Spider-Man Part 24: Doctor Octopus!

By Shamus Posted Thursday Aug 8, 2019

Filed under: Retrospectives 54 comments

Spider-Man crawls out of the hospital bed despite severe injuries. That would be a great moment, but we hit that exact same note after the prison escape. The writer bottomed out too early, and now the hero doesn’t have any farther to fall. Well, aside from the fact that he has to go confront his best friend / nemesis, Doctor Octopus. I guess that’s pretty bad.

Silver Sable calls him to explain that his actions have given her a change of heart and she’s leaving the city. If she actually had a change of heart she should offer to stay and start helping for once to offset all the trouble her men have caused. She can’t even get her men to leave the city. She’s going to leave this giant mess behind, with her goon squads still plundering the ravaged city. This was her last opportunity to do something relevant to the plot, and she passed it up.

Good riddance, although I resent the screen time wasted on this bore.

The Antiserum

Yep. The science juice is blue. That means it's quality juice. You could probably cure 4 or 5 zombie plagues with this stuff.
Yep. The science juice is blue. That means it's quality juice. You could probably cure 4 or 5 zombie plagues with this stuff.

You might remember that one of my gripes with Batman: Arkham City was that the story had this vial of blue science juice that Batman needed to save Gotham from Joker toxin, but by the end the writer lost track of that plot and the whole thing dissolved into incoherence. That problem does not happen here.

Once again we have a vial of blue science juice that’s needed to halt a citywide epidemic. This time, we’re given a personal link to the problem. Aunt May is on the edge of death. Without the cure, she’ll die. She can serve as our representative of everyone Spider-Man is trying to save.

Doctor Octopus has the cure. It’s the only sample in existence. We can’t just launch a missile at our villain because we’ll destroy the cure. (Also because he’s got the mayor as a hostage. I never got a strong sense as to how much anyone in this world cares about the mayor at this point.)

There’s no other way to do this. Someone has to face Doctor Octopus directly to recover that cure. Spider-Man must fight his mentor to save his aunt.

The Anti-Ock Suit

Aunt May is dying and every moment counts. Clearly this means I need to spend hours crafting a new costume.
Aunt May is dying and every moment counts. Clearly this means I need to spend hours crafting a new costume.

Spider-Man has a talk with MJ and she suggests that since he helped Doctor Octopus design the deadly robo-arms, maybe he needs to come up with a way to counter them. This is a really cool idea and I really approve. Peter needs to destroy his creation to save the city. This brings the science nerd aspect of the character into play, and has him literally undoing all the things he and Doc built together. Doc betrayed Peter by allowing his anger to consume him, and now Peter must betray Doc by using his secrets against him.

Spider-Man goes back to the Octavius lab and makes himself a new suit specifically designed to defeat Otto.

The problem is that the special ability of this suit isn’t particularly useful for taking down Octavius. When you activate the special ability it gives you gadget refills. That’s nice I guess, but not nearly as good as some of the other powers from the other costumes in the game.

The writer did their job, but the game designer failed to make this tool compelling. You fight doc all by himself and Spider-Man’s gadgets are mostly used for crowd control. Spidey has tons of gadgets at this point in the game, so I’m not sure who I’m supposed to use all those extra gadget refills on. I’ve been through the fight multiple times and I never remember to use the ability, because I never found myself in a position where I was low on ammo. There’s a tooltip that says to use your gadgets to stun him, but I always got by with flinging his own projectiles back at him. Maybe I’m doing the fight wrong, but if it’s wrong then why does it work? I don’t know. It’s odd.

It would be bad enough if the big final suit & power combo was merely disappointing, but they’re also mandatory. You can’t switch your suit or special ability for the final fight. Did you enjoy unlocking all that gear and choosing your favorite suit / power combo? Well too bad, because here at the end the gameplay designer is going to dress you and tell you what to take with you.


Repeating Yourself

What a fantastic shot.
What a fantastic shot.

Doctor Octopus has Norman Osborn at the top of Oscorp tower and is taunting him. Norman is actually a pretty gutsy guy and he refuses to cower for Otto. Finally Doc Ock gets frustrated and flings Osborn off the roof.

Spider-Man saves Norman, of course. Then it’s time for our big showdown.

My problem in this scene aren’t really problems caused by this scene. The problems with this scene come from the previous scene.

Spider-Man opens the fight by saving Norman Osborn’s life at the last second. (We just did that literally ten minutes ago with Martin.)

Spider-Man wants to talk the bad guy into repenting. (We just did that literally ten minutes ago with Martin.)

Spider-Man needs to get the antiserum to save Aunt May. (We just did that literally ten minutes ago with Martin.)

The bad guy demands to know why Spider-Man is protecting Norman Osborn, and Spider-Man doesn’t reply with something to the effect of, “Dude! My family is dying of Devil’s Breath and you’re holding the cure in your hand.” (Spider-Man did the same thing literally ten minutes ago with Martin.)

The bad guy has Norman Osborn as a hostage and wants to get revenge on him for wrongs of the past. (We just did that literally ten minutes ago with Martin.)

The bad guy wants to keep the antiserum for himself and kill thousands of people, even though that’s orthogonal to his goals and doing so makes his vendetta brazenly hypocritical. (We just did that literally ten minutes ago with Martin.)

The bad guy wants revenge on Norman for being evil, and yet Spider-Man doesn’t call the bad guy out on their own evils. (We just did that literally ten minutes ago with Martin.)

