Marvel's Spider-Man hit last week and it's making a huge splash, already becoming the fastest selling game on the PS4 in 2018. The game is deserving of such a blockbuster reception: Insomniac Games has crafted one of the best games of the year, another jewel in Sony's crown after the equally incredible release of God of War earlier this year. Spider-Man has also done what no one superhero game has managed this generation: surpassing Rocksteady's Batman Arkham series as the very best superhero simulator ever made. While Spider-Man certainly owes plenty of gameplay innovations to those seminal Batman experiences, Insomniac has forged a path all their own. Marvel's Spider-Man beats Arkham in one major way: the storytelling in this game is way beyond what was presented in the Arkham series, giving us a fully fleshed out, emotional rollercoaster of a superhero melodrama, worthy of the best Spider-Man stories.
Spider-Man isn't just a highly polished experience that should be in every PS4 owner's library. Like any good modern property with the Marvel stamp of approval, connections to the larger Marvel universe are all over this title, often with spins on them unique to Insomniac's vision of the Spider-Man myth. In addition to all the nods to other Marvel characters and properties, the game also takes place in a highly detailed recreation of Manhattan and so, just by virtue of this being a digital recreation of a real place, there are some cool little details for fans of the city itself.
SPOILER WARNING! This is a game so full of love and care that you'll want to see lots of this for yourself but, if you want the goods, I got your back.
30 Pay Your Respects
It's not a spoiler to say that Uncle Ben say his goodbyes in a Spider-Man thing, but this game goes the extra mile by allowing you to visit his grave, and even say hello if you travel all the way up to Harlem to do so.
Aunt May is laid to rest right next to him, just like in the ending cutscene. While there is no prompt to say a prayer for May, it's nice that they updated the location for those who completed the story.
29 Watch Closely, Spider-Man Saves EVERYONE
This may be my favorite detail in the game. Early videos of Spider-Man, like the famous E3 2018 gameplay demo, showed the wall-crawler gleefully tossing and kicking enemies right off the sides of buildings. "Wait a minute," I thought, "Spider-Man wouldn't just chuck guys off rooftops to their ends!"
Turns out, he doesn't. If you look closely, when an enemy falls off a building a web will shoot out and pin him to the side of whatever he fell off, then encase him in a web to hold him in place. Just another sign of the incredible work that went into this game.
28 Can You Find The Wakandan Embassy?
While it's easy to point out the major changes to New York's skyline in Spider-Man, the OSCORP Building and Avenger's Tower are visible from nearly everywhere in the city, there are a few much smaller buildings added to the city that are easier to miss.
As much as Marvel loves using real cities for its stories, it has no problem with made-up countries like Dr. Doom's homeland of Latveria or everyone's favorite future paradise Wakanda. Wakanda and Symkaria both have embassies in NYC, tucked away in nice art deco buildings just like a real embassy would be.
27 Yeah So Harry Is Definitely Venom
Spider-Man crams a lot of villains into its runtime and does a great job giving each one his due, though there are a few major omissions like Kraven The Hunter and everyone's favorite edgy 80s villain, Venom.
Turns out, Insomniac was saving the best for the sequel. In a classic Marvel post-credits scene, you finally discover what you may have suspected all along: Harry Osborne isn't in "Europe" at all, but floating in a tank in that secret room in Norman's penthouse. He seems to be surrounded by some kind of black goo which reacts to Norman putting his hand on the glass!
26 Yes (Seriously) Spider-Man's Voice Changes When He's Tired
Spider-Man always has too much going on, it's kinda his thing. While most of us have a work/life balance, Peter has work/life/superhero balance. Spider-Man conveys this the way a lot of open world games do, by having conversations take place while the player is traveling from one place to the next. But while Franklin can just chat with Trevor on the phone while driving in GTA5, Peter Parker's method of travel is a bit more strenuous.
That's why Insomniac recorded two different version of every phone call: one where Peter is at rest, another where voice actor Yuri Lowenthal sounds a bit strained, almost like he's hurling his body through the air at 100 miles an hour.
25 Yep, The Ghostbusters Are In Spider-Man
Known to thousands as the headquarters of the Ghostbusters, in real life this building is Firehouse, Hook & Ladder Company 8 in Tribeca, New York. The design of Hook & Ladder Company 8 is typical of Manhattan firehouse buildings and there are quite a few scattered around Spider-Man's NYC. I found a few that I thought were the Ghostbusters building until I found this one, which is even located roughly where the real one is.
