There aren’t many games that really pack a punch in the ‘wow-factor’ department. But every now and again, a clever team of boffins make a world so visually stunning and interactively astounding, you can’t help but start a slow clap at your tv… on your own. So here’s a list of my top five breathtaking vistas. In particular, the moment when you first step out into the world.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Picture the scene: It’s 1998. You’re putting up your Spice Girls posters, you’ve fed your Tamagotchi and you’re still coming down from watching the show stopping, “There’s Something About Mary.” Well, that’s what I was doing. Most people were playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. There’s something quite incredible about stepping out into the Hyrule Fields for the very first time. A partnership of gorgeous graphics and a seemingly endless landscape, Ocarina of Time gave gamers their first real sense of an open world game.
Although the map was separated into sections, each world was unique and at the time, Hyrule was in a league of its own. Gamers were perfectly adjusted to blocky, two-dimensional trees blocking off the map. Or the static clouds painted onto the skybox. When Ocarina of Time came around, it was unbelievable. For the first time, we actually had the ability to explore. The feeling of riding Epona across the endless fields was second to none.
4. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
The Assassin’s Creed games revolutionised so much of the gaming industry. Especially for those who may have though Mirror’s Edge was pretentious garbage with a senseless storyline. Assassin’s Creed took place during the Renaissance and Ubisoft cleverly wove recognisable faces, stories and most importantly, buildings, into the story and game. It’s incredible to be able to look upon the many historic landmarks of the Italian Renaissance period such as the Roman Colosseum and Pantheon. But climbing atop a church spire or watchtower to take in such an amazing and vibrant tapestry is incredible. The city not only feels alive but also compelling.
3. Fallout 3
Okay, okay. So I may have a slightly biased view on the Fallout series if you’ve seen my picture on the Meet Us page. It goes without saying that Fallout is the greatest thing in the history of mankind. Ever. But the moment you open the doors of Vault 101 and look out into the Capital Wasteland is a moment of video gaming history. The sheer impact of the world you know in the not to distant future, ravaged by nuclear war gives the player a truly unsettling feeling. We picture the future to have new technology, faster broadband and to be free of Adam Sandler. But what we see is something so different. The world is devastated and deserted but at the same time so full of character. Coupled with the futuristic robots, weapons and armour of the Fallout universe; Bethesda deliver a raw and bittersweet dystopia.
When you think about jaw dropping worlds, you can’t leave out the Bioshock series. “So why haven’t you put Bioshock Infinite on this list? You absolute deadbeat!” Well, I was really torn between the two. But the first Bioshock just edges it for me for two reasons. One reason is that it was our first look at the dystopian city of Rapture and what the boys of 2k games were really capable of. As soon as your pod begins its descent into the city, you can’t help but be blown away by what you see. Rapture’s retro-chic, towering skyscrapers and eerie lights create a uniquely chilling yet fascinating experience. Plus, there’s a freaking whale in it!!
My second reason is purely based on the way the cities are first presented. We travel to Rapture in a cool submarine-like orb with Andrew Ryan describing the ideologies and history of the city. With Bioshock Infinite, the city of Columbia is without a doubt, beautiful. But it’s a bit silly. I mean, a floating city? What makes it float? How do these people breathe? Shouldn’t they be frozen?! At least “The Little Mermaid” prepared me for a city at the bottom of the sea.
Bethesda definitely know what they’re doing when it comes to gaming worlds; but Skyrim absolutely takes the biscuit. As soon as you step out of Helgen, you’re presented with a world so large, it makes the player seem so insignificant.
Now, there was a lot of hype around this game, and I was a little sceptical. I mean, it couldn’t be that good… could it? Well the answer was yes.
From the astonishing views atop the Throat of the World to the rich, verdant forests of Pine Forest, the land of Skyrim is extraordinary. This game’s huge world encourages you to explore and become enchanted within it, leaving a wonderous gameplay experience and a stream of drool from the bedroom to the kitchen.
Agree with the list? Let us know your suggestions in the comments or on twitter: @restartreplay OR @stewd003
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