Monday, March 19, 2012

Travel, through video games. Part 2

In part one I explained how I enjoy video game environments as if I were traveling through a real destination. Almost any video game with an environment I can explore draws me in, and once I'm pretty familiar with the landscape, to the point I know how to get around, I tend to feel as if its a small vacation, of sorts. In part 2 I will be taking on the environments themselves (strictly through the games that I've played) and explaining how closely I feel they represent what they were inspired by, starting with the most often cloned city for video games, New York City.

New York City has been in many games, or at least a well designed copy of it, such as; Grand Theft Auto 3, Driver Parallel Lines, The Godfather (albeit an earlier New York), True Crimes Streets of New York, Grand Theft Auto IV and even Forza Motorsports, just to name a few! Having played all of these games gives me a pretty decent idea of what New York looks like without having been there, even though Google maps pretty much does the same thing on a much less enjoyable scale. And although each game represents NY in it's own way, they're all pretty well done as I feel like I'm actually in New York as I play all of those games.

Miami is represented in both Grand Theft Auto Vice City and Scarface The World is Your's and again everything seems to feel as if I'm really cruising around sunny (and humid!) Miami Florida. Los Angeles has been reproduced in True Crimes Streets of LA, LA Rush as well as cloned for part of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, all of which seem to represent LA pretty well in their own rights. The other 2 parts of San Andreas, Los Vegas and San Francisco, seem to fit their respective inspirations quite well also.

In The Italian Job we saw Turin, Italy and London, England, which was also represented in the Getaway series, and although I'm even more shaky on the exact landmarks and other styling of foreign landscapes than I am of domestics, I feel confident enough to say that I feel as if they did pretty well. The whole Grand Theft Auto series, as well as Driver Parallel Lines, not only give off a feel of the city, but a since of time, which are always an ambient bonus that feel spot on. Not to mention games like Mercenaries, Total Overdose and Just Cause, which is going to be a whole other entry of it's own!

But when I play Starsky and Hutch there seems to be a pretty large disconnect between what they should be trying to convey and what was produced. Both officers Starsky and Hutch feel as if they're from the 70's, the vehicles within the game look as if they're from the 70's but the city just feels like San Francisco to me. Sure the series was based in a fictional city based on San Francisco, and it does kind of feel like it, but there is not era to be felt while driving around Bay City. The big question is when does it all take place as all they really did was build fictional cars in a fictional world and set you loose to live out a simulation of the television series of the same name.

I often find myself watching television and seeing a landmark from one of the many places I've visited in a video game, and I often want to play that game simply because of that. Most of the time, when I find a similar landmark in a television show that has been in a video game, I'm shocked at how closely the game's version represented the real thing. Hopefully part 3 will be the end to this series, but not the end of feeling like every time I start up a free roaming video game, I'm taking a passport free vacation to anywhere I want to go!

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