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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Review: The City That Never Sleeps (PS4 Pro)

The City That Never Sleeps is an expansion to the Spider-man video game on the PS4. Most DLC are not a good deal compared to the main game, and clocking in at $25 retail, this one is not an exception. Worse, they are designed for the most enthusiastic player of the video game: the person who's mastered all the systems, finished the main game, and wants more, so the difficulty level gets ramped up.

This DLC meets all the above criteria, but since it came with my PS4 Pro, and I did platinum the original Spider-man game, I decided to play it. The way you activate the DLC is odd. You go into the in-game menu, and then switch campaigns and pick which of the 3 DLC parts you wish to play. This turns off all the other campaigns, and is one of those cases where the game's commercial nature conflicts with the game design: since the 3 parts of the DLC were clearly meant to be played in order, Sony/Insomniac should have just sold it as one DLC and then merged them all together! This would have solved many of the problems with the DLC, which is that the main story map was designed for a very busy game, where you could pick off many sub-goals on your way to the main objective, while separating each section of the DLC left you with an empty map with nothing to do between main objectives except to swing around and hope for a randomly generated encounter.

My worst fears were confirmed in the first DLC, where a chase sequence required much better button mashing than I expected. I actually left the game for a while and played other stuff, but after a few patches either the game designers made the sequences easier or I got better at the game by sleeping, and I made it through. The side missions were much too hard, however, so I abandoned any attempts at doing them and just bee-lined my way through the main mission DLC content. The main mission was much easier, and had a decent story, which is that of Hammerhead attempting to take over the city in the aftermath of the original video game.

The game is mostly fun, though as I expected, the combat missions got tougher and tougher, eventually making it so that I couldn't get through any encounter without dying multiple times. To be honest I have no idea whether my skills improved or whether I just replayed the encounter(s) enough times to get through by dumb luck. The final boss fight finally introduced new mechanics which were intriguing and fun enough, though again, I died multiple times but at least the checkpointing was generous enough that I finally "beat" the game.

Would I have paid $25 for it? No way. The content is worth $10 at most, but the most important thing that David desJardins convince me of is that video games, books, and movies should be evaluated as "worth the time spent" rather than monetary value, and in that sense the DLC offered quite a bit of fun in exchange for your time. It's flawed, but maybe Sony/Insomniac will release a "definitive edition" of the video game that has all the DLC integrated (and turn The City That Never Sleeps into a side mission like the Tombstone side mission in the main game), which will alleviate many of the issues in the video game's design. Or you can wait and pick it up for cheap on a sale.


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