Games of New York: Five Games from the Big Apple

Written by Jake Tucker

June 30, 2016 | 10:42

Tags: #grand-theft-auto-4 #max-payne #new-york #the-division

Max Payne

Games of New York: Five Games from the Big Apple
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'Snow was falling like ashes from post-apocalyptic skies, but that was outside. Things would soon get hot in the Don's restaurant.'

Despite his improbably silly name, Max Payne is a dour chap. After NYPD detective Max Payne comes home one day to find his family murdered by junkies, he goes undercover. A little while later, while undercover, his handler is murdered in front of him, and slowly, everything spirals out of control.

Max Payne is brash, bold and a bunch of other b words, but in a world where nothing is what it seems and Max isn't sure who to trust, New York City is a constant companion. It's a game that couldn't exist anywhere else - the NYC mobsters, cold skyscrapers and a cataclysmic blizzard are all essential to the story. Toss in a boatload of Norse mythology and you've got a great action game, which admittedly is a little long in the tooth (Oh god, not another dream sequence! - ed)

Grand Theft Auto IV

Games of New York: Five Games from the Big Apple
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While GTA IV's Liberty City might not be New York in name, it's a minor distinction. Liberty City is the best video game recreation of New York City we'll ever see committed to game format, with the city living around you. It may not be a street-for-street recreation (although True Crime: Streets of New York has one of those if you're that way inclined) but it captures the spirit of the city in a way nothing else has really managed since.

You get to experience it for the first time with Niko Bellic, an immigrant coming to America for a better life after surviving an unspecified war back in Eastern Europe. What he finds instead is crime, corruption and a past that won't let him go just yet. GTA V might be more vast, but the story told here is more intimate, and as you watch Niko struggle to become a better person, more upsetting.

Obviously there's some narrative dissonance as Niko sobs over his life of crime shortly before executing 40 police officers in a Clucking Bell, but being able to visit Rockstar's approximations of New York landmarks, forever frozen in 2008, is one hell of a draw.

Tom Clancy's The Division

Games of New York: Five Games from the Big Apple
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The jury is still out on whether or not Tom Clancy's The Division is a great MMO, a mediocre one or simply one that narrowly missed finding an audience, but this MMO featuring government agents taking the fight to the various gangs (and also a few looters) that have taken over New York City during a crisis is well worth your time.

It doesn't feel much like a "true" Tom Clancy experience, with headshots often being less than lethal and your characters being able to wade through gunfire dished out by those several levels below you, but it's an enjoyable game, and after that you can always check out The Dark Zone.

The Dark Zone is the best part of The Division, a chunk in the middle of New York where chaos reigns and players fight each other and the AI gangs to get their hands on the best gear. After a few hours in The Dark Zone, the real question you'll want to ask is: why isn't the entire game like this?

What are your favourite New York based games? I also wanted to include Mafia 2, Deus Ex and The Darkness but I could probably go all day. Let us know your favourites in the comments.
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