Have you ever felt sad that you done everything in a game? I’m talking about everything. You’ve finished the main story, conquered all of the side missions and also got all the equipment possible and got a perfect rating on every quest available? Well, that’s how I felt about Marvel’s Spider-Man, the PlayStation 4 exclusive made by Insomniac Games. Okay, I didn’t get 100% on everything (never bothered to wall run the necessary distance or any of those niggling things) but I did do everything the city of New York had to offer the Web-Slinger. I even kinda wrote, not one, but two reviews of the game.
As much as I love Marvel’s Spider-Man, at a certain point, I wanted more. Insomniac Games must’ve heard my cries (or they just wanted more money) since they released The City That Never Sleeps, a three episode pack that continues the adventures of our favorite Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man as he faces off against a new threat that threatens to tear New York City apart. Although I had to pay a hefty $25 to get The Heist, Turf Wars and Silver Lining, I say the price is worth it!
The City That Never Sleeps takes place some time after the events of the main story. The major New York crime families, who were under Kingpin’s thumb until his arrest, have started feuding against each other again. One in particular, led by the notorious gangster Hammerhead, is hellbent in taking over the crime and it’s up to Spider-Man to figure out how he’s going to do it and put a stop to him.
Like I said, this DLC comes in 3 episodes, The Heist, Turf Wars and Silver Lining. While they all have separate stories, they are interconnected as one episode does lead to another and do follow Hammerhead’s quest to be the next big crime boss. But while Hammerhead is the central antagonist, he generally feels like a background character and more focus goes to the “real” main supporting characters of the episodes, Black Cat for The Heist, Yuri Watanabe in Turf Wars and Silver Sable in Silver Lining. As The City That Never Sleeps is broken into several episodes, I’ll be reviewing them first individually, starting chronologically with The Heist, before I go to the more common elements they share and the entire DLC pack as a whole.
The Heist starts off rather innocuously as Spider-Man investigates a tip that a Maggia family is going to steal a painting. What he doesn’t know is that Hammerhead hired the notorious femme fatale and cat burglar Black Cat to not only rip off the paining but other specific artifacts from the other mob families in his bid to take over New York’s crime families.
This is actually my favorite story from The City That Never Sleeps as Insomniac Games told a familiar Spider-Man tale but they put their own spin on the entire affair. Without going to any spoilers, let’s just say they made clever use of Spider-Man and Black Cat’s history. I also like the rather playfulness of Black Cat. She knows that she makes the Wall Crawler uneasy because they were a couple before and uses it to her full advantage to try to manipulate him to get her way. I like how the story feels a little more personal as it delves into this universe’s Spider-Man’s past with a former ally of sorts. I do have a glitch with the story as Black Cat can somehow sneak up on Spider-Man without his Spider-Sense tipping him off. Is that one of her powers?
Most of the main story mission generally have you trying to find Black Cat, which may seem more laid back but, trust me. There’s a lot of fights with mobsters and the like just like in the main story. Unfortunately, not all the action is good as there is a Mary Jane stealth mission here, which really slows down the pace. But there is one cute mission where Spidey orders a pizza and goes to a rooftop to eat. It’s a nice little light moment that’s still shows that, although he’s a Spider-Man, he’s still a man that’s gotta eat!
The second episode, Turf Wars, is a much more darker tale. Some time has passed after The Heist and Hammerhead is consolidating his power and Yuri Watanabe, New York’s police chief is obsessed in stopping him. But after a police raid on one of Hammerhead’s safehouses goes wrong, Yuri goes rogue and it’s up to Spider-Man to take down Hammerhead before his friend gets her hands on the criminal.
The second entry of The City That Never Sleeps is the darkest of the three episode. While some fans may like this turn, I didn’t. It’s actually my least favorite episode of the DLC pack. Spider-Man was still making quips and acting like Spider-Man. Yet it just didn’t work all that well with grim story. It made the Web-Head feel tone deft to the situation.
