal is to move through a linear area, sneaking past the guards. Don’t walk over patches of broken glass. Don’t bump into stacks of boxes because you’ll knock them over and draw attention.

The whole thing is totally one-dimensional. You’ll see a guard in front of you, and a distraction object nearby. You just walk up to the object, press triangle, and then slip by the guard while he investigates the disturbance. You’re presented problems one at time, in a fixed order, and each problem has one solution that’s completely obvious. There are no decisions to make and no mechanics to master. It’s the equivalent of a leisurely quicktime event chain that’s been stretched out over five minutes.

Objects can be pushed left OR right? How can I ever unravel this fiendish Rubik's Cube of possibility?
Objects can be pushed left OR right? How can I ever unravel this fiendish Rubik's Cube of possibility?

Each obstacle is binary. You either slip past the guard without being noticed, or you get spotted and get an instant game over. Getting killed when you’re spotted makes this pretty unforgiving, so to make up for it you get a checkpoint after every single guard. Once you pass a guard, you never have to worry about them again. I’m not sure if the game removes them from the environment or blinds them, but I’ve never had to worry about a guy after passing him, even if I was clumsy and made a bunch of noise.

These stealth sections allow us to play through events that would otherwise be boring passive expositional conversations. They’re a good idea. But boring gameplay is only marginally better than boring exposition. You could even argue that the exposition is better for people who play through the game multiple times. On subsequent playthroughs, you’ll forced to play through MJ’s mind-numbing distraction object minigame yet again. If it was just a boring cutscene, you could at least skip it.

Rather than cutting the MJ and Miles sections, I think the solution here is to expand this into proper gameplay. Give the player multiple tools for dealing with guards. Give the environments an open design where you can choose between fast and risky or slow and safe. Give the guards AI that’s at least as robust as Thief had in 1998. Give the player the ability to recover from mistakesFor example, a limited-charge stun gun that can KO a guard, so you can zap a guy before he radios for backup. It would act as a mulligan, and higher difficulty levels could offer fewer charges. so one blunder doesn’t result in a game over.

I’m willing to forgive the game for the lame stealth sections this time because this is the first outing of a new franchise. It’s already a big game and so much of it works so well. I understand asking for a fully-developed stealth system for MJ and Miles would is like asking for a second set of fully developed mechanics. Having said that, this is something that really needs to be addressed for the sequels.

Standish

The Demons are normally cold-blooded killers, but today they're being incredibly sporting and just threatening Standish while Spidey punches his way through their ranks.
The Demons are normally cold-blooded killers, but today they're being incredibly sporting and just threatening Standish while Spidey punches his way through their ranks.

The Demon gang tries to kidnap Oscorp CFO Charles Standish. Spider-Man swings in and saves him. The game once again reminds us that the Demons are after Devil’s Breath, but we don’t get any exposition on what it is or why they want it. At the end of the mission, Sable goons show up and take Standish into custody for his protection.

This is pointless, since the Demon gang no longer cares about Standish. They’re just working their way through the Oscorp organizational chart, trying to find someone with access to Devil’s Breath. But “pointless” is part of the Sable International mission statement, along with “violent” and “moronic”. We’ll return to this plot thread a few scenes from now.

ESU Party

The party is a clever way to show us classic spider-foes in their Silver-Age costumes without having to use those costumes in gameplay where they'd clash with the art style.
The party is a clever way to show us classic spider-foes in their Silver-Age costumes without having to use those costumes in gameplay where they'd clash with the art style.

Their next target is an Oscorp scientist, who is currently attending the ESU Halloween costume party dressed as longtime Spider-Man foe Lizard.

Isn’t this in bad taste? I think it’s public knowledge that the Lizard is Dr. Conners, who was part of the ESU staff. It’s like attending a University of Michigan costume party dressed as the Unabomber. Then again, in a comic book world full of costumed heroes and villains, maybe people would develop a blazé attitude towards this sort of thing. Still, dressing as your coworker’s murderous alter-ego seems like it should qualify as a party foul.

Anyway, Spider-Man has to attend the party and locate the scientist before the Demon gang does.

Martin Li reaches the scientist first. He uses his powers to mind-control the scientist into telling him the name of yet another Oscorp scientist they need to find. Then Li has the mind-controlled guy kill himself, even though Li has everything he needs and there’s no reason to kill him. Apparently the centerpiece of Li’s revenge plan against Norman Osborn is killing lots of people who aren’t Norman Osborn.

