"All your base are belong to us, D'Arcy!"
Nothing serves to liven up a flagging franchise like a swift change in scenery. One well chosen setting can often mean the difference between years of tedious iteration and the freshest breath of air this side of a screaming dentist. Grizzled space marine starting to lose his lustre? Better redeploy old Muscles McGinty to that civil war in Candyland. Wacky mascot becoming just a little too laid back? Time to nuke his 'Sunshine Shores' into oblivion.
While some series make a habit out of hopping from one historical era to another, it can often feel like today's developers aren't being nearly ambitious enough. After all, who says that Solid Snake can't battle the blob men of Mars, or that Lara Croft shouldn't exhibit a whole lot of ankle around 18th Century society? Just think of the scandal! *exaggerated faint*. It's with these ludicrous examples in mind that I humbly present eight more nonsensical settings for your pleasure and amusement. Let the acid dream sequels commence!
GTA set in... the Stone Age
As yawning gaps in the market go, the entirety of human history is a pretty big miss. Praise be to Ubisoft then for filling that gap with every era of human misery imaginable. From the smelly old Middle Ages to the toff-chopping French revolution, Ubi's best-selling Assassin's Creed franchise has seen and done it all (give or take a couple hundred other civilizations). Unfortunately, for the likes of Grand Theft Auto and its speed-obsessed kin, no cars usually means no dice, unless that is you learned everything there was to know about the ancient world via re-runs of The Flintstones.
Just imagine Niko Belic blasting through goons at a local rock quarry, before making good his escape atop a towering Pterodactyl, or Michael and Trevor knocking off the Bedrock bank, as Franklin quite literally cools his heels in the getaway car. The possibilities are almost endless. Need to call up a bud? Just shout down this dinosaur's neck. Fancy a quick game of lawn bowls? Grab a couple of T-Rex eggs and let's get to it. Yabba. Dabba. Crime.
Resident Evil set in... 1960s 'UFO mania' middle-America
If modern day horror movies are to be believed, then the entirety of Earth's psychopathic population currently resides in small town, rural America. Where better then to revive Resi Evil's ailing mojo than one of these isolated outcroppings of humanity? Think The X-files meets True Detective, with a dash of Resi 4 and a side-serving of Alan Wake. Hell, you could even set it at the height of UFO mania--ala the mid-60s-- and deny players everything from cellphones to the world wide web.
Unhinged hicks are one thing, but trying to call the cops using an old fashioned rotary dialler in a creepy middle-of-nowhere farmstead? Now that's terrifying. Hello, officer? My brother and my father are a zombie, and its trying to eat me. Yes, thankfully theres only one of them. Please hurry, uncle.
Dead Space set... during the 1960s moon landings
"One small step for man, for giant leap for mankwait what was that? Buzz did you just see that? Oh my god, there's something in the suit. Houston, it's some kind of *static* it's got Buzz! *excited radio chatter* it's eating my eyes!!!" Welcome, dear reader to 'Nasty Space', the Dead Space spin-off that trades in slick space suits and limb-rending firepower for bumbling Michelin men on the moon.
Thought it was tough trying to outfox those mutant meatbags aboard the USG Ishimura--just try doing it in gear less advanced than your average household toaster. After all, nothing screams terror (or accidental comedy shenanigans) quite like pogo-ing around the lunar surface, pursued by a toothy space-beast.
Splinter Cell set in... medieval times
The idea of high tech time-travelers interacting with old school simpletons is hardly a new one. A modern man stumbles back in time, flashes his smartphone around, and everyone learns to live a little. Cut to an angry mob, a hilarious montage sequence and one woefully unfair M16 v.s spear battle and you've got yourself a video game. It's Splinter Cell in the age of Thief, and for once Sam Fisher holds every conceivable advantage.
Those prancing palace guards dont have a prayer against eyeball bursting flashbangs--and as for these so-called samurai--yeah, get ready to samu-die (credit: Steven Seagal, probably).
