In a narrative sense, we’re entering the absolute worst part of the game. The gameplay is fine, but these next couple of cutscenes are a disaster of frustration and annoyance in terms of story.
Spider-Man heads to the secret lab where they’re cooking up the Devil’s Breath antiserum. When he arrives, he finds that Martin Li has already taken over. Martin’s Demon gang steamrolled the Sable guardsHow can these guys possibly suck THIS BAD? The Demons wear suits and use swords, and Sable goons wear body armor and carry automatic rifles..
Spider-Man webs up the Demons, and is about to head inside when more Sable guys arrive. He tries to make peace with them, but their bloodlust is only exceeded by their breathtaking ineptitude. He adds them to the pile of snoozing Demon guys and chases after Martin.
While he’s forcing open the security doors, Silver Sable arrives. She opens by attempting to shoot Spider-Man in the back (evil and cowardly) and missing (incompetent) despite the fact that they’re clearly on the same side (stupid) and she really needs his help. Then she stops shooting once she gets close (stupid) and throws a little tantrum at Spider-Man for always attacking her men (ignorantThey shoot Spider-Man on sight, under her orders. She’s literally outraged that Spider-Man defends his life with non-lethal force.) and destroying the military hardware her men use to try to kill him (hypocritical). She demands to know why she shouldn’t just shoot him right now (stupid).
Spider-Man shrinks against the wall, apparently checkmated by this dingbat’s one-woman war on reason itself.
Times Silver Sable has defeated Spider-Man in a cutscene: 3
It would be bad enough if we kept losing to a dangerous opponent, but it really stings that we lose by writer fiat to the most incompetent person in the gameYes, more incompetent to Charles Standish who knocked himself out a few chapters ago. Standish only knocked himself out and didn’t manage to hurt any innocent people with his flailing, which puts him ahead of Silver Sable..
So Spider-Man says, “Listen. I don’t Like you, you don’t like me. But Li has your client inside this building right now and he’s gonna kill him if we don’t do something. We can fight each other, or we can fight Li, but not both.”
This isn’t technically true. Based on Spider-Man’s unwillingness to fight back, she could shoot his face and proceed inside. But evidently this is enough to change Sable’s mind. She holsters her guns.
“Does this mean we’re good?” Spider-Man asks in a voice that indicates he’s nervous and possibly afraid of her.
Silver Sable says, “You will help me secure Norman. After that I make no promises.”
At this point I’m really really looking forward to punching her stupid lights out. Maybe she’s a cool character in other works, but here she’s so moronic, irrational, hypocritical, tyrannical, and incompetent that I’d just as soon uppercut her out of the story.
Get Ready for Disappointment
Spidey and Silver Sable enter the building, but then more Demons show up. So then for no reason Silver Sable changes her entire personality. She tells Spider-Man to go save Norman Osborn while she fights the Demon guys.
Norman Osborn is her employer. Keeping him safe is her entire job. Her reputation rides on making sure he isn’t harmed. And yet she’s going to abdicate that responsibility to Spider-Man, even though she just made it clear she still considers him an enemy?
So that’s it. She’s a good guy now? We don’t get to fight her? That would be okay if this were the completion of a character arc or if she went through some sort of change. But we never got that. She wasn’t brought low. She didn’t have to admit she was wrong. She didn’t even get a moment to REALIZE she was wrong. She just changed her behavior for no reason in the middle of a scene.
All this scene needed is a moment where she has to swallow her pride and admit she’s not strong enough to face Martin Li herself. Just have her concede the moral victory to Spider-Man in dialog. That would show that her tough behavior was just an act and possibly hint that she’s been overcompensating. That would make her a lot more interesting. Instead she orders Spider-Man to do her job for her while she mops up a bunch of stupid Demon goons that don’t matter.
Not only did this unworthy loser get to slap Spider-Man around for most of the game, but now we’re denied settling up with her and we’re also denied any kind of a coherent reason for her heel-face turn.
As icing on the cake: This character is useless to the plot. She accomplishes nothing, either as a hero or as a villain.
Can We Blame Sony Again?
I wonder if this is the result of interference from Sony. Sony is looking to use their Spider-Man license to create a Silver Sable team-up movie with Black Cat. Maybe they’re even going to give each character solo movies. I wonder if Sony pressured Insomniac Games to put Silver Sable into this title and give her some screen time as a way to raise her cultural profile ahead of her eventual movie appearance. This mandate would have showed up a couple of years ago while the game was still in production. That might explain why her character arc contains neither character nor arc.
This Silver Sable plot feels so desultory and the rest of the game seems pretty solid, which is why I’m looking for an explanation more complicated than “the writer made a mistake”. If you forced a writer to insert a promotional character appearance into an already-written story then you’d probably get exactly what we see here: a bolted-on series of encounters that don’t ultimately matter to the plot and only serve to show what a “badass” the character is.
Of course, I could be wrong. It’s totally possible the writer just made a mistake or that there was a better resolution to this plot that was cut for time. I have no idea. Regardless of the cause, this was incredibly unsatisfying and doesn’t really work in a dramatic sense.