Oscorp Tower

The security on this building is at the same time incredibly lavish and yet somehow desperately lacking.
The security on this building is at the same time incredibly lavish and yet somehow desperately lacking.

Spider-Man decides to sneak into Oscorp tower. He has to disable the Oscorp security systems and sneak past a bunch of snipers and drones to reach the top.

This game is all over the place when it comes to snipers. In enemy bases, snipers are typical videogame mooks with no peripheral vision who can’t see a guy in bright red and blue spandex if he’s even slightly above their eye-line. In the open world, snipers are ridiculous aimbots that can spot you the instant you poke your head into view, even if you’re in the dark and ten stories directly above them. They can track you flawlessly for several blocks, even if you’re swinging at high speeds. And then sometimes we have snipers like the ones in this tower climb. These guys are apparently blind. They won’t see you at all, even if you position yourself right beside their laser finder. However, if you touch the laser then they’re all aware of you and it’s an instant game over. What is this supposed to represent? Are the snipers all using scopes with a 1,000,000x zoom lens?

For the purposes of a comic book action game, any of these are fine. I’m totally willing to go along with whatever silly videogame logic the game wants to use. The problem I have is that the game keeps switching between these three different rule sets without warning.

REALLY? The sniper on the other end of this laser beam can't see me at all?
REALLY? The sniper on the other end of this laser beam can't see me at all?

Oh, I see a sniper laser ahead. Is this guy a clairvoyant aimbot, an oblivious blind dullard, or a laser tripwire? Oops. He shot me from two hundred meters away without warning, so I guess this one is an aimbot.

Some lasers are red and some are blue, which might trick you into thinking there’s a pattern. But there’s not. Here on Oscorp Tower the lasers are blue and act like tripwires. Elsewhere you run into aimbot guys that have red lasers. But then during one of the later stealth section with Miles Morales we have tripwire-style snipers with red lasersI think red=criminals and blue=Sable, but maybe there are some cases that break from this pattern. I’m not sure.. Sometimes you see the laser ahead of time, and other times the laser doesn’t appear until the foe begins tracking you. If there’s a pattern to any of this, it wasn’t obvious enough to pick up on it in my many trips through the game.

At the top of the tower we finally learn about Devil’s Breath. It’s apparently supposed to be some sort of gene therapy that can cure diseases by re-writing your DNAOr maybe re-writing it’s own. This is comic book science so it’s probably best we don’t worry too much about the details.. The problem is that it doesn’t work yet. Right now all it does is kill you. If it got loose, it could start a global pandemic.

We also learn that there’s only one sample of Devil’s Breath, and that the chief scientist keeps it with him at all times. I’m not sure why he keeps it in a briefcase and not a vault in a lab. Why would he ever need to take this incredibly dangerous sample out of the lab? Does it need to go for walks?

Whatever. I guess comic book gotta comic book.

 

Footnotes:

[1] For example, a limited-charge stun gun that can KO a guard, so you can zap a guy before he radios for backup. It would act as a mulligan, and higher difficulty levels could offer fewer charges.

[2] I think red=criminals and blue=Sable, but maybe there are some cases that break from this pattern. I’m not sure.

[3] Or maybe re-writing it’s own. This is comic book science so it’s probably best we don’t worry too much about the details.



From The Archives:
 

54 thoughts on “Spider-Man Part 13: Oscorp Tower Defense

  1. Daimbert says:

    They expand on the break-up in the prequel novel “Hostile Takeover”, but all that does is serve to make it more ridiculous. MJ there is just starting out as a reporter and wants to do it not to help Peter, but to “make a difference”. She’s not SUPPOSED to be doing any kind of hard hitting reporting and yet she’s lying TO THE NEWSPAPER EDITOR to do it anyway. Her first big plan is to try to dig up dirt on Kingpin while pretending to write a flattering article on him. She seems to want to do this only to get a big story to make her name, and not to, say, protect Peter from the guy that Spider-Man originally set up to go to prison and forced to flee the country. Peter points out that the Kingpin has been perfectly willing to kill reporters who have information he didn’t want to get out and MJ doesn’t seem to care. She gets upset at him when he shows up at a party to save her and other innocent bystanders when he had good — if ultimately misdirecting — reasons to think that there was an actual threat there. On top of this, another innocent bystander is killed only for following Peter to a sandwich shop — she has a bit of a crush on him — where an attack by the villains trying to ruin Spidey’s good name set off a bomb, and so he has even MORE reason to be worried about all this, which she doesn’t really seem to acknowledge.

