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How Central Park Has Been Featured in Video Games

Central Park has always been one of the US’ most popular urban parks, with over 42 million visits every year before the pandemic. As such, it’s no surprise to see Central Park featured in so many forms of media throughout the years, especially in video games. In fact, there are even dedicated video games that are set in New York, like Mafia II and Metal Gear Solid 2, that never fail to feature Central Park. But these games aren’t the only ones to integrate into its world. In fact, here are some instances where Central Park has been featured in a video game.

 

Spider-Man

While PS4’s Spider-Man falls under that category of “dedicated video games that are set in New York,” it’d be a crime not to include it in this list. After all, Spider-Man is the closest replication of New York you can get in a video game — whether it’s because of the scarily accurate recreation of the Radio City Music Hall, the stunning 5th Avenue, or the presence of the bustling Chinatown on the east side. And of course, there’s also a hyper-realistic replica of Central Park, complete with fall foliage and the lakes around it.

 

Ghostbusters

Based on the 1984 hit movie that eventually grew to become a cultural phenomenon, Ghostbusters is a franchise that has inspired many spin-offs of varying media after its release. For example, a TV series and a comic book called The Real Ghostbusters would be created in the late 80s. One of the International Game Technology’s slot machines was also based on Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters (2009) was a game initially released for the PS2 (and re-released for future platforms like the PS3 after its success), which follows the rising threat of the spirit of Ivo Shandor. Its final level, where the team explores Shandor's mausoleum, is played in an eerie recreation of Central Park.

 

Grand Theft Auto IV

The all-time classic crime series Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is famous for replicating real cities. The most recent game GTA V allowed people to explore the fictional state of San Andreas which was based on California and was primarily set in Los Santos, which was an accurate version of LA. Moreover, one of the popular titles listed on Foxy Games is GTA’s Vice City, which is directly inspired by Miami City. And in GTA IV, New York is replicated through Liberty City, complete with a location called Middle Park. Almost an exact replica of Central Park, Middle Park features several iconic landmarks, including a plaza that might as well be Bethesda Terrace.

 

Prototype

Prototype wasn’t the best open-world action-adventure we’ve seen from Activision but its compelling story and life-like depiction of New York were impressive. It follows the story of an amnesiac shapeshifter who’s on a mission to prevent a plague from spreading in the region. As such, the setting is much grimmer than the other games on this list. The Central Park of Prototype is a near-desolate area covered in mutant gunk and dead vegetation. However, it’s still one of the few places that has safehouses, labs, and other bases necessary for humanity’s survival. Central Park has been a common sight in many video games, from heroic ones like Spider-Man to horrific ones like Prototype. This has only emphasized Central Park's cultural significance today. That said, we’ll very likely see more games build Central Park into its map.

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