Spider-Man Part 17: Sidequests

By Shamus Posted Thursday May 30, 2019

Filed under: Retrospectives 52 comments

The main story has just dropped us into a false sense of security. The big obvious threat is ended and our “main” villain is on his way to jail. The Octavius plot is still simmering in the background, the Peter and MJ plot just hit a low note, and the credits didn’t roll, so the player probably knows the story isn’t really over yet.

This seems like a good time to stop and talk about a few of the sidequests.

Here we have the inverse of the Mass Effect 2 problem. In Mass Effect 2, the optional loyalty missions were solid and the main plot collapsed under the slightest scrutiny. Here in Spider-Man, the main story feels like a proper comic book series and some of the side-content feels like filler sidequests devised by game designers with no experience in writing.

They’re not all bad, though. In particular, I like the sidequest involving…

Black Cat

I literally didn't get the final joke until I took this screenshot.
I literally didn't get the final joke until I took this screenshot.

This content is a little repetitive, but it’s fun and playful and has a bit of a twist at the end. I’ve always assumed that Black Cat was just Catwoman with the serial numbers filed off. I mean, they’re both sexy female cat burglars with “cat” in their name with a black leather costume who have an ongoing relationship with a major superhero that swings between flirtatious and antagonistic. Catwoman is a popular character that predates Black Cat by almost 40 years, so it’s understandable that people might assume that Black Cat is just a ripoff. But the truth is that she was originally devised as a foil for Spider-Woman. While I haven’t read the Black Cat stories myself, I get the sense that she wasn’t a conscious attempt to recreate Catwoman. Rather, once writers had Spider-Man facing against a woman, they were naturally pulled in the direction of Catwoman by simple convenience.

Hey, we’ve got this sexy lady going against Spider-Man. Why not have them flirt? We can’t actually have Spider-Man date a thief because that’s incompatible with his values. We can’t have her stop being a thief because then she stops being interesting. So I guess we just have them flirt without the relationship going anywhere. If that gets boring, we can make it seem like maybe she’s going to go straight, but then she turns back to crime. She can constantly skate the line between good and bad to keep the reader guessing.

Spider-Man has to explore the city, investigating places where Black Cat has pulled heists. At each location he finds a cute little cat plushie. Spider-Man tells the police about it and they apparently go out and collect the plushie as evidence.

Once you’ve found all the locations, Spider-Man is able to use his computer to look at all the robbery locations and determine the location of her secret hideout. Yes, that’s silly. Whatever.

In her hideout, he finds all the loot she stole. It turns out she didn’t want the loot at all. She left all the stolen goods behind on purpose so Spider-Man could recover them.

Those plushies you’ve been rounding up were actually a trap. They had computer chips in them. Once they were all gathered up, they networked and took down the police security from the inside. Once the security was down, Black Cat slipped in and recovered her costume and gear from the evidence room. It’s a fun twist, and plays into her playfully ambiguous alignment.

At the end Yuri laughs at Spider-Man, claiming that Black Cat “played him”Oh, so that’s what the “play me” message was all about at the start. That’s cute.. I get that this was the intent of the twist, although it didn’t work for me. Spider-Man gave the location of the plushies to the cops, but he never handled them himself and securing the evidence lock-up is not his job. Still, I liked the sentiment behind it.

Taskmaster

Why is this goof pressing his hand against his flaming sword? Also, why does he have a flaming sword? Was he expecting to fight the Dragonborn?
Why is this goof pressing his hand against his flaming sword? Also, why does he have a flaming sword? Was he expecting to fight the Dragonborn?

I hate this over-serious skull-faced tryhard. He leaves challenges for Spider-Man around the city. Some are timed races where you have to round up and disable bombs before they go off. Some are checkpoint races where you need to pass through fixed waypoints. Others are timed fights or timed stealth encounters.

The challenges aren’t bad, but Taskmaster takes all of the fun out of it. His dialog is one-note and he doesn’t have anything clever to say. Spider-Man doesn’t even do a great job of poking fun at him.

Once you complete enough challenges you get to fight Taskmaster himself, and his boss fights are even worse. In a good boss fight, the game will push you to explore the full range of abilities and powers. When Batman faced off against Mr. Freeze in Arkham City, the game never allowed you to use the same trick twice. The result was that the designer rewarded you for fully exploring the gameplay systems. That would be a brilliant way to handle Taskmaster. His gimmick is that he can learn any move just by seeing it performed. The game designer could use this to justify why you can’t ever use the same trick twice.

Instead he’s just magically immune to all but two kinds of attacks. Don’t worry, the game won’t make you figure it out. You just need to read the on-screen prompt telling you to throw objects at him because your punches and webbing and gadgets won’t work. It’s a shallow fight against a shallow guy and I’d ignore it entirely except you need to complete some Taskmaster content to get access to the late-game upgrades.