Spider-Man heads inside and we get another dream sequence where we swing through a destroyed lab while Spider-Man and Martin argue. Spidey is still trying to redeem Martin. For some reason.
The two characters repeat the annoying exchange they’ve already had in the past. Martin bellows that he wants to honor his parents and that he wants “justice” for their deaths.
At this point a reasonable person might say, “Would your parents want you to massacre innocent people?” Or perhaps, “How can you achieve justice by massacring innocent people?” But Spider-Man makes no attempt to reconcile this character’s goals with his behavior. If he’s just rando crazy, then why are we trying to redeem him with appeals to altruism? If he’s not crazy, then why aren’t we trying to sort out his motivations?
Martin Li manages to corner Norman at the lab. He takes the antiserum, which has the power to save the thousands of people around the city who are dying of Devil’s Breath. Martin doesn’t destroy the antiserum, but he won’t let the good guys use it, either.
Dude! Norman Osborn is RIGHT HERE. Just stab him. What’s with the antiserum? Why do you want it? If you just want to kill lots of people, then destroy it. If not, then let the doctor keep it so he can heal the city. What’s your goal?
(Actually, you can justify this by saying he’s here to steal the antiserum for Doctor Octopus, but then I have the same exact question for Otto.)
Martin FINALLY gets around to trying to kill Osborn, but Spider-Man stops him at the last second.
“Don’t let revenge win!” Spider-Man pleads. “Fight it!”
This sentiment would work if Martin Li was about to cross a point of no return. It makes no sense to say this to a mass-murdering terrorist. He’s already guilty of crimes far worse than vengeance. If he was about to kill for the first time, then sure — let’s appeal to him and try to get him to reconsider. But this jackass has been plotting for years to slaughter innocent people. At this point direct revenge on a single specific target would be a massive improvement in his behavior.
I realize I can’t expect Spider-Man to allow that to happen. Spidey is good to the core and has a strict moral code. The problem is that this conflict has no tension. Norman Osborn is a massive prick and probably deserves what Martin is trying to give him. I hate Norman and I have no stake in Martin’s redemption, which means I don’t care if Spider-Man succeeds. Nothing bad happens if Osborn dies, and nothing good happens to the city if Martin repents.
Here’s the actual dialog from the boss fight:
Martin Li: (Enraged.) ENOUGH!
Spider-Man. (Struggling.) This… isn’t… you!
Me: (Talking to the screen.) Yes. Yes, it is. This is exactly who this asshole is.
Martin Li: THIS IS EXACTLY WHO I AM!
Me: See? Dumbass.
They fight for a few more rounds. Eventually Martin gets exhausted. The negative glow effect fades for a second.
Spider-Man: Fight it, Martin. You can walk away!
Me: No he can’t. That’s not how law enforcement works. He can go to jail forever, but he can’t walk away.
Martin: No! Osborn must SUFFER!
Me: So why were you about to stab him to death a minute ago? Do you have a plan or not, asshole?
Suddenly, Martin summons / becomes a huge demon.
Spider-Man: I know you can beat the Demon Martin!
Martin: Beat the Demon? I AM THE DEMON!
Me: Exactly. Like I’ve been saying this whole time. Just beat his ass and let’s go home.
Martin: My parents deserve JUSTICE!
Me: Hey Spidey, ask him about the dead school teachers at city hall.
Spider-Man: Fight it, Martin!
Me: You idiots deserve each other.
Whatever. Once the boss fight is over, we get a cutscene. In that cutscene:
Spider-Man and Martin Li fight some more. (Spider-Man wins.) Then Doctor Octopus tears into the room and fights Spider-Man. (Spider-Man loses.) Doc Ock brutalizes Spider-Man, beats up the now-powerless Martin Li, kidnaps Norman Osborn, takes the antiserum, and leaves. Silver Sable, true to form, arrives five minutes late to the fight and has nothing to do. She’s suddenly filled with concern for Spider-Man. Spider-Man failed to protect her charge, but she doesn’t seem to care anymore.
Silver Sable takes Spider-Man to get medical help.
“Thank… you…” Spider-Man gasps.
“You can thank me by not dying,” she says.
Hang on, weren’t you trying to shoot him in the back ten minutes ago? Are you a superhero now? What is even happening with this character?
I realize this entry was pretty negativeNo pun intended.. I don’t like dumping on a game I enjoy so much, but this scene is where the two worst characters in our story came together and concluded their disjointed and frustrating stories. Everything gets better from here.
Well, better for the audience. Things are going to keep going downhill for our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
 How can these guys possibly suck THIS BAD? The Demons wear suits and use swords, and Sable goons wear body armor and carry automatic rifles.
 They shoot Spider-Man on sight, under her orders. She’s literally outraged that Spider-Man defends his life with non-lethal force.
 Yes, more incompetent to Charles Standish who knocked himself out a few chapters ago. Standish only knocked himself out and didn’t manage to hurt any innocent people with his flailing, which puts him ahead of Silver Sable.
 No pun intended.
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