Today's release date for Forza Horizon for Xbox, which takes place entirely in Colorado, got us thinking: In over forty years of video-game history, there had to have been a few other games set in the Centennial State.
Little did we know, a veritable mountain of electronic entertainment has depicted our state -- sometimes in eerily accurate ways, sometimes much less so. So we decided to profile ten games set in Colorado. Keep reading for some weird, wonderful and just plain odd history. See also: - Indie Game: The Movie explores the underground art form of brand-free video games - Xbox's Forza Horizon makes Colorado the racetrack
10.DiRT 3 (2011, Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Forza Horizon doesn't have a monopoly on racing in Colorado. The third installment of the mud-slinging racing DiRT series took Aspen -- where the beer flows like wine -- for a spin. Some of the courses show off the town's haughty ski-chalet ambiance, but it's mostly snow, snow, snow. Still, you'll save a fortune on lift tickets.
9.Colorado (1990, Amiga, PC)
Though this Old West adventuring game is vague on whether or not it takes place in our state, the name is a dead giveaway. The internet's die-hard Amiga fans consider this one a classic, but the premise of a lone explorer axing his way through hundreds of Native Americans is a little uncomfortable today. Maybe more than a little.
8. Madden NFL franchise and MLB 2K franchise (1988-present, 2004-present All platforms)
It would be remiss for us to ignore two of the most popular video-game franchises ever, and their representations of some of Denver's biggest landmarks. Madden's Invesco Field at Mile High gets it right, complete with giant towers of flame and the inflatable Bronco. MLB 2K12's Coors Field looks a little low-rent (skip to 2:55 in this video) but gets the job done, no humidor included.
7. Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare (2010, Xbox 360, PS3)
We're chating a little with this one, but the state of "West Elizabeth" in Red Dead Redemption's turn-of-the-century alternate America is widely considered to be Colorado. Bordered by "New Austin" to the west (Arizona, Texas), Mexico to the south, and the riverside town of Blackwater to the east (St. Louis or Chicago), the plains and snowy forests of West Elizabeth will remind trigger-happy cowboys of Colorado. And in the Undead Nightmare expansion, the snow-covered "Tall Trees" section becomes infested with Sasquatches. Just like real life!
6.DEFCON: Everybody Dies (2006, PC)
This cheery nuclear-holocaust simulator features Denver as one of the cities in North America that can be obliterated by foreign powers. No mention is made of the state's significance as the home of the NORAD command center (more on that later), but in a game where the nation that kills the most wins, our low population makes us relatively safe. Denver gets nuked at 1:20 in the video.
5.Syphon Filter 2 (2000, PS1)
Almost half of this Playstation shooter takes place in Colorado, as super-spies Gabe Logan and Lian Xing blast their way through the Rocky Mountains, Interstate 70 and the fictional McKenzie Air Force Base.The evil Agency even hatches a dastardly plot to delay already-aweful I-70 traffic by triggering an avalanche on the highway. The bastards! 4. Cliffhanger (1994, SNES, Sega Genesis, Sega CD)
Based on the Rocky Mountains-set Stallone flick (a little of which was filmed in Durango, but most of which actually shows Italy), this game was basically Final Fight, but, uh, colder? Despite Sly's lovingly pixellated mug staring at you as you play, venerable gaming magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly gave this one its "Worst-Movie-To-Game" award of 1994. On the plus side, you get to kick John Lithgow's ass at the end.
3.Wargames, WarGames, DEFCON 1, and WarGames: WOPR (1988, 1998, 2012, ColecoVision, Atari 8-Bit Computers, Commodore 64, PS1, PC, iOS, Android)
The original WarGames video-game movie tie-in had you man the computer of NORAD's missile-defense system in Cheyenne Mountain, and unlike DEFCON, the objective was to buy enough time for a cease-fire. WarGames: DEFCON 1 for Playstation was a more straightforward military shooter, and this year's WarGames: WOPR for the iPhone and Android puts you in charge of NORAD's malevolent computer as you go toe to toe with cute lil' Matthew Broderick and Dabney Coleman to blow up the world.
2. Dead Rising (2006, Xbox 360)
Willamette, Colorado doesn't exist -- but the surprisingly gigantic Willamette Parkview Mall in Dead Rising reminds us of chi-chi shopping centers like Park Meadows, albeit with dead-eyed mall-crawlers replaced by undead human chompers. Frank West, the freelance photojournalist who travels to Willamette to get the truth behind the outbreak, massacres zombies in the bookstore, in the juice bar and in the lingerie department, with whatever's at hand. There's nothing really Colorado-y about Willamette, but perhaps --SPOILER ALERT -- the experimentation on cattle that birthed Dead Rising's zombies might be related to Colorado's substantial beef industry. Okay, it's a stretch, but still...
1. Target: Terror (2004, 2008, Arcade, Wii)
Incredibly, this cheesy light-gun shooter contains the most detailed re-creation of a Colorado location of any game on this list. First created as an arcade game with the developers standing in for generic terrorists, it was ported to the Wii by Boulder-based Leviathan Games. The first level takes place at Denver International Airport, and most of the details are just right; from the elevators to the Jeppesen Terminal to the Images of Nature store (at 11:53 in the video). Even the maps in the airport are faithfully represented. Of course, we don't remember quite as many explosive barrels or guys in track suits and balaclavas in the real airport. (The terminal comes in at 8:00, at 10:30, you can get a good look at the maps and elevators.)
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Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments section below; we'll be posting a list of even more games set in Colorado soon.