Open world environments found in today's video games has been popular for over the past two decades however one of the more rare and interesting features on these environment is how a few of these games, are set in real life, capital cities found in this world. Capital cities are cities which represent a country to their fullest. A good definition of a capital city is one being a city that contains government buildings and its meetings to help run the country. Making a video game set in these locations are almost a feat in itself. It shouldn't be a surprise that these games are set in such locations could be seen as almost a marketing poly in itself however you'll be surprised to know that the last two entries aren't are set in such locations, that those game locations almost went unnoticed.

Funnily enough, despite the times we live in and the amount of games out there, with many set in open world areas, there's aren't much games set in different cities. They're all pretty much set in the same time, mostly in London, across four games. Tokyo being second, found featured across three games and Paris and Rio De Janeiro coming in third, found in two games with the open world setting. Despite the setting, the cities are limited (many due to hardware limitations) as developers try to capture and create as much as they can to create on the hardware at the time, as the location is the main sell then the characters and mechanics of those games. Many games surprisingly are good because they have great mechanics and make their locations tied in extremely well, so they should be noticed for that.

Midnight Club was the first game in the Midnight Club series. Developed by Angel Studios, before they were renamed to Rockstar San Diego and released for the PlayStation 2 in 2000, the game is a open world racing game. The game is set in London and New York. The player takes the streets to look for other street racers and to win races. Many reasons why Rockstar Games set the game in London and New York. Rockstar founders were both born and raised in London while their Rockstar Games headquarters were based in New York, so maybe it was easy for them to get the resources to make the game cities. The cities were fairly plain, with buildings being simply blocks with detailed textures pasted on them, to give the cities the feel to what those cities are known for. London has a lot of decorated textures to make the city feel classy and that's pretty much it, with landmarks, the common being Tower Bridge being featured in the game.

Interestingly enough, this was Rockstar Games true attempt in making a game set in London, as they published The Italian Job, which was set in London in 1969 with an open world city in sandbox mode and their missions pack for Grand Theft Auto in London, so it was time for Rockstar to finally make a game in the area. The game was extremely hard and at the time, the graphics were considered good, despite the lack of lighting and textures unlike future games, considering midnight Club 2 ramped the graphic quality from what they could get from the hardware to make it more worthwhile.

A unusual entry but the best the game could be, despite the limited drive and open space. Euro Truck Simulator for the PC was a truck simulator game and funnily enough, almost, the entire game are set in capital cities. It's not as big as the cities found in other games but you could get away with Euro Truck Simulator. Despite the scale the game aims for and how quickly it is to preform deliveries, the game does feature industrial sides of cities like Paris, Berlin, Warsaw, Lisbon, to name a few. An expansion of the game included Edinburgh and London, with two or three roads in and out of the cities. You can preform short deliveries in the cities if the player doesn't want to go across the country and could experience the game as it is and from the beginning as there's not much to go.

SCS Software, the developers of Euro Truck Simulator had later spawned many spin offs such as British Truck Simulator and German Truck Simulator. The game later had a sequel titled Euro Truck Simulator 2, adding so many cities and countries, with their cities and capital cities. Maybe more fitting but with the amount of deliveries across the continent to travel into cities, you'll hardly come and visit the capital cities. The game does an excellent job fitting in landmarks found in those cities, if you really want to get into sightseeing. It's maybe worth mentioning that the Truck Simulator series is seen as more friendly in terms of gameplay, as in not as violent fuel like many other games on here or as action packed and dangerous like many of the racing games featured (as crashing in fast cars, also kills), so it's interesting how Euro Truck Simulator 2 features as many capital cities as they can but it's not as common to perform deliveries in the same city, that those cities are extremely limited as the other smaller cities make up the gameplay as the majority of the what game expects the player to complete.

The Getaway was developed by Team Soho released for the PlayStation 2 in 2002. Originally set to be a game for the first PlayStation, the game later delayed and development was shifted onto the PlayStation 2. which got some interest however the game was let down for being too linear and having glitched gameplay. The game covered a good section of London, from Baker Street to the East End to some parts, South of the river. The game has two stories which weave into one other. the first chapter playing as organized former gang member named Mark Hammond who gets dragged back into crime world to try to save his kidnapped son and the other following police detective, Sam Carter, who uncovers police corruption as he helps Mark Hammond save his kid.

