6 Video Games Set in Los Angeles
The City of Angels, Los Angeles — home to some of the world’s biggest film stars, and the birthplace of several hundred of the films we all know and love. It’s a city of towering skyscrapers, sun-kissed mountain tops, and a thousand dreams blooming and dying every day. It’s also a setting for some of the most exciting battles and adventures in film, TV, and of course, video games.
The deceptive nature of the media industry around which Los Angeles thrives, makes it the perfect city for stories of struggles of good and evil, tales of addiction, epics of success and failure, and duality-themed characters to take place. Here are just a few video games set in Los Angeles that take advantage of the metaphorical depths of the city to do just that.
L.A Noire (2011)
The video first game that come to mind when thinking about video games set in Los Angeles, might be the thrilling mystery/action game by Team Bondi, where you don the dapper attire and magnifying glass of detective Cole Phelps, and try to solve crimes by staring at a motion captured performance and attempting to determine whether or not the actor was trying to give telltale signs or not.
While the rest of the video game was arguably successful in trying to give us something unique, one of the best features of the game was the depiction of late-1940s Los Angeles. The fashion, the music, the manner of speech, all helps to create an immersive environment that you can show your grandparents to check for historical accuracy. You’re able to explore everything from the bustling heart to the mysterious suburbs, accompanied by era-accurate tunes, streaming through your car radio, alongside the police scanner. While you’ll certainly enjoy the in-game city, especially if you’ve been to L.A before, try not to stray from the road. You’re a policeman. “Protect and serve” and all that.
Battlefield: Hardline (2015)
The first in the Battlefield series to revolve around crime instead of war; brings you L.A through the eyes of Nick Mendoza, a Miami Police Detective as he spends years following a drug chain. Sure, you only get a brief look at the streets of Los Angeles, but it’s worth mentioning here, as the video game succeeds in recreating the city’s sunny exterior, littered with palm trees swaying in the breeze as their shadows extend across their concrete surroundings. Admittedly, it does feel relatively empty. Didn’t anyone tell DICE? Emptiness is what L.A keeps on the inside.
Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
Los Santos is a city of towering skyscrapers, sun-kissed mountain tops, and a thousand dreams blooming and dying every day…sound familiar? Can’t imagine why. From the famed ‘Vinewood’ sign to Galileo Observatory, Los Santos throws a nearly endless barrage of signs, speeches, and people parodying the city’s real-world counterpart without mercy. The result is a parody city that somehow manages to reflect L.A with painful accuracy. You can’t help but wonder when and how its video game counterpart became more meaningful than half the things you find in the city of angels. Aesthetically, the city looks fantastic, though it should be noted that certain liberties were taken, for obvious reasons. But it is, in essence, a perfect reflection of Los Angeles. One that’s fully populated and brimming with activities and adventure, both thrilling and mundane. Just like the real Los Angeles.
Call of Juarez: The Cartel (2011)
Keeping in theme with crime in Los Angeles, Call of Juarez: The Cartel, gives you three agents hunting down the cartel using any means necessary. Sure, the video game isn’t all that great, and if you really look at it, you’ll see that it’s pretty damned racist. To its credit however, it does a decent job (purely aesthetically) of showcasing the seedier side of L.A, complete with rusting chain-link fences, humble shacks, and dust-covered streets. If only they had decided to portray the social problems contained within the plot with a bit more realism, it would have been a video game based in Los Angeles worth playing.
Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines (2004)
This fantastic oldie possesses one of the better depictions of Los Angeles. It’s certainly not an accurate one in regards to layout (given its age and the technical limitations of the time, that’s no surprise), but all the important features of Los Angeles are present— the looming towers of glass and concrete Downtown, the over-the-top, pseudo-exotic architecture of Hollywood, and the laid-back thuggish exterior of Santa Monica. The best thing about it is that, while the game revolves around vampires and their intricate secret society hidden beneath the facade of our mortal one. The portrayal of their society works in conjunction with the game’s portrayal of the mortal one, instead of letting one overshadow the other, which is one of the reasons why the was able to offer such an immersive environment, and one of the reasons why to this day, it has such a substantial following.
Dead Island 2 (Upcoming)
This game isn’t out yet, but from what we understand, it will be set in California and from what we’ve seen, Hollywood and the Santa Monica Pier will feature in it. Do you really care what it look like? Aren’t you just excited to see the city overrun with zombies to shoot? Well, if you do have any concerns over what the city looks like, rest assured, it’s a fantastically rendered, beautifully designed, truly realistic depiction of L.A. The Hollywood sign stands proudly on the side of Mount Lee, shimmering in the sunlight, watching over the city as zombies fill it and destroy life as we know it. Excited yet? The highly anticipated L.A-based game is due for release some time this year.