Like I said in my Escapist column last year, it would be so much cooler if these random challenges came from Mysterio. That would allow us to use a classic Spidey villain that wouldn’t otherwise fit with these brawling mechanics. Mysterio could do for the Spider-Man games what Riddler does for the Arkham games.

Science Stations

The science station is supposed to protect the mobile phone network against terrorist attacks. Except, it's malfunctioning and is about to bring down the mobile phone network. All of the stations are like this. Are these science stations the work of the first ACCIDENTAL supervillain?
The science station is supposed to protect the mobile phone network against terrorist attacks. Except, it's malfunctioning and is about to bring down the mobile phone network. All of the stations are like this. Are these science stations the work of the first ACCIDENTAL supervillain?

I hate, hate, hate these stupid sidequests. Around the city are these little science outposts perched on top of buildings. Each one has a little gameplay challenge for you to do. For example, one requires you to dive bomb from a tall tower and another one requires you to get around the city without using your normal web swinging. The design here is simple:

1) Think up a random challenge or activity for the player to do.

2) Invent some science bullshit to justify doing it.

My problem is that the “science” behind these things is stupid to the point of being distracting. The writer can’t just settle for giving you a task and leaving it at that. They feel the need to mix in their embarrassingly misunderstood and badly garbled take on real science. Then they try to shoehorn in some tension by making everything an emergency that’s about to kill people. So you randomly arrive at a science station while exploring the open world and you just happen to get there five minutes before some ongoing science experiment starts killing everyone.

Actual premise: The only way to reduce the steam pressure is to web over the vents and trap the steam inside this densely-populated residential high rise in Harlem.
Actual premise: The only way to reduce the steam pressure is to web over the vents and trap the steam inside this densely-populated residential high rise in Harlem.

Spider-Man discovers that Manhattan’s steam-heating system is clogged up. The mission says that “steam is more efficient than fossil fuels”.

Look, if you want to employ some silly science then just make up some nonsense like “Harbulary Batteries” or “Vibranium” and I’ll be happy accept whatever you say about it. But in the real world Manhattan uses steam for indoor heating, and it’s not an “alternative” to fossil fuels any more than a hamburger is an alternative to meat. You don’t need to make this an educational game, but is it too much to ask that you not make it anti-educational?

Apparently, the steam pipes are backing up, and threatening to cause an explosion. So Spider-Man has to swing over to the affected building and… cover the steam vents in webbing to prevent an explosion from overpressure???

Just to make it really uncomfortable, this near-explosion wasn’t in downtown. It was in Harlem.

At the end Spider-Man is so proud of himself because he saved this science station that was built to prove how good steam is for the city. I’m thinking if it nearly killed hundreds of people, then maybe folks need to re-think this whole steam system idea. Yes, I understand that steam is a magical vapor created by fairies for free and thus don’t burn fossil fuels, but I think human lives ought to figure into the equation here. If anyone should have a say in the use of magical steam, it should be the high-rise full of people who nearly died. Spider-Man doesn’t see fit to involve them in the conversation. They don’t even know they nearly died. Instead he leaves a note that the system needs better safety protocols and calls it a day.

That’s actually kinda evil. Arrogantly treating the masses like disposable peasants because you’ve decided you already know what’s best for them is a super-villain trait. Sure, maybe it’s a little dangerous, but I’m a good person because I care about the environment! Especially when the costs and risks are borne by people who are not me!

Just… ew.

Free invisibility? Nope. I can't think of how that could ever come in useful ever. Might as well throw this gizmo away when this challenge is over.
Free invisibility? Nope. I can't think of how that could ever come in useful ever. Might as well throw this gizmo away when this challenge is over.

In another mission he gets a gizmo that makes him totally invisible, but he concludes he doesn’t want it because he can’t use it with his web-shooters. You can turn the invisibility on and off at will, so there’s no real downside to it. Just turn it off when you want to web-swing, dumbass. Shit, even if Spider-Man is too stupid to see how useful this thing is, doesn’t anyone else want free invisibility? It’s this universe-breaking device that only exists to justify a one-shot side activity that could easily have been handled some other way. The entire gimmick only exists so you can hide from drones, so the writer didn’t need to introduce unlimited invisibility as an available technology. They could simply have come up with a “scrambler” or some other non-overpowered tool for this mission. This is just so clumsy and thoughtless.

In another mission Spider-Man is trying to engineer a bacteria (or whatever) to consume waste plastic. Rather than getting some proper science equipment like a sane person, he decides to store the stuff in his web shooters. This prevents them from working.

