Top Ten Video Games Set in Chicago
When Chicago's Meigs Field was destroyed in the middle of the night by King Daley in March of 2003, there were a surprising amount of protesters from around the country who condemned the incident—not because they had personally used the tiny downtown airstrip for travel, but because they had fond memories of beginning every version of Microsoft Flight Simulator there. Since its first appearance in the series in 1983, Meigs Field became ever more realistic with each version, mirroring the intense advances in graphics as video games matured. For many, therefore, the loss of Meigs Field was as much the loss of a hallmark of video game history as it was the loss of treasured span of their lives. A common joke of the period ran: "Meigs Field wasn't destroyed; it was just uninstalled."
By and large, though, the video game industry has not been kind to Chicago. Despite its epic history of human triumph and organized crime, its magnificent architectural heritage and myriad neighborhoods, and the infamous corruption and envied resilience of its populace, Chicago has been the setting of very few games. Instead, Chicago's cousin New York hogs most of the attention, to the point that seeing the smashing of the Big Apple has become more cliché than frightening.
This is not to say that interest is lacking. In 2006, for instance, Rockstar Games announced Grand Theft Auto: Chicago on April Fools' Day, resulting in over 30,000 unique visitors to the site eager to read about Johnny Rosselli's 1933 gangland quest to end prohibition and to get revenge for being framed for the murder of his family. While many obviously realized it was an April Fools' joke, many readers expressed a strong desire that this game actually be made.
Below you'll find what I believe are the 10 best games that feature Chicago. As there are only a handful of games which are fully set in Chicago, I have instead chosen games based on exceptional levels featuring the city, either for their faithful depiction of the city of Chicago or entertainment value in a memorable Chicago setting. I have also excluded sports games, and focused instead on entertaining mainstream video games.
I obviously can't include every game, so I'll include a couple of honorable mentions before I begin. The devoted should check out Railfan: Chicago Transit Authority Brown Line for the PS3, which allows the user to control a train on the CTA's Brown Line. (This game would have been more successful if they allowed you to confront thugs, kick off panhandlers, and yell out the window at people who weren't fully inside the doors.) The truly hardcore, however, should check out the deliciously horrible Japanese-exclusive Michigan: Report from Hell. Despite its name, Michigan (named for the lake, not the state) is set in Chicago following the outbreak of a virus that forces city residents to turn on each other. Armed with only your camera, you run around the city capturing images of the infected for the news, finding life-saving items, and getting points for stopping to look up a reporter's skirt. (It's Japanese, remember?)
And now, the Top Ten: