Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Travel, through video games. Part 3: The Latin Element

In parts 1 and 2 I established my undeniable affinity for sandbox style games, and my adoration for their individual environments. But for some reason I absolutely love games that take me to places that are lush with Latin flavor, namely games such as Just Cause, Total Overdose and Mercenaries 2. While Just Cause only built the illusion and feeling of being a set of islands off the coast of South America, Mercenaries 2 and Total Overdose take it one step further and use the names of real countries, Venezuela and Mexico respectively.

The first Mercenaries was set in war-torn North Korea, and it seemingly fit the feel of what a real war-torn North Korea would be. But Mercenaries 2 took you to Venezuela and brought a great landscape of the country they're trying to portray, even though I've never been to North Korea or Venezuela to really know what they're like. Although Just Cause and Total Overdose asked the player to exercise larger than normal amounts of suspension of disbelief, they too bring a good feel to the table with the seemingly endless land and possibilities of things to keep yourself occupied with.

I greatly enjoy South American architecture, landscape and culture, all of which these games seems to feed me in some small, vicarious manner. Although the games don't get the feeling down perfectly, most notably is the fact that people around town speaking English with a Spanish accent, the landscape and architecture seem to bring it all together and make me feel as if I'm truly driving through small South American villages, cities or just down one of many dirt roads.

I know it will never happen, but I wish that I could go visit these places, and even though Mercenaries 2 and Total Overdose were inspired by real locations, the landscape is probably only based loosely off their real counterparts. Maybe someday we'll be able to feel the heat and humidity of the jungles we travel in, the dry crispy air of the deserts and feel the sands beneath our feet, but for now all we can do is control the game's protagonist and enjoy the view.

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