    The whole book sets it up as a “girl power” thing, when the better line IS, in fact, a partners thing with both of them trying to protect each other. Starting from there, I’m not sure that this game can make that work.

  2. Scampi says:

    There’s actually a bill of lading (a description of goods for shipping) for this bioweapon? Laying aside questions of why you would meticulously document something so illegal, where the hell were you shipping it?

    Well…I don’t know how this specific company does supposedly operate, but I know that several cases have happened where people bought goods that were decidedly legal by themselves, and they only became dangerous when assembled. There have actually been accusations against states (e.g. Iran), which claimed they bought legal parts to illegally obtain nuclear materials. I think they wouldn’t so much claim they never bought those parts and instead claim they were not intended for the mentioned questionable purpose. I.e. they parts might be fine to ship and handle and totally unsuspicious in isolation.
    Also, someone has to have shipped them to you and if they have it in their documents and there is no proof of reception on the other end, it might be equally suspicious (What? There was business done, everyone is in agreement that it happened and nothing is missing, but one side tries to hide their participation? What’s going on there?)

    I would instead question the choice to have a file named “Devil’s Breath” in one’s documents, which connects the parts and their delivery in one file for any wannabe investigator and makes it obvious there is something else going on.
    I don’t think that’s something I would do, even as a supervillain. I’d maybe have some small note on my person that doesn’t make sense to anyone who finds it but is coded in a way that allows me to easily know where I have the documents referring to the individual components of my secret superweapon.

    1. Crokus Younghand says:

      I’d maybe have some small note on my person that doesn’t make sense to anyone who finds it but is coded in a way that allows me to easily know where I have the documents referring to the individual components of my secret superweapon.

      Then Spiderman will “break the encryption” by solving a minigame derived from Frogger, Pipes, Tower of Hanoi, etc. And Shamus would be mad because the minigame broke the game’s flow and didn’t make any narrative sense.

      1. Scampi says:

        Then he’d have to pickpocket me first, I guess, or he’d have to randomly search through my entire archive, presuming some kind of evil scheme on my part and randomly throwing together plans that might make sense in his mind.

    2. Hal says:

      I think more egregious to me is that Norman seems to have a powerpoint presentation about it just sitting on his PC desktop. His network security specialists must hate him.

  3. Scampi says:

    Each obstacle is binary. You either slip past the guard without being noticed, or you get spotted and get an instant game over. Getting killed when you’re spotted makes this pretty unforgiving, so to make up for it you get a checkpoint after every single guard.

    I’m reminded of Prince of Persia, where this kind of experience made kind of sense. The PoP would remember many different events happening at a point, where some would lead to his death, a rewind and another attempt at solving a problem. It all made sense as it was part of a narrative device where the narrator told his own story, which he had conflicting memories of.
    It makes less sense if the narrator doesn’t have any comparable rewind time powers and narrates her own flashback, thus definitely made it through the encounter, so I assume getting spotted here is the equivalent of “and then I got hit so hard I remember nothing else”, which would end the recollection of events prematurely and not result in the planned continuation of the plot, I suppose.

    REALLY? The sniper on the other end of this laser beam can’t see me at all?

    Actually…

    1. Philadelphus says:

      I imagine these snipers are the same ones who sit on the ramparts of 2Fort and are hyperfocused on engaging in sniper duels, but wouldn’t notice an enemy attacking them with melee.

  4. Hal says:

    You covered a lot of ground in this entry! So many things to say.

    First, your response to the bombing was my response to the ESU scientist shooting himself in the head. Totally threw me for a loop in a “The tone of this game is getting really dark” kind of manner, far more than the bombing did.

    While I liked the party, and the Oscorp tower climb, as good changes of pace, i.e. the game is asking more out of the gameplay than just brawling, they weren’t without issue. I actually got stuck outside of the playable area during the ESU party, and since your normal webswinging is taken away, I couldn’t get out and had to reload a previous save. Lame. The Oscorp tower climb was pretty fun, all things considered, but the camera made it extremely claustrophobic. I grant that Spidey wouldn’t have the ability to zoom out and see himself from 50 paces, but it made for very little challenge when the game suddenly shrank down to a tiny play area.