The thing is, when the game takes away your web-swinging it does so by disabling the use of the R2 button. R2 is used for web-swinging, but it’s also used for super-jumping. So you try to super-jump and Spider-Man complains that his webs don’t work. Somehow storing random science stuff in his web fluid or turning invisible takes away his ability to use his legs for jumping.

It’s all incredibly lazy and poorly thought out. The missions all have Spider-Man talking about this great environmental work he’s doing to help the city while doing all of these scientifically nonsensical and morally questionable things. I realize it’s just lazy writing, but I find it incredibly off-putting.

Screwball

Someone wanted to satirize Pewdiepie / influencer culture, and this is what they came up with. It's the side-mission equivalent of 'Old Man Yells at Cloud'.
Someone wanted to satirize Pewdiepie / influencer culture, and this is what they came up with. It's the side-mission equivalent of 'Old Man Yells at Cloud'.

Spider-Man has to face off against an internet celebrity called Screwball, who has violent toxic fans and deliberately creates dangerous situations to boost the viewership on her live streams. Her dialog sounds like a Baby Boomer trying to imitate how millennials talk on social media. She’s annoying and the story is insufferably proud of itself. It has a twist you can see coming a mile away and ends with the nonsense conclusion that Screwball can’t be punished because she didn’t personally perform the acts of violenceAsk Charles Manson how that defense worked out..

This feels like moral panic in story form. It even ends with Spider-Man lamenting the state of the internet these days like he’s an old man that just found out about 4Chan.

Yuck.

Fake Spider-Man

Okay, the fake costume is terrible. To be fair, to make a PROPER Spider-Man costume takes about 40 hours of sewing and 1,000 hours in the gym.
Okay, the fake costume is terrible. To be fair, to make a PROPER Spider-Man costume takes about 40 hours of sewing and 1,000 hours in the gym.

I loved this one. Spider-Man realizes he’s got a doppleganger on the loose. He’s worried it’s the Chameleon againThe Chameleon was Spider-Man’s first foe, all the way back in 1963 with Amazing Spider-Man #1.. Then he tracks the guy down and as the search goes on it’s clear that this other Spider-Man:

  1. Is a decent guy.
  2. Has no superpowers.

It turns out that Spider-Fake is just some guy with a blackbelt and a cheap halloween costume who thought he could do some good. The two Spider-Mans team up at the end and Spider-Fake learns the lesson that without great power, you probably shouldn’t pick a fight with great responsibility.

My favorite gag is just how bad his costume is. It would have been easy to just re-use the default Spider-Man model, but they made a totally different model that illustrates what any serious cosplayer can tell you: It might look easy, but re-creating a costume is friggin’ hard.

And The Rest

I liked the pigeon chases from a gameplay perspective, but chasing pigeons is a little too silly and whimsical to fit in a world with Martin the Bio-Terrorist. In the next game I hope they keep the fun and whimsy and change the main story to match.
I liked the pigeon chases from a gameplay perspective, but chasing pigeons is a little too silly and whimsical to fit in a world with Martin the Bio-Terrorist. In the next game I hope they keep the fun and whimsy and change the main story to match.

There are other side missions in the game, but I don’t have much to say about the rest of them. In the list above I’ve covered the best and worst, with the remaining missions falling somewhere in between. Some are amusing. Some are little more than open-world filler.

Sadly the two worst ones (Taskmaster and the science stations) tie into the in-game currency used to unlock gadgets, upgrades, and additional costumes. Science missions give you Science Tokens and Taskmaster’s nonsense gives you Challenge Tokens. You’ll need both to get the best equipment. The really good missions (Fake Spider-Man and Black Cat) just give regular XP and not any of the upgrade tokens. Although, the Black Cat mission does give you a cool costume, so that’s something.

I know I usually try to avoid pointing fingers in these retrospectives, but I’m willing to bet you a deluxe no-prize that the Black Cat and Fake Spider-Man missions came from the veteran comic writers on the team and the goofy-ass science stations were devised by game designers. I apologize to breaking my usual etiquette, but it’s sort of obvious when you play through the disparate side missions how much they differ in terms of tone and style. Some missions are witty, clever, and filled with references to Spider-Man’s sprawling lore. Other missions are just lazy nonsense cooked up by someone who clearly just wanted to justify five minutes of novelty mechanics and thought that the story doesn’t need to fit with the world or make sense on its ownThat person is wrong, BTW..

That’s it for the sidequests. Next week we’ll get back to the main story.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Oh, so that’s what the “play me” message was all about at the start. That’s cute.

[2] Ask Charles Manson how that defense worked out.

[3] The Chameleon was Spider-Man’s first foe, all the way back in 1963 with Amazing Spider-Man #1.

[4] That person is wrong, BTW.



