Insomniac's Marvel's Spider-Man

I guess I’ll have to read the review to figure out what they’re on about.

this is so weird

When Ley wrote this post, he’d only played the game for a few hours, so he didn’t know how much of a thematic throughline this aspect of Spider-Man would be. It’s not just a side mission or a throwaway gag (although there are plenty of gags in which Peter pretends to be a hardscrabble police veteran who calls himself “Spider-Cop”). Spider-Man works with the police throughout the entire game, and the cops’ widespread surveillance of the city is presented as a useful resource. Spider-Man isn’t a do-gooder kid from Queens helping out his community so much as a willing tool of the state. This was weird in 2018, and critics pointed it out at the time — then four more years went by, with even more public scrutiny and criticism of police forces in America. In 2022, Marvel’s Spider-Man feels even more out of touch with any real version of an American city."

The game is literally about you fighting a militarized police force. People really crawled up their own butts when they didn’t understand Spider-man was subverting the police surveillance system, not repairing it.

That’s how I saw it, myself. Of course it’s been a while since I played it.


I just had fun being Spider Man.

I just replayed Spider-man and beginning is literally about setting up a surveillance state for the NYPD. Then another militarized force comes in and fights the NYPD. One way or another it felt gross working for the NYPD.

It’s a game, I just don’t care. if i looked at everything I had done in the name of computer gaming and compared it to real life I should probably be hung drawn and quartered.

That’s cool that you don’t care!

I do. It felt gross playing that part. I think it normalizes uncritical worship of the police / surveillance state, and I played it shortly after the NYPD was committing countless atrocities.

Sorry / not sorry ¯\(ツ)

I look at it as it’s a different, better universe with a better, more aspirational, more socially conscious police force than the one in our universe. Makes stuff like the above easier to swallow.

Some criticism that Spider-Man is a tool of the state.

Backed up with some history on how Spider-Man inspired the invention of the ankle bracelet monitor.

You and I also hail from places with vastly different traditions for how police behaves. That probably makes quite a difference in perception as well!

I miss a time when a dumb shit video game plot contrivance wasn’t automatically assumed to be some manner of social commentary.

Just played the first 30 or so minutes and my god, that was amazingly fun. Fluid combat too. Just gotta get the knack of webslinging and movement.

There’s still plenty of that. The new DOOM games, for instance. Full of dump plot contrivances. And they’re in a setting where there’s no mistaking what it is.

Sounds like this is another thing we can blame The Kingpin on, not Spidey! :)

You’re saying a Doom game has social commentary?

Or were you just referring to the “evil corporation does evil dumb things chasing profits” thing? If so, I just took it as a convenient trope to lead in to all of the batshit demon slaughter.

It ain’t that deep.

It sounds like for this specific conversation, I’m on @Becoming side (on this and Doom) with regards to “social commentary”. Gamers. I’ll never cease to be amazed, and then immediately angry at myself for being surprised.

I’m saying the opposite. You’re saying you miss the days when you could just have dumb video game plot contrivances without them being mistaken for social commentary. I was saying there’s still plenty of dumb video game plot contrivances that are never mistaken for social commentary. (Doom is just one example from the top of my head).

Before I stop cluttering the thread, my point is that I don’t see a difference between the two. They are both just shoehorned plot devices because something needs to be there.

I suppose that Spiderman using an actual place as the setting is part of the problem, but when he’s doing insane super hero stuff the whole time I don’t get this weird Twitter shit about it.

I think I’m just too old and ready for a new meteor to hit earth or something.

When I skimmed the Polygon review I rolled my eyes and thought it was dumb at first.

I started thinking that if I was reading about this on Eurogamer (my go-to gaming review site), there would be a review that completely ignored any social commentary on law enforcement (and there was), but it also wouldn’t feel out of place for someone at Eurogamer to write their own feature opinion piece separate from the review that made all the same points about policing that Maddy makes as part of her review at Polygon.

I don’t know if I can really articulate why it feels appropriate to me to talk about policing in Spider-Man, but less so to incorporate it into the review. Maybe it feels that way because it feels like the author bringing the context of a contemporary social issue into a game that wasn’t intended to grapple with it? I don’t think that should be off limits in talking and writing about games, but it also feels strange in a review. Maybe that just leaves us stuck chasing the mythical “objective review”. I don’t know.

Anyway, that’s where I land—half-examined confusion about what I want to see in a review.