  5. Mephane says:

    and we know it’s called friggin’ DEVIL’S BREATH so it’s a safe bet it’s not a dessert topping.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if such a dessert topping actually existed, like something with lots of chili. ;)

    1. Scampi says:

      No, that would be DRAGON’S BREATH. DEVIL’S BREATH is with near lethal amounts of garlic and goat cheese.

      1. Mephane says:

        You had me at lethal amounts of garlic, bit lost me at goat cheese. :P

        1. Scampi says:

          You clearly never experienced the “amazing” effect goat cheese has on a person’s breath. Personally, I believe it to be way worse than garlic.

    2. Cubic says:

      Perhaps it’s an old guy. Uh-oh, here comes Devil’s Breath again. Look busy.

  6. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Small typo : feindish

  7. Crimson Dragoon says:

    What gets me about having a guy in a Lizard costume is that it means the Lizard exists in the world at all. So much of his origin story was given to Doc Oc that the Lizard is kind of redundant at this point. Seriously, genius scientist who Peter befriends and highly respects, works on a technology to help amputees, and tests that technology on himself first, which turns him into a villain. Sound familiar?

    1. Hal says:

      Huh . . . I never thought about it that way.

      The befriending part is especially interesting, because it’s clear in the game that Peter spent his time in college working for Otto. When would Peter have had time to develop a close, mentor/protege relationship with a second professor?

      In any case, the game acknowledges the Lizard in another way. One of the collectibles you can gather in the backpacks is an old vial of the Lizard’s blood. When you find these, the game has some recorded audio of Peter talking about the significance of the item.

      1. Daimbert says:

        Yes, but typically that mentor was Connors, not Doc Ock. Even in the Raimi movies, Connors was that mentor — he’s the guy in the “Get it done or I’m failing you!” scene — and so giving that much to Octavius seems to leave no room for Connors, and they don’t pull what that movie pulled of having Connors introduce him or lead him to Octavius.

    2. Daimbert says:

      I haven’t played the game, but read the prequel “Hostile Takeover”. From the description of his mysterious boss, I was SURE that it was Connors, and was very surprised in reading this series when it turned out to be Octavius.

    3. Decius says:

      No, it doesn’t.
      It means that the Lizard *costume* exists in the world. There is no reason to assume that the Lizard exists as a villain…. yet.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        Why in the hell would a Lizard costume exist without the Lizard? In any case, Spider-Man makes a point to note that the scientist he’s looking for is disguised as one of his old enemies so yeah, the Lizard most definitely exists in this universe.

  8. Hal says:

    This section had the big reveal on what Devil’s Breath is, so as a microbiologist I have things to say about it. Much of it spoiler laden, so tread carefully.

    The biology of the Devil’s Breath really annoys me. I know, I know, it’s comic book science; you give it a veneer of plausibility and then just have it behave however you need it to behave to make the story move forward and be suitably dramatic. But this is one of those things where anyone who knows the science understands just how crazy the whole thing is.

    So the entire idea is that they loaded a viral vector with CRISPR in order to deliver gene therapy. That’s not unusual; there’s a lot of people trying to do that now in the real world. The thing of it is, CRISPR affects very specific, targeted DNA changes. This is why it would be great for fixing a genetic disease, in which a few mutations can cause broad systemic effects. But as I said, it’s very specific in what it does. It doesn’t seem like it would actually be helpful for its intended recipient, because it doesn’t seem to actually target something specific, it seems to just target everything randomly. Now, one of the real-world unwanted side effects of CRISPR is off-target gene editing; obviously any amount will be bad, but the catch is that it will manifest in different ways because it won’t hit off target in the same place each time. So when someone infected with it gets sick with what seems to be generic flu symptoms, well . . . that’s not realistic.

    Which means, based on spoilers well down the line, treating Martin Li with this stuff is borderline sociopathic. If this therapy is meant to treat Harry Osborn, who has a neurodegenerative disease, the therapy would only be effective on Martin if he had the exact same disease. The game doesn’t really establish this, just that he was sick. If they were having such terrible problems with off-target editing, they couldn’t possibly have hoped to do anything helpful for Martin. Instead it ends up giving him super powers. So the drug is not only decades old, but obviously does something ludicrous to people who have this disease. Did Norman do any further iterations on this before using it on Harry?

