The London Games Festival 2017 is in town until April 9, which is quite apt really considering how often the capital has appeared in pixels. Here are 22 games set in our city.
This typing adventure – imaginations were required back in the day – kicked off with your character dumped on the social ladder’s lowest rung. Your goal? To chase the Thatcherite dream of securing a swanky new life in leafy Hampstead.
‘Give My Regards to Broad Street’ (1985)
Based on a frankly atrocious Paul McCartney movie of the same name, this ‘80s curio saw you playing Macca himself. The aim was to race around London (gloriously devoid of traffic in 1985 it would seem) to pick up fellow band members from various tube stations, before rushing them to Abbey Road Studios in order to finish off a track for his new album. In case you were wondering, Broad Street was a railway terminal which once stood beside Liverpool Street.
‘The Rats’ (1985)
Okay, so the graphics might not be able to compete with the latest Xbox One games, but if you were to boot up this old cassette you’d be in for some real chills. Based on James Herbert’s 1974 novel, this creepy part-survival-part-strategy game immersed the player in a London gripped by panic, courtesy of a killer rat plague.
‘Werewolves of London’ (1987)
This vintage yarn taps into the ‘80s craze for lycanthropes, a shapeshifting, wolf-like monster (see ‘An American Werewolf in London’ and ‘Teen Wolf’) and had you roaming around Hyde Park and the tube both in human and doggy form. The aim was to hunt down the eight aristocrats who put a curse on you. And then eat them.
‘Jack the Ripper’ (1987)
Released just before the 100th anniversary of the Ripper’s notorious killing spree, this adventure was largely text-based but featured several unsettling digitised images. Needless to say, it was stamped with an 18 certificate, said to be one of the gaming industry’s first.
‘Dracula Unleashed’ (1993)
With its dark, grainy visuals, the only thing on this FMV (full motion video) more diabolical than Vlad was the acting. The pesky Count had arisen once again and in your quest to skewer his heart you’d encounter a gaggle of cockneys whose dodgy accents would make even Dick Van Dyke blush.
‘Soccer Kid’ (1994)
After being pinched by an alien, the World Cup trophy is smashed to pieces and scattered across the globe. It was up to Soccer Kid to track the fragments down. During the London leg, you have to negotiate rats, roadworks and marauding skateboarders – who said games weren’t realistic? London’s skyline was quaintly represented and it being 1994, there wasn’t an Eye, Gherkin or Walkie-talkie in sight. How things change, huh?
‘Tomb Raider 3’ (1998)
As any tube geek will tell you, Aldwych tube station is one of the network’s coolest ghost sites – made all the funkier by the fact it appeared on Lara Croft’s bucket list.
‘Grand Theft Auto: London 1969’ (1999)
This early GTA caper plonked you right in the heart of swinging London and has a cracking soundtrack to boot. Shame the map resembled an American grid system though.
‘The Getaway’ (2002)
If Guy Ritchie did games they’d probably look like this. ‘The Getaway’ was the ultimate geezer-game and boasted a surprisingly accurate layout of central London for you to race cars, shoot civilians and cause general mayhem in.
‘The Italian Job’ (2001)
1960s London? Check. Snazzy motors? Check. Sir Michael Caine impersonator? Check. What’s not to love?
‘Hellgate London’ (2007)
The ravens have fled the Tower, plunging the capital into a post-apocalyptic nightmare where hell beasts and marauding ghouls abound. Still slightly better than your average commute though.
‘World of Subways Volume 3: London Underground Circle Line’ (2011)
Hands up who’s ever fantasised about getting their grubby little mitts on a dead man’s handle? Thought so. Allow me to introduce the answer to your dreams.
Ever fancied the idea of sneaking into Buckingham Palace for a cheeky peek? ‘ZombiU’ allows you to do just that. It’s just a shame the undead are out to spoil your fun in this zombie-filled caper.
‘Mass Effect 3’ (2012)
A fleet of colossal alien starships – the Reapers – have totally invaded Earth and, as fate would have it, humankind’s final battle with the off-world meanies takes place in London… or at least what’s left of it.
‘Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games’ (2012)
The gaming world’s most beloved mascots team up for the biggest event the East End’s ever seen. As well as the usual sporting events, there’s also a London ‘Party Mode’ which offers players the chance to jog around the city’s streets in a Pac-Man kinda way.
‘Gran Turismo 6’ (2013)
A segregated race track looped around Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus? Speaking as a cabbie, that’s one of my three wishes right there.
‘Wolfenstein: The New Order’ (2014)
Set in an alternate future where the Nazis triumphed, ‘Wolfenstein: The New Order’ depicts London as it may have appeared under the Third Reich. Eerie stuff. Martial law is enforced by the ‘London Monitor’ a monstrous robot which stomps fear across the capital.
‘The Order: 1886’ (2015)
‘The Order’ offers more alternative-reality shenanigans, in this case a steam-punky Victorian London where airships loom in the air and the streets are bedevilled by vamps and werewolves.
‘Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’ (2015)
'Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’ allows you to lark about in smoke-choked Victorian London without having to fret about rickets or cholera. You can even hijack Hackney Carriages GTA style and get to encounter both Jack the Ripper and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
‘City Run: London 1545’ (2016)
This is an unusual game with a comic book vibe. It gives you the opportunity to experience olde Tudor London in the midst of a chilly, sixteenth century night.
‘Battlefield 1’ (2016)
This critically acclaimed WWI based-game features a breath-taking dog-fight over central London, climaxing in an almighty bust-up onboard a doomed Zeppelin airship. Indiana Jones, eat your heart out.