Games with the best Urban/city Environments?

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A_Cute_Squirtle

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So, I sadly shipped off Persona 5 today after accepting the fact there was no way I was going to invest 100 hours to see the end of the story, but I really enjoyed my time crawling those city streets. I'm curious, what're your favorite city environments in games? I know urban is a complicated catch-all for city life, but I'm thinking as broadly as possible here. I had fond memories swinging through Spider Man 2's vision of New York, thoroughly enjoyed Liberty City in GTA IV.

Any titles that you feel are the crème de la crème of city-sights?

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hans_maulwurf

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I'm currently playing Watch Dogs 2, and with regards to recreating the physical space of a city, I think it's one step above everything else. I've really enjoyed a lot of great open world cities in the past, Los Santos in GTA V, Hong Kong in Sleepy Dogs etc. But SF in WD2 kinda makes me feel like all those are more condensed "Disney Land" versions of cities whereas that's the real deal.

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Relenus

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Sleeping Dogs, you really get an incredible sense of how Hong Kong is just this dense city packed on top of itself three times over.

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bigsocrates

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#4 bigsocrates  Online

I'm currently playing Watch Dogs 2, and with regards to recreating the physical space of a city, I think it's one step above everything else. I've really enjoyed a lot of great open world cities in the past, Los Santos in GTA V, Hong Kong in Sleepy Dogs etc. But SF in WD2 kinda makes me feel like all those are more condensed "Disney Land" versions of cities whereas that's the real deal.

Wasn't True Crimes, Streets of LA basically one-to-one in size? I liked that game, though the city didn't feel all that lively and was definitely not realistic. L.A. Noire had a big map of LA too, maybe actual size for the time period depicted?

I think my favorite game city is probably Paris from The Saboteur, which was just gorgeous, I loved the black and white sections and adding color and it was just a great city to traverse. I also loved Prototype's New York, but that was more because it was fun to run around than for feel or style.

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A_Cute_Squirtle

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@relenus said:

Sleeping Dogs, you really get an incredible sense of how Hong Kong is just this dense city packed on top of itself three times over.

I wish there had been more in-building environments, but you're absolutely right. It's also peak "wet pavement," but what gorgeous pavement it was.

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devise22

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Will share the sentiments with Sleeping Dogs, the city in that just felt so vivid and alive. Even better than most GTA games imo.

Probably a more underrated shoutout but I thought the entire InFamous franchise did a great job with the city/urban feel. Even as they changed cities each time they managed to really nail down a sense of place. Always populated enough too that you just got a feel that stuff was going down, even in the weird pseudo super hero style plot stuff they were doing.

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hans_maulwurf

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#7  Edited By hans_maulwurf

@bigsocrates: I mean that more in regard to the scope and feel of the city, the vistas you get and how naturally connected everything seems, not so much the exact street layout (I wouldn't know that anyway, never been to SF) or the sheer size (thankfully the amount of square kilometers a map covers seems to matter much less for games marketing these days).

I also agree with Saboteur. That game was technically underwhelming even when it came out, but the unique art style makes it hold up really well.

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csl316

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The first Infamous had a really cool, giant city to explore. 2 had a fun environment but it wasn't as oppressive as Empire City. It kind of felt like Twisted Metal: Black's city levels. Impossibly huge prisons and bridges made it feel entirely unrealistic, but it was unforgettable to me.

Then Second Son put it in Seattle, which is as bland a city as you can get. (unless you develop out of there, I suppose)

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Fredchuckdave

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Witcher 3, San Andreas, Sleeping Dogs, Halflife 2, AC 2, Brotherhood, Syndicate

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Rejizzle

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All the inFamous games have great cities, that mesh well with the super powers.

Sleeping Dogs felt very "Hong Kongish." I know it has very little resemblance to actual Hong Kong, but it was exactly what you would want from a video game version of the city.

Hulk: Ultimate Destruction I remember being a great city, with an okay desert level attached to it.

Finally, Paradise City was a great city, albeit a city designed exclusively for driverless vehicles.

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nicksmi56

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I really like the Infamous games' cities. They're the ones that were so intuitive I found myself finding my way around through landmarks rather than just staring at the map.

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notkcots

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Say what you will about Deus Ex: Mankind Divided's story kind of going nowhere, Prague in that game is a really great hub. Admittedly it's the only one in the game, which is kind of a big disappointment after HR, but it really is jam-packed full of stuff and it's great at establishing the (HR Spoilers) post-Aug Incident world. I logged 20 hours on that game just burglarizing the different apartment buildings around town before I even started doing the main story missions.

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ArtisanBreads

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I think GTA by far leads the way for me.

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planetfunksquad

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splatoon

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tomaac

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#15  Edited By tomaac

Probably one of few things Assassin's Creed games actually do well, is creating live, pretty towns/cities, that are just nice to look at. Not very interactive, but pretty and atmospheric.

Also Watch_dogs 2. Every NPC has their own little story you can get when you hack them. A lot of random stuff is happening around you, even without you interacting with anything. All the little details makes it feel alive.

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Fezrock

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Nice shout to Saboteur. I didn't much like the gameplay, but I agree about its city look; especially the black and white.

I also want to bring up Saints Row 2. Stillwater felt like a real, and scummy, city. Also, there were just a huge number of buildings that you could go in to at any time; many of which you'd never visit in any missions and that often had no indications that they were open. They were a bonus for actually exploring the city.

