Video Games can be a vacation, a vacation from your work, from your life, from who you are. But as often is the case, destinations are readily described as “a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”
Certainly, you wouldn’t to spend all of your days sweeping for mines, ducking for cover behind chest high walls, avoiding the deadly touch of turtles, running away from ghosts while eating pills, or living in a world where pre-pubescent boys control powerful monsters.
With that in mind, we asked some of the staff of Diehard GameFAN to explain which video game city would be the worst place to live.
Mark B: Neo Kobe from Snatcher
Futuristic cities in video game worlds always tend towards either being identical to modern cities (which is probably closer to the truth than we’d wish), being technological paradises with dark undersides, or post-apocalyptic landscapes where everyone’s fighting over gas or bottlecaps or something. Of the lot of them, Neo Kobe always seemed like the closest to an “actual” city I’d ever seen in a game world. There were crappy run-down warehouses and older, nice mansions on the outskirts of town, while the city proper felt like one would expect a city to feel. You’ve got a nice, busy central shopping district, a run-down but still charming “black market” where you can buy silly masks, take in strip shows and eat “Neo Kobe Pizza” (which I still have yet to try…), and a fairly well developed suburban district outside of that with apartments of varying size and quality throughout. It seems almost normal, minus the flying cars and talking robot sidekick. Who wouldn’t want to live there?
Oh, right, people who don’t want to be murdered by body-snatching robots. My bad.
Snatcher did a pretty good job of creating a world that, while it was unashamedly ripping off Blade Runner, felt lived in and almost realistic, but it did that, in large part, to make the Snatcher menace feel more freakish than it would have been otherwise. The reality is that Neo Kobe is a perfectly normal city full of robots that are likely to kill you and pretend to be you for no adequately explained reason, and I don’t care how homey the area is or how low the rent might be, living there is basically the worst possible idea if one values life. Oh, and don’t assume that you won’t be targeted because you’re nobody, they prefer that.
On the other hand, the Neo Kobe Pizza and buffalo cuisine might make it good for a weekend visit, maybe bring the kids, take a picture next to the sneezing midget Santa, something like that. Just don’t go to Queens Hospital, you’ll, uh… you’ll thank me later.
Aaron Sirois – Sim City from the Sim City series
On the surface, Sim City might seem like a nice place to live. Sure, the taxes might be a bit high, but things are always moving forward and the mayor is usually good about keeping crime rates low. It’s a peaceful life.
Except, at any moment, the mayor could get bored. When this happens, all hell can break lose. Earthquakes, tornadoes, and gigantic fire breathing lizards are just some of the tools at their disposal to break up the monotony. They could also simply demolish your house while you’re out at work, take away the airport so you can’t escape, and/or cut the power at a moment’s notice.
So while living in a peaceful town that slowly builds its way up to a metropolis might sound good, you can’t forget that your entire existence is at the mercy of one person. If they get bored with making nice and building a society, prepare for disaster.
Ashe Collins-Silent Hill from the Silent Hill series
Come vacation in the resort area known as Silent Hill. We’ve got a beach, an amusement park with rides, lots of deep chasms making it hard to get around town, the almost always visited favorites of the haunted school and hospital, and your very own portal into your own personalized hell. If that wasn’t tempting enough for you, we’ve got all sorts of local residents who will be happy to escort you on your journey, by either trying to kill you or sacrificing you for their own goals. Not satisfied with your own religion? Our local Order, the Silent Hill Smile Support Society, offers a new outlook on your life… in that it will probably be ending soon.
Your electronics aren’t going to quite work right here, instead acting as something of a Geiger counter for incoming denizens of our town looking for a snack… and you’re on the menu. With lots of ways to get here, including by road, through a portal in a mall and through your own apartment front door, we offer lots of ways for you to rediscover your lost loved ones, almost none of them good.
Silent Hill is one of those resort towns that you’ve dreamed of, but never thought or wanted those dreams to come true. Our goal is to make sure the experience is at least palatable, and that you won’t want to get home, or better yet, will find it impossible to leave. Enjoy your stay, as chances are it’s going to be your last.
Matt Yeager – New York from various games
Not sure what film directors and video game developers have against New York. Maybe they just use it because it is such an easily recognizable city, maybe someone spit in their bagel, or maybe they had a chance to eat that hot garbage New Yorkers insist is good pizza. One way or another, there appears to be some kind of mental collusion to see the city destroyed as often as possible.
Imagine, if you will, that video game worlds comprised their own separate dimensions, and that you were a traveler between those dimensions. No matter which New York you traveled to, you would encounter death and destruction on grand levels. The New York of Mafia and The Godfather has large syndicates that murder each other in broad daylight, threaten shopkeepers and destroy large tracts of property, which the police have no power to stop. The games set in more modern times paint the city as darker and with even greater violence and drug problems, such as in games like Max Payne, 50 Cent: Bulletproof, 25 to Life, The Darkness, and True Crime: New York. Video games set in the future of New York make it appear that there’s not much hope for the city. Deus Ex, Freedom Fighters, Enslaved, Crysis 2, Prototype, and so on show that in terms of storytelling, it’s easier to imagine a future New York that’s frightening than it is to imagine a New York that might be a great place to live.
It’s pretty obvious that no matter what video game version of New York you are playing in, even if it’s street racing in Midnight Club or just trying to attend the opera like Aya from Parasite Eve, it’s not a place you want to live or even visit for an extended period of time. While you might say that isn’t representative of the real New York, I think part of the reason they set so many games in the city is because it’s isn’t hard for people to believe that it’s possible for crazy shit to happen in New York.
ML Kennedy – New Marais from infamous 2
So, New Marais is a corrupt, southern party town built on a swamp that was recently devastated by massive flooding due to hurricanes. I’m pretty sure it was based on Toronto.
Anyway, having large portions of your city underwater is fairly bad, but you also have an evil militia pushing everybody around who is led by the super-villain equivalent of Lonesome Rhodes from A Face in the Crowd. Oh, and there are also a bunch of mercenaries that have all turned into Mortal Kombat Sub-Zeroes. They’re not going to be good for tourism.
And there are monsters crawling out of the swamp.
. . . And giant ice creatures.
. . . And giant bug monsters.
. . . And an even gianter Kaiju maggot.
. . . And some of your friends might be kidnapped and/or turning into monsters too.
Sure, the town’s only excuse for a hero might electrocute you for playing the drums in public, but at least you will probably die of the plague soon. A lot of people seem to be getting that thing.
Oh and look, a naked, 100 foot tall man made out of lava is coming to destroy the whole city!
I think it is time to move to the slow, quiet, country town of Raccoon city.