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52 thoughts on “Spider-Man Part 17: Sidequests

  1. Piflik says:

    I HATE Screwball. It wouldn’t be that bad if it was only the one questline, but they decided to bring her back for each of the three DLCs. I didn’t finish the second one, because I couldn’t be bothered to deal with her a third time, and I have d touched the third DLC.

    1. Mortuorum says:

      Makes me feel better about not getting the DLC. As bad as Taskmaster was, Screwball was worse. I’m surprised the content got past playtesting, much less inspired DLC. Was the voice actress someone’s girlfriend or something?

  2. Volvagia says:

    I kind of thought that “Fake Spider-Man” was ambiguously Danny Rand, nervous that the Iron Fist costume isn’t cool, but still wanting to go out and help. Anyone else think that, or is that just me being weird?

    1. Hal says:

      I didn’t think that. But it is Matt Mercer. Well, the voice actor, anyhow.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      I thought he was an entirely different Marvel character.

  3. Liessa says:

    I didn’t mind the sidequest stuff so much at first, but it infuriated me when he kept it all up in the wake of a major terrorist attack. Priorities, dude.

    1. Hal says:

      That was my primary complaint about the side quests, especially insomuch as that you can tackle them at any time, and the main quests will just wait for you.

      That’s how open world games work, I get it. And it’s a standard convention of such a narrative structure that there’s a little cognitive dissonance. Everyone remembers playing a Final Fantasy game and noticing the weirdness of the players racing chocobos or playing cards or whatever while Armageddon is bearing down on the world.

      Still, it’s exceedingly weird to know that Shocker is off robbing a bank, or Mary Jane just sent you a phone call for help, but you’re thinking, “Okay, that can wait. I have to stop this armed robbery, and then I’m near a backpack and a photo op, and then there’s a Black Cat mission near that, and then . . .”

      1. Syal says:

        Everyone remembers playing a Final Fantasy game and noticing the weirdness of the players racing chocobos or playing cards or whatever while Armageddon is bearing down on the world.

        My favorite is Trails in the Sky, where someone comes to get your help in putting out an orphanage fire, and you can ignore it to help someone find his keys.

        1. Randint says:

          Just a point of pedantry: wasn’t the request not to put out the fire, but rather to come investigate the ruins for foul play? I seem to recall that the fire was in the middle of the night and word didn’t reach the guild until the next morning when the fire had already gone out on its own.

    2. Christopher says:

      I think sidequests work as a break from the main quest really well. The fake Spider-Man, for instance, is located pretty close to the graveyard where they hold the funeral for Miles’ father. So I swung out from that graveyard, in the miserable rain, and followed the clues after a fake Spidey. And slowly discovering that hey, this is nothing malicious, it’s just this guy trying to do a good deed or two in a dangerous way, was a really good come down from the serious and sad story bit that just happened. I saved that guy’s life after failing to save Miles’ father. I think it makes perfect sense as a complimentary to the main story, urgency be damned.

      1. Liessa says:

        It’s not the lack of urgency I have a problem with – as Hal points out above, that’s a standard videogame convention – so much as the jarring inconsistency in tone. I just can’t get past Spidey joking around on the phone with Yuri right after a bunch of her officers were killed in an explosion. Earlier in the game, before they decided to get all grimdark, it didn’t bother me.

  4. Duoae says:

    Hmmm. I can’t tell for sure from the screenshot but the fake spiderman outfit is very similar to the 90s cartoon version of spiderman. It actually looks pretty good!

    Oh, and I just realised that the cartoon version of black cat was super different from the comics versions. She’s basically captain America in the cartoon (in terms of powers). Was wondering why the description above had me so confused!

    1. Hal says:

      In the cartoons, the physical superheroes tend to be roughly on par in terms of abilities. It’s basically a contrivance so that the characters can interact and someone doesn’t get knocked out of a fight in one punch. The answer to the question, “How strong is this character?” is truthfully answered, “As strong as the writers need them to be in this scene.”

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        Well, in the cartoon he’s talking about, Black Cat was literally using the same serum that Captain America was using, so they were definitely the same in terms of abilities.

        1. Duoae says:

          Yeah, this is what I was referring to. I have actually never read a spiderman comic and only saw the TV cartoon series.

          I had the same thing for batman and the x-men. I guess I was never a comics person…. though i did read the first issue of the superman reboot in the 80s (I didn’t keep it) whatever that was called.

          Now that my shameful secret is out, do I have to leave this blog now? ;)

    2. Christopher says:

      The classic Spidey outfit is still in the game and was what I wore when I met him. It’s similar, but you can really tell it fits Spider-Man’s body better than it fits that dude.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Probably better visible in movement rather than a static screenshot, in particular one where the guy is standing straight.

