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Hong Kong is a playground for the eyes where every street and alley gives way to more visual information than our mind knows how to process. Considering Hong Kong and similar Asian metropolises overheat our internal hardware, it should be no surprise that virtual recreations of these cities serve as a the perfect processing benchmark for console generations. The numerous neon signs, towering buildings, intricate street structure, complex lighting, and dense population of Hong Kong and Chinatowns across the world pose a challenge to the processing power of each console generation.
Whenever I think of Deus Ex I think of Chinatown. Foggy interiors of an Asian shrine were the first images I saw of the game in PC Gamer magazine, and the alleys, vendors, and gondolas below are the lasting images that come to mind when I recall the game.
In Shenmue II’s transition from a humble Japanese city to the sprawl of Hong Kong, little was sacrificed in detail and a lot was added in scope. Shenmue lacks the mood and lighting of Deus Ex, but it makes up for it in terms of size.
Showering the cityscape with complex neon lighting was beyond the scope of the Dreamcast’s capabilities, and Sega wasn’t going to recreate the game from the ground up for Xbox. Nevertheless, Shenmue recreated Hong Kong with a scale never seen before at the time.
I can hear you just fine: I know Yakuza takes place in Japan which is more than a mere stone’s throw away from Hong Kong. Nevertheless, Tokyo mirrors Hong Kong’s blend of cramped, industrial spaces and scenic, spacious areas throughout the city. When you weren’t directly dealing with the citizens and language in Yakuza, it was easy to imagine you were walking the streets of Hong Kong.
Nothing could make the technological jump from the original Deus Ex clearer than a return visit to Hong Kong during second half of Human Revolution’s story. Ok, so it’s not really Hong Kong; it’s a city called Hengsha, but it might as well be Hong Kong. Built on a heavily modified Crystal Engine -- which powered Tomb Raider: Legend and its sequels -- Human Revolution was able to bring more space, detail, and dynamic lighting to the city.
Walking out of a small, dingy diner and into a narrow alleyway, crowded by vendors, pedestrians, and bright neon advertisements is a special moment in Sleeping Dogs.
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