The game being set in London, at the time, when gang members at the time, wore suits and ran bars, trying to fit the scene during the 80s and 90s, which captures the scene at the time and the popular interests the wealthy would take in and throw in the crime drama that many players wanted to see such as a shootout at a bar, raiding an art gallery and storming warehouses. The game also features car chases. The Getaway features fully licensed vehicles, which helps bring the city to life a step more. One of the other draws was the removal of the HUD and the getting to the location requires looking at the turn signals on the vehicles to get to the location, which was a big deal back then to show how realistic a game could get but almost feels dated today. The game was followed by a sequel Black Monday, which followed the story of three new characters and two different story arcs (depending on the players decision later in the game). The game was horrible and average at best, mostly due to the bugs in the game. Some of the developers of the game Team Soho, went on to work to form Team Bondi, who had created L.A. Noire.

Gangstar series has been slowly known but has been overshadowed by many popular open world games, with their most popular game being Gangstar Vegas. Developed by Gameloft, they had released Gangstar Rio, on the Android, a standalone game set in Rio De Janeiro, following a gang member named Angel, who attempts to escape the crime scene but finds himself in an explosion, which kills his girlfriend, while he survives. Angel takes to the streets, to uncover the death of this girlfriend and to find who is responsible. The game's story is told in a linear story and completing it reveals more of a story. The players can meet various characters who are fitting for the game setting.

The city in the game is set on a round island based on Rio de Janeiro, which isn't close to Rio de Janeiro, other then how the city looks, maybe to fit the game on the android devices at the time and maybe to make to title feel more like a game and not to be as real as Rio de Janeiro. The city is known for its homicide rates however the figure as been falling but there's still gang activity, so it allowed it to be a source for the game. Another reason could be as Brazil's interest in gaming as been extremely strong as much as other popular countries, so to give Brazil their own setting for a video game on it's own, similar to Grand Theft Auto. The game is still on the Google store.

Tokyo Xtreme Racer is Japan's official take on the street racing scene. Starting off as a series known in Japan as Shutokou Battle by Genki, the developers have gone their way to continue to make the series and on various consoles. With highway racing in Japan being common, it shouldn't be a surprise that Genki has made a game of the scene. Tokyo Xtreme Racer started on the Dreamcast with Xtreme Racer 1 and 2 and slowly found its way on the PlayStation 2 on Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero and 3 and for the Xbox 360 under the title Import Tuner Challenge.

Despite the nature of the game being set in Tokyo, it's very linear in terms of racing, where you simply have to outrun your rival on the highways and limited routes as the game is straight duelling against the other racer. That's pretty much it. Not much going on and taking different routes, or different exits is pretty much the only competition the game offers, as you drive and taking in the sights of Tokyo. passing by buildings and the road rendered in concrete and tarmac. It's almost stone everywhere and the game gets away with looking great at least but doesn't reach to looking interesting unlike the later entries. Genki is pretty much the only company in Japan who are paying homage to the scene and giving a more realistic take and the cars are fictional, so Tokyo's highway is the closet the game gets to the realism of the city.

The Fast and The Furious game for the PlayStation 2, maybe the first official console game (an arcade game came out first), when the series was starting out and popular before Vin Diesel took the rights of the series. Tokyo Drift allowed the game to be set in Tokyo and allowed players to experience the scene however it was a straight forward racing game and nothing more, unlike the future mission based driving games that soon followed. In terms of gameplay, there's not much to do, other then just drive and find meet up spots to race and then the outrun mode. The outrun mode is approaching a racer while driving on Tokyo's colorful highways and to simply outrun the racers. While free roaming, the game is nice enough to let the player know when a split is approaching, so the player could know and drive smoothly onto a different route. The game makes use of the city and Outrun races spawn nicely in a way that makes driving around the city with ease. The cities has locations, such as the docks, which allows the player to access cars from aboard of Tokyo, which gains access to the American made cars.