24 Spy On Niko And Roman From Grand Theft Auto 4
One of the many side quests in the game sees a concerned girlfriend asking Spidey to track down her partner, who she thinks might be involved in a plot to rob a bank. The mastermind of the heist? A man in blue and white striped track pants with an accent, who speaks on the phone to someone named "Roman."
This is an obvious reference to the Bellic brothers, Niko and Roman, from Grand Theft Auto IV which was set in Liberty City, the Rockstar Game Universe version of NYC.
23 The Iron Fist Of Corporate HQs
One of the many architectural references to the greater Marvel canon is this building in downtown Manhattan, emblazoned with the logo of the Rand Corporation, aka the company owned by Danny Rand, aka The Iron Fist.
Aka the one Marvel Netflix show whose second season is better than the first.
The Rand building has some prime real estate: it's right across the street from Radio City Music Hall. It's also quite close to Hell's Kitchen which, as you'll see further down, is packed with references.
22 The King Of Cameos Returns — Say Hi To Stan Lee
Early on in the story, Peter and MJ meet for dinner at the same tiny diner they have been going to for years. It's a bittersweet meeting: you find out that the two have broken up and haven't spoken in half a year, but their chemistry is still as fiery as ever. As Peter dashes out to respond to passing police cars, sirens wailing, MJ waves to the owner who turns out to be none other than Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee.
The Man With A Thousand Cameos is rendered in loving detail by the team at Insomniac and it's a great treat to see him. This isn't Lee's first time in a Spider-Man video game: he narrated the original PlayStation game way back in 2000.
21 The Pedestrians Have Hidden Stories Of Their Own
Swinging through the streets of Manhattan is so much fun it's easy to ignore all the incredible work Insomniac put into every detail of the city. From up high, you may be forgiven for thinking the street-level is just a backdrop to when the action takes you down from the rooftops, but the streets of New York are just as detailed in Spider-Man as in any Grand Theft Auto.
Some enterprising young New Yorker will randomly shout pitches for business ideas at you as you pass by. It's not a one-time thing either: she changes her pitches over time and it seems to be the same voice actor. She's not the only one: there's also a woman who offers to do your taxes!
20 A Very Sad (REAL) Marriage Proposal
People are calling this the World's Saddest Easter Egg: earlier this year, a Spider-Fan asked Insomniac to put a marriage proposal into the game somewhere for him and his girlfriend of five years. Unfortunately, their relationship didn't make it until September 7th but the proposal did.
A theatre marquee on Canal St reads "Maddie will you marry me?" The fan now reports that they broke up over the summer, which is sad, but even worse is how the internet has reacted to it: by maliciously attacking those involved. Stay classy, internet!
19 Swing By Dr. Strange's Crib
The Sanctum Sanctorum isn't just a major part of the mythology of Dr. Strange, it's a big part of the Marvel universe in general. It was important enough for Heimdall to zap the Hulk right to it in Infinity War and it's important enough to be included in Spider-Man.
Dr. Strange's house/museum is right where it should be in Greenwich and is easily identifiable by the trademark stained glass window on its green copper roof.
18 Jessica Jones' Alias Investigations Is Still Waiting For A Proper Sign
As the setting for most of the action in Netflix's Marvel shows, Hell's Kitchen has been fleshed out better than any other part of Manhattan in the recent Marvel renaissance. Spider-Man is no exception, cramming 6 different Landmark tokens into a relatively small area of the map.
The office of Jessica Jones, Alias Investigations, is right where it should be on a grimy street, across from a pub. In a nice nod to the first season of the show, Jessica has stuck a cardboard sign in the window.
17 I Double Daredevil You
Far from being a worthless collectible, the backpacks scattered around Spider-Man each contain a unique bit of lore that fleshes out the story of Peter's eight years as the wall-crawler. Up in Harlem, attached to a dumpster in an alley, is a backpack containing the business card of a certain blind lawyer.
While the card says their office is on W 47th St, it isn't (I checked.) It's actually a few blocks south. The office is right up the street from another Daredevil landmark: Josie's Bar, where Matt, Karen, and Foggy hang out in almost every episode of the show.