    Also not realistic? Obviously this thing would have to undergo numerous iterations and revisions, because if you’re having a problem with off-target effects, you have to fix it. The entire point is to hit a specific gene, and if you’re not doing that, you have a failed drug. What you also wouldn’t do is make it capable of replicating. Generally speaking, you would just use the viral capsid as a delivery vehicle; making it capable of replicating itself is asking for bad responses. It’s why, for example, almost all modern vaccines are sterile; i.e. they don’t infect you to prevent you from infecting others. It shouldn’t be capable of causing a pandemic! After the vial gets released in Times Square, there should have been a few hundred sick people; bad, but not the end of the world.

    The real kicker for me is the container it was in. This was a super experimental therapy designed to treat one person, and it wasn’t ready for prime time. So . . . why was it being stored in a container meant to be hooked into an aerosolizing delivery device? That’s just ridiculous.

    1. CrimsonCutz says:

      On the one hand, everything you say makes perfect sense and I appreciate hearing it.

      On the other, I cannot allow myself to acknowledge any of it because if I did I’d also have to acknowledge that Peter Parker got superpowers from being bitten by a radioactive spider and then the whole game would just kind of make me sad

      1. Hal says:

        I know. And that’s what makes it so annoying.

        It’s like when all you folks knowledgeable in computery ways get upset when a hero spouts some technobabble blatherskite, slaps his hands against a keyboard rapidly, and then declares dramatically how they’ve hacked into the serverbase or whatever. (Anyone remember that infamous NCIS hacking scene with the two people on one keyboard?)

        Technology, super powers, all of that basically plays the role of magic in their respective settings, in the sense that they give the writer an excuse to wave their hands and have things happen without the audience thinking too hard about the premises. Once you start layering plausability into it, this can actually make it worse, because those of us knowledgeable about such things will see the gaps. “You’re not supposed to think too hard about it.” Okay, fine. Then why did you think so hard about it that you included all sorts of real science mixed in with the gobbledygook? If you didn’t want me to think so hard about it, then invoke CRISPR. And since making it a viral vector means that your design is so horribly flawed I have to question whether you ever earned a PhD in the first place, maybe make it . . . anything else?

            1. Jack says:

              Obviously the most accurate hacking scene is https://youtu.be/fQGbXmkSArs

        1. Cubic says:

          “(Anyone remember that infamous NCIS hacking scene with the two people on one keyboard?)”

          Pair programming!

          1. Smith says:

            I still say the two characters were supposed to be panicking in that scene.

        2. Guest says:

          Sort of a little knowledge thing. If you’ve got a clue what they’re talking about, it seems dumber.

          Heavily agree on the inclusion of real science, and the other impact that has is to spread misinformation about science. Like, there was an escapist “science” article from back in the day about a stellarrotor test, basically, testing magnetic containment of plasma. And the “reporter” was half paraphrasing goddamn Otto Octavius with “The power of the sun in the palm of my hand” and filling the gaps in with the same 20 year old documentaries everyone sees in high school about how Nuclear Fusion is “Just 5 years away!”. I’d rather hear about literal magic space dust, than hear some moron describe an aluminium dart as a “Plasma bolt” again. Figure a nice place to start would be to stop misusing science in technobabble.

          I think that’s why they chose the viral vector though. People hear “Viral Vector” they think “Plague” “Outbreak” “Every semi-realistic zombie movie that came out between 2001-2011”. Which, I’m sure isn’t great for your field.

    2. Syal says:

      I also like the idea that anything with Devil in the name is intended to be medicine. “Heal your loved ones with the power of hell!”

      1. Hal says:

        The concession to the name is that it’s what all the research staff ended up calling it. The technical name is GR-27, but evidently, because of how contagious the treatment was and how quickly it killed the animal colony on which testing was done, the staff all called it “Devil’s Breath,” and the name stuck.

    3. armagrodden says:

      The part that drove me up the wall is that in the later portion of the game where Doc Ock has released Devil’s Breath, they are able to slow the progress of this DNA shredding plasmid by treating its victims with Amoxicillin. I was shouting at my computer for like five minutes when Miles revealed this.

      1. Hal says:

        I just assumed that was to treat coinfections, but yeah, pile on the nerd rage if it was directly treating the Devil’s Breath.