Peter is fighting while nursing grievous injuries. (The game hit that same note after the prison break, which is pretty close to this moment. Again, the story seems to be repeating itself.)

Martin isn’t just a bad villain, his character arc gets in the way of the far more interesting arc between Peter and Otto.

Repeating Yourself

Okay, you got me. I'm Peter Parker's handsomer twin brother.
Okay, you got me. I'm Peter Parker's handsomer twin brother.

The thing is, I think the Doc Ock scene works just fine in isolation. Sure, his behavior is a little muddled and it’s obvious he’s not thinking clearly, but “the neural interface made me do it” is a handy catch-all excuse. The dynamic between Peter Parker and Otto Octavius is well-developed and interesting, and this unraveling of their friendship makes for some powerful drama. The only problem I have is that it’s distracting how we’re repeating the same exact ideas just a few minutes apart.

Near the end of the fight, Peter’s mask is damaged. He’s worried about keeping his identity secret, but then doc reveals he’s known all along. It’s a great moment and underscores just how far gone Doc really is. He knowingly did these horrible things to his best friend, which means the old doc is well and truly lost. He even says a few minutes later, “You can’t save me, Peter.”

This is a neat counterpoint to the Martin Li fight. Or it would be, if I understood what happened to Li. At the end of the fight Martin Li had stopped glowing and reverted to his human form. Was that due to Spider-Man’s constant pleas for repentance, or did Spider-Man just punch him until he ran out of mojo? Martin’s Yin / Yang thing was too vague for me to get invested in it.

The Bitter End

Note the lack of quicktime prompts, combo counters, and tooltips.
Note the lack of quicktime prompts, combo counters, and tooltips.

Once the player completes the main part of the fight, we have a little cutscene that transitions us to the final stage. Spider-Man’s web spinners are damaged, leaving him without webbing and gadgets. Doc loses one of his arms. They wind up fighting while clinging to the side of Oscorp tower. Spider-Man is injured and has no webs. Doc is hamstrung by the fact that he needs to use a couple of his arms to hang onto the building. They’re both worn out and getting desperate.

This gives us a very “cinematic” fight. You’re still playing. You’re still pressing buttons and still dodging attacks. At the same time, the interface vanishes. No gadgets, no map, no health bar. I’m not even sure if you can die in this section. This fight is here so that Peter and Otto can have some important final words. It allows us to have some dialog without grabbing the controller out of the player’s hands for another stupid cutscene.

I love this, and I really wish this sort of thing was done elsewhere in the game. On my first playthrough, I didn’t even notice the missing interface. I was immersed in the story and the fight at the same time. Here we are at the end of the game, and it feels like the writer and gameplay designer have finally figured out how to work together.

I understand you can’t do this for every boss fight. This brawl on the side of the building is a very particular setup that requires us to de-power the hero to make it possible. We have to take away Spidey’s webs or the player will expect to be able to swing away. We have to put our combatants on the side of this building so the player can’t just leap away or run off. You can’t contrive to end every boss fight like this. Still, the game needed more ideas along these lines. The cutscene battles in this game are intrusive to the point of being annoying and far too many cutscenes interrupt boss fights to negate player action.

Otto Octavius

The neural interface is disconnected, but how much of Otto is left in there?
The neural interface is disconnected, but how much of Otto is left in there?

The final moments are pretty heartbreaking. Spider-Man rips the neural interface off of Doctor Octopus, leaving the doctor with no way to control his limbs. He plummets off the building and ends up inside the lower sections of Oscorp tower, limp and helpless. Otto Octavius seems to emerge, but it’s wonderfully ambiguous if he’s actually reverted to his old self or if he’s just trying to get the neural interface back so he can resume his mad schemes.

Like a lot of the best Spider-Man stories, the conclusion feels somehow tragic yet inevitable. Peter Parker had to ruin his invention and destroy his mentor to do the right thing.

Luckily, the vial of blue science juice survived the destructive battle and the long fall. Spider-Man recovers it and hurries back to FEAST, hoping to save Aunt May.

We’re at the endgame now. We’ll wrap this series up next week.


From The Archives:

54 thoughts on “Spider-Man Part 24: Doctor Octopus!

  1. Baron Tanks says:

    Don’t really have much to add to any discussion, but, acknowledging I have been vocally critical of this ongoing series both in an earlier post as well as on y’days blog overview, it’s only fair to point that I really enjoyed this entry. Glad to see the series ending on a high note. Curious to see what’s next.

  2. Daimbert says:

    The problem is that the special ability of this suit isn’t particularly useful for taking down Octavius. When you activate the special ability it gives you gadget refills. That’s nice I guess, but not nearly as good as some of the other powers from the other costumes in the game.

    They probably should have done it like the later Persona games did it: the suit contains a special ability that can only be activated at a key point in the battle against Doc Ock, which then triggers a cutscene that has it do devastating things to the arms. This could then have also fried the suit’s gadget’s, leaving both combatants weakened for that final scene you talked about. This explains why he needed to take the time to build the suit without having to have the game designer even try to come up with a special ability that would work for regular action as well as working as something specially designed for Doc Ock.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      [making the suit] something specially designed for Doc Ock.


      It seems odd that that wouldn’t happen, given how obvious it seems. A simple thing to do – i.e what I’d have done – would be that the other times Doc Ock fought Spidey, he used a very quick grab attack with one of his arms. Cue cutscenes of a helpess Spidey being beaten up.

