City by the Bytes: San Francisco According to Video Games
I should mention that my gaming these days is mostly via emulating '80s games on MAME, and I also buy up every retro arcade pack that shows up for iOS, like Atari's Greatest Hits and Activision Anthology. The closest I've come to playing a console game over the past decade is the occasional round of Rock Band at a friend's house.
In other words, I am uniquely unqualified to discuss the majority of these newer games, having never played them or anything like them. Heck, I even rooted for Roger Ebert during that whole foofaraw some years back, and enjoy how upset people still get about his dismissive attitude toward video games. I will also ignore the San Francisco Rush and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? series for no appreciable reason. So, let's get on with it!
Tex Murphy: The Pandora Directive (1996)
The Tex Murphy series is set in a futuristic, post-war San Francisco in which "ordinary humans co-exist with mutants." (Just like 2012, amirite? Zing!). The skyline is still lovely at night, though.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)
This driving tour takes us through neighborhoods representing the Castro (referred to as "Queens" because of the gays), Haight-Ashbury ("Hashbury" because of the stinky hippies and their drugs), the Sunset District ("Ocean Flats" because it is horizontal and near water), and ... hey, wait, the Sunset District? That's where I live! My neighborhood is in a video game! That never happened while I was living in Fresno.
Tell ya what, though: If they did one that included Fresno called Grand Theft Auto: Ash Tree, I would buy it. I may or may not buy a machine to play it in, but I'd buy the game.
Now, I recognize that liberties must be taken in all forms of entertainment where driving is concerned -- in movies, people always find parking right out in front of where they're going, stuff like that. Likewise, driving games necessarily take liberties with the realities of driving in San Francisco in order to make it entertaining, but still I'd love to see one of these in which all the streets are torn up from construction, where you can't go two blocks without encountering a street that's blocked off or narrowed down to a single lane. That's the real San Francisco driving experience.
Dirty Harry (1990)
I think we can also reasonably assume that Harry Callahan would never dress quite so post-Miami Vice. The one thing the game does get right is the room full of snakes at 6:14. It's about time someone addressed the snake infestation in this town!