The best game set in London isn’t what you think
London shows up in a lot of games. It’s in a lot of Call of Dutys, which is the biggest shooter franchise in the world. It has the distinction of being the only non-US city ever depicted in GTA, which is the biggest crime franchise in the world after the royal family. Blimey, Ubisoft have done London four times, they can’t get enough of it. It even pops up at the end of Mass Effect 3.
But very few London-based video games are made by London-based teams, such is the nature of a global industry like ours, and so many of London’s virtual facsimiles often don’t quite hit the mark. We’re not talking about botched geography here: it’s one of the biggest and densest cities in the world, so we can certainly forgive a bit of artistic license when it comes to shrinking it down to manageable proportions for a game map.
No, we’re talking about the cultural details and foibles that most of a global audience wouldn’t notice. Watch Dogs Legion, for example, is an incredibly accurate recreation of Central London in terms of its geography, probably the best that’s ever been conceived. But there are some story contrivances and missed memos that betray the game’s Not London origins. The tuna puns that adorn every fish and chip shop. The fact that all the national railway terminals are closed off completely, virtually abandoned, accessible only in some story missions. When in reality, spaces like Waterloo and Liverpool Street are enormously important in London life. They are bustling hubs that serve as vital transport connections, but they’re also grand cathedrals of the city’s vast lunch n’ breakfast based economy. Most of Britain’s wealth is shuffled around by people in those big glass towers, you see, and they don’t have time to make a packed lunch.
London isn’t really a Driving City, but Watch Dogs Legion is a Driving Game set in a location where traffic rarely gets above 20mph, and the vast majority of UK drivers I know actively avoid going into it. It’s a Train City, but in Legion, there are no trains. The tube is relegated to set dressing for the fast travel system. Essentially a set of loading screens. It’s not London, it’s a London-esque reskin of a North America.
I’m keen to see what the Fallout: London people come up with, because that project looks like it really understands how to leverage London as a location. And it has a lot of real-world history that could easily be folded into Fallout lore. Hey, you like underground bunkers? Mate, London’s got loads of ‘em. There used to be one in the back of every garden.
Anyway, to find out which London-based game is the best ever, you’ll need to watch or listen to this here podcast here. Handily, we’ve provided several ways to do so.
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“What is the Best Games Ever Show?” you ask? Well, it is essentially a 30-minute panel show where people (Jim Trinca and associates) decide on the best game in a specific category. That’s it. It’s good. Listen to it.
Come back in a week for another exciting instalment of the Best Games Ever Show.