      But in the last fight, the grab attack happens and new suit suddenly glows with electricity – the arm is dstroyed/disabled. Oh look, Peter’s learning from his defeats.
      From a gameplay pespective, the suit doesn’t give you any special abilities except countering that one attack. it happens two or three times to make the point.
      It does make the boss fight that bit harder – maybe – because you can’t use the specail abilities of a different suit, but that’s thematic.

      1. Guest says:

        That’s really the perfect outcome.

        Also, apparently the gadget does help for rapid fire web recharge?

        But yeah, that’s perfect. It gives him a reason to build a gadget, it explains why he needs to, it gives him a special outfit for fighting this boss, and it doesn’t involve actually changing the game balance too radically.

        The issue is, the game lets you switch abilities with suits. So I liked the negative suit so I wore that. I used whatever power I wanted, because it lets you switch (Which I’m in favour of). It’d have to be a different mechanic, and it’d probably be best to force the player to wear this suit, because the player already knows they can switch the power.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Narratively, you really should be locked into this suit, because all you’re doing is going off to deal with Otto and what would be the point in stopping to make the suit if it wasn’t absolutely vital for dealing with him? You’d have to be an idiot to not wear the absolutely necessary suit you had to build, so either the game would have to make it impossible to beat him without it — or, at least, ALMOST impossible — or take the easy way out and just not let you wear anything else.

  3. JDMM says:

    One thing you should point out is Dr Octavius reemerges and begs Peter to help him, however Peter abandons him because great responsibility and all that, as is your summary half implies sequel hook

    Beyond that I feel there’s not much of a repeat because the emotional resonance is so completely different, when Spiderman calls for Li to be redeemed, I’m like ‘What, the partial benefactor of your aunt whom you only know as an evil bad guy?’ Whereas with Doc Ock I get the similarities, science guys, both want to save the world, both have the same reason to dislike Osborn (he ruined the lab), you understand why Ock would go insane for power (motor neurone disease).

    Maybe it’s the voice acting? When Spiderman is saying stuff to Martin Li it’s always some shout, with Ock you can hear the emotion like when he walks away

  4. Hector says:

    I wanted to make an off-color James Bond joke, but that would just be childish.

  5. Hal says:

    To be clear, the suit power is useful in this fight. You can stun Otto by using the rapid fire webs to wrap him up, then go in to smack him around. The power is useful because it takes more than the number of charges you have to actually get him wrapped up this way. It’s pretty artificial, in that the designers specifically put up a wall but gave you a tool to get over that wall, but it’s not useless in this scene. All of your other gadgets, however, are totally useless.

    On a different note, I was really put off by the sequence of events after leaving Oscorp the first time. Peter gets dragged out in serious condition; Dr. Michaels and Silver Sable want to take him to a hospital, but he croaks out, “No hospitals. FEAST!” Okay, Peter, you’ve already been at a hospital for your injuries this week. If you’re worried about your identity, I think it’s a little late for that. And it’s not as if there aren’t multiple FEAST centers around Manhattan; you couldn’t be a bit more specific? And since FEAST isn’t exactly a hospital, do you think you might be setting yourself up to give away your identity here?

    Whatever. So we get to FEAST, and Dr. Michaels, despite having no surgical supplies (because this is not a hospital) spends a time lapse sequence “taking care” of Peter. Then Peter goes off to make his fancy new suit. (Man, you’d think Otto would have revoked his keycard access to the lab at some point.) Then, he sees a news story about Otto climbing up the side of Oscorp with Norman.

    Guys, what were you doing this whole time? It’s been hours since Otto grabbed Norman and ran off. Were you having tea? Does it just take a really long time to get around town with robot arms?

    So you go fight Otto. I’m still annoyed that Otto can take so many punches from Peter; despite having those wicked robot arms, he still has a normal human body, which is not going to hold up well to superhuman pummeling. Nevertheless, Otto reveals he knows Peter is Spider-Man, but you prevail nonetheless. In the aftermath cutscene, Otto holds it over Peter’s head that he knows the identity.

    This is a huge issue! Grappling with the secret identity has always been one of the hallmark characteristics of Spider-Man, but Peter just walks away. “Gee Doc, do what you gotta do.” And that’s the last we hear of it.

    Guh. That’s a very heavy, important feature of the character, and it felt both undervalued and unresolved. Dramatic as the moment is, it was extremely unsatisfying to me.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Guys, what were you doing this whole time? It’s been hours since Otto grabbed Norman and ran off. Were you having tea? Does it just take a really long time to get around town with robot arms?

      I can imagine that Doc Ock was monologuing and arguing with Osborn, trying to get him to admit responsibility for loads of stupid shit and failing.

      ‘You made a horrible bioweapon! This is all YOUR fault!’
      ‘That was for my son! I tried to contain it! You’re the one who released it!’
      ‘Oh. Um – you closed my lab down!’
      ‘You were using government money to make creepy robot arms! Arms that drove you insane! And we accidentally blew up a nice Chinese couple and cursed their son. I felt bad.’
      ‘Well, you – you took credit for something Spider-Man did!’
      He wasn’t claiming credit! And I’m a politician – anyway, why do you care? Didn’t you just beat Spider-Man to within an inch of his life and dump him in a river?’
      ‘He’s my friend, I’m allowed to – but that’s your fault too! It’s all your fault! And this is my revenge! All those sick people out there – their deaths will be blamed on you!’
      ‘They’ll blame me. Right. Not you, who RELEASED POISON WHILE LAUGHING. And I see you’re holding the antidote right there – if you care so much why don’t you-‘
      ‘SHUT UP!’