  5. Hal says:

    When I see the invisibility side quest, I get a glimpse of the developers saying, “We wanted to work Miles into the game as a playable (superhero) character, but it just wasn’t working out. But we didn’t want to just throw out the invisibility mechanic we’d worked on, so we need an excuse to put it in the game somewhere.”

    I wasn’t as bothered by Taskmaster was Shamus was, but I will say that his boss fight was pretty annoying. The first time it comes, you’re not expecting it and it’s pretty likely he clobbers you soundly. The gimmick Shamus describes to the fight (throw items at him to stun him, then go in for the attack) isn’t as foolproof as he describes; if you end up fighting him on the street level, there aren’t as many throwable items lying around as you’d need. However, at some point you can unlock a move where a well-timed dodge lets you web someone in the face; Taskmaster is extremely vulnerable to that, which makes taking him out almost incidental.

    Which is probably a pretty good summation of the game in general. You have high hopes for the boss fights, because it’s Spider-Man facing off against his iconic foes (and Mr. Negative.) But once you figure out the gimmick for that fight, they’re startlingly trivial. Well, with the exception of Doc Ock. That fight is satisfyingly challenging.

  6. Mattias42 says:

    To be fair to Insomniac, the game’s version of Taskmaster is pretty on point with his comic counterpart. At least to what little featuring him I’ve read.

    In them, he’s also a dull, grim little try-hard it’s impossible to take seriously. With the only highlights being that he’s got an interesting but weak power (Being able to learn skills just by watching them, via some sort of muscle-memory memorization.) and the toxic inferiority complex and compulsion resulting from said power existing and driving him on, and on, and on.

    You know, in a world where people can blow stuff up with their minds or turn into dragons exists, being able to learn karate instantly? Pretty weak-sauce.

    Honestly, though, in a vacuum he’s a pretty fascinating deconstruction of the ‘I shall be the best, no matter the price!’ archetype. He simply CANNOT measure up to the best, not in the Marvel universe, but he’s got this sliver of a chance thanks to his lame power, and he simply cannot let go of it. No matter how much he trains, how much he learns, he’s a violent little loser—worse, a physically human violent little loser—and if he’s ever forced to confront that it’s going to break his very soul.

    I’d really love to see somebody tackle that aspect of Task Master in a one-shot or something, but to my knowledge it hasn’t happened yet.

    1. Pax says:

      There was that one time Deadpool beat him by dancing at him, making his moves random and unpredictable, does that count?

      1. Mattias42 says:

        Ha!

        Not quite what I had in mind, but that does sound like Deadpool, alright.

    2. John says:

      Several years ago, there was a Taskmaster limited series by Gail Simone in which Taskmaster was fairly badass. (As I recall, it tied in to her Deadpool and Agent X stuff.) It gave him a better costume, too. I didn’t read the whole thing but I thought that the art was pretty good.

  7. BlueHorus says:

    Reducing steam pressure by blocking up vents? Whut?

    Are you sure it wasn’t a parody? ‘Cos anyone with basic high-school science knowledge should be able to see the problem there. And write better!
    ‘The steam is currently coming out into people’s apartments! We need you to block selected vents and reconfigure the piping system so that the only way out for it is the roof.’
    (That took me…10 seconds to think up)

    Another idea: Spidey could – maybe should – have spent the entire trip pointing out how dumb this premise is while actually solving the problem in a smart way. Even up to disagreeing with the instructions on the games HUD and maybe overwriting or pushing them aside in a 4th-wall-breaking joke.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      Unless I’m severely misremembering, I’m pretty sure that’s how the mission actually goes. You block the vents with the web so all the steam goes up, and then you blow the top vent so the steam escapes.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Dig up dreadjaws! Dig up!

  8. Dreadjaws says:

    In another mission Spider-Man is trying to engineer a bacteria (or whatever) to consume waste plastic. Rather than getting some proper science equipment like a sane person, he decides to store the stuff in his web shooters. This prevents them from working.

    It really doesn’t, though, you can still web zip. It’s not an oversight either, as Spider-Man comments on it if you do it. Which makes the whole ordeal even dumber. It’s not like web zipping uses a different set of cartridges, or that web comes out in a different way that justifies the shooters working.

    The challenges were definitely a mixed bag for me. I absolutely hated the pigeon hunting and pretty much every other challenge that required a chase or had a time limit. Chases cheat like hell in this game. It’s obvious the game doesn’t want you to catch your target as soon as you can, so they force you to follow them around a bit until they decide to activate the “grab” trigger, even if you are right on top of them from the start. Granted, it’s not GTA levels of preposterous, but still… And I kept having muscle memory issues, so whenever the game slapped a time limit on me or a chase sequence that consisted of a lot of constant turns I kept messing up. Not enough to lose, but certainly enough to annoy me constantly. Probably in another playthrough I would have improved, or maybe two.

