With Watch Dogs: Legion set to throw players into its dystopian version of London in just a few days, we’ve been thinking about other times England’s capital has been depicted in video games.
The city was first immortalised in the text-based adventure Streets of London on the Commodore 64, and has since been brought to life with increasing graphical detail, leading up to the next-gen visuals boasted by Legion.
Do you have a favourite version of London from games past? It might be just a level or an entire game, but remember, sims like Microsoft Flight Simulator or world-beating strategy titles like Civilization don’t really count.
Read on for the team’s favourites.
Feasting on patients goes against the Hippocratic oath, probably.
James | Assassin's Creed Syndicate
It's not often I look forward to stalking and murdering people, but the prospect of doing so amid Victorian London was enough to ignite the fiery passion of the killer within.
The game which succeeded at this feat was none other than Assassin's Creed Syndicate, the first and only entry of the series I've played as I mentioned in our review way back when. The joy of exploring its train stations in particular was a real pleasure, since plenty of historical details survive to this day.
While hardly a like-for-like representation of all of old London town, there's a consistent vibe and a fantastic attention to detail in the architecture that makes each district feel like a distinct part of the city.
The nature of the game, seeking out assassination targets and other open world objectives, lends itself to sightseeing. Plus if you keep to the rooftops you can leap about without being disrupted by baddies.
On top of all that, if you want to take it slow you can always take a ride in a coach or private train to take in the sights. What more could you want?
It's important to take a break from all the assassinating to drink in the view every now and then.
Liam | Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator might have been discounted by James, but he didn’t say anything about Combat Flight Simulator! I have fond memories of endlessly replaying this game, toying with the ultra-realistic settings (enabling finite ammunition made things especially tricky) and simply soaring through the skies in free flight to see how far I could push the various fighter planes.
While it’s not all set in London, a significant portion of the British campaign takes place in and around the skies of our capital, so I’m counting it. Of course, this being a flying game, the city itself was more of an afterthought than the main draw, and because it’s a very old flying game, London was pretty much a big blurry mess, but it was probably the first time I’d come across a game representing a location I was familiar with, which I thought was very cool.
If I’m remembering correctly, there might even have been a few iconic landmarks knocking about. I can’t be sure, but I seem to have a foggy recollection of trying to fly through Tower Bridge. Perhaps I’m getting mixed up, but either way, it was a great game set in a great city (sort of).
Did this really happen?
What's your favourite game set in London? Let us know below.
With grand promises of “affordable VR” as far back as the 80s (40 years ago, let’s not forget), virtual reality has always felt like a great idea which hasn’t ever reached its potential.
Now the latest wave of technology from Oculus, HTC and even PlayStation is reaching its newest iteration, and we’re starting to see that affordability dream become more of a reality.
The latest new release is the Oculus Quest 2, which brings the portability of its predecessor at a more affordable price - £300 in the UK - meaning for some gamers it might open up the platform for the first time.
So, is it finally time to take the plunge into VR? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Affordable, but could account registration issues spoil the experience for newcomers?
Having only tried one of Samsung’s early Gear VR iterations, my experience with VR is fairly limited. In that case, it had the benefit of using technology you already own (with my S7 Edge at the time, to give you an idea of how long ago it was), but the performance wasn’t the sort of quality you can find today.
Oculus has been at this game for a while now, and the lineup of titles available for the Quest platform is up to 200, so I feel like there must be something for most people. Whether it’s enough to get over the physical barrier of settling down to put on a headset, rather than just picking up a controller or switching apps on a phone.
If you’re looking to expand your gaming horizons, you might be tossing up whether to dive into the next generation right now (assuming you can actually get hold of a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X pre-order), but perhaps the Oculus Quest has more potential to deliver gaming experiences you haven’t had before, since VR itself brings more variety of gameplay than the lukewarm PS5/XSX release lineup.
If the Quest could handle something like Star Wars Squadrons, or could be paired with the new Xbox Series X and/or S then perhaps that would be the perfect (if more expensive) outcome. For now, the Quest is more suited for lighter experiences, but perhaps that’s just what you’re looking for.
Star Wars: Squadrons on Quest 2 (without needing a link cable and compatible PC) would've been a big selling point.