      After a few hours of this, Doc Ock finally gets exasperated and storms off to Oscorp Tower, ranting about how Norman Osborn refuses to see reason.

      Also – Silver Sable leaves….but leaves her idiot goon squads behind? Wasn’t she in charge of them? They’ve literally got her name!

      1. Hal says:

        She does leave them behind, but it’s a weird thing.

        I don’t remember if there’s even any free-roaming gameplay remaining between these scenes; let’s assume there is, because I remember her call coming in during free roam.

        The basic justification here is for you to be able to finish up any of the open world stuff (stopping Sable patrols or shutting down their bases) if you haven’t already. Once you make your way to Oscorp to confront Otto, the game gives you a warning that this is triggering the end of the game, so it’s your last chance to do that stuff.

        It matters in a way because the game has a New Game + feature, so any rewards for unlocking upgrades you get will transfer to the NG+. Plus achievements and such.

        And technically, the game isn’t over, per se. Once you finish up the end game cinematics and the credits, you regain control of Spider-Man; Manhattan is back as it was, and now the basic thug crimes are endlessly regenerating, so you can traipse about the city beating up low level mooks to your heart’s content. Or take screenshots, explore, etc.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Instead of her leaving, it would have changed nothing and made far more sense for her to say “My people are still making trouble. I’m going to gather up some people who are still loyal to me and try to deal with them”. You don’t ever have to see her actually do anything with that, it makes her out to be a tough and responsible leader, and any outcome you want can follow from that from “They’re all conveniently gone” to “They’ve gone into hiding but show up as mooks at times” to “She failed and you need to deal with them”.

      2. guy says:

        Also – Silver Sable leaves….but leaves her idiot goon squads behind? Wasn’t she in charge of them? They’ve literally got her name!

        They’re all rogue cells, apparently. The voice chatter at a number of the bases indicates Silver Sable wouldn’t approve of some of the beatings, mass arrests, and theft they have going on, but apparently she can’t exercise effective control over her subordinates. Which is admittedly a common issue with mercenaries.

        Leads to the question of why Osborn didn’t ask the governor to send in the National Guard, but it’s probably related to how the Devil’s Breath lab was several different kinds of illegal.

        1. Guest says:

          *movie mercenaries*

          It’s a bit ridiculous that a Mayor would call in the fucking Brave Companions, who’s leader is going to bail on them, and apparently leave every deserter behind, instead of shooting them (Like she keeps trying to do to Spidey) for desertion.

          I’m not as annoyed by the mercs and Sable as Shamus, but that’s bloody stupid. If a bunch of heavily armed, deserting mercs were harassing a city, the national guard would be called in, and they, with SWAT, FBI HRT teams, would shoot them. If The Punisher did not get there first.

          How the fuck do you become a paramilitary group with the ability to act professionally on US soil, and leave a bunch of people behind who are harassing citizens with automatic weapons with no authority? That just doesn’t make any sense, at all, and it’s not a job for Spiderman at this point.

          In the real world, groups like Blackwater are bad, but they’re not this specific sort of bad, because this sort of bad is also bad business. Shooting people up while AWOL in a capital city in the US is just flat out a bad idea, and it only ends with everyone involved catching bullets.

          1. Liessa says:

            The merc situation has annoyed me right from the start. If it’s against the Constitution for the regular army to take charge in this situation, how the heck is it legal for a private mercenary company? And as you say, where on earth is the National Guard? Not to mention all the other superheroes who are mysteriously AWOL…

            1. Also Tom says:

              Minor thing: It’s not unconstitutional for the regular army to roll in and take charge, but it is illegal under the Posse Comitatus Act, barring some very specific circumstances.

      3. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Silver Sable returns in the DLC, a friend was streaming it recently, far as I can tell her handling doesn’t get much better, as soon as she shows up she catches one of the villain’s goons, attempts to intimidate the information out of him and when Spider-Man volunteers said information… attempts to shoot him dead, repeatedly.

  6. Ander says:

    I had a game killing bug that put me back in side of the building boss mode with no web and no escape after the post-fight cutscene with the Doc. I restarted and could move on to the end, but it killed the momentum a good deal.

  7. Hector says:

    BrentalFloss has a Spiderman (PS4) with Lyrics Short poking fun at the level of violence as well. I’ll post it once I can look it up.

  8. Ninety-Three says:

    With Sable leaving the plot, I have to get in a petty complaint about her name. “Silver Sable” is a really weird thing for the leader of a mercenary company to call herself, given that sables are basically wild Russian ferrets. I kind of get calling yourself “Black Cat” if you’re a cat burglar with a cat-themed catsuit, but there’s nothing sable-like about the Silver Sable, they’re not especially fierce or intimidating, and she isn’t even from the right continent for sables.

    This has been bothering me for the last four months and all I can do is bother other people about it.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      On the other hand, the name (1) follows the color-creature styling that’s been used for comic names since the Silver Age, (2) is alliterative with matching syllable counts, and (3) kinda ties to the part of the world whence she hails.

      Is there another name which could check those boxes while sounding more hardcore?

      1. Hector says:

        Also, her comic incarnation has a stronger Silver colour theme, and she is quick and agile.

