Getting around an open world game used to be limited stealing a vehicle, but to celebrate Earth Day, we've decided to single out how sprinting with style has changed the way we enjoy games. It's amazing what a little parkour can do. Here are games that are elevated thanks to some free-running.
Assassin's Creed Series
Assassin's Creed was originally going to be a sequel to Prince of Persia, but then the developers realized that the Assassin was a far more interesting character than the Prince. So, instead of wall running across ruins, Assassins free-run through history, climbing atop the world's most breathtaking structures and taking Leaps of Faith from them. There are no automobiles, and horses are a pain to ride around in narrow city streets, so the rooftops become the Assassin's domain, where he or she scouts out targets for quick hits before disappearing into a crowd. This series has helped popularize parkour in video games more than any other.
Mirror's Edge is credited as being the first parkour game that uses the first-person perspective, which was edgy (see what we did there?) and new for the time. Faith, a messenger for an underground movement that's fighting against an oppressive dystopian government, has to do a ton of running and not just to deliver packages. She gets caught in a full crackdown, where soldiers have orders to take down Runners using any means they have at their disposal. That generally means shooting first and never asking questions. She soon finds herself wrapped up in a conspiracy and confronts dangers around every corner as she literally runs for her life.
Sometimes, when you're having a bad day, all you want to do is trash a city using near unstoppable superpowers. Well, Prototype 2 is out to brighten your day with an all-out massacre. You play as James Heller, whose family was killed by the Blacklight Virus, and ends up being infected by it himself. Except, instead of killing him, it grants him the ability to shapeshift and consume others, stealing their memories. His mission is to destroy the Blacklight Virus once and for all and kill Alex Mercer, the one that spread the virus in the first place. Not necessarily in that order. As a superpowered being, Heller is able to run up the sides of buildings, leap across them, then dive off using a self-created wingsuit. In this case, not only does parkour make carnage more fun, but everything is elevated when you add superpowers.
There's an ongoing stereotype about how computer geeks don't get enough exercise, but Aiden Pearce definitely disproves it. Then again, it sort of helps that he has almost all the electronics of Chicago under his command. Although Watch Dogs doesn't have the kind of rooftop running that Assassin's Creed has, Aiden gets by through hacking the city. That means causing panels to blow up, traffic lights to change, and crushing unwitting guards with cranes. Hey, it's rough out there. Furthermore, there's no better way to hack into people's phones or chase down would-be criminals to beat them senseless than being on the streets.
Parkour and Kung-Fu go together like peanut butter and jelly. Although much of the this Hong Kong action flick crime drama involves car chases, there are quite a few sequences where you have to give chase or make a getaway on foot. The main character, Wei Shen, must leap over obstacles, climb over buildings, and make his way through the crowded streets of Hong Kong before engaging in some epic martial arts fights. All in a day's work for an undercover cop that's out to infiltrate the Triad underworld.
It's probably cheating to say that a high-tech suit that enables you leap high and run along walls qualifies as parkour, but naysayers can take it up with your 40-foot Titan. Although giant suits of armor are generally thought of as the stars of the show, much of the game is actually played on foot. Pilots have to skirt through buildings, leap across rooftops, and shoot every enemy they encounter along the way before they can call in a Titan. As a general rule, it's a bad idea to stay on the ground. That's where people get stepped on. Pilots need to get up on those rooftops, wall run, and climb in order to survive.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
It's difficult to say what helps the most in Shadow of Mordor. Does the free-running element, similar to that of Assassin's Creed, help elevate the Batman-like combat style, or does the compliment the running? Or perhaps it's the endless sea of Orcs that need killing that brings it all together. Whatever the case, players should be prepared to do a lot of running in Shadow of Mordor, since just about everything is out to stab, shoot, or eat you - sometimes more than once. When your nickname is Gravewalker, death is just a temporary setback, and Orcs are out to gain rank and reputation by repeatedly putting you back in the ground. It's your job to hunt down these the most ambitious and powerful soldiers among Sauron's army, no matter where they might be, and kill them before they have a chance to get you first.
Just when it seems like we've found every way to deal with a horde of zombies, a game like Dying Light comes around to change things up. You're trapped inside a quarantined city that's practically overflowing with the undead. The only way to survive is to move quickly, scavenge weapons and supplies, and outmaneuver the undead when you can't fight them outright. Then you have to hightail it back to a safe zone before the sun goes down, because that's when the zombies become supercharged. Without the sun weighing down on them, they'll be able run and jump almost as well as you, along with having hyper acute sense and increased strength. Zombies are tough. You have to be tougher, smarter, and faster if you want to avoid being eaten.
Steven Wong posted a new article, 8 Games That Use Parkour to Reach New Heights
How in the blue hell is Infamous not on the list?