12 Top Best Video Games And Their Best Recreations Of Real Cities

9 months ago By AI Smith

Not all games strive to be as realistic as possible, besides, who needs to go on vacation when you can spend all your free time working at home, right? But don’t worry, if you are one of those who have had to go round and round anywhere in Spain, Europe, USA and other nation (except the lucky ones who live in the near by location), companies like Ubisoft or Insomniac have thought of you, recreating with maximum fidelity and Total mime some of the most impressive cities in the world.

Travelling to London, Hong Kong or Paris takes planning time and reservations, preparing your suitcase, taking one or more planes and above all, spending a lot of money. However, by waking up the saver or rat mode, depending on how you look at it, thanks to the evolution of technology itself, it has allowed video game graphics to go from being a handful of pixels to becoming an almost photographic recreation of reality, you will be able to travel to almost any destination for less than a hundred euros in total (even less if you catch the game on sale).

Add to all these advantages avoiding dealing with jet lag, masses of retired British and German tourists, or crowded public transport where you keep hearing ” attenzione, pickpocket “. These virtual experiences also offer something more than visiting museums and waiting in line, you can climb very tall buildings without having to pay for a cocktail on a rooftop, report to the police, jump from roof to roof, steal cars, hunt Templars or participate in the French Revolution on the side of the sans-culottes.

Amsterdam in Modern Warfare 2

The recreation of Amsterdam in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 generated quite a stir last year due to its fidelity. The comparison between the game and real-life shows impressive work on the part of the developers. Every building and detail of the city has been carefully recreated. As they explain in the VGC medium, Activision’s development teams have not only faithfully recreated the streets, buildings and even the vegetation of the area, but they have gone to the extreme of recreating the signs that prohibit drinking alcohol on the street and even the colour of store signs.

Call Of Duty has spent years recreating different locations – For example, in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, players could visit Piccadilly Circus in London on the Piccadilly multiplayer map. However, this has generated problems, such as the discomfort of the owners of the Conservatorium Hotel. From Amsterdam, who are upset to see their building appear in the game as a shooting scene.

In a statement, the hotel has made it clear that it does not support video games that promote violence, as this does not reflect their values ​​and they regret their unwanted appearance in the game. This is not the first time something similar has happened. Multiplayer maps based on the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Marina Bay Formula 1 track have also generated controversy. The museum map disappeared without notice and there is speculation about possible legal claims. While the Marina Bay map had cosmetic changes after receiving criticism.

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Boston in Fallout 4

We have no proof, nor doubt that the heat that is being recorded this summer has reminded many of the places from the Fallout saga. Whether you have a Nuka Cola in your hand or its namesake in the real world, we propose a plan for you when you finish reading these lines. Like any John Hancock, the mayor of Goodneighbor in Fallout 4, but with a better face, we are going to review the most characteristic and recognizable places in Boston in Fallout 4.

Fallout 4 may take place hundreds of years after a nuclear war that brought the end of civilization, but that doesn’t mean it’s set in an unknown location. The action of the game takes place in the city of Boston, more or less as we know it, and other parts of New England, in the United States. Many of Boston’s prominent places and buildings are more or less faithfully represented. Sites like Fenway Park, the Bunker Hill Monument and the Massachusetts State House.

Some users have added some but such as scale and size changes, as the in-game map is much smaller than the actual Boston, which means that many areas have been scaled down to fit on the in-game map and be accessible to players. While other buildings like the Salem Witch Museum are accurate both inside and out, with the contents and rooms closely matching. It’s done so well that residents of Boston or surrounding locations may feel a sense of déjà vu when playing the game.

Pripyat in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was a revolutionary title that ushered in a new era for first-person shooters. The campaign level known as ” All Ghillied Up ” is widely recognized as one of the best in Activision’s series (according to Kotaku). In this level, players follow in the footsteps of Lieutenant John Price and Captain MacMillan as they sneak through the abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine, preparing for a dangerous assassination mission (any similarity to the current situation is purely coincidental).

Pripyat, a city that was devastated as part of the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, is a perfect choice to set a bleak level full of mystery. Although players are not allowed to fully explore the area, what is shown in the game perfectly captures the appearance of the abandoned city and its eerie atmosphere. Iconic locations such as the Pripyat Amusement Park, with its iconic ruined Ferris wheel, and the Polissya Hotel play crucial roles in the missions, receiving special care in their representation.