    In contrast, I actually liked the science stations. Sure, the science itself is irritatingly preposterous, but I noticed that early on so I just decided to not pay attention to whatever Harry or Peter blabbered and instead focused on enjoying the breaks with new gameplay elements. Sadly, Taskmaster wasn’t as easy to ignore.

    1. Pax says:

      I actually liked Taskmaster to a point, because I was startlingly bad at the game, and his challenges gave me the incentive to work on my skills. I was getting my ass kicked in big melees before hand, and not very efficient at swinging around before, but after doing those challenges, I got significantly better. The Taskmaster bossfights were just bossfights though. Eh.

  9. Joshua says:

    “The Octavius plot is still simmering in the background, the Peter and MJ plot just hit a low note, and the credits didn’t roll, so the player probably knows the story isn’t really over yet.”

    Isn’t the average genre-savvy player just waiting for Doc Ock to have his Face/Heel turn by this point? It seems like it’s really hard to make this kind of story without “yeah, yeah, you’re not fooling anyone, just get to the point we ALL know is coming already”.

    To be fair, I think Marvel did an amazing job with this in Dr. Strange regarding Mordo, but I’m curious how they’re going to handle Mysterio in the upcoming Spider-Man since they seem to be portraying him as a “good guy” in the trailers.

    1. Hal says:

      You’re definitely waiting for the Doc Ock reveal, but Chekov has a lot of guns laying around at this point. The game has been throwing hints at you since the start that the Sinister Six are important in some way. Sable troops are all over Manhattan. Devil’s Breath is technically accounted for, but for the moment represents sort of an anti-climax. You’re definitely wondering why they would introduce Miles without giving him powers; or will they do so before the end of the game?

      Yes, Otto is the big mystery note, but there’s a lot of little ends waiting to be wrapped up still.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      Typically Mysterio always shows up pretending to be a good guy until he’s revealed as a criminal. I don’t see things being any different here.

      1. Joshua says:

        But that gets back to my point where anyone who knows the background is sitting around waiting for the Face/Heel turn to happen. Maybe they’ll address it by showing it to the audience early on, but Spider-Man doesn’t find out until later.

        1. Oliver says:

          Or maybe Mysterio will just be a good guy this time round. No face/heel turn. The trailer has him doing what looks like actual magic instead of semi-useless illusions and generally being pathetic, so they’ve already changed him a lot! :D

          But I guess then we’d have surprised fans followed swiftly by enraged fans venting online for some reason.

          -edit-
          Marvel have already thrown people with the Skrulls after all…

          1. Boobah says:

            If it didn’t look real to the audience, then Mysterio has no hook. Looking flashy and (given the context) real is entirely his thing.

        2. Dreadjaws says:

          Well, that’s always the case for adaptations. Some people are always going to know ahead of time how things are gonna go, one way or the other. Surely there’s going to be some people who expect the Face/Heel turn not to happen precisely because it’s too predictable. At some point you have to decide to tell a story, gimmicks be damned.

    3. Misamoto says:

      I actually expected Ock to be saved for a second game right untill the end.

  10. parkenf says:

    It’s been a few months since I played it, but I remember liking (most of) the Science missions. Sure their timing was a bit weird – why is this an urgent problem right now??? – but I could roll with it, it’s how open world games work as said. It’s a bit mean to pick the vent one as an example, because it was indeed horrible: I think all the attempts to marry fast swinging with rapid accuracy require perfect execution or complete frustration, so many vents I zapped by wall crawling to within 5 feet of them and then wrestling the camera round because a swing and hit had failed and I had slammed the wall. That’s the reason why I gave up maxing the taskmaster quests too – the drone following ones were failures if you got any swing wrong, just bad.

  11. Bookwyrm says:

    At least two solutions to the invisibility device problem pop to mind. In either scenario, Spidey is getting more and more into using this nifty new device as the mission progresses.

    Then…
    1) Boring: He finishes the mission, but the device burns out/explodes/short circuits/whatever. “Aww, man.”

    2) More amusing: He finishes the mission and walks outside while invisible. Some rando runs up, looking as stereotypically like a massive nerd + conspiracy nut + ghost hunter + etc as you could possibly design.
    Rando: “AH HA! I’ve knew there were invisible people stalking the streets! I finally have proof, and all those who bought my detectors and complained will now have to quit bothering me!”
    Spidey: *Looks at the dude, looks at the device, looks at the dude again*
    Spidey: “You uh…you invented an invisibility detector?”
    Rando: “Yes! I’ve even managed to sell it on the streets! Those crazy mercenaries bought 6!”
    Spidey: *throws invisibility device over his shoulder with a sigh.*

    1. tremor3258 says:

      Second one is such a Spidey situation, honestly.