  9. Liessa says:

    The disconnect between Li’s actions and his dialogue (and everyone else’s dialogue about him) makes me wonder if the Osborn rally bombing wasn’t originally planned by the writers, and was added in sometime later in development. Maybe his original plan was rather more subtle than ‘mass-casualty terrorist attack’, and then someone decided this wasn’t evil enough and expanded his schemes to include the bombing / Devil’s Breath pandemic.

    1. Hal says:

      Interesting hypothesis.

      Perhaps Miles was not originally going to be in the game at all. But once it was decided to include him, they needed a vehicle for killing his father, and thus the Osborn rally was shoehorned into the game.

      1. Liessa says:

        Is it true that Jefferson Davis is a comic book character and his story comes from there? Because honestly, the game’s treatment of Davis was another thing that got me really, really pissed off with the writers, but if they’re following the comics then I guess they have an excuse.

        1. Christopher says:

          He’s a comic book character. Usually, it’s Miles’ mom that dies.

          1. Liessa says:

            Urgh. Well, I guess there had to be at least one dead parent.

  10. Christopher says:

    Devil’s breath in the comics is a DNA specific toxic gas. You get a bit of someone’s blood, and add it to the formula, and you have a poison that’s sure to kill them. Never seemed all that practical to me, in the same way as an axe that will only harm one specific person. It’s a biological weapon that belongs to Mr. Negative, but aside from that they just borrowed the name.

    Mr. Negative, both in the comics I’ve read and this game, has been a presence I don’t really get. In the comics I probably just missed the important issues, which left me a bit in the dark on his powers and history with Spider-Man. In the game I feel like they didn’t lean into the parts of him that make him into himself. His good side vs his evil side, the demons having to deal with a good Mr. Li who has no idea he’s their boss, Mr. Negative running his criminal empire on the sly like a mob boss rather than being in it for revenge against Osborn. The parts they changed and the parts they kept the same don’t work that well together, and make it confusing.

    The stealth sections as MJ and Miles are a gameplay element where I don’t think the devs where exactly wrong. Walking in people’s shoes get you to care more about them, it shows the superheroic world from the perspective of regular dudes and it breaks up the gameplay. But they didn’t anticipate how incredibly boring they were gonna be. It starts breeding resentment rather than affection when an hour of the game consists of these super dull stealth bits. You start asking yourself, “You included Miles and gave MJ a different motivation and job so…. we could have crappy frustrating stealth in a super fun Spider-Man action romp?”

    Incidentally, I mentioned this the other day but Insomniac has a huge presence at GDC this year. The procedural generation tools they used for the open world, the creative challenges, the technical challenges, various topics. A handful are out on youtube, with presumably more to come. Something to give a look if you enjoyed the game, tho I think the procedural generation talks are specifically for Shamus.

    1. jon babineau says:

      Mr. Lee unknowingly working against Mr. Negative would be pretty neat. He keeps giving Spidey info on these Demon guys who are always hanging around, stuff like that.

  11. Polius says:

    I think I might be a history nerd. I saw the name Standish a few sentences after Shamus mentioned Miles Morales and a had a second of confusion. “Why is he making a Thanksgiving reference?”

  12. Christopher says:

    The Halloween party is definitely one of the more fun missions. You walk around incognito since everyone assumes you’re just wearing a costume, and there’s all of these NPCs dressed up for the occasion. One fat bloke is wearing just a Spider-Man mask, pants, and no shirt. Spidey keeps getting harassed by this jock dressed up as a classic-looking Rhino looking to roleplay some Spidey/Rhino banter, and when Mr. Negative flees the premises he uses his corruption powers on him to power him up for a super-short miniboss fight. The decorations include a large Shuma-Gorath, everyone’s favorite Marvel VS Capcom tentacle monster. At one point Spidey cracks the helmet of a chick cosplaying Mysterio for an attraction while he’s looking for the scientist, which is a bit rude.

    It’s a lot of fun effort for a mission where you’re really just looking for a scientist at the same time as Mr. Negative is.

  13. CloverMan-88 says:

    “…now all it does it kill you” was it supposed to say “now all it does is kill you”?

  14. Mikey says:

    On the subject of whether it’s appropriate to wear a Lizard costume or not: what if it’s officially licensed from the lizard himself? This is just a random idea that popped into my head, but what if Dr. Connors tried to monetize the Hell out of his stint as an accidental super villain? He writes a best selling autobiography about it, he’s in talks with some movie studio about making a “based on a true story” slasher flick, a tour of speaking engagements where he does cheesey stunts like presenting a beaker of green water as “the formula” and accidentally drinking it… Everything up to and including officially licensed Halloween costumes.

