Sony

Spider-Man (PS4)

 

J. Jonah Jameson is right. Speaking on his Alex Jones-like radio show as Spider-Man webs through the city, Jameson bemoans the surveillance state of New York Police. He should. Across the city, corporately donated towers track private conversations and ping potential crimes without anyone being aware. Seems questionable.

Were Spider-Man mature rather than merely photogenic (screenshot-ogenic?), Jameson’s rants might spark a rousing moral quandary. Or, were Spider-Man more golden age than contemporary, maybe too this story would generate a quirky, friendly pastiche. But no. Spider-Man swings and hops through urban America, freely activating a vast network of police scanners for “the public good.” This in tandem with the same police who burst into a Trump Tower-like office space run by Wilson Fisk, guns firing on perpetrators. It’s a spectacle of violence – explosions, destruction, bullets, and death, treated arbitrarily. Plus, it’s cops versus robbers. Spider-Man is as immature and blankly self-aware as kids who shout “bang, bang” with fingers pointed toward their friends.

Spider-Man isn’t sensible. It exists as a formality, a brazenly budgeted blockbuster without anything interesting beyond its shell. That’s a shame considering the well-tuned mass appeal of Marvel’s theatrical output. Spider-Man on PlayStation 4 limps toward existence via an absolute routine. It’s overly crowded with ridiculous things to find (high school-age Peter Parker stashed backpacks around the city and now must recover them) and a listlessly elongated story. It’s well molded to Spider-Man who surges into a conflict of morals and greater good, but hung up on tiresome, repetitious brawling, grand action set-pieces, and superlative if also superfluous city traversal. Forgettable, all of it, lost in an avalanche of games doing the same thing, burying the the uniquely drawn Spider-Man-isms.

If Spider-Man has a screen equivalent, it’s 2012’s Andrew Garfield-starring, stale The Amazing Spider-Man. As was soon revealed, “Amazing” was a misnomer. Good thing PlayStation Spider-Man doesn’t carry any baggage in the title, although the end product is as plain as the naming.

2/5

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