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EthanielRain

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#17  Edited By EthanielRain

I still play Prototype sometimes just because it's fun to "fly" around that city. Though it might be more the flying (and murdering people) itself than the city, it's left the biggest impression on me.

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Humanity

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The Division actually had a pretty fun representation of NYC. I especially liked the parts where you walked into brownstones and saw those abandoned apartments.

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Relenus

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@humanity: It was really weird how they turned the Javits Center into a movie theater. Other than that, it's a pretty good representation of midtown NYC.

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BonOrbitz

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Saints Row: The Third for me.

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NTM

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#21  Edited By NTM

I think GTA 5 on current-gen in first person is great if you're looking for something realistic, although you know, with the satirical style GTA is. It has a realistic feel of walking around the city area, and it looks great when you're off in the distance and just looking at it from the hills or houses to the north of it. The Division is fantastic with its wintry New York setting. Rapture may not be what you're talking about, but that's fantastic as well. Arcadia in The Longest Journey and Dreamfall is pretty cool. I actually somewhat liked Judge Dredd Vs. Death's Mega-City One. I'm trying hard to remember the best of the best, but I'm kind of blanking, probably because I'm tired. Oh, Rainbow Six Vegas is good. The first Mirror's Edge is decent. Oh! ODST is great. Human Revolution... Hm. Maybe I'll back and put more on when I think of some. I thought Arkham Knight did it pretty well.

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Humanity

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@relenus: Yah as someone from New York that knows Manhattan there were plenty of these weird moments where you totally recognize some part of a street only to turn a corner and feel like you stepped into some other dimension because that shouldn't be there!

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constantk

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@humanity: I came here to mention The Division. As someone from a flyover state I really liked the feeling of a city that that game created even if I had no idea if it was accurate. Good to hear from those of you who know.

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GuitarGod

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sleeping dogs easily

watchdogs 2 and GTA 5 close second

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Rebel_Scum

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I played AC Syndicate just for seeing if I can walk around London and walk around just going by my memory of the place. It did not disappoint. It's not exactly to scale and ultra spot on but I could easily navigate around the joint.

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alistercat

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mikemcn

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I find myself using GTAV on the PC as a first person walking sim, just looking around, hearing the street noise and watching the AI do it's thing is amazing. I've never seen a game emulate the real world with such detail. It's a portal from the rural area I live to the busy city.

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fisk0

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#28 fisk0  Moderator

Not really the open world design most here seem to think of when talking city environments, but I'll still say Duke Nukem 3D. I have issues with other aspects of that game, but damn, it does some really interesting city environments with functioning subways and stuff like that, and in the 20 years since, very few other FPS games have tried to do that.

The Darkness also comes to mind as doing some similar things, and Mirror's Edge had a wonderful city to look at, even though your ability to actually explore it was pretty limited.

And, I don't know, the old Neuromancer game for DOS/C64/Amiga failed to capture the mood and scale of the sprawl of the book, but there still was something about that city that I fell in love with.

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A_Cute_Squirtle

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Any 2D/isometric examples ya'll can think of? So far you all have really given me the desire to play Sleeping Dogs, but I'm interested in getting non-open world examples, too. I really loved the depth of field present in Cities: Skylines and how the cities looked as you build them, but I'm also terrible at it and never got it to the metropolitan paradise it could be.

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bigsocrates

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#30 bigsocrates  Online

@a_cute_squirtle: This is going to sound nuts but the city in Stick it to the Man really drew me in. It was like a dark Nickelodeon cartoon. About half the game takes place outside the city so I do not know if it is enough but I literally wanted to visit the city from that game. Something about it was so vivid for me.

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millionthlayla

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The Urbz: Sims in the City for GBA

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moregrammarplz

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This is gonna be a weird answer but I really liked Mega City from The Matrix Online. To me, it was the perfect dystopian city.

There were upwards of 50 unique neighborhoods to explore. Each district had its own lore and its own mix of gangs fighting over its territory. To the north you had a downtown district that, at first glance, looked quite safe and inviting - until you got into the alleyways between the skyscrapers and came across backroom deals gone wrong between organized bluepill crime and representatives from the city's corrupt megacorporations. To the east you had a grungier urban sprawl called Richland, home to decaying urban housing developments and gangs of Exiles who have modified their RSI to resemble creatures like vampires and ghosts. And then to the west you had Westview, which was an absolute wasteland littered with burned-out cars and collapsed buildings.

Layered on top of this was the ongoing tug-of-war between the three playable factions - Zion, The Machinists, and the Merovingian. You had all sorts of cyberpunk vernacular and weird concepts - bluepills, redpills, exiles, programs, agents, residual self-image, and hardlines. Man, it was so good. I miss that game a lot.

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soulcake

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#33  Edited By soulcake

Dyinglight has some amazing third world country / urban Arabic city building. Felt like a lived in city/town.

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deactivated-5a00c029ab7c1

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Sleeping Dogs

Max Payne games

Condemned Criminal origins

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BoOzak

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  • Tokyo - Yakuza & Persona 5
  • Hong Kong - Sleeping Dogs & Shenmue II
  • Shanghai - Deus Ex & Kayne and Lynch 2
  • City 17 - Half Life 2
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paulmako

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I haven't been wowed by an urban environment since GTA IV. At least, I think that game was the biggest jump to me.

I'm also going to give a shout out to Boston in Fallout 4.

It's still got performance issues and isn't enormous but it seems like a minor miracle that it works at all. It's a huge improvement from the segmented environments of previous BGS games. The added vertical level design is also great.