    In the long history of mainstream super hero comics, I’m sure there’s at least one former villain character they’ve done this with.

    1. Syal says:

      It’s not whether it’s Lizard approved, it’s whether it’s ESU approved.

    2. Decius says:

      My headcannon is that it’s being worn by Undergrad Connors, before he becomes a villain.

  15. Nessus says:

    Random thoughts:

    * “This is important because Spider-Man thinks he can “save” Li, or that Li still has “goodness” left in him. Without understanding how this dual personality thing works I just can’t get invested in this part of the drama.” Furthermore: what does “saving him” because “there’s still good in him” actually mean here? Spidy’s a “clean” hero. His MO’s gonna be the same regardless: disarm/restrain the villain, and leave them for the regular justice system to sort out. So how does his impressions of or feelings about Mr. Li in any practical way effect his strategy? It’s not like he’s facing a ‘killing him is the only way to stop him” sort of dilemma here.

    * Is it just me, or does Peter’s CGI model look like he’s in his 30’s instead of his early 20’s? It looks like a blatant case of “Dawson’s Casting”… except this is CG, so there’s no excuse. It’s not as bad in the one screencap here, but in caps in previous installments of this article series, it was REALLY sticking out to me.

    * Does the bill of lading actually say “Devil’s Breath” or “weapon” or anything like that on it, or is it just a bill for the shipping container full of toilet paper or whatever that the weapon is being smuggled in?

    * That stealth section sounds kinda David Cage to me. I feel like if I couldn’t afford the dev resources make a legit-ish stealth section out of it, I would have cut it from the game. The fact that they didn’t sort of implies to me that it’s actually a deliberate design choice rather than a case of them wanting to do something but not having the resources. Why they’d want to do that deliberately, I don’t know. I can think of a few possibilities, but none of them are very good.

    * The big glowing purple sign on Oscorp tower makes it look like Oscorp is a 3rd St. Saints subsidiary.

    1. Hal says:

      From what I can find, the mocap actor for Peter, John Bubniak, was born in 93, which makes him probably 24 during the making of the game.

      1. Nessus says:

        Did an image search for John Bubniak, and man, if they were trying to make the CG face look like him, they really botched it. The actor himself looks like a good fit for an early-mid 20s Peter Parker, but the character model kinda looks like a different guy, on top of looking 10 years older.

        1. Hal says:

          There’s an argument to be made that all this push for mocap photo-realism is never going to cross out of the uncanny valley, given diminishing returns and what not.

          Clearly, the solution is to return to FMV cutscenes.

          1. Nessus says:

            I dunno. I mean, on the one hand, I do feel it’s true we’re still a long way off from getting complete realism, and diminishing returns have kicked in for the current tools. But on the other hand, I feel like that’s not the problem in this case. I’ve seen waaaaayyyyy better character modelling and animation in other games. The character modelling in Spider Man doesn’t even look like it’s actually going for either state of the art or full realism anyway.

            Peter looking weirdly old seems like an art failure, not a tech failure or a tech limitation.

  16. DGM says:

    >> “Why would he ever need to take this incredibly dangerous sample out of the lab? Does it need to go for walks?”

    From The Expanse: “I’m gonna take my pet nuke for a walk.”

    Look, sometimes you just gotta let your WMD play outside. They need exercise to stay healthy, you know.

  17. The Rocketeer says:

    Devil’s Breath is Orchid from Deus Ex: Mankind Divided?

  18. Dreadjaws says:

    Does Pete know Martin has super-powers?

    Considering that in the investigation of Li’s room Peter literally says he’s transmitting his powers to his goons then yes, he knows. How he arrived to that conclusion despite never seeing him using them is well beyond me, though.

    I liked the ESU party. It was a nice touch and it didn’t overstay its welcome. The goddamn Osborn tower climb, though… It’s yet again the problem of the game trying to force you into a gameplay style without having the mechanics be appropriate for it. I had to play the exact way the game wanted me to or I was unable to do anything. But if I played the way the game wanted me to it was painfully easy and uneventful. So you have two choices of play: ridiculously mundane or literally impossible.

    The worst part though is that it’s around this moment that Taskmaster showed up and entirely ruined all the fun of the side quests.

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