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7 Video Games Featuring San Francisco
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7 Video Games Featuring San Francisco

Picture of Ned Cogswell
Updated: 20 December 2016
Video games have rapidly transformed themselves over the years and evolved from basic, minimalist two-dimension backgrounds to heavily detailed and realistic three dimension environments. With the advent and rise of cheaper and better technology, video game developers can now easily replicate a real city within their own virtual world. In this list we will examine seven video games that have featured San Francisco and see how their imaginations shaped their own personal Golden City.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II – Mob of The Dead

Featured in Call of Duty: Black Ops II 2nd multiplayer expansion pack is the extremely unique and detailed Mob Of The Dead zombie map that explores a prohibition-era zombie infested Alcatraz Island. This expansion of the Nazi Zombie mode heavily references the tropes and atmosphere of early gangster films and literature. The actual map of Alcatraz is quite similar to the real layout of the island and players can play four characters voiced by veteran tough-guy actors: Joe Pantoliano, Ray Liotta, Michael Madsen, and Chazz Palminteri. To top it off, if you progress far enough in the level you can even travel to a dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge where you can upgrade your weapons and travel back to Alcatraz using magical electric chairs.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare – Collapse and Armada Levels

The second Call of Duty game on our list is 2014s Advanced Warfare which features the levels Collapse and Armada on the Golden Gate Bridge. The level Collapse has you speeding down the 101 Highway attempting to catch a van before it can explode and destroy the bridge. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t go well for the bridge. Armada features you surviving the aftermath of the battle and destruction of the bridge whilst you are attempting to stop further destruction in the surrounding area. Although the Golden Gate Bridge has been destroyed in numerous films and video games before, this one certainly takes the cake for being one of the most frightening and bombastic.

Driver: San Francisco

The latest major release in the Driver series features you as the titular driver, John Tanner, as he traverses a recreation of 208 miles of the Bay Area (mostly San Francisco, Marin Country and Oakland) whilst using his strange Shift ability to teleport to any car within his vision. With over 140 licensed vehicles and a huge open world to explore, Driver: San Francisco allows you to forget speeding tickets and enjoy the ride. The game does have somewhat of a strange tone (mostly due to the ominous Shift ability) but still tells an exciting story with one of the most detailed recreations of the Bay Area ever created.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

In Rockstar North’s version of the United States there is no ‘California’ as it has been replaced by the titular state of San Andreas. And in this critically acclaimed open world action-adventure game you can spend a large chunk of your time exploring San Fierro, a relatively faithful reconstruction of San Francisco. In this fictionalized version of the city you can explore the wondrous sights of Gant Bridge (Golden Gate Bridge), Paradiso (The Presidio), Queens (Castro), Garcia (Mission), and Hashbury (The Haight). San Fierro is an impressive recreation (especially since GTA: San Andreas came out in 2004) and is the 2nd major city that you can explore after Los Santos (Los Angeles). If you want to explore a somewhat cooky version of The Shaky City then pull out your PlayStation 2 and dust off those controllers.

Fallout 2: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game

The 1998 role-playing classic Fallout 2 was published by Black Isle Studios and continues the world and story of 1997s original Fallout. Fallout 2 takes place in an alternative 2241 where the entire world has been ravaged by a nuclear conflict between the United States and China in the Great War of 2077. And in Fallout 2, you can explore the worn down city of San Francisco while it is under control of the Shi, survivors of a Chinese submarine that crashed there before the war. When you explore further you also find a group vying for control called Hubologists, a religious cult loosely based on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. Fallout 2 has one of the strangest recreations of San Francisco and the developers certainly deserve an award for their creativity and imagination regarding their interpretation.

The Golden Gate Bridge with shuttle -- Screenshot by Tagaziel @ Bethesda Games, Fallout 2
The Golden Gate Bridge with shuttle -- Screenshot by Tagaziel @ Bethesda Games, Fallout 2 | The Golden Gate Bridge with shuttle — Screenshot by Tagaziel @ Bethesda Games, Fallout 2

Tex Murphy Games

The Tex Murphy adventure series has existed since 1989 and follows the eponymous main character as we explore the life of a private investigator in a post nuclear futuristic San Francisco. Tex Murphy is played in live action sequences by the actor Chris Jones and is an exploration of the cyberpunk and film noir genres. With six major releases under its belt, the Tex Murphy games have become an important series in the declining adventure game genre. Heavily taking inspiration from the 1982 film Blade Runner, the Tex Murphy games are an old school blast like no other. So, if you’re craving an old school adventure title then Tex Murphy is the man for you.

Vanquish – Intro Cut scene

San Francisco has become the go-to punching bag for movies in the 2010s but PlatinumGames Vanquish was one of the first to really mess up the city. When you start the game you get a somewhat unrealistic view of the city (we’ll give them some slack since it’s a Japanese developer) as it is being destroyed by a giant space cannon controlled by a breakaway Russian group called the Order of the Russian Star. The introduction is certainly violent and helps set up the tone of the game quite well. Although the rest of the game is set on the giant space cannon of doom, we felt that it was a cool enough sequence to warrant an entry onto the list.