        Spider-Man has lits if animal-themed characters: Vulture, Rhino, Doc Ock, Scorpion. Kraven has a predatory cat theme, and if course there’s Black Cat. Green Goblin has the color name even if he isn’t animal-themed.

      2. Flux Casey says:

        Grey Goose. =P

        1. Nimrandir says:

          See, I don’t find a single goose all that intimidating. A flock of grey geese, now . . . that’s terrifying.

          1. John says:

            Once upon a time I used to have to walk along a concrete path through a grassy field to get from the building with my office to the building with my boss’s office. It was summer. The field was full of geese. The geese were raising goslings. As soon as I got within about 15 feet of the flock, all the adults simultaneously started hissing at me. It honestly was a little terrifying. I decided to take the long way around.

          2. Philadelphus says:

            Geese are just above the mass limit where a single bird starts to become a really credible physical threat*. I’m pretty confident that I, as a moderately-out-of-shape 30-year old man, would win a one-on-one fight with one†, but I almost certainly wouldn’t come out of it unscathed, and I wouldn’t willingly provoke one without seriously good cause.

            *going by sheer mass, obviously smaller birds with strong beaks or talons can still cause a lot of damage.

            †assuming I don’t have a weapon or any special defensive clothing, which would shift the odds in my favor.

        2. Syal says:

          Oh no, now i’m imagining Mud Moose.

      3. Dev Null says:

        Silver Serpent perhaps? Though you also have to be careful not to steal anyone else’s color or creature motif in your universe. I always imagine fledgling heroes going through some analogue of a domain-name registration site, trying to find a name that isn’t taken…


      4. Volvagia says:

        Also her real name is “Silver Sablinova.” See also: Black Bolt aka Blackagar Boltagon (yeah…everyone’s made the jokes) and Kraven the Hunter aka Sergei Kravinoff. That one was backfill to justify the accidental bad name.

    2. Guest says:

      Ferrets and Sable fur also signify class and wealth, particulary for Eastern European gentry in the 20th century.

      She’s not saying she’s a ferret.

      She’s saying she’s not even royalty, she’s classier. Her Sable is silver.

  9. Decius says:

    One writer made a couple of detailed outlines for how the story could go with Martin Li or Doc Ock, a higher executive looked at them and said “They’re both good, do both of them.”, and then both outlines got blended together and pushed down the pipeline?

    That would explain the similarity of the scenes, and I think it’s a pretty charitable narrative.

  10. King Marth says:

    I’m reminded of a story beat near the end of Tales of Symphonia (basically spoiler free): The protagonist who uses double swords as his weapon receives an ultimate weapon: The finest sword his master smith father has ever made, paired with the heirloom sword of his estranged biological father, all through a touching cutscene reflecting on how far he’s come. This set of swords is then chosen to be endowed with godlike power, bringing together sentimental value with practical value. The blades themselves look really cool, showing up on your in-battle model (as with all weapons).

    In the next dungeon, about 15 minutes later, you find another double-sword weapon in a chest with better stats. I don’t think there were even any other upgrades after that.

    1. Nimrandir says:

      Star Ocean II had a similar situation. The heroes need specially-imbued weapons to be able to harm the villains, and they all have impressive names. However, if you’ve been using the crafting system, you have better stuff than what the plot gives you. There’s some hand-waving to justify things, but I still found it comical.

      At least it doesn’t have the touching cutscene problem, since most of what your party holds dear has already been destroyed.

    2. Fizban says:

      Was that the sword where you double-back right before the final final boss door to clear the rest of the dungeon that unlocks? ‘Cause on the one hand, they do hide some more character scenes after that, but mostly I consider it a consequence of the JRPG “immediately turn around and and look under every rock before saving the world” syndrome- there’s gotta be some loot in the area you’re hiding behind a nonsensical decision. ‘Cause I’m pretty sure my first game I was using the Significant sword through the end, and that was the game before I knew there was extra stuff if you did the silly double-back.

  11. Charlie B. says:

    My favorite part of this section is when it’s revealed that Doc knew it was Peter all along because it’s the exact opposite of what happens in a lot of the other Spider-Man films. In Spider-Man 2 when Peter loses the mask it forces Doc to remember his some of his humanity and redeem himself, while in this game he reveal shows us Doc was more evil than we previously thought.

  12. Dreadjaws says:

    Once again we have a vial of blue science juice that’s needed to halt a citywide epidemic. This time, we’re given a personal link to the problem. Aunt May is on the edge of death. Without the cure, she’ll die. She can serve as our representative of everyone Spider-Man is trying to save.

    I mean, Batman was infected himself in Arkham City. I’d say that’s a pretty personal link to the problem. Granted, hunting for a cure to oneself is not as heroic as hunting for a cure to others, but still.

    The problem is that the special ability of this suit isn’t particularly useful for taking down Octavius. When you activate the special ability it gives you gadget refills. That’s nice I guess, but not nearly as good as some of the other powers from the other costumes in the game.

    I’d argue that perhaps the reasoning for the new suit was that it’d be more resistant to Doc Ock’s attacks, but nothing in the game even suggests that. Spider-Man doesn’t seem to be able to take more punishment here or in the open world while wearing it.

    1. Guest says:

      Batman is a hero who deliberately gets bashed by thugs nightly.

      Him being at risk isn’t a raising of the stakes, he’s already being shot and beaten. And it’s in his character to make a noble sacrifice, he wouldn’t even choke back a sob or shed a tear, he’d just make the sacrifice. It’s no more a personal connection than saving a random person in the game, because the same thing is at risk: Batman’s life and health.

