The City That Never Sleeps

Note: Spoilers for the main game and all DLC of “Marvel’s Spider-Man” follow.

   Back in September, Insomniac Games released “Marvel’s Spider-Man,” a fantastic game centered around a more grown Spidey. Frankly, it is an amazing (pun intended) game that tells a moving emotional story while incorporating exhilarating gameplay mechanics.

   But fighting off the Sinister Six was not the true end of this tale, as we got three small DLC packs that told another story, titled “The City That Never Sleeps.” While each chapter is fine by itself, it really shines as a package deal, and I recommend you play them together.

   It ties up some of the loose ends from the campaign and weaves its own story about the attempted rise of maggia don Hammerhead. It’s always cool to see B-list villains get their time to shine, and for a short story like this, Hammerhead is a worthy adversary.

   It seems that after the Dragonsbreath fiasco, Silver Sable just left all her tech behind when she went on her little break from fighting. Hammerhead then makes moves to steal this tech and take over the whole mafia.

   But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a look at each individual chapter, then the whole campaign as a whole.

Return of the Black Cat

   “The Heist” is the first chapter, and features the Black Cat coming back into Peter’s life right as he’s starting to get back in the swing of things with Mary Jane. it begins with Peter investigating a tip from MJ about the mob hitting an art museum.

   The mission that follows is a good time, as you have a large area to explore and plenty of baddies to take out. There is a sequence where you have to stop goons from running away with art that adds some variety.

   Following that, Black Cat shows up and steals a USB drive from the very painting the mob guys were looking for.

   What follows is a game of cat and mouse (or Spider), with Peter trying to help Black Cat while figuring out her motivations for playing several different mob families, and Cat blackmailing Peter by telling him about her son who may be his.

   The story twists and turns, with solid character moments between Peter, MJ, Felicia and a host of unconscious mafia goons.

   It turns out that each USB drive holds the key to all of the five crime bosses assets, and Cat has them all. She reveals to Spidey that she didn’t have a son, and once again took advantage of him.

   However, Hammerhead learns of this and has his henchmen blow up Felicia’s apartment when she arrives. Despite his best efforts, Peter doesn’t get there in time, and the DLC ends with the Black Cat presumably blown to smithereens.

   This was a good first chapter to the DLC, but it felt a little pedestrian. You did many of the same things as the main campaign, just instead fighting generic mobsters. The mission where you chase Black Cat was fun, as were the ones where you fight alongside her, but it seemed like there could’ve been more.

Yuri Goes Nuts

   The second part of the story, “Turf Wars” continues the rise of Hammerhead as Spidey and the returning Yuri Watanabe make an effort to stop the head of steel from stealing more Sable tech and killing off the rival mafia dons.

   The main focus of this chapter is Yuri’s obsession with stopping Hammerhead, following a tense scene where he captures her and a number of her squad, killing several of them.

   Yuri is shaken by her failure and starts to go onto her own vigilante warpath. In a climactic battle on a tall construction building, Yuri shoots a fatal shot to Hammerhead and kills him in full view of Spidey and the police force.

   However, it is a comic book game, so Hammerhead does get revived by one of his henchmen.

   While some parts of the story feel rushed, especially Yuri’s change of character, it is a solid second chapter with no mandatory stealth sections, which is a plus. There are no collectibles though, just Screwball challenges and warehouse fights.

The Buddy Comedy We Didn’t Know We Wanted

   “Silver Lining” caps off the story with the return of Silver Sable taking back her weapons, blaming Spider-Man for not keeping them secure. Hammerhead has turned himself into a cyborg and Yuri is nowhere to be seen.

   The highlight of this chapter is the dynamic between Sable and Spidey. Sable’s reaction to the puns and goofy jokes of Spider-Man are priceless and they make a fun team.

   The two finally get on the same page and take out Hammerhead in a fantastic battle on a Sable boat. The DLC ends with Peter training Miles Morales how to web-swing after a long build to the moment.

   Meanwhile, MJ takes an opportunity to travel to Symkaria, Sable’s home country, and report on the civil war going on there, leaving Spidey alone.

   This was the best chapter of the three, mainly because of the great character moments, the resolution to the story, and some of the best side missions of the entire game.

Side Action

So overall, the side missions and activities in “The City That Never Sleeps” are pretty good, if familiar.

Much like the demon’s hideouts and Fisk construction sites in the main game, Spidey now goes to businesses owned by Hammerhead and underground bases filled with welfare supplies to beat up some goons. These combat challenges have more enemies and much more variety, making them some of the hardest challenges in the game.

There’s also plenty of crimes to solve in the world, most similar to what the demons were doing in the base game, just with mafia dudes put in their place.

