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Skyrim. Liberty City. Rapture. Never before at any point in gaming history has technology allowed us to experience this level of living and breathing worlds. Step into one of these and you can almost FEEL life exuding from the denizens and features of these game worlds. Feel free to go exploring beaches, abandoned buildings, shops, snowy mountains, or forests in lush detail. When you enter a well-crafted world, you become another one of its inhabitants, and you indeed actually feel like it.
Some of course have shined brighter then others, and provided themselves as some of the greatest pinnacles of game design in recent years. I'd like to talk about some of those here.
SKYRIM - Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
One of the most near and dear to many gamers hearts, it is a lush rugged terrain of forest, mountain, and tundra. When you step in the world of Skyrim, it is to give up the look and feel of modern day, and trade it to traverse this terrain to make it to quaint Nordic villiages, flowing rivers, and dragons eyries tucked away on tops of plateaus. In the world, you find people living their existences in each and every house, store, and farm, with immaculately laid tables, items put away on shelves neatly, and clothes in dressers. Truly, Skyrim is one of those worlds that seems to continue whether you're in it or not.
LIBERTY CITY - Grand Theft Auto IV
In stark contrast to the alpine forests and snowy mountains of Skyrim, Liberty City is a sprawling urban jungle of cars, pedestrians, skyscrapers, and slums. Homeless people camp out in alleyways, wealthy ones glide over the water in their speedboats, and police wait in their cars for the slightest inkling of wrongdoing. There are stores you can visit, apartments, or you can even just cruise around the highways. Never before has a game captured the feel and environment of a big city so well, especially the Big Apple.
ARKHAM ISLAND - Arkham Asylum
Now, I haven't touched Arkham City yet, so I can't speak for the city itself, but I can certainly talk about the island. A sinister dreary locale filled with ivy-covered buildings, overgrown gardens, and crumbling walls, which houses some of Arkham City's most criminally insane. Inside the buildings you can see the hallmarks of modern day culture such as computers and electricity, while in the background you hear the chilling screams and laughs of the inmates amongst the empty cells. Definitely something that wouldn't have been nearly as immersive had it been limited by the tech ten years ago or more.
THE GALAXY - Mass Effect Series
Certainly one of the most expansive game world offerings, the story of the Mass Effect series spans an entire galaxy of planets rife with feuding, battles, and races trying to keep their place in the universe. You can zoom around the world, see breathtaking futuristic views throughout the game, visit the Citadel (the pinnacle of technology in the game), and go to varied ocean, jungle, and desolate worlds. It does an amazing job of showcasing both expansive views and subtle nuances all in one unforgettable experience.
RAPTURE - Bioshock
An underwater utopia turned dystopian in the 1960's, the effects are shocking. Buildings once glorious have now fallen into disrepair, the contents strewn everywhere, and mutants roam the halls. When you're at the windows you can see the true awe of the game, this hell you battle through has the glimmering water of the ocean floor outside it providing a sharp contrast with the horror you're facing.
Truly, this has been one facet of games that has been noticeably improved by modern computing technologies. Immersiveness in gaming has reached to amazing heights. In the worlds of games today, you're able to let yourself slip more and more into the places the programmers have created for you. You're no longer bound by how unrealistic something looks, you can finally explore terrain you might never get to in real life.
For when you walk in digital worlds, you rediscover what is and what may be in your own.