16 Breaking Into Fisk's House Has Some (Weird) References
It's not a spoiler to say that Fisk gets taken down early in Spider-Man. If you've been following the game at all, you already know that Fisk is taken down in a blistering spectacle of a tutorial mission. Later on, we get to spend a little more time with Fisk, albeit indirectly by breaking into his estate sale as Mary Jane Watson.
Included in the sale are Fisk's Obliterator Cane and a cello named Vanessa. Fisk Fans will recognize that as the name of Kingpin's embattled wife, who has seen her fair share of troubles. Including, I guess, being turned into a cello?
15 Backpacks Full Of Secret Trophies
Spider-Man's backpacks are literally packed with cute references and nods to his history and make a lot of hints towards villains that didn't make it into the Sinister Six. Peter has stashed not only bits of his costume that helped him defeat some of his enemies, like a jammer for Vulture's tech and insulated gloves for fighting Shocker, you can also find a piece of Myserio's helmet, a torn bit of Shocker's iconic yellow quilted suit, a vial of Lizard's blood, and a small bit of Flint Marko, the Sandman, sealed in a bronze tube.
14 The 2003 MTV Movie Award For Best Kiss
The game Spider-Man exists in its own reality, with its own take on the characters both visually and in the writing. However, the game was made by people who exist in our reality and make a ton of cute jokes towards the long history of Spider-Man in pop culture.
Yes, he makes a joke about owning a giant robot. These are some deep cuts.
To wit: there are many references to Sam Raimi's trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, including failing to stop a subway train by shooting webs off the front of it. (Peter remarks "That totally worked last time!") My favorite comes at the end of the tutorial: with Fisk suspended upside down, Spider-Man asks "Should we kiss?"
13 Black Suit Spider-Man (Almost) Confirmed For DLC
One of the groundbreaking pieces of tech included in Spider-Man's New York is the ability to see inside the hundreds of buildings you'll be swinging by, wall crawling on, and jumping off of. While its just an illusion and there is lots of repetition, you won't notice as you're dashing by at top speed.
Except, if you've been paying attention, you'll know that slowing down and looking for details will be rewarded. In some of these interiors, there is an action figure display that very clearly shows off a Black Suit Spider-Man action figure. The hints just keep coming for a Symbiote storyline either in DLC or in the next game.
12 Spider-Man 2 Balloon Art
When Spider-Man 2 came out for Xbox and PS2 in 2004, open-world games were in their early days. Remember, Grand Theft Auto III, which defined the open-world formula for years, had only been out for a few years. Game developers were still figuring out what to do with all the space the player had access to. In some cases, they still are.
Spider-Man 2 tasked Spidey with recovering lost balloons for grateful kids. One of those kids drew a picture for the PS4's Spider-Man, which is recoverable in one of Peter's backpacks.
11 Don't Miss The Epic Screwball Challenge Side Mission
Screwball is a lower tier villain who was pretty ahead of her time when she was introduced in 2008 by Dan Slott, who also wrote the PS4 game. Her side mission in the game tasks Spidey with lining up QR codes projected onto the sides of buildings so he can track down a hostage.
Nothing too special there, except she's live streaming the whole thing and has roped Spider-Man into being an unwitting co-host for her Twitch stream. Honestly, the way YouTube is these days, I'm surprised no one else has done anything similar.
10 Where Everybody Knows Your Name (If You're A Supervillain)
The Bar With No Name is a commonly recurring fixture of the Marvel universe, with appearances in the New York-set books like Spider-Man, Daredevil, and The Punisher. Although there is one in Ohio as well, the most famous one by far is the one in New York, and it makes an appearance in Spider-Man PS4 in Harlem.
Appropriately, there's not much to indicate this place is special at all: there's no sign or anything on the exterior. A perfect place for those who need a break from being webbed up.
9 Norman Osborne Plans Ahead (Find The Green Goblin Clues)
Anyone who's reading an article about a Spider-Man video game knows that Norman Osborne is the Green Goblin. Insomniac knows that too, and the game's version of Norman is drenched in ominous warnings about his future career in supervillainy.
Late in the game, Mary Jane breaks into Norman's penthouse to look for clues and stumbles on a few interesting little winks to the Green Goblin: there are prototype pumpkin bombs on a table, and she even uses a helmet to scan for a secret room. In the corner of the helmet's HUD is a reference to a glider.
