Remember when the image of the future included servant robots, befriending new species and exploring far beyond what we could ever imagine? Maybe it’s just the rose-tinted glasses coming off with age but it seems that the focus of the future has gone from technological achievement to the struggle to survive complete annihilation. Whether or not the fear of what is to come has always been around, it is painfully obvious that game design has become much more cynical in its portrayal of our future with the underlying theme of how we fucked up overtaking how we succeeded.
The following are a few of the bleakest futures we hope to never see.
In this new game from developer Ninja Theory, we are introduced to one of the prettiest apocalypse worlds to date. Some hundred-some years into the future, Earth has been completely destroyed by a robotic war that has left human civilization all but wiped out. With the killer robots still lurking around, it is up for two remaining humans to work together to traverse the landscape to get home.
Unfortunately, not much is known about the story of this game other than that, but it is one of the best looking “desolate-world exploration” games I have seen in a long time. It is a nice change to see an apocalypse that strays away from the norm that nuclear holocaust has become and explores a more nature friendly world where plant life has reclaimed all the ground it has lost to humans for centuries.
What if all you ever knew were the same few walls and what you were taught in school? Fallout 3 is the critically acclaimed release from Bethesda that throws the player into a world destroyed from Sino-American conflict in the later half of the 21st century. Warfare has forced people, the lucky ones anyway, into living spaces to protect from nuclear fallout called vaults. As a member of Vault 101, the story begins after your father suddenly appears to have fled the vault and it is up to you to find him.
If there is one thing that Fallout 3 did fantastically, it created an almost suffocating feeling of loneliness as you traverse the debris of Washington D.C. and explore a landscape now ruled by mutants and bandits. Seeing as how the game thrives on an open concept of what you should do, there isn’t much to go into as everyone’s game experience will be somewhat different.
Based on the novel of the same name by author Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro 2033 details a future after the planet has been reduced to rubble. What survivors remain are driven underground into the Moscow Metro, also a giant air-raid shelter, to seek refuge from uninhabitable cities and creatures mutated by extreme radiation. As a survivor living in one of the more secure stations in the Metro, it becomes the player’s mission to reach the center of the Metro, “Polis” and warn everyone of a new threat that could mean the extinction of man-kind.
It would be ridiculous to think that with the near genocide of all mankind that some of the biggest threats would be giant mutated rats and gargoyle-like creatures, but these cliché apocalyptic horror archetypes are not what make this future scary. Metro 2033 really comes into its own the minute the player is introduced to the irradiated surface world in a constant nuclear winter. What Fallout 3 was able to create has been easily doubled with the amount of detail in the remains of what used to be great buildings and a dark, ominous overtone. The reality of just how dire the world has become is truly brought home by the idea that, since the air is not breathable, a gas-mask must be worn with filters replaced in order to just walk around and explore the surface. It is safe to say that in a future without hope or clean air, mutated rodents are the least of humanity’s concerns.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Yes, I know… a list with Modern Warfare 2 on it is a huge shock, however in the context is appropriate. While the image of a desolate wasteland that we once called home is depressing itself, there is something truly unsettling about playing amidst the destruction. We are stripped of any comfort that can be found within the other games simply by the fact that the events that take place in Modern Warfare 2 are not only not far from the truth, but in actuality are most likely happening in parts of the world as you read this. No, people are not currently being mowed down like grass in an airport in Russia, but who is to say they are not in a supermarket in the Sudan?
The United States of America, being the modern day hyperpower, has long been regarded as an almost untouchable entity in many ways, which makes the imagery of a small suburban street being rampaged with heavy artillery and squads of opposing forces overtaking Washington, D.C. a hard dose to take, especially when many parts in the game are meant to throw the player into a position where rather than being empowered to succeed are doomed to barely survive if not flat-out fail. If there was ever a game to hit a home-run in terms of disturbing imagery of what could be to come, the Modern Warfare series has yet to strike out and this sequel has easily knocked it out of the park.