Saturday, March 22, 2008

Top 5 List: Top 5 Worst Video Game Cities To Live In

Cities in video games are already typically terrible places to live, and for obvious reasons. If they weren't full of enemies to fight, then the game wouldn't be very fun, would it? But some are even worse than others and since making lists is easier than writing real reviews, here's another Top 5.

5. San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto
Yes, it's the gritty city from GTA. I think this one's fairly self-explanatory; San Andreas gets on the list not just because of the fact that your main character is a criminal, or there's rampant gang wars, but because most eveyr game will eventually end up with the player saying screw it and just deciding to see how much shit he can blow up before the police take him out. But San Andreas only gets number 5, because the police will eventually take your ass out, so there's still some semblance of law and order. That's more than you can say for some of our others.

4. Post-Apocalyptic London, Hellgate: London
Hellgate: London is a Diablo remake/homage set in near-future London after a demonic invasion has reduced most of the city to ruins. Humanity hides out in subway stations and other subterranean areas and fights against the demons.

I'll admit it. If it weren't for the constant threat of death, lack of resources and luxury, and maddening horror around you, I'd almost be willing to live there. It would be a little fun almost, with everyone left living together in relatively small places underground, not able to venture out it would likely foster a closeness and a real sense of community. Like a sleepover that never ends. Either that or it would drive everyone completely, criminally mad. Unfortunately, it's the latter. Almost 90% of the people you'll meet are certifiably insane and the other 10% are certifiable douchebags.

Also there's that constant threat of death, lack of resources and luxury, and maddening horror all around you thing I mentioned earlier.

3. Anywhere, Ratchet & Clank series
Between RnC's slapstick humor, intrigue, and explosions it's easy to miss the subtle Orwellian horror behind it all. No matter what planet you go to it's all just as bad. The galaxies on display are horrible places ruled by massive corporations where deadly monsters roam wild in the streets, highly deadly weapons of mass destruction are for sale to anyone who wants them, and villains murder and destroy at random.

Your hero is no better. In the first game your mission to find Captain Quark takes you to a planet overrun by slime monsters where the police are desperately trying to save the city, and to progress you must destroy both sides. In the second game Angela causes a store to be overrun with monsters, resulting in at least one death but once you discover she's a chick all is forgiven. Even when the plot isn't making you be evil there's still the robotic citizenry of these planets scattered around, who the game never penalizes (and in fact often rewards) you for killing.

2. Paragon City, City of Heroes
From the superhero MMORPG City of Heroes, Paragon City is an advanced city home to hundreds of superheroes, be they NPCs or player created. Supergroups abound and dozens of heroes patrol the streets at all times. So you'd think Paragon City would be mostly free of crime, right? Well, you'd be wrong.

A simple walk around the block will lead you past three purse snatchings, five muggings, two drug deals, a few crazy cultists murdering people, and maybe a few random ambushes, all in broad daylight and right out there on the street corner. Oh sure, there's a police department, but the cops, even on the rare occasion they decide to go out on patrol, have been known to walk right past crimes taking place. There's also Longbow, a corporate militia comprised of humans and low-ranking heroes whose job is to police the city, but they're also total mercenaries and are even less effective than the police.

But why Paragon City and not the City of Villains equivalent, the Rogue Isles? Simply put, because the Rogue Isles are a third world shithole populated exclusively by outcasts and prison escapees that even Paragon City didn't want, and is harrassed constantly by the hundreds of supervillains that call it home. That doesn't make the Rogue Isles BETTER, but it does make the fact that they're a terrible place to live a lot more expected. Paragon City is a first world highly advanced culture with the best policing you can find (the cops and Longbow suck, but it's still a city of heroes) and yet has a crime right bad enough to make Washington DC look like a glittering utopia. No, screw that. Paragon City's crime rate is higher than Washington DC, Detroit, and New York City if they were somehow mashed together into one and then shipped to the Sudan.

1. Your City, SimCity series
The SimCity series of games allows you to take the role of mayor, city planner, supreme leader, and god of your own society, ruling over it completely as you strive to build the ultimate utopia. At least if you're a liar. We all know why we play SimCity, and it's not for the joy of dealing with their effed up super-strict rules that will likely drive you bankrupt before your population even hits 500.

More realistically, SimCity lets you act out your destructive impulses as you rain down disasters on your fair city. Or, even more realistically, SimCity is the ultimate horrifying spectacle of human evil as every game quickly degenerates into random bulldozing because even the disasters just aren't devestating enough for you. The temptation to wreak havoc makes SimCity a lot like Grand Theft Auto with one major difference. After you bulldoze the orphanage, call down space aliens on the hospital, and take control of an army tank to blow up a residential district when you finally get down destroying you're still the unchallenged supreme leader of your city. You are above the law, and not just in the celebrity sense of you can get drunk and hit someone and get off scott free with just an apology, you're above the law in the sense that you can carry out an extended genocide against your own people and when you're done you're not only still in power but they love the shit out of you.

To all the people who downloaded maps off the internet just so they could ravage them with disasters, to all the people who played the disaster scenarios in the original over and over and quit every time once the fires went out, and to everyone who placed military base zones in SimCity 4 right from the start just because they wanted to drive the tank and blow up their city with it, I say this: thank you for making Your City the most terrible place to live in any video game ever.


Jovi said...

San Andreas is a state, not a city.

Anonymous said...

what about silent hill or racoon citty

Mike M. said...

Racoon City doesn't count. There wasn't anything all that wrong with it before the zombies, and post-zombies no one lives there anymore...especially since that city got nuked.

Silent Hill, same thing. No one lives there anymore so it doesn't count.