After Spider-Man punches his way out of Martin Li’s stupid dream world, we return to the high-speed chase where Spider-Man is trying to stop the truck, Martin Li is trying to stop Spider-Man, and Sable agents are shooting missiles at everyone.
Spider-Man performs some heroic quicktime events, but he manages to lose the battle anyway. (In a cutscene, obviously. And yes, you must still successfully complete the quicktime events, even though your success will be immediately negated in a cutscene. Failure is prohibited until it’s mandatory.) The truck turns over and he’s knocked out. When he wakes up, Li has escaped with Devil’s Breath. I have no idea how he escaped the scene on foot with an army of Sable agents in pursuit. I guess those guys just suck.
And speaking of things that suck…
Silver Sable Round 2
Silver Sable did nothing to help. Her men shot rockets at a truck carrying a bioweapon while she yelled at you over the radio. Now that the fight is over, she shows up and accuses Spider-Man of making everything worse. Rather than calling her a rampaging hypocrite and swinging away, Spider-Man just lets(?) her beat him upAfter the fight, Spider-Man makes sure to rub his jaw so we know Sable is actually able to hurt him somehow and he’s not just humoring her to be nice.. Again.
Times Silver Sable has defeated Spider-Man in a cutscene: 2
In truth, him losing the physical fight isn’t nearly as annoying as him losing the verbal one. A key aspect of Spider-Man’s character is that he’s really good at cracking jokes and taking his foes down a peg. Silver Sable’s plans are stupid, her men are dumb thugs, and she’s always five minutes late to every important battle even though she travels by helicopter. She’s a growling hardass with oversized guns that takes herself way too seriously. When it comes to people being vulnerable to ridicule, Silver Sable is a walking bullseye.
This could make their rivalry interesting. He could dunk on her for being an incompetent tryhard, and then she would knock him down because she doesn’t have anything clever to say back. Spider-Man would lose the physical exchange but walk away with the moral victory. Him teasing her in front of her men would give her a justification for hating him, which would make her less of a cartoon thug. Instead, Spider-Man says nothing, making it seem like he’s got no comebacks and we’re not supposed to notice that Silver Sable is a loser who doesn’t deserve to participate in fights with A-listers like Spidey, much less come out on top repeatedly.
I really do hate this version of the character. What an annoyance.
Grand Central Terminal
Mary Jane is following up on a lead that Martin Li has some sort of plan for Grand Central Terminal. She goes there to find Oscorp has set up some sort of trade show display right in the middle of GCT. There are a bunch of screens set up around this Oscorp trade show booth, each with a bit of optional exposition / backstory explaining what Oscorp does and what they’re all about.
Is this a thing companies do in the real world? Can anyone rent the central space of CGT? I have no idea.
Insomniac games really outdid themselves in creating this space. Aside from the Oscorp kiosk, it looks exactly like the real Grand Central Terminal. They didn’t just nail the shape of the place, but also the colors and the lighting. While I disagree with using such a true-to-life approach to visuals, I still admire the craft that went into this.
Martin Li shows up to steal one of the Oscorp gizmos. There’s a device here that’s designed to disperse particles in the air over a wide area, and he’s planning on using it to deliver Devil’s Breath and kill millions of people.
Once he has the device, he calls Norman Osborn and demands that Norman show up at GCT. Li plans to force Norman to push the button to release the bioweapon, thus making it “Norman’s fault”.
I realize this is a comic book story. Yes, comic books are filled with silly nonsense and we’re expected to “just go with it” for the sake of fun. But Li’s plan is dumb to the point of being distracting, it’s really dark and nasty, the story is taking Li very seriously, and the visuals are trying to tell me this is a grounded world. Thus I feel the need to nitpick this.
I have some questions regarding your plan to murder millions of people. Aside from the fact that the goal itself doesn’t mesh with your alleged motivation, the way you’re going about it makes no sense.
- Why would you demand the the Mayor show up? This goes against how governments operate in the face of terroristic threats. It just wouldn’t happen.
- Even if protocol allowed a leader to surrender to a terrorist in order to save the civilians, doing so would be a heroic act. But you’re already convinced that Norman Osborn is a selfish coward. Your plan can only work if you’re completely wrong about Osborn.
- You didn’t even make it clear what would happen if he didn’t show up. You just made some vague threats that more people would suffer. Since murdering innocent people is pretty much the only move in your playbook, this doesn’t leave you with any leverage. It’s safe to assume you plan on killing people either way, so why should anyone humor you?
- You’re gonna force Norman to release Devil’s Breath to make it all his fault? That’s not how blame works. If I do something while you hold a gun to my head, then it’s your fault, not mine.
- Moreover, how do you plan to get him to push the button? Sure, you can say, “Push the button or I’ll kill all the hostages!” Except, if he pushes the button then all the hostages will die anyway, plus an unknown number of additional people, plus Norman Osborn himself. Even if the mayor could show up and even if he was willing to do so, you still have no leverage.
- Hey dumbass. Your main power is the ability to mind-control people by just touching them, remember? So why not just show up at the Osborn rally and shake his hand? Hang on, aren’t you rich? And don’t you run a homeless shelter? It should be super easy for you to get a face-to-face meeting with a Mayor currently running for election! Then you can mind-control him and make him do whatever you want. You could even make him release Devil’s Breath in a way that would make it look like it really was his fault!
