The City That Never Sleeps, The Big Apple, Empire City – no matter what you call it, New York City will always be much bigger, busier, and more regal than any nickname that’s been made for it.

The City of Dreams takes the breath away with its grandeur but can also be really dangerous for the uninitiated in its lifestyle. Maybe that’s why game developers use it so often as a setting for their video games. In this article, we will discuss some of the best games that take place in New York City and present the city’s brighter and much darker sides.

Max Payne 2001-07-25 Adventure Westlake Interactive
Wolfenstein II The New Colossus 2017-10-27 Action & Shooter Machine Games
Marvels Spider Man Remastered (PS5) 2020-12-11 Action & Adventure Insomniac Games
Tycoon City New York 2006-02-21 Economy DR Studios
Battlefield 3 2011-10-25 Shooter & Action DICE
The Darkness II 2012-02-09 Action & Shooter Digital Extremes
The Godfather II 2009-04-07 Action & Shooter EA Redwood Shores
Alan Wake 2012-02-16 Adventure Remedy Entertainment
Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite Deluxe Edition 2017-09-19 Action CAPCOM
Crysis 3 2013-02-19 Action & Shooter Crytek
Prototype 2 Radnet Edition 2012-07-26 Adventure Radical Entertainment
Crysis 2 Maximum Edition 2011-03-22 Action & Shooter
Prototype (Xbox Live) 2009-06-10 Adventure Radical Entertainment
Alone In The Dark 2008-11-18 Adventure Hydravision Entertainment
Driver Parallel Lines 2007-06-26 Race Reflections Interactive
Deus Ex Goty 2000-06-22 RPG Ion Storm

Max Payne 

Developer:Westlake Interactive

Max Payne is a quintessential neo-noir game, and if there’s a setting that exudes the same vibe as a tired cop on a revenge mission, it’s definitely New York City.

In the first game in the series, the player explores the snow-covered streets and empty alleyways of NYC, gunning down baddies using Max’s trusty Beretta and many other weapons picked up along the way. The unique style of Max Payne, with its graphic novel-like cutscenes and groundbreaking use of bullet-time mechanics, makes for a memorable visit to the Big Apple.

Key features
  • Neo-noir revenge story
  • Graphic-novel inspired cutscenes
  • Bullet-time
  • The setting of wintertime New York City

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Machine Games

While the first game in the “rebooted” Wolfenstein series showed the effect of the Nazi’s victory in World War II on Europe.

The New Colossus takes the player into the heart of Eagleland, to stir up American hearts with a good dose of revolutionary thought.

As Blazkowicz explores the conquered Empire, he makes a stop in New York City, one of the first victims of the Nazi’s atom bomb. Walking around the radioactive ruins of a formerly monumental city is an eerie experience, and encounters with Nazi platoons, both regular and mechanized, are one of the most memorable events in the game.

Key features
  • The setting of Nazi-controlled USA
  • Intense gunplay
  • Wacky alternate history storyline full of interesting twists
  • Elements of stealth

Marvel's Spider-Man 

Developer:Insomniac Games

Who knew the game about one of Marvel’s most popular superheroes would give us one of the best representations of New York City in gaming history.

The developers of Marvel’s Spider-Man made sure to put in as many real and fictional landmarks as possible and actively encourage the player to seek them out by adding photo challenges.

New York city in Spiderman Video Game

Taking pictures of the Empire State Building, the UN Headquarters, the MoMA, or the Avengers Tower is a great way to spend time away from fighting supervillains and saving the city. Also, we seriously recommend dropping to the ground level – not only to see the reactions of the New Yorkers to Spidey strutting around the Fifth Avenue but also to check out the latest issue of Daily Bugle recounting Peter Parker’s latest endeavors.

Key features
  • A well-written story featuring Spider-Man’s greatest enemies
  • Intuitive combat and web-swinging gameplay
  • A city map chock-full of side missions and optional activities
  • Meticulously recreated Manhattan Island, with all of its real-world and comic book landmarks.

Tycoon City: New York

Developer:DR Studios

If you want to feel like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and other tycoons who had their hand in making New York City into what it is today, then try out Tycoon City: New York.

In this city-building game, you have a chance to build the neighborhoods of New York from the ground up, deciding on the makeup of each and every area.

The player can erect a selection of real-life buildings and various commercial and residential structures to make their version of NYC thrive and prosper. The player can upgrade the buildings by raising funds from customers and investing in various expansions. The game offers two game modes – a progress-focused “Build New York” and a sandbox mode, in which the player’s creative options are limitless.

Key features
  • Complex city-building mechanics
  • Two engaging gameplay modes
  • Building upgrades
  • New York City setting

Battlefield 3

Genre:Action & Shooter

Sometimes New York City isn’t the primary setting of the game, and we, the players, visit it in a limited capacity.

That’s the case for Battlefield 3, in which New York City is the setting for the final acts of the explosive single-player campaign mode. As the terrorists plan a nuclear strike on the Big Apple, the protagonists rush to action to avert the crisis. As in most games in the Battlefield series, the campaign mode is only the aperitif to the multiplayer action, in which the players can also play on the New York City-based map.

Key features
  • Intense single-player campaign
  • Various match types in multiplayer mode
  • Maps based on real-world locations, including Paris, Tehran and New York City

Godfather The Game 1 & 2

Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:EA Redwood Shores

Francis Ford Coppola’s opus magnum popularized the theme of the Mafia-controlled New York City. In Godfather: The Game, the player can dive right into this world as a young thug taken under the wing of the Corleone family.

By completing tasks given to them by characters such as Luca Brasi, Pete Clemenza, Sonny Corleone and even the Don himself, the player makes themselves known in the New York City underworld. Aside from carrying out work for the family, the player can explore the city, divided into five neighborhoods, each controlled by a different Mafia family. Conquering them all through taking over businesses and blowing up compounds will pave the player’s way to becoming the Don of New York City.

Key features
  • Setting inspired by Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather movie
  • An open-world environment with plenty of content spend time on
  • The atmosphere of 1940s New York City

The Darkness 1 & 2

Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Starbreeze Studios

Much like New York City in Max Payne, the Big Apple presented in Starbreeze Studios’ The Darkness isn’t the picturesque metropolis, illuminated by thousands of lights.

The protagonist Jackie Estacado, bound to a nightmarish entity known simply as the Darkness, finds himself on a quest for revenge against his Uncle Paulie, at the same time fighting for control over his body and soul.

The game takes place mostly at night, on the empty streets of the less savory parts of New York City. The player can travel from one area to another using the subway, another New York City staple. And during the loading screen cutscenes, Jackie will entertain the player with humorous anecdotes about living in the city.

Key features
  • Intense and brutal gameplay
  • Use of the Darkness’ powers
  • The grim setting of the nighttime New York City’s back alleys