      1. Christopher says:

        Yeah, I dig it

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      I know, right? This is why I hate this kind of thing. Not because they came up with a dumb solution, but because they didn’t come up with a solution at all despite how mind-blowingly simple it is. There are so many different ways this could have been approached but they went for the stupidest one. This shows that they’re either dumb or they think the audience is.

  12. Smith says:

    Fun fact: Screwball was actually created for the comics. In 2008.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      By the same guy who created Mr. Negative, no less.

      1. Mortuorum says:

        Was “the same guy” one of the writers on the game? That would explain a lot.

        1. Christopher says:

          Dan Slott consulted, but I got the impression that he was more in a few meetings at the start to help establish the new setting than an actual writer. His co-worker Christos Gage co-wrote, but I think that means he mostly did Jameson podcasts. Good or bad, the game’s writing seems to land mostly on Insomniac’s staff of Jon Paquette, Ben Arfman and Kelsey Beachum. Whom, I know nothing sbout. End of the day, it’s all collaberative. Wikipedia tells me Gage was the one who suggested adding Sable and her forces so the situation could be more dire as things progressed in the story for instance.

          The social media was written by all of the staff and QA testers, which is why it’s so accurately annoying the same way real social media is lol

          I’ve only read one appearance of Screwball in the comics(also written by Slott), while Dr. Octopus was in Spidey’s body. She and a partner are doing like youtube prank vids and make Spidey look dumb on camera. Which Pete would take in his usual stride and just nab ’em with webs, while Doc Ock goes completely berserk and pummels them. She works in that context. Not as an incredibly annoying sendup of influencers who only sits on her ass and orders her followers around like mooks.

          I wanted to rip her head off by the end of all of her missions, which I seriously doubt was the intended effect. They just underestimated how annoying she was gonna be.

  13. Christopher says:

    Black Cat, fake Spidey, the collectathon for the backpacks and the towers that expand the maps are the only sidequests I bothered doing doing my first playthrough. Screwball is the most annoying character since Deadpool and I couldn’t stand her missions, which makes it even worse that she returns to do the challenges for the DLC. I also thought the face recognition missions where some dude from the college has a bunch of his classmates be sleeper possessed minions for Mr. Negative was a real bore. Until the final encounter that is, when they chuck more fodder dudes at you than at any other point in the game, and it’s fun to Dynasty Warriors them all.

    Taskmaster’s fight isn’t good, but he’s just representative of the general combat in the game. This ain’t no Devil May Cry. Every boss is beaten in one of four ways:

    – Throw an object at them with the web pull
    – web them up and then punch them
    – wait until they’ve exhausted their combo and then punch them
    – dodge outta the way and then hit the triangle prompt

    This is barely better than most Arkham bosses were a decade ago. It really takes the wind out of you when you get into a climactic clash with your greatest foes and all you gotta do is web them up and mash square a bunch. For me, this is the most disappointing aspect of the game, and I don’t think it’s one that it’s possible for them to fix. The Arkham-like style of combat just can’t do any good bosses, it only works for simplifying mook fights and add contextual cinematic animation. That’s why the best Arkham boss is still the one that used the stealth mechanics instead, while the best the melee boss fights got was dodgerolling while throwing an object at the boss until it’s stunned.

    The best boss fight in Spidey I’d say is the last one, but it has nothing to do with the gameplay and everything to do with the visuals, music and the story that lead you to this point.

    All Taskmaster has going for him is doing your finishers on you and assaulting you at random locations for the fight. That’s pretty cool.

  14. guy says:

    The science station is supposed to protect the mobile phone network against terrorist attacks. Except, it’s malfunctioning and is about to bring down the mobile phone network. All of the stations are like this. Are these science stations the work of the first ACCIDENTAL supervillain?

    IIRC, pretty much all the stations are monitoring or analysis stations tracking ongoing phenomena and are not the cause of whatever impending catastrophe is going on. Which in turn leads to the question of why no one else is tracking these exceedingly dangerous conditions throughout the city. Especially the one with the toxic car exhaust.

    I really resented the Taskmaster challenges because I’m generally pretty poor at timed challenges, especially precision webswinging and stealth. So I wasn’t fond of the decision to gate a key resource behind doing really well on timed webswinging and stealth. Meanwhile Screwball was absolutely insufferable to listen to, but her challenges aren’t scored almost exclusively based on the timer.

  15. One-Note Pony says:

    Although I actually enjoyed the pigeon sidequest mechanically, it was by far the most immersion-breaking. “Martin just blew up a crowd near City Hall and I have only moments to stop him from striking again! But first imma go chase some pigeons around. Doot-de-doo “.