The Pripyat gaming experience is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the post-apocalyptic environment that has been shaped by the Chornobyl nuclear disaster. Although it is not an exhaustive recreation of the city, the details and the setting manage to convey the feeling of desolation and danger that one would expect to find in an abandoned place. In addition, you will be able to explore it with the security of not being affected by radiation and not being in a conflict zone.

Los Angeles in LA Noire

In 2011, Rockstar Games, known for its successful franchises like GTA? and Red Dead Redemption, launched LA Noire, an action-adventure game that focuses on solving crimes. Set in the late 1940s, this ‘true crime’ game follows the story of a detective who works tirelessly in the Los Angeles Police Department to investigate a series of interconnected crimes taking place in the city of dreams. However, digitally recreating this metropolis in a bygone era proved to be a significant challenge.

Despite the obstacles, the Team Bondi development team dove into extensive research to ensure the game world was as authentic as possible. Brendan McNamara, the game’s director and writer, revealed in an interview with Official PlayStation Magazine that the first year of development was devoted entirely to investigating Los Angeles. at that specific time. This investigative process included the analysis of hundreds of newspapers of the time and the painstaking examination of thousands of vintage photographs, some of which were taken from aeroplanes in the 1920s. In addition, historical maps from the Progress Administration of Works, are on file at the University of California, to ensure the accuracy of each street and location.

The dedication to detail and thoroughness in the investigation were reflected in the final result. Even The Atlantic praised the meticulousness with which the game’s world was recreated, noting how this set it apart from other titles of the time. The in-game recreation of Los Angeles transports players back to the city’s post-war era, capturing the essence and unique atmosphere of those years.

A moment in which, although there were criminals and murders to solve, the city was not besieged by a serious crisis of fentanyl use and homelessness, as it was years later after the events at the Cecil Hotel, Richard Ramírez or the sidewalks of Skid Row lined with tents. Every street, building and nook has been carefully and accurately recreated to provide a fully immersive experience in the city’s storied past, even with the Hollywood studios. It should be noted that years before, the game True Crime: Streets of Los Angeles tried to recreate this city on a smaller scale and in a closer time.

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Boston in The Last of Us

Boston, once again, becomes a recurring destination in the world of video games, especially when it comes to post-apocalyptic settings. Before the arrival of Fallout 4, Naughty Dog surprised gamers with its futuristic take on the city in The Last of Us, where the city lay largely abandoned following a devastating outbreak of cordyceps fungus that swept across the United States. Although, as in other games, the representations of the various locations are not completely true to life, especially in terms of scale and distance between the various locations.

However, the developers managed to capture the essence of Boston and make the city feel like a genuine representation, even if not fully recreated. Naughty Dog strove to accurately represent the city’s transportation system and ensured that most of the buildings were made of brick, which is typical of Boston. This also applies to other areas of the game, where the distinctive atmosphere of the city can be felt without the buildings being exact replicas or geographically located in their real places.

Despite the adaptations, many fans of the game have noted the effort put into places like the Capitol, and in a discussion thread on ResetEra, it is noted that the game features places very similar to the Massachusetts State House and the Public Garden, albeit with different names. These details show the care and attention that Naughty Dog dedicated to immersing players in the atmosphere of Boston, giving them an experience that is close to the reality of the city and its emblematic places.

Paris in Assassin’s Creed Unity

When it comes to Assassin’s Creed games, Ubisoft always looks to real historical locations for inspiration and Assassin’s Creed Unity, released in 2014, was no exception. Set in the Paris of the French Revolution, this game follows the eternal battle between the Assassins and the Templars. Like the rest of the franchise, known for its meticulous historical accuracy, this instalment offers a highly realistic representation of the French capital.

Despite facing challenges due to complex French copyright laws, which made it difficult to recreate certain buildings and structures, the developers managed to create a virtual Paris that remains remarkably faithful. So much so that the current reconstruction work on Notre Dame, after the fire it suffered in 2019, has made use of 3D models and photographs made by Ubisoft. For Assassin’s Creed Unity, the cathedral was recreated practically to a real scale, with almost 5,000 hours and a little more than two years invested to reproduce its entire interior and exterior.

