Insomniac's Marvel's Spider-Man

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.

I would have agreed with you in earlier days. But triple-A games these days have such detailed scripts delivered by professional actors motion captured and replicated within the games. I have a tough time mentally putting that in the same buckets as older games that weren’t made that way. These modern games, I just can’t give them the same kind of mental pass. I just have a hard time reconciling that you go through all that, but you don’t put thought into the script and don’t have the involvements of police, etc. set in a real city thought and put there on purpose?

I can’t speak to this particular example anyway, since I haven’t played the game yet, but to echo Tom’s review of Modern Warfare 2, you’re going to have animations of innocent people panicing and dying in “No Russian”, and you’re going to put it in a mission after the one where you’re jumping 100 feet in a snow mobile? Yes, it’s trying to be serious, yes it’s video game contrivance, and because it’s not giving the serious subject the actual serious thought it deserves, it’s disgusting. Once you have the tools in your toolbox to look and feel realistic, you have to take seriously the writing, the tone, what goes before and what goes after, and what emotions you’re trying to convey and what messages you’re trying to send.

Reviews are subjective, so I don’t find it unreasonable that someone might include a critique of that element of the game, but in this case it seems so strange for a couple reasons:

  1. This is the PC port of a game that has existed for years. Why bring this up now?
  2. This is a superhero game that is set in New York City, but it’s not OUR New York City. It’s a fictional New York City, and it’s absolutely possible to imagine that in THIS NYC, cops are not a-holes.

Plus the fact that not every game has to be a political statement. Totally fine if devs want it to be, but this author seems to think that they all must.

I was born in NYC and still work in Manhattan a few times a week. This is my 1st playthrough w/ Spider-Man, as is the case for many. Totally fine to bring this up ‘now’ since it was literally just released on PC.

I too feel pretty icky working w/ the ultra sh***y NYPD as I start this game. I’m still gonna play it. It’s awesome to zip around as Spidey and beat up cartoonish bad guys. Doesn’t mean that the occasional PD related wave of disgust has no impact, but sure, we’re all adults and can separate fiction from reality. I mean, a virtuous PD is about as realistic as Spider-Man himself. I’m not lamenting that Spider-Man tech is unrealistic, and ruining my experience. But it’s tough to ignore RL experience and constant betrayal/disappointment from NYPD. That doesn’t ruin the game (for me), but it certainly colors it.