'Spider-Man' Isn't Just Good, It's a Game About Trying to Be Good

Every day is a new shit show, and it always feels like the world is on fire, with no end in sight. Wait, what happened on Twitter? Hey, did you read that infuriating article in The New York Times? No, no, not that one, the other one. What did he do today? Who got hurt, and is there anything I can do about it? Where should my time, money, and emotional energy be focused today? It's tiring, and can often feel hopeless. What can one person really do, and even if we had the power to make a difference, would we even know what to do with it?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/bjb953/spider-man-isnt-just-good-its-a-game-about-trying-to-be-good
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I’m very grateful for the focus on the depiction of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in terms of thematics. I am totally with Patrick on wanting idealistic heroes to spend time with given how things are in the world. Even when that empathy becomes a big liability. I want to contend with the limits of how long I can hold out hope for someone, because I’d rather be exploring that extreme than the other, where I become cold and assume bad faith right away. Spending too much time on Twitter and FB has pushed me in that direction and I can feel it informing my worldview in ways I don’t like, even though they’re practical.

Here’s hoping we get an article read and discussion for this one, and/or a B-roll video version?


The faint glimmer of child-like hope behind this qualifying phrase is easily my favorite thing in the entire review.


Get it, it’s because he’s a-- gets knocked out


WHY NOT. also, phrasing it “visual novel with swinging elements” is definitely…something. cough


So I suppose it’s safe to assume that Spider-man is both “good” and “good at it”?


Everyone should go back and play Sunset Overdrive if you can. Sure it’s aethestic is kinda cringy sometimes but it feels so good.


I just played it for the first time two months ago. It’s feels real good to be sure, but when a game puts in a fake, unsatisfying ending just to make a joke about how “Neogaf is gonna destroy this” you know it was written before August 2014.

The game’s thesis is that the personas we adopt online and through our hobbies are our real selves and that if we all just embraced that we could come together to destroy capitalism and the strictures it places on identity. That’s a weird but cool message. It’s just stymied by the fact that the protagonist is basically a forum troll whose life “didn’t begin until the world ended.” That was a new one on me for post-apocalypse fantasies; the idea that the world ending means you get to be just obnoxious in real life as you are on the Internet.


Really good article Patrick. I was tangentially interested in the game, but didn’t expect those sorts of story elements to take focus the way they do. As someone who is finally well off enough to take care of themselves(and then some) after years of struggling, I’ve been looking into volunteering and charity work. Seeing that as a focus in a big budget Spider man game of all things is really appreciated.

Yes! Sunset Overdrive is why I was never worried at all about Spider-Man’s movement. That game made moving through a city so much fun.

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There is so much detail put into this world and this game, and so much of it is making small commentaries that I sometimes wish were bigger. Sometimes they work, like the fact that the homeless shelter allows a homeless man to keep his dog with him, or how I saw a “tweet” from someone called “PreachJJJ” about how she was fed up of being treated like a gangster thanks to new security checkpoints. JJJ himself is well written, even though he’s obviously a shit, more often than not he says something that disturbingly made me think about Spiderman. Sometimes they fall flat, like how a costumed villain says that she will get away with planning a stream event to kill Spiderman because technically she didn’t tell her fans to do anything, they just are so enthusiastic! The cops mumble something like “Yeah, it’s hard to press charges on that” and Spiderman makes a joke about the web and that’s that, which is disappointing because, while I didn’t expect this game to critique or satirise online celebrities and the way they don’t take responsibility over their fanbases, they didn’t explore it with any real depth. And I think sometimes that’s all this game is missing is a bit of depth in the things outside of the main story.


I really wish Spidey spent less time being a cop and more time being a fire-fighter (or really anything else, but that fits his skillset well).


In The Dark Knight, when Batman encounters the Batman-wannabe copycats, he beats the snot out them, ties them up, leaves them for police, and snarks about hockey pads.

In this game (some minor spoilers, I guess) Spider-Man saves the copycat, convinces him to give self-defense courses at a homeless shelter, and tells him “you don’t need a costume to be a hero.”

This game has earnestness coming out of its pores. It’s very refreshing.

eta: It’s a little eye-rolly to have back-alley drug deals given the same sense of urgency as hijacked armored trucks (and to hell with whatever narc is calling them in in real time), but whatever.


As Patrick said either in the podcast or the review, it would be really really interesting if a sequel explores that aspect of criminology/crime fighting.


I’m enjoying this game quite a bit but I just got past the Rikers Island bit (as seen at an E3 as I recall) and their portrayal of inmates is… It’s bad, y’all. Especially given the currently ongoing prison labor strike.

I don’t want to spoil anyone more than that, but… woof. Take those drug dealer segments and multiply by a hundred.

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I spent all weekend web slinging around Manhattan and being a hero. The movement feels so good that I’ve been just doing side stuff, only continuing with missions when I run out of open world tasks. It’s repetitive, sure, but I’m at 51% progress and I’m still not sick of the basic gameplay. Plus the spidey-quips and JJJ’s show are keeping me from turning down the volume and putting on a podcast. This game is pretty awesome y’all.

I also went back and watched the first Raimi movie, and I’m digging how much the game harkens back to that aesthetic. Lots of blue skies and bright colors.


I’m doing my bit by ignoring every drug deal phoned in. Those thugs will beat the snot out of the police as well so it’s win win.

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I gotta be honest. I had a moment when I was playing Spider-Man last night. I had just finished taking out one of the various criminal bases. It was among the best 5 minutes of combat I can ever remember playing in a video game. Multiple 50+ combos, bouncing from enemy to enemy, using all my gadgets, knocking guys into the air, then grabbing them and throwing them at other guys, sliding between people’s legs, yanking rockets out of mid-air. You brought a rifle? How cute. Let me borrow that so I can hit you and all our friends over the head with it. The most highly-trained henchmen were helpless against my spider-senses.

Then after I cleaned that up, just launching into the NYC skyline, zipping down roads and between buildings at breakneck speeds, doing flips and tricks and spins and catapulting even faster, when it just hit me.

Holy shit. I cannot believe this exists.

I can’t believe Spider-Man exists. I can’t believe Infinity War exists. I can’t believe The Last Jedi, or Game of Thrones or Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings exist. Half a dozen Marvel TV shows. The Arrowverse. Steven Universe. Gravity Falls. Crunchyroll and Funimation. I can’t believe they’re making a Witcher series. And a Captain Marvel movie that looks totally badass.

That’s not to say any of these things are perfect. They all have their problems, whether they be thematic or technical.

But then I think back to 30-years-ago-me. Pumped to go to the movies with my friends to see Reindeer Games or fucking Mad Dog and Glory (we were seriously excited for Mad Dog and Glory). Spending hours upon hours playing easily-cheesed, two-button sports games and awkward, barely controllable action platformers.

I’m not sure if people in their early 20s or younger can really appreciate what it was like when an objectively horrible, made-for-TV Incredible Hulk movie was the most exciting thing to ever happen because, whoa his lawyer is Matt Murdock‽ A lot of what passed for popular entertainment in my youth was fucking awful. It was awful then and no amount of nostalgia-boner fueled rose-colored glasses can make it any less awful now.

So, yeah. It’s important to be vigilant in the day-to-day. Lord knows nerd culture has a lot to answer for. But it’s also worthwhile to swing, zip and climb your way to the top of Avengers Tower, take a look around and soak it all in. Because holy shit, man. Holy shit.