      I think that’s the reasoning for the suit as well, but obviously they’re not giving you a damage reduction suit in the endgame that’ll mostly be used to turn NG+ into the first run. I’m fine with it for story reasons.

  13. Nimrandir says:

    Rampant speculation: the writers completed the Mr. Negative story, but company higher-ups insisted the game incorporate one of Spider-Man’s classic foes as a final battle. Irritated, they reused all their plot points with Doctor Octopus.

  14. I’ve thought a lot about the dichotomy between Li and Doc Oc, and how we could have possibly made such an obvious blunder.

    As you previously noted, Li is the creation and one of the favorite characters of Dan Slott, a Marvel comics writer who contributed to the story of this game. He’s never been adapted outside of this game, so he’s mostly unknown. Doc Oc, meanwhile, is one of if not the most iconic Spider-Man nemesis. I’m positive Sony would want an A-list villain as the main antagonist instead of a character only those who read Spider-Man comics know of, understandably so.

    The Li and Oc thing strikes me as a compromise between the Insomniac game writers and the Marvel comic writers, trying to have their cake (feature a pet character as a major antagonist) and eat it too (feature an iconic villain as the major antagonist.)

    The only thing I continue to wonder is, why did they give these two such similar motivations? It’s not like “revenge on Norman Osborn” is the most compelling or straightforward motivation for either of them. In the comics, Li has no enmity for Osborn, and in fact they worked together at one point. Li in the comics wants revenge instead on the Maggia- who are the focus of the game’s DLC.

    I’d wager the Maggia played a bigger role in an earlier draft of the game, given that Kingpin suggests rival criminal organizations will fight to take his place once he’s behind bars. Li was originally going to go after the Maggia, but at some point the decision was made to axe the Maggia- thus leaving Li without a motivation. So they just gave him and Oc the same motive and shoved the Maggia into the DLC instead.

    1. Syal says:

      From the impression I’ve gotten from this series, it sounds like giving Mr. Negative no motivation would have fixed a lot of the problems. Just make him this mysterious guy who runs a soup kitchen by day and sometimes photos out and kills people, and leave any motivation as speculation on Peter’s part. Then you can have your “there’s good in him” stuff because that’s what Spider-Man has deduced is going on. And then Doc Ock shows up at the end and reveals Osborn created Mr. Negative, and Octoplot proceeds as before.

    2. Guest says:

      To be honest, I’m impressed.

      I agree that having two similarly motivated villains isn’t great writing. Two guys who want revenge on Norman Osborn for his science and latch onto the same weapon to do so is repeating yourself. The weapon being a shared element i take no issue with, any terrorist would want it, it’s that they have similar motivations and we get long expositions for both, and I just don’t care about this version of Osborn enough to be invested. This Osborn isn’t Peter’s friend, he’s obviously a cretin, and the setup is wasted.

      But they were able to pivot really well on some things which are obviously quite late story changes. They don’t all make sense, and the flow is dubious at times, but I’m really impressed they pulled it together, even if trying to understand the plot from the antagonist’s perspective is a dead end.

  15. Why didn’t Spiderman create a suit with like 8 very agile arms/legs and a neural interface? They wouldn’t be as strong as Dr’s, but very agile/nimble.
    This could have a foreshadowing for like a surprise “end credits” scene where perhaps the arms try to attach to Parker in his sleep, he wakes up and has to tear it off and destroy it, resulting in the trashing of his room and Aunt May opens the door asking what all the noise is, roll end credits.

    1. guy says:

      Probably because I crafted the Iron Spider suit twenty hours ago.

    2. To elaborate, there actually IS a suit that unlocks exactly what you’re talking about as a special power. It has no bearing on the story, though.

      Thematically it’d be messy, since Peter has to destroy the technology he and Otto worked so hard to perfect (the mechanical limbs.) That would be heavily undercut by… Peter using the mechanical limbs to defeat Doc Ock.

    3. Guest says:

      It exists in lore, but it’d be stupid as heck.

      With the arms they’ve always been running up against these issues. It was foreshadowed heavily. Ock is the mad scientist: he decided his work was more important than rules or morality or proper safeguards and made a monster out of himself through an outsized ego. Peter is literally the guy saying half the time “This is dangerous”

      Spidey going: Hey, Ock ignored me and messed up with the arms, turning himself into a homocidal maniac-so I’m going to build myself something similar with a similar disregard for safety and morality, would be a terrible conclusion thematically, makes no sense character or plot wise.

      The only reason you could say Spidey didn’t turn evil is a) his arms are shit-so you’ve said nothing with a decision that literally had spidey giving himself four extra arms-way to go, sure people will hire you to write again, b) he’s just naturally stronger at resisting influence to Ock-now we’re in chosen one territory and some really dubious moral messaging that says some people are intrinsically better than others, and that Spidey is above the moral decision making he thinks people like Ock should make: Spidey is no longer a hero, he’s an arsehole, and the story has bought into boring chosen one stuff that leads too heavily into genetic scientism. c) Spidey does it better because he’s just smarter. Same problem as b)

      You can’t just push it to an end credits scene. Peter has told Ock the whole time that the arms and the interface are dangerous and he has to be careful.

