Atmosphere in Games

Atmosphere in a game can be the difference between a good game and a great game.  The atmosphere encourages the player to become immeresed in the game, allowing the player to feel like he is really there, in the game, and not just playing it.

This is a list of games that created the most believable atmospheres in games.

*Note this list is in a random order, the games are not ranked.

Dead Space 2

This is one of the few if not one of the only games that does space well.  There are no other games that come to mind that allow you to (at certain times) float around in zero gravity, and truly  give you the feeling of what it may be like in space.  The situations are not linear, they are usually very open and allow you to explore the area a little.  While exploring you actually get turned around, and disoriented and lose track of where the floor and ceiling are.

The other element that Dead Space did very well was lighting.  Lighting will be on this list several times, but the shadows that Dead Space creates add to the feeling of actually being on an abandoned space vessel or colony.  The developers of Dead Space, Visceral Games, use the lights in the game as a  sort of enemy. If you don’t believe me, play the game and tell me when you feel the most scared, is it when a huge, mutated, demented enemy lumbering toward you, or is when you enter a large room that is fully lit?


A huge environment, a plethora of characters, distinct locations, wildlife, side quests, this game did it all.  This game puts you in the shoes of an early 1900’s gun slinging outlaw.  Early on in the game, and throughout the game you have missions that introduce you to what it may have been like to live in the that time period, from breaking horses to herding cattle.  There are side missions that if you pursue them require you explore the outstanding environments throughout the game.

The voice acting is solid, but the dialogue is exceptional.  Several times the player is forced to go on horseback across the land while a conversation is going on with an NPC. Now while some players find this frustrating and just want to get to the next action sequence, I felt as though it was a perfect way of breaking up the game, and giving insight to your character as well as the characters you are interacting with.


The Metal Gear Solid franchise has a lot going for it already. The story, the characters (good and bad) the concept, the gameplay, all of these things were well done in previous games.  However Metal Gear Solid 4 takes place across 5 acts, each of which put you in a different location, and made you adapt to your surroundings.  If you play the game not as a run and gun, but as an espionage game you get a sense of what the tension would be like while sneaking through enemy territory. Using not only weapons but other instruments at your disposal to stay out of sight while completing your objective.


The reason that Heavy Rain is on this list is not because of its  environments. While the developers did a great job of echoing the story with the melancholy situations the characters find yourself in, it is the characters that stand out in this game.  In no other game have I felt more emotionally attached to the characters, and it is not just one or two out of the ones that I played as but all four.  When my character was put in a situation where his/ her life was threatened I felt nervous, when my character was able to accomplish a task, I was relieved, when my character was injured, I felt responsible.


Just the attention to detail  in the minor every day things in these games is fantastic. Almost everything in these games can be interacted with, and not like other games where you can look at something, and then put it down,  in these games you can either pick something up and carry it, literally in front of you, or you can choose to add it to your inventory and carry around 100 clip boards or shovels.  Add this to the huge environments with hostile and non-hostile wildlife, complex missions, characters and factions, and a morality system, and you get a good idea of what its like living in a postapocalyptic world DC or Tamriel.


Assassins’s Creed set the bar for what parkour games should be like.  Playing as an assassin traversing buildings, ships and monuments across the middle East was done beautifully in this game.  The buildings and architecture are done to perfection, as well as the markets and the country sides.  Really where this game shines is the locations, the cathedrals, the basilicas, and the palazzos are all modeled to absolutely stunning detail .  Add that they can all be climbed, and explored and you have a great atmosphere.


If you ever want to know what it is like to go to a third world country where whoever has a bigger gun makes the decisions, malaria is more common than the cold, and the only kind of currency is blood money, play Far Cry 2.  Fire in Far Cry 2, can start out by lighting a bush on fire, within seconds it can engulf up to an acre of land.  Degenerating weapons will disintegrate in your hands during the middle of a firefight.  Malaria will affect your sight, your aiming capabilities and your stamina if you do not treat your self.  If you take a bullet in the shin, you will have to take a pair of pliers to get the bullet out.  You will have to work for drug lords, and war lords if you want to escape this little hell on earth, and your closest friends are mercenaries who will be your friends only for about as long as you can help them.

BIOSHOCK. I started writing about BioShock, but I realized it has been too long since I have played to really give the game justice.  If anyone would like to write their views on BioShock by all means feel free.


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About Peter Spain

Marketing Intern at Parkway Financial Strategies, LLC. Be The Best

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