8 Yes, This Game Has A Vampire (Sort Of)
A story mission in Act Three tasks Peter with saving a number of Oscorp's top scientists before they are ended by The Demons. Peter is able to save a key figure in the plot: one Morgan Michaels, who plays a minor role for the rest of the game.
Spider-Man fans ears may perk up at the mention of Morgan Michaels: he's the alter-ego of Michael Morbius, aka Morbius, aka that time Spider-Man fought a vampire.
7 Ethically Ambiguous Spider-Powers!
While swinging by Empire State University, the fictional post-secondary institution where Peter and Harry went after high school, you'll be flagged down by a student who says his roommate is missing. Don't worry: this kid has rigged up an algorithm which has spotted his friend on a rooftop near the Statue of Liberty.
Creepy? Yes. Effective? Also yes.
This kicks off a chain of missions requiring the player to identify locations based on still photographs, testing our ability to recognize the landmarks we've been zooming past for hours. And, because this is Insomniac's Spider-Man, the kid who gives you the quest is Philip Chang, who was Peter's ESU roommate in the comics.
6 This Spider-Man Takes The Stairs
Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight got a lot of mileage out of the idea that random dudes, inspired by Batman, would dress up in cheap imitations of his costume and take on crime on their own. Batman's famous retort to them, "I'm not wearing hockey masks." As he lowers himself into the Tumbler, is especially appropriate to Spider-Man's own take on this idea: the sidequest "Spider-Men."
Spidey is flagged down by a shopkeeper who thanks him for saving his daughter. Peter ends up following a trail of just-foiled crimes before encountering a dude in a cheap suit about to get his butt kicked by some Fisk goons. The best thing about this quest is how much worse the imposter's suit looks compared to the real deal, with skin showing around his neck and no gloves
5 Searching For Spider-Bot
Each one of the research stations Harry Osborne has set up around the city provides a different challenge for Spider-Man, and while each is unique, this one is the funniest.
This game has a great sense of humor.
Peter is trying to track down one of his Spider-Bots that has gone missing and he does so with… another Spider-Bot. Driving the little guy around in first-person is great fun, you even get to climb around a play structure in Central Park, until you're snagged by a pigeon and flown to a rooftop to her nest. Turns out, that's where you wanted to be all along: the other Bot is right there next to her eggs. Aww.
4 Gonna Show Tombstone His Tombstone
Tombstone is a lesser known villain who was created for the secondary title The Spectacular Spider-Man and has a lifelong connection with Robbie Robertson, Peter's buddy at The Daily Bugle.
The Tombstone of the game is a biker gang leader who has developed a temporary invincibility serum for his gang. The story plays out in a series of side missions culminating in a big fight back at Tombstone's garage.
3 Casual Fridays
Easily one of the best things about Spider-Man is all the suits you have access to and slowly unlock as you progress through the game. From recognizable designs straight from the MCU to really obscure comics references to some totally made-up ones, there is a Spider-Man for all your Spider-Man needs.
Reach max level though, and you get a special bonus: you can swing around New York in Peter's Spidey underwear and mask. As an extra hilarious detail: in one moment in the story Peter remarks on his three chest hairs: take a close look at this model and see that he wasn't exaggerating.
2 There Are Secret Secrets
In addition to all the landmarks that you can take photos of in each district, there are 50 secret photo ops that aren't marked at all, and you'll only know they're there if you pull out your camera at the right moment. Most of these are things that may catch your eye anyway, especially if you're familiar with New York.
You also unlock a skill at level 50 which marks them on the map
That makes it a lot easier to unlock the final, hidden costume: Peter's ESU t-shirt for those casual, Sunday afternoon crime patrols.
1 Who's A Good Giant Bronze Boy?
Anybody remember Inhumans? The Marvel show shot in IMAX about people who live on the moon that lasted about as long as its marketing campaign? Turns out The Inhumans aren't just an ill-advised vehicle for the guy played Ramsay Snow, they're a major part of the Marvel continuity.
The Wall Street Bull is similar to the Inhumans in that it is a big, heavy expensive icon of corporate greed. In what may be a cheeky joke, Spider-Man replaces the Wall Street Bull with Lockjaw, who is a giant bulldog with a fork on his head.