      And also, the suit clearly references the black suit, and if you’re talking spidey, the black suit will come up eventually, and you don’t want to pre-tell that story with one with shit themes for Doc Ock, hell, not even for him, just as excuse for the suit we’ll fight him in.

      Spidey deciding to act just like Doc Ock to beat him would be a terrible story element that no longer makes him a principled hero, it just makes him someone stronger than Otto. And if you’re thinking, that’s a dark take on the character that could work, that dark take exists, it’s called the Symbiote, we’re all expecting it, just like we were expecting Doc Ock, we do not need a completely new version of “Dark Spiderman” spurred just by writer incompetence.

  16. The Rocketeer says:

    Though I agree that Octavius is certainly the stronger character, due to his stronger and more meaningful relationship with Peter, and for the worthwhile use of their history you explain above, it does seem sort of strange to me that you’re relatively critical and keen-eyed when it comes to Martin’s disordered personality and motivations, when he’s essentially (a super-science DNA experiment resulting in a mental state indistinct from being) possessed by a demon, an Orient-flavored Jekyll-and-Hyde whose evil half is seemingly ruled by little but bloodlust and vengeance… and relatively lenient and loosey-goosey with Doctor Octavius, who has somehow turned himself into a murderous prick with a bad firmware update. Nevermind that with Martin Li the writers are hamfistedly using absurd super-science to closely emulate a strictly mystical idiom; demon possession, uncontrolled DNA rewrite, or anomalous energy exposure just seem like much stronger excuses for inconsistent and illogical behavior. Meanwhile, the leap in logic from “This computer helps me control prosthetic arms,” to “This computer has metamorphosed me into a narcissistic murderous asshole,” made no sense at all to me in 2004 and still doesn’t.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Admittedly I have not played the game seeing that I don’t own a console so I’m not sure how jarring the transformation is (seems pretty rough from Shamus’ description) but on the other hand the premise of the main character is “I’ve been bitten by radioactive spider and now posses spiderlike powers (even though the basis of their functioning has nothing whatsoever to do with spiderlike anatomy of physiology)”, unless it’s been changed, I have not been keeping up with the comics for years, I know at some point they did a rewrite where it was all mystical “spider totem” stuff or something?

      What I’m saying is that Spider-Man has a long history of playing rather fast and loose with “the science”.

    2. Boobah says:

      Meanwhile, the leap in logic from “This computer helps me control prosthetic arms,” to “This computer has metamorphosed me into a narcissistic murderous asshole,” made no sense at all to me in 2004 and still doesn’t.

      The point is that the arms’ computer doesn’t just take input from the operator’s brain; it provides feedback as well. The problem is that it doesn’t quite do it right and the computer’s attempts at feedback dings the proper functioning of the brain.

      Although for Raimi’s Ock there was an impression that the arm computer was smart enough that it thought it should be in the driver’s seat and was hacking Otto’s brain.

  17. Guest says:

    I’m fine with the suit tbh. Very early on you start switching between the perks you want and the suit, and there are just some straight up better suit perks, especially once you take the different tasks into consideration (For instance, I like having an AOE special, but that’s useless for bosses so it gets swapped, it’s useless for chasing, so if anything was good for pursuit (Didn’t get far enough in to find an upgrade like that), I’d use that). What you want the suit to look like is purely personal taste.

    I think they know that we’re not necessarily going to use the gadget power on Doc Ock, the conceit is he needs this specific outfit to fight him. I don’t think making a fight more gimmicky to make the suit necessary really helps. The game says you need the suit, you build the suit (So it’s not a nested, how to open this door problem-it’s not frustrating nor beyond understanding on a story level), and you get a little unlock with story progress. It’s poorly chosen, but this is not a game that gives you choices anyway. Choosing to deal with a Dark Souls boss who has poison flooding the room which also heals them, by not turning off the poison pump and getting stomped and having to do it the right way is a thing, but this is not the way this game works at all, it’s just an aesthetic choice, and honestly, I’m down with that, and if caught between making a boss fighting ability, or making one that deals with the CC issue of several arms attacking at once is going to be hard to balance or make sense of-and if it only applies to this fight it’s a gimmick and I want it gone. It’s something that was always going to make story sense and not gameplay sense, the gameplay aspect is just: Here you go-here’s a new ability, unlocked through story progress, it’s ridiculously OP, so obviously we saved it for the endgame.

  18. Why is Doctor Octopus never called The Doctapus?

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Now I’m wondering why, with so many animal themed characters, the series never had a villain based on a platypus…

  19. Mephane says:

    The problem is that the special ability of this suit isn’t particularly useful for taking down Octavius. When you activate the special ability it gives you gadget refills. That’s nice I guess, but not nearly as good as some of the other powers from the other costumes in the game.


    It would be bad enough if the big final suit & power combo was merely disappointing, but they’re also mandatory. You can’t switch your suit or special ability for the final fight. Did you enjoy unlocking all that gear and choosing your favorite suit / power combo? Well too bad, because here at the end the gameplay designer is going to dress you and tell you what to take with you.

    Oh wow, I didn’t know that some of your abilities are tied to the particular suit you’re wearing. I always thought they’d be cosmetic only. This is so bad on multiple levels.

    I hate it when cosmetics and abilities are linked together like that, because it is essentially random whether you have to make a big sacrifice choosing between your favourite look and favourite abilities, or not at all (if the two happen to fall onto the same suit, or you just don’t care about these kinds of cosmetics).