However, the real treat is the collectible side missions. In “The Heist” Spider-Man gets a call for help from a member of the NYPD, wanting to collect a series of paintings left behind by Walter Hardy, the father of Black Cat, and the original thief.

They are hidden throughout the city, and after finding one, the officer will tell Spidey the story of the original Black Cat, who faked his death after feeling pressure from the mob.

It becomes revealed after collecting the last piece that the officer was Walter Hardy all along and he swindled Peter much like his daughter. I found this was a nice bit of foreshadowing, and made it clear to me that Felicia definitely survived the attempted assassination by Hammerhead.

   The second mission happens in “Silver Lining,” where a series of chalk outlines surrounded by yellow crime tape is found containing tape recordings that tell the story of an undercover cop turned therapist trying to incriminate a mob enforcer.

Each tape is more intense than the last and ends with the cop being killed after his cover was blown. It becomes clear that Yuri was behind leaving these tapes behind for Peter.

It all comes to a head when Yuri calls Spidey to send him to the location of the enforcer, who is dead as a doorknob in a similar display as the other chalk outlines. It is painful to see Yuri head down the path of vengeful vigilante, as she has decided to take justice into her own hands, which will surely cause conflict with the web-head in the sequel.

One final notable side mission is in “Silver Lining” as well when Peter clears out Hammerhead underground bases to get humanitarian supplies for the people of Symkaria. A man named David Obademi is a former Sable agent who went rogue to get the supplies and is Spider-Man’s contact for the mission. He has a great backstory, as a teacher who wasn’t afraid to stand against the bad forces in Symkaria and was saved by Silver Sable.

At first, I was worried about the guy, as everytime Peter suggested bringing the supplies to the police, David would resist. Usually, that symbolizes that he’s a bad guy, but thankfully he just was trying to avoid getting deported since he didn’t have a visa.

The quest ends on a heartwarming note, as MJ sends Obademi a lead on where he can get a teaching job in New York. He is able to achieve his dream and it was so nice to have a quest giver not turn on you for once. It was a genuine feel good moment.

Screwball… Why Did it Have to be Screwball

However, one side mission (or group of them) left a bad taste into my mouth. Screwball has her own set of challenges spread out across all three chapters of the campaign. They are similar to the Taskmaster challenges, with some requiring you to chase down drones, defuse bombs, perform stealth combat and regular combat.

There are also gadget challenges, which force you to use two gadgets to take down thugs. It’s a cool concept, but I didn’t like it, especially in “Silver Lining” when Screwball continues to tell you to use both gadgets when you are.

While I understand that the character of Screwball is supposed to be annoying, I feel they went too far here. Her voice, the lines she recites and the unsatisfying way you send her to jail angers me. I feel if the challenges were limited to just one chapter of the DLC, it would’ve been fine so that other, better villains could get the spotlight.

So Many Suits

Along with a new story and several missions, “The City That Never Sleeps” also includes 10 new suits to use in the New York sandbox. Unlike the main game, these suits do not come with their own unique powers, and are purely cosmetic.

For the most part though, these suits are great. Most of these suits I’ve never seen before, like the Spider-Clan, UK, Resilient and Cyborg costumes. There is a little something for everyone here, including the suit from “Into the Spider-Verse” and the original Iron Spider outfit.

Also included for free was the iconic Spidey suit from the early 2000s Sam Rami Spider-Man films. One thing that annoyed me was the constant whining of fans, pleading Insomniac to add in the Rami suit, without thinking about the process it may take to get it in. While it is a good looking suit, I think people just wanted it in the game based on nostalgia alone.

Yet this suit in-game looks breathtaking. This was the best Christmas gift Insomniac could give the fans, and I hope everyone can now appreciate the absolutely brilliant and fun game we have, Rami suit or not.

Overall, the suits added in this batch of DLC were another great addition to this adventure.

…The Sum of Its Parts

“The City That Never Sleeps” gives us more of the same web-slinging, excellent storytelling, memorable character moments and acrobatic action that made the base game such a joy to experience.

While it lacks in variety and doesn’t introduce many new gameplay mechanics, it is still satisfying to swing around and string together a 100 hit combo against some of the toughest enemies in the game.

I got the three chapters as part of the deluxe edition of the game, which made it $20. For that price it’s a steal. I played them all right as they were released, and I highly recommend you play them all together to get the full experience, as waiting a month to resolve cliffhangers got kind of annoying. The only real complaint I had was the number of crappy Screwball missions, but that’s small compared to what you get.

   In conclusion, if you enjoyed “Marvel’s Spider-Man” in any capacity and you want more, I think you’ll enjoy “The City That Never Sleeps.” Just make sure you get the whole set.

Henry Wolski
Executive Editor

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