SpecOps 18. Symbiotes every-freaking-where. Big whoop-tee-freaking-do. I have to wonder if the planning meeting at PD went something along the lines of, "Hey, you know what'd be cool? Fans have been clamoring for more Venom, so let's do Planet of the Symbiotes! We'll bring in Green Goblin using the symbiotes along with Iso-8 to make new super test subjects! We can use Anti-Venom as the hero!" and all the bobble-heads said, "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" then rubber-stamped the OK to proceed.

I'll make no bones about it: I really dislike the whole symbiote concept. What was a good idea for a replacement suit for Spider-Man and a decent idea for a recurring enemy has become bent into something that amounts to not much more than a parody of itself. It's power creep of the most egregious sort, and just puts an "ugh" look on my face every time I think about it. I'll lay all of that aside, however, to focus on the in-game elements for the purpose of this post.

The Story

Yawn. Look up "ham-fisted storytelling" in the dictionary and you'll see this as an example. I mean, I can handle implausible plot lines, plot devices that make no sense, and general "WTF?" from comic books, but this op's plot is just bad. It forces the symbiotes from Spider-Man's books into the MAA universe by shoehorning them in with Green Goblin's attempts to create new, more powerful Iso-8 test subjects. They're basically ram-rodding them into the universe with no prior warning, pretty much because "OMG TEH FANBOIS WANT MOAR VENUM!!!" It just goes to show you that just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should do it. What I'm afraid of is the new batch of people that are going to be clamoring OMG CARNAGE 4 LOCKBOX NAO PLZ. Ugh.

The Hero

Anti-Venom. Yeah. Whatever. Never liked the character much in the comics, not too hot on him in the game. He relies too heavily on bleeds and/or exploiting debuffs to be much of a force in PvP, so he's pretty much going to be on flight-deck duty unless some kind of killer combo appears that involves him.

The Lockbox Hero

Sandman. Nice to see another actual villain that went good put into the game as a Box hero. Maybe we can hope for Silver Sable or other members of the Wild Pack to be added in at some point in the future - but I digress. His move set is decent, although I find it somewhat ludicrous that they've already thrown a nerf on him. He's been fun to play in the team-ups I've seen so far, and his L9 Sand Spikes is just begging to have the Powerful Tectonic A-Iso slapped on it.

The Weapon Set

Alright, cool! Let's have a weapon set based on webs! A debuff which only two weapons and three heroes in the game can reliably apply! AHEM... Sorry, my sarcasm dispenser went into overload. Seriously though, the set has a cool prospect, but suffers greatly from the fact that it doesn't really synergize with any heroes other than Spider-Man and Anti-Venom. The aspect of the agent being able to go solo with the set is fine and dandy, but that requires three or four pieces of the set to be viable. I find this greatly annoying, in that they didn't take the same stair-step approach as they had with the previous two sets. Throw the players a freakin' bone and at least give us something for being willing to drop the 64 Gold for the LE piece of the set.

The Group Boss

Let's see... You can't crit him, unless it's a Sonic or Fire attack, and he automagically clears out his own debuffs, so that initially rules out being able to Deadpool him to death (unless you want to try and bring along PestiBeast, but that means you'll be eating debuffs, too). One of his forms gets pre-counters and can inflict a debuff that grants him Frenzy (Scrap), one can lock you out from being able to attack at all if you didn't bring a fire/sonic weapon (Tac), one applies a triple-stack of Withered with his DEFAULT attack (Bruiser), and one can remove all your buffs and prevent follow-up attacks with his default attack that JUST HAPPENS to ALSO be his pre-counter (Inf). About the only form that isn't a royal pain in the ass is the Blaster form. Even with the new 100% damage combo he's still a PITA, because the combo is somewhat turn-order-dependent and relies on your agent being able to keep his buffs and make a ranged attack.

Final Thoughts

If it were a case of "take it or leave it", in the case of this SpecOps, I would leave it. The lockbox hero doesn't make up for the awkward story, lackluster hero, mediocre weapon set, or the group boss that was obviously designed to work to counter all the previous group boss killing strategies. I'm thankful for more content in the game, but it'd be nice if that content was actual quality content and not something that got slapped together with a third-string character that dates back to 1996 as the BBEG.

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