What a dumb villain. What a stupid plan. What a complete waste of screen time. I hate this character so much. It’s a shame we spend two-thirds of the running time on this guy, since just about everyone else is more interesting.
Outside of the unfortunate Standish scene, I really love this new version of MJ. She’s a proactive character that thinks things through. When Li shows up and tries to scare her into keeping quiet, she immediately shouts for the nearby police to help. It doesn’t work out because the police get blindsided by Demons ambushing them from slightly off-camera, but I still give MJ credit for working against the villain instead of being a passive damsel. Later she puts herself at risk trying to save the life of one of the other hostages.
MJ secretly messages Spider-Man to come to GCT. When he arrives, we don’t Switch over to his P.O.V. Instead we play through the scene from MJ’s perspective, and the result is one of my favorite sections of the game.
Spider-Man and MJ must work their way around the station to take out the guards and secure Devil’s Breath before it gets released. We get to see Spider-Man from the position of an observer. As MJ we act as a spotter for Spidey, figuring out which goons are vulnerable and directing his stealth takedowns. On one hand, it looks ridiculous to see Spider-Man conspicuously dive in and kidnap guys in full view of everyone in a lit room. Those Demon masks must have terrible visibility. On the other hand, this sequence is fun and it’s amusing to see the now-familiar takedown animations from a new perspective.
The Arkham games have a similar deal, where Batman swoops down from the rafters to ambush the nearsighted and perpetually oblivious guards. But the Arkham games have this fig-leaf excuse that the ceiling is “in darkness”. Sure, the player can see just fine, but the floor is brightly lit and we can sort of assume that the bad guys are effectively blind to what’s going on up here. Spider-Man can’t pull this trick because this area is based on a 1:1 recreation of Grand Central Terminal. The entire room is bathed in light. The huge windows mean Spider-Man is effectively backlit and is about as invisible as a spider on a television screen. The realistic visuals mean we have to work a little harder to suspend our disbelief.
As they sneak around, the two of them do some cute banter. Spider-Man wants to leave with MJ to make sure she’s safe, and then return to deal with the Demons and hostages. This means we’re finally hitting the plot point that the writer whiffed on back in the Standish scene. Spider-Man is clearly making a bad call. His feelings for MJ are clouding his judgement and preventing him from acting like a proper superhero. This scene really drives home what a great team these two would make, and it also makes it clear why they’re having so much trouble making it work.
MJ defuses the bomb and Spider-Man hands out free naps. Then Li decides to flee onto the subway. Spidey chases after him and we get a boss fight.
Spider-Man eventually pummels Li into submission, but now the train is out of control and headed for a collision. We get a nod to the scene in Sam Rami’s Spider-Man 2 where Spider-Man tries to stop a train with webs. It doesn’t work out, so he has to resort to plan B.
Plan B is… I’m not even sure how to interpret these images. Spider-Man makes some sort of web-hammock on the tracks ahead. The sides act as rails(?) and the train rides up the webs(?) and bursts through the pavement(?) to emerge in the middle of the street. Imagine someone using a net as a ramp in a car chase and you’ll have an idea of just how goofy this looks.
I know I’ve spent a lot of time faulting this game for realistic visuals. But even if this game were rendered in the style of a cartoon, I think this sequence would still be a hard sell. You’d have to go all the way back to the 70s cartoon to find similar examples of Spider-Man’s webbing doing these sorts of absurdist things. It’s not even clear what sort of properties these magical webs are supposed to have. Are they rigid like subway rails? Are they stretchy like his normal webs? How is plowing through the pavement less deadly than wrecking into the parked train Spider-Man wanted to avoid? Aren’t there several meters of rock and concrete between subway tunnels and the street above? In what universe would a train be able to ride up a hammock at sufficient speed to bore through several meters of solid rock?
I can understand we want to end our battle with a big fireworks show. We want to have a big boom, while at the same time making it clear that Spider-Man is somehow saving people. Maybe the writer was trying to be clever and do this thing where Spider-Man takes the train from the darkness and into the light, which echos what Spider-Man is always yelling at Li. But in my book you can’t just wave around a placard with the word “SYMBOLISM!” on it as an excuse for making visually nonsensical things happen.
But maybe that’s just me.
EDIT: As someone pointed out in the comments, Spider-Man is actually pulling up the rails. I’m not sure why I didn’t see that. Maybe it’s the wobbly blur filter or the quicktime event going on, but I didn’t see the rails bending upwardsThey’re even painted yellow to make them stand out!. This is still an absurd scenario for a dozen reasons, but this does fix the most distracting problem.
Assuming you can ignore the Loony Toons physics, this section game is otherwise a fun bit that ends with a bang. At the end we capture Li, secure Devil’s Breath, and save the day.
Great. So the city is safe and everything will be fine. I’m really looking forward to the next chapter when absolutely nothing bad happens at all and we get to go back to making helpful prosthetics with our best friend forever, Otto Octavius.
 After the fight, Spider-Man makes sure to rub his jaw so we know Sable is actually able to hurt him somehow and he’s not just humoring her to be nice.
 They’re even painted yellow to make them stand out!
Quakecon 2012 Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
Was it a Hack?
A big chunk of the internet went down in October of 2016. What happened? Was it a hack?
Overused Words in Game Titles
I scoured the Steam database to figure out what words were the most commonly used in game titles.
Crysis 2 has basically the same plot as Half-Life 2. So why is one a classic and the other simply obnoxious and tiresome?
Quakecon 2011 Keynote Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.