Okami set in... modern day Russia
You'd think Russia had enough on its plate right now--what with failure of the 'mecha-Putin' program--without a horde of mangy mutts to contend with. It seems that Moscow's population of highly intelligent canine hobos (opens in new tab) has recently taken to riding the city's rail network in order to get around. Sounds pretty adorable, huh? Well city officials seem to think otherwise, and are actively pursuing these knapsack-wielding ne'er-do-wells one unfortunate pooch at a time.
Enter Amaterasu, star of the cult classic video game Okami, and patron saint of all canine-kind. Having righted the wrongs of ancient Japan, Okami 2: Red Thunder (patent pending), would relocate this benevolent wolf god to the mean streets of modern day Russia. In keeping with the sequel's contemporary bent, Ammy's old paintbrush is now a magical spray can, while her patented back-mounted wheel weapon becomes--yes, you've guessed it: a WMD. For an extra helping of revenge, Ammy can even call upon the services of Laika, i.e. that dog the Russkies blasted up into space back in the mid-50s. As the old Russian proverb goes, hell hath no fury like a space dog scorned.
Hitman set in... WW2 Europe
Those damnable Nazis certainly have had an easy time of things recently, what with the ongoing decline of the WW2 genre keeping them out of our crosshairs. Sure, Wolfenstein: The New Order might have thrown a few skull crumbling punches their way, but these nasty bastards deserve much, much worse. As anyone who's seen Quentin Tarantinos Inglourious Basterds can attest, getting to cap Hitler and friends at a swanky gala event can transform even the most run-of-the-mill shindig into a real Nazi party--and who better to lead the festivities than Agent 47 himself?
Granted, like many of the entries on this list 47 would first have to figure how exactly to achieve time travel. Then again we are talking about a man who successfully assassinated an entire clan of ex-cons in nothing but a clown suit--so compared to that, bending the very fabric of time ought to be a breeze.
Total War set in... Modern day east London
Only in England could a bulging beer gut ever be described as a first line of defense. You see, in spite of its worldwide reputation for beaver-toothed, tea sipping softies, this little island nation is also the home of hooliganism. That's football hooliganism, to be precise, a kind of fat man's fight club that gained its fame in the early 1960s and has been swinging ever since.
Thanks to Blightys ban on firearm sales, many of these backward brawls tend to take the shape of a mass scrum--something the Total War series knows all about. With the titanic franchise quickly running out of historical eras to peruse and plunder, a one-way trip to the east end of London could be just the ticket this battling brand needs. Just replace gallant knights with tracksuited orc-men and deadly katana for soap-filled socks and you're already halfway there. Sure, the overworld map might look a little different, (trashing the local pub isn't quite the same as levying a land tax) but in a world where Frodo Baggins can comfortably pass as a ruffian (opens in new tab), all things are technically possible.
Shadow of the Colossus set in... the nightmare future
What is it about giant murderous mechs that so attracts them to colour coordinated teens? I mean, if you ask me, those Power Rangers were bloody lucky to have survived 18 odd seasons of non-stop combat. For one thing they never once figured out that forming the bloody Megazord first might've solved a ton of their problems. Instead they just faffed about playing with giant-sized Meccanos while evil lord Zed crushed another orphanage. Fortunately, most modern mechs come complete with a brain stem of their own, a fact that makes killing the blighters just a little bit more like homicide.
Murdering supersized sentient hulks you say? Sounds an awful lot like Shadow of the Colossus, and it is. In this re-imagining of the cult classic PS2 title, Wander 3000 must explore a post-apocalyptic planet earth in search of 16 entirely innocent mechs. Simply clamber aboard, tear out their innards and ride off into the sunset. Job Done. Except it really isn't. With each victory, Wander becomes more and more machine-like, to the point where he's routinely shooting crotches like an enraged Robocop. Sign me up.
God of... the late '80s?
How many other titles could do with a change in location? What are the most overused settings in all of video games, and why aren't there more Somalian pirates in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker? Answer all of these questions and more, by hitting up the comments section below, or alternatively, just keep on living your life.
More features for you, sir? Try 8 Dark Secrets Hidden On The Fringes Of Your Favourite Game Worlds (opens in new tab) and this other thing on 12 Video Game Worlds You'll Never Forget (opens in new tab). EVER.