    But they managed to even arbitrarily punish people who would not care about the look of the suit (or at least not enough to compromise game mechanics over it) by forcing this suit’s abilities on everyone.

    And to add insult to injury, as you explained the gadgets are mostly used for crowd control but there is no crowd to control here, and on top of that midway through the fight you lose access to these very gadgets. This kind of stuff is at the Alt-F4-and-uninstall level of infuriating. First the game designer chose to force me to use this suit, then go out of their way to ensure it is mostly useless in the fight.

    Bonus rant: if you find this is the coolest looking spiderman suit ever (as I do), it’s also infuriating that you only get to have it during the finale (and maybe a NG+ if there is one). Any gear or abilities that only unlocks when the game is essentially over already, are a total waste imo. Either they are really great and fun to use (then I am sad for not having been able to use them all throughout the game), or more often than not they are some awkward gimmick that I’d prefer not to have to use and instead stick to whatever my favourite play style is instead.

    1. guy says:

      Suit powers are unlocked by crafting a specific suit, but in general you can use any suit power you’ve unlocked with any suit.

  20. James says:

    You definitely hit the nail on the head with this one. After Marvel Spider-man PS4 game was released, I heard nothing but great things about the games web-swinging, combat, graphics, and original story. There were many reviews that seemed to compare this favorably to the Arkham series (one of my personal favorites), so I was very hyped for the game.

    Like you’ve pointed out in the retrospective, really only the web-swinging and graphics grabbed. And, even with the graphics, its more on how impressively realistic things look, as well as the nifty suit designs, instead of the graphics just sucking me in as a whole. The game designers made combat repetitive (gadgets are superfluous to combat for the most part, enemies are ‘punch-sponges’), and the storyline makes me actively aggravated by Spider-man as opposed to being on his side.

    This particular segment of the game, as the article states, highlights and amplifies all those issues.
    1. The story choices continue to aggravate me. Silver Sable saying she suddenly has a change of heart and is now running back to her country rung completely false to me. What really caused her change of heart that she just tells Spider-man over the phone? (seeing Spider-man sacrifice himself to try and save Osborn and antiserum? He’s been doing that the entire game without any gradual acknowledgement by Sable! It’s like ‘Change-of-Heart’ is a binary switch – it was in the off position, and now has reached 100% so its switched on). I liked Spider-man using his genius to create his own suit – BUT the timing doesn’t work!!!. His injury and recovery obviously took time. He needs time to create the suit. All the while, he knows that the city (and personally Aunt May!!!) is getting sicker and are likely to quickly die without the cure. Too much time has elapsed in Spider-man’s world, while not enough time has elapsed in Doctor Octopus’ world.

    2. Gadgets and suit powers are pretty superfluous, but being able to customize things to your playstyle is a great touch (I especially enjoy the Equalizer power – one hit KOs for both you and the mooks, so that requires skilled playing and minimizes the punch-sponge). Throughout the game, you can mix and match suits and suit powers (once you unlock the suit), but here they lock you into an Anti-Ock suit with a gadget refill power. I understand the need to keep the player using this suit (for narrative reasons, potentially for ease of programming the side of the building fight scene, to allow for a damaged mask the reveals Peter’s face). However, locking us into a Gadget-refill power, which isn’t really Anti-Ock at all, doesn’t really gel with me. Like others have mentioned, they could have lampshaded this by saying “Refilling the gadgets is through electricity superrecharging my gadgets”, which could have then been implied to be used to electricity damage one of Doctor Octopus’ arm while he’s destroying Spider-man’s gadgets.

    3. The combat here is more fun than the rest of the game, highlighting my issues with the combat. The rooftop fight stage is pretty fun, as it requires both web swinging, use of some gadgets or being able to throw back projectiles, and doesn’t require an excessive amount of attacks to damage Doc Ock.

    I don’t remember there being any Mooks to fight really either (I really disliked the number of punches required to knock someone out (if I’m airjuggling, a single mook can seem handle a full air combo + yank back into the air + another full air combo). This gets exhausting over the course of the game, such that I used the Finisher moves just to get through the fight faster. The Arkham series has the seeming mechanism of making you require less punches to knock out enemies when you reach a high combo count (essentially rewarding you for avoiding damage and playing well), and seems like when you’re down to one enemy only needing one hit to knock them out. In contrast, I have to punch the mooks the same number of times regardless of how well I’m playing or how many mooks there are.

    As Shamus mentioned, the side of the building fight stage is more fun than a QTE while also progressing the plot, the emotions between the characters, and also looking really cool.
    In contrast, prior boss fights didn’t have these unique different stages (aside from the Martin Li train fight, which you lose in a cutscene), and had boring QTE (I tried the different options – mashing the button, holding the button – before deciding to simply turnoff the QTE and have it automatically process. It really wasn’t fun).

    That isn’t to say this is a horrible game. Lots of great things here, especially for a first time game, but I think it is overrated in the context of the reviews. Many of the relationships are well done: The relationship between Peter and Otto is especially well done, as I certainly felt the conflicting emotions in the cutscene dialogue between Peter and a neutralized Otto. We already have a pre-existing connection with Aunt May, but the scene of Peter at her bedside was very emotional. I enjoyed the use of Mary Jane and Miles, who were developed as individuals but also fleshed out in relation to Peter.

    However, I do feel the combat should be less repetitive, Spider-man’s behavior with regards to the Villains should be better (and how he always loses in the cutscene too), and the Villains’ plans should be smarter.

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