In preparation for its 2008 Breakthrough Awards starring Sim City creator Will Wright, Popular Mechanics is celebrating some of the finest architecture and city planning in videogame history.

Will Wright, whose Sim City franchise inspired the architect in all of us to build sprawling metropolises, has interested the Popular Mechanics conference staff in the world of realistic, fictional game worlds. To complete its study, the site picked four original cities (no racing game-style remakes of popular locales) from history that became more memorable than the rest of the game.

  • Liberty City from Grand Theft Auto IV had a “satirical” combination of modern New York City and the Liberty City of games past, the liveliness of the remodeled Liberty City immersed players into the lifestyle of lead character Nico Bellic by giving his actions grounding in reality.
  • BioShock‘s Rapture was an artistically beautiful underwater world where players submerged itself in the aging decor of the once bright and glorious city.
  • The island of Myst from the game of the same name pushed the popularity of CDs to the masses as audiences were wowed by the exotic imagery of the slideshow-style mystery adventure.
  • Final Fight was a Double Dragon wanna be set in Metro City, a place where crime was not only rampant, but supported. After fighting gangs and pedestrians on sidewalks, bonus stages saw the town’s mayor blowing up cars for extra points.

Commenters on the original post overwhelming wished Half-Life 2‘s City 17 had placed for its dystopian future setting after the fall of Black Mesa. Games have traversed lands from Tron to Tarzan, allowing anyone to have a favorite setting.

Any other locales you think should’ve made the list?

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