The study relied on the assistance of external experts and respected historians. Even the developers thoroughly investigated the behaviour of the Parisian citizens of the time, thanks to historical documents, to recreate everyday life with great authenticity. The result is a virtual Paris that feels almost completely authentic to the time. Taking into account the current situation of strikes, riots in Paris itself and other instability and social injustice that is in the air, few virtual vacations look better than participating in events of the French Revolution, such as the Storming of the Bastille and even witnessing the beheading of Louis XVI.

San Francisco in Watch Dogs 2

Over the past decade, Ubisoft has built a reputation for open-world games that feature real locations in their titles. In Watch Dogs 2, the action takes place in the city of San Francisco, replacing Chicago from the first game. As in other virtual worlds based on real locations, the version of San Francisco in this title is condensed, meaning that the iconic locations are closer together than they are in real life. This compression is necessary to keep the map size reasonable and to optimize game resources.

However, that doesn’t mean the map lacks accuracy in other ways. Places like Rincon Park, the Golden Gate or Cupid’s Span are represented in a surprisingly realistic way, as are the emblematic Clock Tower and the Union Square shopping plaza. How Ubisoft managed to capture the architectural diversity that sets San Francisco apart has been particularly praised.

Even the detail at street level is astonishing, with traffic signs, lights, and vehicles a true reflection of the experience of living in San Francisco. Although the in-game map does not exactly follow the actual layout of the city and there may be some recognizable buildings and areas missing, exploring this virtual world gives you the feeling of walking through the streets of this city.

Hong Kong in Sleeping Dogs

It’s rare to find a contemporary GTA-style open-world game set in East Asia, so Sleeping Dogs is a real gem. His setting, Hong Kong, is even more exceptional. The environment recreated in this title conveys the same sensations as the original Hong Kong, from the colours of the garbage bins to the neon signs.

However, it’s important to note that Sleeping Dogs is not meant to be an accurate digital recreation of Hong Kong. At a general level or in a panoramic view, your skyline is not faithful to the real one. However, in the streets, buildings and small businesses, a beautiful balance is achieved at the micro level. Of all the games on this list, this is the one that feels like a vacation the most.

Hong Kong is impressively represented, if not recreated. The glow of neon cuts through the night, cars range from supercars to food delivery vehicles, street vendors are constantly trying to get you to try their pork buns or noodles, and you can even sing karaoke. According to Escapist Magazine, at street level, Sleeping Dogs has just the right look and sound, with road signs, lights, and vehicles that are just like what someone living in Hong Kong would experience. While the game’s map is missing several notable landmarks, exploring it gets the same feeling. Even a former member of the Triads, he confessed to Pocket-lint that the game captures the violence and brutality of Hong Kong, as well as the colourful characters that often inhabit dangerous criminal groups.

New York in Marvel’s Spider-Man

Marvel’s Spider-Man, the acclaimed superhero game from Insomniac Games, features an incredible recreation of New York City. Since much of the story takes place in a fictional version of Manhattan. Recreating such a large area would be impossible, so the development team had to make some changes to New York to make it work in-game. Still, in many ways, it’s recognizable as the Big Apple.

This iconic setting becomes a true canvas for the adventures of Spider-Man. The attention to detail is impressive, featuring emblematic skyscrapers and the most hidden corners of the city. Many of the most famous buildings are present in the game, from the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center to Central Park and Radio City Music Hall.

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Other parts of the map are a bit more generic, as the developers decided to condense some of the most memorable parts of New York and distribute them across the in-game map. Perhaps the best way to see how well this city has been recreated is to explore the area around the Empire State Building. It also includes other areas that only exist in Marvel’s New York, such as the Avengers Tower or Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum.

Unlike other depictions of New York, Marvel’s Spider-Man manages to capture the essence of the city significantly. Players can swing from building to building, explore the vibrant neighbourhoods, and immerse themselves in the daily life of the city that never sleeps, without having to pay $2,000 a month for a little room in Little Odessa. In addition to the most iconic places, the game also includes a large number of references and nods to the Marvel universe.

What is certain is that the development team at Insomniac Games took the time to research and capture the authenticity of New York. They used photogrammetry techniques to recreate the architectural details of the buildings and relied on real-world reference images to ensure visual fidelity.

Washington DC in Division 2

The recreation of Washington DC in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 game is a feat of realism and attention to detail. The Ubisoft development team strove to create a 1:1 version of the city streets using GPS data, which allowed them some creative freedom for the scenery design without resorting to actual store names or trademarks.