It's almost exactly the same as Tokyo Xtreme Racer but more colorful to be different and created to appeal Western audience and making the most of the growing interest in the films, also including some iconic sights such as the Rainbow Bridge which makes for a good backdrop for a meet up spot. The best thing about this game is that the cars are officially licensed, unlike Tokyo Xtreme Racer. Such as the 2006 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, being the fastest car in the game and features Han's Mazda RX-8 which makes the city much more realistic. The game allows you to take on other racers, which also includes the characters from the film but are only seen by name in the description and their car (no ingame character models, not until Showdown). The game also includes a drift mode and events, which are set on the mountains, Japan is well known for. where the most is almost set, which makes the other half of the game, so it's not so much a racing game, to make the drift part which Tokyo Drift is known for. The Fast and the Furious game is a underrated game which was over-shadowed by the Need for Speed games at the time and many racing players of the generation recommend this game and has got a strong following.

Midnight Club II was developed by Rockstar San Diego and released in 2004 for the PC, Xbox and PlayStation 2. Being a sequel to Midnight Club, this game is more true to the street racing scene as the game is set in Tokyo, birth of illegal street racing but with that, Los Angeles and Paris is included in the game, maybe little surprised Paris appears and in open world form, to cater to the European styled street racers to meet and race in one city. prior to Midnight Club 2, Midnight Club was considered good in graphics but Midnight Club II really pushed what how the first game, looked. Midnight Club 2 is set in Los Angeles, Paris and Tokyo. The game starts in L.A. to get a feel about driving and meeting and beating other racers. After that, you are taken to Paris and Tokyo.

Despite being set in a city setting, the racing is extremely unrealistic and most of the track isn't just road. Race courses are laid out on other terrain such as railroads, sewer and canal lines and alleys. In terms of the game being set in Paris, the game allows the player to race in the catacombs and to driving on the Louvre's pyramid, maybe to fit with the humor that Rockstar Games is known for, usually seen in the GTA series. From the game's title, the game is set mostly during night. Players can also race during the sunset to sunrise. The free roam mode allows players to change these settings, so there's freedom in the game. Tokyo returned in Midnight Club 3 D.U.B. edition as an extra city. Midnight Club 2 was made purely for fun but succeeds as trying to use as much of the cityscape as possible to make the game more entertaining,

Watch Dogs: Legion was developed by Ubisoft Toronto released in 2020 for the PC, PS4, Xbox One and newly current generation consoles Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. The game is set in near-future London where a series of bombing turns the city to an oppressive state ruled of a private military group who forcibly governs the city. The game follows a group of hackers who are framed for the bombing and seek to clear their names but at the same time, seeks to get rid of the military government who aims to control the cities citizens. By doing this, players can recruit a vast array of characters, ordinary people usually found in London, to help them in their goal to defeating the group locking down the freedom in the city and to try to drive them out.

The parts of London are very post and classy. Being a 2020 game, as games look more real and feature a vast array of content, Watch Dogs: Legions filled what to expect from a game set in London at the present day, having a wide range of characters from different ethic backgrounds who were born or settled in London and raise there, many of whom could be recruited for the game, as well as interacted with. The vehicles are fictional but it's close enough, considering that the game features the modern day RouteMaster, the double decker buses which have the more slick look to the taxi, along with other vehicles, to capture the feel of the traffic found in the city.

One of the most interesting choices are the locations found in the game, such as Hackney, Lambeth and Camden, which are heavily known for their urban culture (not the first time Hackney was featured in a video game, it was also featured in the racing game Blur), while locations such as Knightsbridge, Nine Elms and Southwark making the wealthy parts. Nine Elms was clearly featured, maybe to represent the US Embassy found in London, which was rebuild to its modern design in 2018, which has quickly found itself into the game, being a heavy interest. The game has many sights to see and being a 2020, included buildings which were built since the release of previous games. Buildings such as the Gherkin (that pineapple shaped building), The Shard, the tallest building in the city, yet and the Walkie Talkie building which is shaped like what it's named after, have all been built during the last decade and found themselves in the game, allowing this game to offer the most refreshing take of the city, yet as the game story is told.

