Depictions of Toronto in Video Games - The Intrepid

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Depictions of Toronto in Video Games

Toronto Video Games Half-Life 2 Mod City 7
Unfortunately, Toronto is rarely depicted in video games. For game designers, the city just doesn’t have the same global recognition as New York, the pizzazz of Paris, or the intrigue of Moscow. To the outside world, Toronto is a dull Canadian city. If you’ve been waiting to duke it out with mutants in a post apocalyptic Toronto, you’ll have to settle for Washington, D.C.

The most frequent depictions of Toronto come from hockey, baseball, and basketball games. If you want to catch a glimpse of the Air Canada Centre, play NHL 2K9 or NBA 09. You can also find the Rogers Centre (SkyDome!!) in MLB 09. You won’t see the rest of the city in these games, but you’ll get fair representation of two of Toronto’s iconic stadiums. In some older NHL titles you can even check out Maple Leaf Gardens. Though be prepared for some pretty awful renditions.

Here is an example of Maple Leaf Gardens from NHL 97 for the Super Nintendo. (You might have to use your imagination.)

In the 2004 Sony PlayStation 2 game, Syphon Filter: Omega Strain, there was originally a level featuring Toronto. In the level, Quebec separatists seized control of a Toronto Subway station. The objective of the level was to dislodge and kill the Quebecois terrorists.

The level was eventually removed from the final version of the game after criticisms were brought forth by the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission), the Quebec Government, and various Quebecois sovereigntists.

TTC officials were upset at the use of one of their subway stations as the site of terrorist attack. "The fact is someone is putting the Toronto subway as a terrorist site, that is a very dangerous thing to do," TTC spokesman Marilyn Bolton said in an interview.

The Quebec Government and various separatists groups were angry that the in game terrorist were clearly modeled on the FLQ (Front de liberation du Quebec). "It's difficult not to be made to feel like a target when you have a game inviting players to shoot at separatists," commented one Quebec separatist group.

If you’re looking to see Toronto in your favourite video game franchise, you’ll most likely have to download user created modifications.

To date, the best depiction of Toronto comes from the Half Life 2 modification: City 7. City 7 is a continuation of the adventures of Half Life 2’s main protagonist, Gordon Freeman. After a teleporting accident in Dr. Kleiner's lab, Gordon is forced to fight his way through a Combine dominated downtown Toronto. Some of the locales in the mod include: Dundas Square, the Eaton’s Centre, and the TTC.

The recreation of the TTC in this mod is by far the highlight.

Toronto Video Games Half-Life 2 Mod City 7Toronto Video Games Half-Life 2 Mod City 7
The mod was originally created as part of design project by 5 George Brown students. Unfortunately, plans to expand the mod seem to have evaporated as have all the links to the original project.

A few Sim City fanatics have also tried to recreate Toronto. Of particular note are the efforts of Aladone, who has even included a few Toronto landmarks in his Sim Toronto. The City Hall mod looks great.

Toronto SimCityToronto SimCity


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