A look into some amazing game universes, and their intricacies.
What is it about the game world that reels you in? Is it the disregard for other virtual life? Is it the quest of epic proportions? Could it be the magic, the war, the technology, or the variety of inhabitants?
Whatever it is that interests you about a game’s world, it is in truth the whole game universe that should be receiving your total attention. The universe that a game is set in affords players a set of norms and rules that over time, they not only get used to, but find comfort in. Every sequel and spinoff then becomes comparable to the player’s first foray in the universe of that game.
While some sequel experiences may leave players wishing they were back in the first game, others add many interesting layers to an already enjoyable experience. Some may focus on a new protagonist or a different time within the game’s verse. Others still continue the original story with new stomping grounds.
Consider if you will, the wondrous, magical world of Grand Theft Auto. Even though the game started as a top down driver, as soon as Grand Theft Auto III burst onto the scene, the gaming world had a new force to reckon with. The open world masterpiece had it all.
For starters, there were a ton of missions of all varying difficulties, and varying levels of fun as well. When not progressing in the story, players were free to explore the fictional Liberty City. For all its mayhem, GTA had managed to perfectly parody the suburban and city crime world.
But it wasn’t until the games kept on rolling out, each with its own city to parody, that we could truly appreciate the GTA universe as a whole. Vice City gave us the GTA version of my hometown Miami back in the 80s. San Andreas took us to the twisted version of the West coast, taking us through the game’s version of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Francisco. Liberty City was then revisited, followed by the stunning revisiting of Los Santos just last year.
The game has seen a plethora of sequels and spin-offs, but no matter where players roam, it all feels like home. Familiar characters are mentioned across the games, the available car types are all familiar, and the quirky personalities and story lines feel like they can only be found in a GTA game. It is a well thought out universe, and one that I hope won’t be going anywhere any time soon.
Another shining example of a game universe done right has to be the Pokémon series. Though profoundly similar, each game delivers new enemies and locations to explore. The game changer with Pokémon though, are the lovable creatures themselves!
Within the Poké-verse, each region has its own library of over 100 Pokémon to find, train, and battle. The path to becoming a Pokemon master changes with each installment. Every iteration is so unique, that each one has its own fan base.
The Pokémon Universe is expanded upon almost every year, and even then, no one seems to mind the remakes. It is a well thought out universe, and one that holds its fans captive. Other games would do well to delve deeper within their universes.
Look at the latest game in the inFamous line up. Even though series regular Cole wasn’t at the helm, the new face Delsin Rowe provides a fresh opportunity to take a new character into the Infamous world. The new locale doesn’t hurt either. But even with the changes made, everything you’ve come to find out about the Infamous Universe remains constant.
This is the beauty of expanding a game’s universe. You can see the world through new eyes, have all new adventures, and take on fresh problems. All while staying within the universe that you’ve grown accustomed to.
That’s where spinoffs can shine as well. Sometimes the most popular character isn’t the one you get control of. For example, Metal Gear Solid 4 turned one of the most hated characters in Metal Gear history into a cyborg ninja badass.
It wasn’t long after that fans of the newly reformed Raiden got news that they would get to take control of the high frequency blade in Raiden’s own game, Metal Gear Rising. Though it strayed far from the original games of its name sake, It still offered an adventure that in its own way flaunted its Metal Gear roots.
It has to be said that even Assassin’s Creed and Final Fantasy have taken their universes to all new heights, each with a unique way of complimenting the stories within them. AC games show you many periods of time within one universe through genetic ancestral memories. Final Fantasy games share so many similarities despite having such wildly different stories that I like to imagine they are the same world in different dimensions.
So next time you’re playing that hot new game, take a moment to notice the things that make it what it is. When the sequel comes out, note the sense of familiarity you have with the game. Some people remember epic games, but try to notice how amazing a game universe can be.