    Taskmaster challenges were exactly the sort of…well, tasks…that games usually reserve for trophies, which I usually ignore. Other than that he was simply one-dimensional and overpowered and Liefeld-esque in how desperately the game wants you think he’s badass, in contrast to the actively offensive and wince-inducing Screwball. Guess which one we get to see again in the DLC?

    As for the science challenges, I had exactly the same issue where it seems that every single one is 5 minutes away from killing somebody, and if I were Spider-man I’d wonder if maybe that level of negligence is actively malicious. Which, given Harry’s history in the Marvel universe, is something that they could retcon in if he’s a villain in a sequel. But they certainly didn’t telegraph it enough to make me think that was a deliberate writing choice.

  16. Yoshi says:

    I actually really enjoyed the science missions, but only because I found the junk science contained within them side-splittingly hilarious. Most of them are complete nonsense, but a few rise to the heights of utter absurdity. The ones that stick out in my mind are the fish mission and the earthquake mission. The fish mission has you removing “infected barrels” or something from the bay and then you just have to smash them on the ground (Nevermind that the contaminant in these barrels would just runoff straight back into the bay). As an earth scientist, however, I laughed for five minutes straight when he said the “fault line under Manhattan” (Which doesn’t exist, and even if it did, Manhattan’s on the edge of a passive margin and would almost never be at risk for an earthquake) is about to go off, so he needs to use the “seismometer network on the OSCORP satellites (????)” to punch the ground really hard and punching the ground really hard will stop the earthquake from happening instead of triggering it??? That’s just too much. Meanwhile, my wife, a biologist, was grumbling about the pigeon cleanup mission because pigeons are not carriers for bird flu.

    I will say that, the absurdity of the situations and the absolute nonsense science aside, I did appreciate the science missions because to me, they were a way to explore Peter’s scientist side through non-violent gameplay. So, as a scientist, I liked that they tried to explore his intellectual side in a way that didn’t involve punching dudes. So I guess I mostly liked them for the reasons Shamus hated them. I just found them hilarious.

  17. MadTinkerer says:

    I hate this over-serious skull-faced tryhard.

    Awww. It sounds like the problem here is that they were trying to make him sort of like the Riddler in the Arkham games. In the comics, he’s alternately a seriously dangerous mastermind (very much not a tryhard) or a supporting character who trains the heroes and/or villains. In the Marvel universe, there are various characters who are The Best. Hulk is The Strongest. Reed Richards is The Smartest. Taskmaster is The Greatest Coach.

    Taskmaster can go toe to toe with teams of heroes at once, because he’s one of the greatest martial artists and tacticians, and not a bad leader. But he’s not the greatest criminal mastermind, he’s the greatest personal trainer. He’s not a bad antagonist, it’s just that he’s an even better supporting character. And he knows this, and it really bothers him.

    He’s one of those characters that’s great in the hands of the right writer. As an antagonist, he forces characters to figure out new ways to fight, because he’s already effectively planned against their known strengths. As a supporting character, it’s kind of the same deal, but with fewer lives at stake and sometimes a joke or two at his expense.

  18. CrimsonCutz says:

    You claim to dislike Taskmaster, but I know better. After all, when he introduces himself, Spider-Man says something like “So your name is Taskmaster, and you’re giving me things to do? Isn’t that a little on the nose?”. Clearly you’re just afraid that you won’t have anything left to criticize if the game keeps doing it for you.

    1. Guest says:

      I kind of love that he’s such a tryhard, Spidey already is making fun of him just by not taking him seriously.

      He’s meant to be a tryhard, that’s the point, and it’s an adaptation of a version of the character that’s been used before.

      What I didn’t like was, when I started doing his missions, I realised just how far behind the curve on webswinging I was, so I did one of the first ones like 7 times, and that meant I heard all his lines, over and over, and the joke completely wore off.

      It feels like missing the point to hate him for being a tryhard like that’s being played seriously. He’s a tryhard, and you’re meant to realise that and play it for comedy, it’s the classic “Bad Guy is very serious and Spidey does not care” dynamic.

  19. Redrock says:

    I can’t say that Screwball bothered me that much as an over-the-top parody of a certain subset of Youtubers (think Logan Paul and the like). She is, after all, a generic comic book villain, as in a stereotype cranked up to absurdity. The fact that she can’t be prosecuted even though she obviously should be seemed to me to be, again, the usual comic book nonsense rather than some “old man yells at cloud” style commentary about vloggers. Screwball is annoying because she’s an obnoxious, lazy and boring D-tier comic book villain, not because the writer dared to imply, gasp, that Youtube sucks.

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