I own and adore the original Oculus Quest; the convenience is supreme, and has seen my PS VR headset fall by the wayside. Despite that, I don’t plan on upgrading to an Oculus Quest 2.
The price and boosted spec are booth great, but I’m not up for ditching my Oculus account in favour of forced Facebook integration. I mostly avoid using any social media, other than what’s required for my work, so having the issue pushed just doesn’t sit right - especially when Oculus originally promised it wouldn’t happen.
Having eyeballed the new Oculus user agreement, Facebook will be selling data associated with linked accounts. Stuff like how users move and the size of their hands is fair game, with the next logical step being analysis of the environment(s) that Quest 2 is being used in.
£300 for a quality standalone headset and two motion controllers almost seems too good to be true, and that’s probably because it is, with the value of your data serving to subsidise the cost. It honestly feels seedy, leaving me opposed to the very principle.
Slamming the breaks and switching gears, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners and REZ: Infinite are a pair of great launch games. Thankfully, they’re compatible with the original Quest - which, as a bonus, isn’t garishly white - so I can still play while dodging Facebook’s meddling.
The original Quest lives on with critically acclaimed titles like REZ: Infinite still being released on it.
What are your thoughts on the Quest 2? Let us know below.
While remakes and remasters are far from new in gaming, changing the look of a beloved character is still risky. When Sony debuted Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered – which comes bundled exclusively with Spider-Man: Miles Morales - Ultimate Edition on PS5 – featuring a new look for main character Peter Parker, people noticed.
Reaction to the news was less than positive. So much lament was on show from so-called fans in fact, that members of the development team received death threats and other abuse online for the decision.
According to Insomniac Games' Creative Director Bryan Intihar, the face capture for Peter Parker was changed from actor John Bubniak to model Ben Jordan, to provide a “better facial match” to voice actor Yuri Lowenthal.
Since we also saw strong reactions to the look of characters in Marvel’s Avengers, this week we ponder whether that was the right decision.
Eight years of battling bad guys and web-swinging around New York City is good for you, apparently.
While sending death threats is totally inexcusable, especially over something so trivial, I have to say that I’m not a fan of the new-look Peter Parker. I don’t really care what the guy looks like (although it is a little uncanny that he resembles Tom Holland now), but making the character appear so much younger hurts the game’s narrative.
Insomniac made a point of emphasising that their take on Peter Parker was older and more experienced than usual, albeit still in his mid-twenties. Parker’s age is a cornerstone of the story, influencing his work and personal relationships along with his stance on issues as Spider-Man.
As I understand it, the script hasn’t been reworked to match the more youthful character model, which has definite potential to cause a disconnect. Perhaps most concerningly, Peter Parker is supposed to be a mentor to Miles Morales, but now Parker just looks like one of Morales’ school friends.
Whether the decision to change the character model was purely technical as Insomniac suggests or not - and I do suspect not, as the Tom Holland resemblance is very convenient - I think it was the wrong call. Not because I prefer the old actor or I won’t adjust to a new collection of pixels, but because it doesn’t make narrative sense in Spider-Man: Remastered or moving the series forward.
Juggling superhero duties and personal relationships is probably what gave OG Parker those worry lines.
First, I’ll echo sentiments Sam and James have already put forward: threats over this sort of thing are simply out of order, even if people are upset about the changes.
I’ve still not played the original Spider-Man (it’s very much on my to-do list once I finally get my hands on the right hardware) so I don’t really have much of a stake in this debate, but having watched some comparison videos I can totally see why some fans might find the update a little jarring.
As Sam mentioned above, the new Peter Parker is very much a younger looking iteration, and doesn’t seem at all in keeping with the game’s narrative of a more mature 20-something Spider-Man.
While a visual overhaul of the character isn’t exactly game-breaking, I do have to say I prefer the original look, so I’ll probably pick up the PS4 version whenever I get around to playing the game.
Having said that, I won’t be avoiding any sequels or spin-offs if this is how Peter Parker is going to look from now on, as I’ve no doubt the best bits of the game all take place while Spidey’s wearing his mask.
It doesn't matter what Spidey looks like when his suit is this cool.
What do you think of the new-look Peter Parker? Let us know below.