New York city is now filled with escaped convicts terrorizing the populace. Sable agents have declared martial law and are using their unchecked power to imprison civilians, beat them, and seize their property. The Sinister Six are loose in the city and causing even more destruction. Doctor Octopus has released Devil’s Breath, which is causing a pandemic that will certainly claim thousands of lives, and might even kill millions if we don’t find a cure.
The city is now screwed so bad I kind of stop caring. As far as I’m concerned, Spider-Man lost. This is the kind of cataclysm he’s supposed to prevent. This reminds me of the destructive brawl Superman had in Man of Steel. The fantasy of thwarting evil is gone. Sure, Spider-Man saves the city later, but that doesn’t fix the fact that so many people died under his watch.
Maybe a disaster of this scale might work as a dark turn in the second entry of a trilogy, but as the introduction of a new franchise it’s incredibly off-putting to me. I know how producers think and I know they feel compelled to constantly go “bigger” and “more epic” and to continually raise the stakes. I’m really not looking forward to the “more epic” version of a citywide pandemic + prison escape + brutalist police state + Sinister Six rampage in the eventual sequel.
This compulsion to constantly go bigger is what turned the final Arkham game into such a bloated mess. At least Batman started small-scale and worked up to ridiculous over the course of four games. Spider-Man is starting with a massive doomsday threat that kills thousands, so there isn’t a lot of room for them to scale up from here without getting into problems that are too big for Spider-Man’s world.
I realize this is a matter of taste and I’m sure lots of people will enjoy this “darker” take on a Spider-Man story, but for me the game has refused to deliver on the central thing I look for in Spider-Man: I want the hero to save the day. If I wanted to see the hero fail I’d turn to Watchmen, and if I wanted to see the quasi-hero avenge the fallen I’d turn to PunisherOkay, I can’t actually do that because they aren’t making Punisher games. But they should!. To me Spider-Man is a guy who saves the day at great cost to himself and with little thanks from the public. If you take away the “saving the day” aspect of the story then it’s just wallowing in misery. No thanks.
The next section of the game is going to have a lot of punching. We need to fight strongholds of prisoners, Sable bases, and six supervillains. So I guess now is a good time to talk about…