THE TOP 5: Games Set in New York

Everyone loves games, which is why way back in 2011 we published a piece on the top five Manhattan bars with games. But here we’re going to reverse things, more or less. Instead of talking about games you can find in Manhattan, we’re going to look at five of the best video games that are set in New York. There actually aren’t quite as many as you might expect to choose from, but these are some that caught our attention, and which native New Yorkers might appreciate.


Tom Clancy’s The Division

This is one of the newer games you’ll find on the list, and also probably the most depressing. That’s because it revolves around a New York City turned into something of a ghost town by a smallpox outbreak. You therefore get a somewhat unsettling version of New York, but also perhaps the most accurate and beautiful one that can be found in gaming. Indeed, Sony actually published a video comparing scenes from the game to actual footage of New York, and it’ll help you appreciate just how much detail went into the setting of this game.

Assassin’s Creed III

This is another sort of alternate version of New York. The Assassin’s Creed games all delve into different chapters of human history, and this one was all about the revolutionary era in the early United States. New York is therefore a far younger version of itself, devoid of modern skyscrapers and the like. But if you know the city, you might be fascinated by the game, as you can see almost a sort of blueprint for the modern New York in the world of the game.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game

This 2009 game was no masterpiece. In fact, a more recent Ghostbusters game included in a collection of slot arcades by IGT online may be more worthy your time. There, at least, the developer seems aware that people just want to be amused by Ghostbusters characters and icons on a slot reel. In the 2009 game the adventure was rendered a little clumsily, though it certainly has its entertaining moments, and it highlights some of the city’s main landmarks quite well. The public library, National History Museum, and Hudson River in particular all feature prominently.

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

This is not unlike The Division in that it portrays the city in an unsettling way, but does so with extraordinary detail. Here, the main focus is on the Financial District, where your job is to help American forces battle through Russian resistance (shooting up buildings as you go). It’s not the New York we want to imagine, but it’s as beautifully rendered as any 2011 video game could be.

Spider-Man (PS4)

This game’s release has been pushed back to 2018, so it’s the only title on our list that hasn’t actually come out yet. But you can view the gameplay footage and see that its graphics are absolutely incredible (and they may be even better on PS4 Pro). That, plus the Spider-Man comics’ general focus on New York City, could well make this the most impressive New York video game of all time. In preview footage alone we see everything from familiar hotdog stand umbrellas and construction cranes to the Empire State Building. It looks stunning.

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