Spider-Man 2’s Most Exciting Moment Is A Small Side Mission

In between Spider-Man 2The epic main quest, among the many twists and turns, star appearances, and major plot beats, are dozens of minor side quests. These range from trivial pick-em-ups, to full plot lines in multiple missions. But every now and then, you come across something that feels less like a quest, and more like a moment in time. The most special of which features a returning character from the first game, Howard.

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I guess you could consider it a spoiler, if I tell you what happens in this vignette, but it has nothing to do with the rest of the plot of the game. still, consider yourselves warned.

Howard, a homeless man who befriends Peter Parker in the original 2018 Marvel’s Spider-Man, presented in the first game as a comic character. He is an eccentric, a man who spends his time with a pigeon he calls Pidgy, and afraid of the bird’s loneliness, he recruits Spidey to help him gather some puck friends. -an. This results in you chasing pigeons in a series of silly missions, and meh, that’s fine. But come on Spider-Man 2Insomniac has created something very different, and very special.

Spider-Men’s app tasks you with visiting Howard in the Financial District, where he’s looking for help. When you arrive, Howard is sitting on some steps on the beach, watching the ferry come in. He motions for Spidey to sit next to him, and by walking up to the stairs and clicking a button, you can. And this, that exact moment, is far and away my favorite moment in this amazing game.

There is a mission attached to all this: Howard says he is going on a trip, and wants his pigeons to be freer, with more space, and asks you to encourage them to fly a a more bucolic place. But that all feels too much, as Insomniac still feels obligated to make you do one thing Spider-Manny (in this case, traversing the city through the air). Real searching is all about sitting and listening.

Howard and Spider-Man looked to their right, sitting on a large white ladder.

Screenshots: Insomniac / Kotaku

In my very early 20s, on summer break from university, I spent my time working retail at Electronics Boutique (RIP). We have an hour for lunch, so as you might expect, I dare to buy a sandwich, then sit outside the stock room with a book, my DS, or whatever. However, one lunchtime I noticed my assistant manager, Liz, sitting on the sidewalk in front of the Burger King next to EB. He sat next to an old man in almost sad clothes, and a faded green woolen beanie on his head in the middle of summer, a puppet animal at each foot.

I stopped and said hello, and he introduced me to Tom, and patted me down to sit with them. Tom from Scotland, has eternal plans to return, but is afraid of rejecting his daughter and can’t bring himself to walk. I used to see Tom often—he was known in town for always wearing this dirty glove puppet on his stocking feet, and shaking it as the children passed. I never said hi.

I had lunch with Liz and Tom several times, and then, when Liz had a day off, would sit with Tom by myself. He’s a real dick when he’s drunk, but the sweetest guy sober. We would chat about anything and everything, and I would shut up when he chatted with people who stopped to throw coins in his hat.

One morning when I wasn’t working but in town, I walked Tom, and god, it was terrible. He is CONCEALED of bruises. His whole face was purple, both eyes were swollen, and dried blood was all over him. The night before, he explained, a group of young men came and brutally beat the shit out of him. No reason, just because he was there. Since then he went to the hospital, had a check-up, and returned to where he was. Tom was understandably miserable, but not about the horrific physical damage. The rascals took his bag of glove puppets, and threw them into the river.

I sat with him, listened to him, and I was angry with him. But as I sat there, the strangest thing happened. Each person approached Tom and handed him a glove puppet. People heard, or passed by, saw his beaten face, and asked in shock what had happened. Some people don’t even say anything as they hand one over. Others stopped and consoled. But as time passed, his bag was filled again with new, shiny clean puppets, two of which were returned to his feet. I know it sounds contrived, but I mean, I was sitting there as it happened.

That is all to say, sometimes some people are not all shit. And again, if it’s safe, if it’s appropriate, if it’s desirable, Liz will also encourage, and just sit and chat.

Spider-Man and Howard, seen in the background, as they chat in front of the ocean.

Screenshots: Insomniac / Kotaku

Spider-Man just sits and chats. He listened to Howard, and looked over the horizon at the things the man had described. And because he listened, he learned how Howard lost his job, then his wife, and the role of pigeons for him after his heartbreak.

Above all, the “mission” does not rush you. If you don’t look at the marked point that Howard mentioned, the two are sitting quietly looking out to sea. No one texted, but just content quietly. It’s really special.

When you return from the inappropriate (but still wonderful, with the Alessi Brothers’ “Seabird” providing the musical accompaniment) pigeon mission, it’s all predictable (in a good way), Howard is gone. Instead of seeing him on the stairs, you see an ambulance, a couple of EMTs standing outside in the back, one of them telling you to “take all the time you need.”

What’s amazing about this little moment in the game is, I already have it.

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