Driver 2 was released on the PlayStation in 2000. It was an open world driving action game and set in four cities. Two of those cities being capital cities, Havana, Cuba and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Driver 2 was well known for being the first true 3D open world city game, allowing the main character John Tanner to enter and exit vehicles in an effort to complete missions in the game, maybe the locations of the cities have helped make the most out of the games mechanics and the choices are interesting.

Cuba and its capital city Havana at the time, was well known for being a car museum, as strict car law in the country to require permission to import vehicles from aboard, which is why many cars are pre-1960s or from the Soviet Union, which gives the city traffic, it's unique feel to it. The same goes for Rio De Janeiro, that has the modern feel at the time. The choice of all the cities may also be because of the textures as they weren't resorted to a bland look on buildings in the game. The cities itself, may have been in the game for gameplay purposes as Havana as curvy streets on the coastline with a gird layout in the inner city while Rio de Janeiro had more of a landscape for the player to drive around in. Being the last city in the game, Rio de Janeiro offers the game story more of a finale, because of the location. Maybe another reason the game is set in Rio de Janeiro was to give Brazil some spotlight, as the country is extremely populated and enjoy video games, which is often mentioned sometimes.

Midtown Madness 3 is a racing game for the Xbox and released in 2003. The Midtown Madness series is known to be set in series. Midtown Madness 3 is set in Washington D.C. and Paris. Washington D.C. being the capital of the United States of America and possibly the only game to have a rendition of the city as it is. Other then being the most popular cities in the world to visit, Midtown Madness 3 has the player driving across these cities as freely as they want, while taking part in races and completing driving based missions as well as finding collectibles within the city landscape. The series was well known for being made by San Diego based Angel Studio, however they were bought out by Rockstar Games and went to made the Midnight Club series. Midtown Madness 3 was instead developed by Digital Illusion CE (who also made the Battlefield games) and published by Microsoft.

There are hardly any games set in the capital of the United States of America. They either set in New York, Los Angeles or a city that has so much character to it, to be seen in a video game, so you'll least likely find a game set in the city of Washington D.C. It's interesting from a technical standpoint to why these cities were featured side-by-side. Washington, if not any other America city have a grid road layout while Paris has more of a sprawl from the river, as it's a city form before when people decided that the grid layout was much more easier to build cities on, so there's a good change of gameplay when taking part in both cities and not limited to just looking a bit different from each other. Specifically those cities were featured to make the game, maybe to be more friendly and not as mature themed like Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City, which was extremely popular at the time, so Microsoft maybe wanted to have an open world game for their Xbox, which was fun and for a wider audience. There's no other game set in modern day Washington but then would there be, as the city maintains a character that isn't thought about for a video game. Maybe too early to think about it.

So, some other titles out there, which I can't get hold onto...

Moscow Racer - Never got an release outside Russia. It was widely publicised during it's development in 2008, (with the help of the internet, of course), so I'm not sure if the open world was used in game, other then the cruise mode that was available, to free drive around Moscow.

The closest attempt of putting a city like Berlin, Germany and Warsaw, Poland in a video game is from Team 6, a Dutch developer who placed their cities in their racing games but these games were only released in Germany. German Street Racer features racing courses in Berlin and 4 other cities and European Street Racer has circuit in Warsaw, Poland. A shame, they're not open world but maybe that's being saved for another time.

The Italian Job (2001 - PC) set in London in 1969, the same time as the original movie. The sandbox mode allows you to drive around London as well as another city in the film. It has barely changed despite being set in 1969.

That's the list and it is a shame that there isn't as many games which are set in other different capital cities, considering how there's over hundreds to choose set in open world environments from but maybe that's how video games should treat the idea of the settings. Who knows which capital cities found their way, next in a video game. As many early games are being set in capital cities, maybe as later video game later found that gamers aren't as interested, to the point where developers are focused on different cities to suit the style of gameplay and there's cities which aren't so keen in being in a video game, to begin with, so it's not considered a focus on anyone's mind. Who knows and maybe with video games being extremely common now a days, maybe some developers are in hopes of making that game in a capital city and the rates these games could come out at. We'll never know. I suppose we can enjoy what we already have.


List by 91210user
(01/20/2021)

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