The following contains minor spoilers for the main Spider-Man game as well as The Heist DLC.

Marvel's Spider-Man hasn't simply been one of the best games I've played this year but the best game I've played in several years. It ticks every box when it comes to a fun and engaging single player experience. One of my few complaints about the initial game was that the portion of the game's activities that were called "side quests" were rarely any more engaging than any of the other little icons on the map, they were fun activities, but only the Tombstone related quest had any real meat on its bones. The first of three DLC packs for Spider-Man, The Heist was a bit more what I was looking for. The second one, Turf Wars, is exactly what I wanted.

Picking up more or less immediately after The Heist leaves off, Turf Wars opens with a voice over from Spider's cop buddy Yuri Watanabe. With mob boss Hammerhead's attempt to blackmail the other crime bosses into submission having gone awry thanks to Black Cat, he's defaulted into all-out war. Hammerhead wants to unite all the families under his own leadership, which, of course, would be bad news for New York and Spider-Man.

The gameplay itself isn't all that different from what we've seen previously. While chasing down Hammerhead and figuring out his plan there are random crimes to stop as well as Hammerhead safe houses to take out that spit out waves of bad guys similar to the Fisk construction sites in the main game. In addition, Screwball is back with another set of challenges, mostly the stealth and combat variety, though there is another of the very fun challenges that limits which gadgets you're able to use. It's not particularly challenging, but in forcing you to different gadget combos, it might show you some ways to use your gadgets in the game that you might not have otherwise found.

Completing all the various objectives in Spider-Man never feels like work. Even swinging around the city just looking for random crimes to stop just feels like well, being Spider-Man, but the main storyline of Turf Wars is where the interest lies, mostly because of the way it begins to open up the story of a character other than the wall-crawler, Detective Watanabe.

As somebody who is a few decades behind on his Spider-Man comics, I wasn't familiar with the character of Yuri Watanabe beyond basic name recognition when I started playing Spider-Man, but since she's Spidey's first ally that you meet in the game, it's easy to like her. She's tough, she can throw the snark as well as Spider-Man, and it all makes you want to get to know her better.

While Yuri is one of the Spidey sidekicks you don't get to play as in the main game, and Turf Wars, unfortunately, doesn't change that, it does begin to give us some insight into the character which is a real addition to the story as a whole. I won't delve into spoilers, but Yuri and the mob clearly have some unfinished business, and since that business still remains unfinished at the end of Turf Wars, I expect that the third chapter of The City That Never Sleeps DLC will give us even more.

One of the reasons that Spider-Man works so well is because it doesn't simply focus on the superhero, but also on Peter Parker. In addition, it gives depth to supporting characters like Mary-Jane Watson. Each of these details makes the world feel more real and alive and the decision to begin to give some of that attention to Yuri is very welcome. We see a side to her that the main game doesn't show, but certainly still one that fits with the character that we've spent time with.

While Turf Wars is a bit on the short side, completing it to 100% won't take but a few hours, it packs a lot of fun into its brief run. As the second chapter of three, it ultimately does its job of setting the stage for the big finale that is yet to come. Based on the release schedule of the previous two episodes we can wager that part three will be an early Christmas present in the days before the holiday, and hopefully, it will be the best of the three. A couple of different major confrontations have been teased by the end of part two and as long as they, and Yuri's story, payoff, then the DLC as a whole will be worth it.

8 / 10 stars
Rating: movie reviewed rating

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