We gotta get out of this place...
The fact that people are hanging out in BioShock's Rapture makes sense. Andrew Ryan's city is a wretched pit of derangement and horror, but its decline went hand in hand with the mental degradation and open imprisonment of its citizens. Human presence explained.
Some video game locations make less sense. Some are unremittingly horrible, yet their locals seem perfectly happy to persevere. These are the video game locations only an idiot would live in, and full of idiots they certainly seem to be. Let's start with...
Pacific City (Crackdown)
So your city is being torn apart by street warfare between rival gangs. Never mind. You can probably deal with that as long as the local law enforcement is strong enough.
Theyre superhumanly strong? Excellent! Oh, but now theyre using that strength to throw cars around, perform pavement-crunching leaps off 80 storey buildings, and generally blow the crap out of everything in the vicinity, collateral damage (concrete or squishy) be damned? Yeah that could be a problem. Still, at least theyre not secretly a fascist organisation intent on ruling the city with an iron fist once theyve mopped up the crime problem. Oh theyre into that too? Oh well, could be worse. Could have zombies.
The City (Thief)
Theocracy is always a slightly worrying start. But when youre stick in the middle of a three way grudge match between a trio of fanatical factions in a dark, crime-riddled, supernatural city of eldritch steampunk dread, you know youre living in the wrong post code.
The Hammerites are a technocratic bunch, believing that industry and order are the way forward, and taking a hardline approach to corruption or those even suspected of being involved in it. The Pagans are an unpredictable chaos-worshiping lot, always happy to commit blood sacrifice in order to keep the plants fed. Fortunately there are also The Keepers, a self-appointed secret society with the task of maintaining balance between the two. Unfortunately theyre an arcane, Machiavellian bunch with a secret magical doomsday device in stow in case things go wrong. Time to move.
Oh yeah, Pandora looked great at first. A vast, unspoilt wilderness of fresh resources and new potential. Problem was that in their eagerness to settle the place, not one person applied the astrophysical knowledge required to ascertain that Pandoras seasons are seven years long and that once spring kicked in, all manner of burgeoning new horror might spring up. Someone really should have looked into that.
Because once Pandora burst into life, it turned out that all of its life was just horrible. This is a planet where even the plant life will electrocute you, so good luck with the big-toothed mammals. Oh, and everyone there is either mentally ill, a megalomaniac, or a mentally ill megalomaniac. There is no reason to live on Pandora. If you live there your life has gone wrong and you should put it right immediately.
Santa Destroy (No More Heroes)
Santa Destroy isnt so much a town as it is a dumping ground for junk no other town wants to deal with. Judging by the various jobs Travis can complete as side missions, it has a graffiti problem, the gardens are overgrown like an alcoholics stubble, the rubbish collection has stalled (and the refuse piles up so fast that it will literally respawn in front of you), the place is infested with scorpions, and the beach is full of undetonated landmines.
Oh, and the worlds top 10 assassins all call it home and use its every municipal facility as a playground. For murdering each other in. Hardly surprising that the streets are so desolate.
The Red Planet (Unreal Tournament 2004)
First up, a planet without a sun is basically going to be freezing. If it has an indigenous population, said population can only be made out of brass monkeys... who no doubt spend every waking hour desperately searching for a welder. Even worse than a sunless death-planet though? The fact that all natural light on the world is emanated via a borderline unholy atmospheric reaction which bathes it in a deep, blood-red glow. Oh, and that glow has been documented to drive a man insane after 18 hours of exposure.
Strike this planet from the maps. It holds no sensible use for mankind.
Tuchanka (Mass Effect)
The Grim Reaper in planetary form. Once a pleasant place, the Krogan homeworld rapidly turned into a blasted, unlivable wasteland, coincidentally around the same time the Krogans discovered nuclear power. Its now an ash-covered, radioactive, alkaline hellhole, upon which nearly every surviving species is predatory. Including the plants.
Wherever you are on Tuchanka, something will be trying to kill you, even if its just the atmosphere. Unsurprisingly, the Krogan population exploded as soon as they reached any planet than wasnt flat-out disgusting. Yet eventually they went back. Idiots.
The Grunt homeworld is a bizarre place, not least because its so aggressively unpleasant that you really would imagine it to have bred a hardier, more resilient bunch than Halos eminently explodable squeaky-voiced combat-trolls. Its beyond freezing, hitting -33 Celsius during its two annual winters and leaving the safest place to live the tidal flats where the naturally occurring columns of fire happen. Oh, and on top of all that, the place is in the middle of an environmental collapse as a result of over-industrialisation. And disease is rampant. And they still live there. And are still piss-weak.
Grunts, you cant get anything right.
Sera (Gears of War)
Lets ignore for a second the decades-long war tearing a planet-wide scar across the surface of the world. Lets ignore the fact that the only thing that stopped humanity ripping itself apart was the emergence of a race of subterranean gun-toting Morlocks intent on the rapid, desperately unsubtle deadening of every man, woman, and child on the planet. Forget the fact that barely any human beings are now left due to the COGs tactic of glassing half the planet in order to slightly slow down the Locust.
Instead, consider the fact that the planets core is made out of molten poison, its hail storms will turn a man to puree in a second, and its bats will eat whatevers left alive before it even gets a chance to say Oh for fu Now consider why the hell humanity ever settled there in the first place (assuming theyre not indigenous) or hasnt directed generations of its technological research towards the sole cause of building a space program and getting the hell off.
Hyrule (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
Hyrule is a dump. A hellish, uncharitable, creepy nightmare-land that no sane human being should want anything to do with. Theres enough horrific ribald wrongery going on to fill a feature in itself, but for now, think about the following:
Its countryside fills up with skeleton zombies at night. Every night. Half of the plant-life wants to kill you. The chickens attack in organised hit squads. If youre not in the middle of the zombie field, youre in a scorching desert, freezing, underwater, or dodging falling lava in a place called Death Mountain. Theres a village right next to Death Mountain and it contains a well full of horrors, a house full of mutated humanoid half-spiders, and a haunted graveyard. Containing a tomb full of more zombies. Oh, and every few hundred years, a vengeful nutjob wrecks the place in a never-ending cyclical quest for supremacy. You do not want to live in Hyrule. It is a silly place.
Metro City - Condemned series
Hey honey, so, Im not entirely sure this is the best place to bring up little Billy and Rosie any more.
Whys that, dear?
Oh, you know, the exponential rise in violence, the explosion of mental illness, the rampant social decay, and the governments complete refusal to even acknowledge the problem, let alone do anything about it. The old neighbourhood just isnt what it used to be. Hey honey, what are you doing with that table lamp? Youre getting that weird look in your eyes too. You know, the one I said looked a bit murdery. Are you okay?
So those are some of the worst video game places to live. But are there any particular crapheaps you think we've missed? Any bizarrely populated havens of horror you feel we should highlight? Let us know.
And while you're here, why not check out What are your favourite places to visit in gaming? and Our favourite Sims 3 WooHoo locations.