Turf Wars is mostly Yuri Watanabe’s story and, as such, there’s a lot more of her backstory that’s told here. You get to know what drove her to become a police officer and, in effect, New York’s police chief. Turf Wars is also the first time you actually get to see Hammerhead in action. Unfortunately, he seems like a very one-dimensional villain. He’s a mobster who wants the mob to be feared. That’s his only motivation and it’s rather lame.
What ultimately hurts Turf Wars is the darker tone. While I’m generally okay with some grimness in comic book media, it sticks out like a sore thumb here and feels out of place when compared to the main game and the other episodes.
The final episode is Silver Lining. Hammerhead has managed to gain access to most of the Sable International equipment that was left behind during Mister Negative and Doctor Octopus’ reign of terror in the main campaign. Silver Sable returns to retrieve the equipment and also take revenge on Hammerhead for stealing them in the first place.
Probably the best thing I loved about Silver Lining is, well, Silver Sable. She’s much different than the other women is Spider-Man’s life as she doesn’t want to put up with his antics. Normally, I don’t like these stick in the mud type of characters but Silver Sable makes it work. In fact, the interplay between the two feels like an old-fashioned buddy cop film.
Unfortunately, Silver Lining feels like the shortest of all the episodes because of some pacing issues. I usually finish all of the side missions before I head off and polish off the main storyline. But with Silver Lining, I didn’t know I was headed off to the last main story mission because I didn’t feel any sort of escalation throughout. It just kind of ended and I just completed the side missions afterwards, which just felt weird to me since it broke my usual pattern.
Individually, I will say that all The City That Never Sleeps episodes don’t feel all that satisfying. It generally took me roughly 2-3 hours per episode to do everything that was available. This includes the main story and all of the side missions. However, taken as a whole and played back-to-back, the entire thing feels like a complete experience.
Speaking of the side missions, they don’t really add anything new. Everything is generally repeated from the main story with just a twist here and there. For example, in The Heist, you’re once again searching for stuff around the city much like the backpacks from the main story. But this time, they’re not in plain sight and you’ll have to break stuff to find their hiding places. In Turf Wars, you once again control the Spider-Bot but now you’re firing off an EMP pulse to disable pipe bombs. Nothing really new but that was kind of expected.
The biggest variation among the missions involves the social media obsessed criminal Screwball. She fulfills the Taskmaster role here, giving Spider-Man an assortment of challenges, such as beating baddies in a set amount of time or stealthily taking out hostage takers. Screwball adds her own twist to the challenges by randomly placing photobomb moments where getting the best picture nets you more points. I kind of liked the photobomb opportunities because they add a neat wrinkle for those who wants the best score possible.
The City That Never Sleep does add modifications to a couple of the baddies. The first is a brute heavy gunner. They cause massive damage and you can seem to stun then with a perfect dodge. Unlike the regular brutes, you can’t just web them up and toss them into a wall to incapacitate them. You really have to beat them up with your melee attacks. They feels pretty unfair since they don’t have any weaknesses you can exploit.
Another new baddie are the jetpack wearing energy shield enemies. They’re basically the Sable International jetpack guys but with energy shields all rolled into one. They can be a bother as well, especially if there are more than two of them on the battlefield. Even so, they can be taken out quickly if you dodge under them, leaving them wide open to get webbed up. But, when combined with the sheer amount of enemies and mixed with the new heavy gunners, fights can quickly go sideways. There were many times when they would gang up and combo me into each other by accident, wiping out my health before I could recover.
My biggest issue with The City That Never Sleeps is that each episode doesn’t make use of the entire New York map. Generally, you only have to stay in 4-5 map sections, which feels very limiting, especially if you have a large map to play around in.
But, in the grand scheme of things, that’s a rather small complaint considering that The City That Never Sleeps gives you more of that Marvel Spider-Man goodness you expect. $25 may seem like a lot of money for roughly 5-6 hours of content. But, to me, it was money well spent.
Have you played The City That Never Sleeps? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!