This action RPG is set shortly, when a pandemic has thrown Washington DC into chaos, and the player assumes the role of an agent tasked with restoring order and protecting civilians in the nation’s capital. To ensure the authenticity of the city, the developers sought advice from military experts and other professionals.

Architectural and urban design experts were even brought in to ensure an accurate representation of the city. Accurately including famous buildings like the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. The meticulous recreation of the city was made possible by extensive research trips by the designers, who collected all sorts of detailed geographic data and information. The result is one of the most realistic representations of a city in a video game.

Chicago in Watch Dogs

In Watch Dogs, while the game’s map is sizeable, it only encompassed a fraction of the real Chicago. The game is set in a fictional version of Chicago, Illinois, and follows the story of Aiden Pearce, a hacker who seeks to avenge the murder of his niece.

The recreation of Chicago in Watch Dogs is very accurate and detailed. The developers used satellite imagery and Google Street View to create a 3D model of the city that is almost indistinguishable from reality. This is full of recognizable points of interest, such as the Willis Tower, the Chicago River, and even La Cloud Gate and Millennium Park.

You can explore the city freely, whether on foot, by bike, by car or by train. You can also visit different neighbourhoods, such as the Loop, the South Side and the North Side; even participate in a variety of activities such as driving, rock climbing or skydiving. In total, the city is made up of more than 100 square kilometres of land with more than 1,000 points of interest, including monuments, museums, restaurants, and shops.

London at The Getaway

The Getaway is an action-adventure video game developed by Team Soho and released in 2002 for the PlayStation 2 console. This game takes place in the city of London and stands out for its attempt to recreate a virtually realistic version of the British capital, to be a title from 21 years ago. The recreation of London is notable for its attention to detail and its focus on capturing the essence of the city, although at the time the graphic quality did not allow for great immersion.

The game is set in various iconic London locations such as the River Thames, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace. The Team Soho development team put a lot of time and effort into creating an authentic representation of London. They used mapping technology and detailed photography to capture the city’s architecture and streetscapes.

They also paid careful attention to cultural details, such as accents and the London lifestyle, to provide a more authentic experience. While The Getaway’s recreation of London, as we’ve seen in previous examples, may not be entirely accurate in terms of size and scale, it manages to convey the essence and vibe of the city effectively.

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Barcelona in Wheelman and Madrid in Torrente 3

The truth is that Spain is not left out of this recreation. Some Spanish cities have been brought to the virtual world, as well as simple inspirations like Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Purple, circuits and zones in Gran Turismo 6 and Tony Hawk’s Underground 2. In Torrente 3: El Protector, based on the popular Spanish film series starring Santiago Segura, players have the chance to explore a virtual version of Madrid.

The game captures some emblematic places of the city, such as the Gran Vía, the Retiro Park and the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (the old one). Although the in-game representation of Madrid may not be completely accurate in terms of size and scale, it does offer quite a recognizable vibe.

On the other hand, in Wheelman, starring Vin Diesel, players are immersed in a virtual version of Barcelona. The game presents a recreation of the city of Barcelona, ​​with its iconic streets, such as Las Ramblas, the Olympic Port and the Arc de Triomf. As you drive through the streets of Barcelona, ​​you can enjoy a variety of exciting driving missions and challenges. While the recreation of Barcelona may not be entirely faithful in terms of architectural details, it offers a dynamic and action-packed experience for the whole family.

Like games like Cities: Skylines or Microsoft Flight Simulator they have paid special attention to a faithful recreation of many cities, but not for exploration at street level, hence the previous lines have mentioned other examples. Other games have also recreated cities that exist in real life such as Hong Kong in Shenmue II, Seattle in The Last of Us 2 and in Infamous Second Son, Tokyo in Persona 5, New York in The Division, Rome in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, Athens in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, London in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Tokyo in Yakuza 0, Chicago in Mafia II, Washington in Fallout 3, Las Vegas in Fallout: New Vegas, New Orleans and London in Watch Dogs: Legion and both the East and West Coast of the United States in the Horizon saga, among others. Some of these latter examples show only small parts of the city for specific missions, without focusing on a total recreation of the experience of exploring the city. As always, if you can think of more examples, you can mention them in the comments.

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