The new Spider-Man DLC "Turf Wars" was made available to download for PlayStation 4 users at midnight on Tuesday, and gamers are already making their way through the new Hammerhead-centric storyline to find out the fate of the Black Cat, Spidey and the steel-headed mobster.
"Turf Wars" is the second of three DLC expansions to be released, with the third and final installment expected in December. Part one, "The Heist," was met with mostly positive reviews, and widely considered a solid addition to a game that has been nominated for a number of awards, including Game of the Year.
Judging by the majority of reviews online, one of the only things that "The Heist" left to be desired was that the degree of difficulty after the main story seemed to plateau. Insomniac Games playing things safe with the first DLC was understandable given the game's success, but it did tend to feel repetitive after four hours with the DLC.
Consider that matter addressed in "Turf Wars."
One of the first aspects of the new DLC that catches your eye is the added difficulty, and it wastes no time in showing the player that this expansion will not be a simple walk in the park. The new story begins with a quick recap of the events of "The Heist," which is shown using a bulletin board in captain Yuri Watanabe's office.
The prelude quickly mentions the disappearance of the Black Cat, who is "presumed dead," and that's the last we hear of Felicia Hardy, at least through the first half of the storyline. The focus of this story is on Hammerhead, Spidey and Watanabe.
As mentioned above, the game jumps right into the chaos, thrusting Spidey and Watanabe into the crossfires of a Maggia gang war in Harlem, where Hammerhead's crew have gotten their hands on Sable equipment. This equipment introduces a new baddie for Spidey to take on, and he's tough to bring down.
"The Heist" introduced a new big baddie with a Gatling gun, while this new character is a mobster armed with a Sable shield and jetpack, which leaves behind a trail of deadly electricity that not only diminishes Spidey's health, but temporarily suspends his ability to use his web shooters.
Where "The Heist" seemed to stick to the successful roots of the original game and settle for what felt like an added chapter to the main story, "Turf Wars" goes darker and tougher, while keeping the best aspects of the original game alive. Even the comic relief of J. Jonah Jameson's ranting podcast are not heard as Spidey swings through the city, but we do get another phone call from Miles, peppering Spidey to continue training him for battle.
The overall storyline embraces the darker mobster atmosphere that comes with Hammerhead. At the end of the first mission, we see Hammerhead using his steel dome to kill members of the NYPD while Watanabe helplessly watches. Watanabe is clearly a major part of this story after being kept in the darkness in the first DLC. She is overcome with anger as Hammerhead continues to take out New York's finest, and she is close to becoming unhinged by the halfway mark of the story.
While the first installment provided an entertaining and intriguing rift between Spidey and the Black Cat, "Turf Wars" offers a different kind of complicated relationship between Spidey and Watanabe, as one of the most seemingly stable relationships in Spidey's life is turned on its head. It can feel manufactured at times, but it keeps users on their toes as they watch the story unfold.
Side missions are revealed as you move along, including taking down Hammerhead fronts, much like the Kingpin construction sites in the original story. These tasks are remarkably increased in difficulty, offering a fun challenge to take on between chapters of the main story.
For better or worse, Screwball is back to wreak havoc on Spidey, and while her crazed enthusiasm still irks the nerves, the missions seem more challenging and complex. For example, the first Screwball encounter features a stealth challenge with added motion sensors to make things more complicated.
Speaking of stealth, we don't see any Mary Jane sneak-arounds, instead giving way to the user navigating one of Spidey's mini bots around the Bar with No Name (a nice callback to the prequel book that was released earlier this year). This feels like a fresh take on an aspect of the game that some players had grown tired of, so chalk that up as a win for the new DLC.
"The Heist" was enjoyable, but "Turf Wars" feels like a separate entity, despite being a continuation in terms of storytelling. Both are worth your time, as the experience only ramps up in enjoyment as this new story continues on. If the third installment continues this trajectory, it will certainly be a can't-miss game as well.
"Turf Wars" takes a classic, old school Spidey villain and beautifully modernizes him, making him as ruthless and cunning as the Kingpin, but using a new face to New York City crime to keep things new and exciting. The first DLC still falls under our "thwip" category, but "Turf Wars" puts itself in a league with the original game, which is special company.
"Turf Wars" is available now, and also includes three new skins: the original, comics-accurate Iron Spider armor, the bulletproof Spider-Armor MK I and the Spider Clan suit from the Marvel Mangaverse. The next DLC, "Silver Lining," is scheduled to drop in December.