Though it’s only been out for two weeks, the new PS4 exclusive Spider-Man already feels like a classic. But while the realm of arachnid-themed crime-fighting has never been known for its hyperrealism, one aspect feels strangely out of place in Spider-Man’s otherwise incredibly lifelike portrayal of New York City: the NYPD’s unwillingness to gun down a masked teenager on sight.
It’s a shame because aside from this small oversight, the game perfectly captures the spirit of New York: it feels alive, even when Peter Parker should be dead. If I can take a photo with authentic Harlem graffiti behind me, why can’t I be murdered by the police as soon as I pass into their field of vision?
PS4’s Spider-Man sees the player working closely with cops throughout the game, and not once do they flag me down at gunpoint to ask if I have drugs, or whether my brightly colored superhero outfit indicates gang affiliation. Even when I’m playing as Miles Morales, Peter’s friend and a gentleman of color, the NYPD does not seem interested in summarily executing me simply for existing.
It’s genuinely baffling. Despite the fact that I am unarmed and present no clear threat to them, the fuzz doesn’t even try to put me in an illegal chokehold, nor do they attempt to plant drugs or a fake gun on my corpse in an attempt to smear my character after I’m no longer around to defend myself. The officers involved in my killing didn’t even get several months paid leave before being welcomed back to the force with no indictment, no trial, and no form of accountability whatsoever. It makes no sense.
The only explanation I can come up with is that the NYPD in Spider-Man has gone through significant reform, putting officers through extensive accountability training to make sure they uphold their motto to protect and serve the city in a tangible way, rather than using their petty authority to abuse vulnerable communities while remaining above the law.
I guess Spider-Man really is a fantasy.