City Skylines Prove Just How Far Game Graphics Have Come

Wednesday's PlayStation 4 event showed us what next-gen graphics are capable of, so if you had any doubts that game environments could grow even better looking and more detailed, they're probably now gone.

Cities and city skylines in general were always a perfect way to show how beautiful a game is, so we collected some huge and gorgeous cities from upcoming titles — and a few from recent memory as well.

SimCity (SimCity 2013)

Source: EA

Hengsha (Deus Ex: Human Revolution)

Source: Deus Ex Wiki

Panau City (Just Cause 2)

Source: Just Cause Wiki

Vekta City (Killzone: Shadow Fall)


Chicago (Watch_Dogs)

Source: Ubisoft

Los Angeles (LA Noire)

Source: Rockstar

Los Santos (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas)

Source: GTAGaming

Liberty City (Grand Theft Auto IV)

Source: Rockstar

Liberty Dome NYC (Crysis 3)


Moonside (Earthbound)

And this is how it looked back then. The neon lights of Moonside in Earthbound are still pretty charming. Source:


    Only two cities have ever made me stop moving and just look.

    1. Coming out of the sewers in Deus Ex HR and seeing the double-tiered Hengsha.

    2. Arriving at the Presidium in Mass Effect.

      Those two were amazing for me, too. Plus, Omega Station in ME2 hit me the first time I saw it and Times Square in GTAIV at night.

        And Illium! From Lair of the Shadow Broker. God that was a good DLC

      Not a city but Uncharted 2 in the Mountains (Tibet I think) made me stop and admire.

      Hengsha was just amazing. HR was amazing with the aesthetic.

      Oh god Mass Effect has so many amazing skylines, My favorite one being the one from Kasumi's DLC Stolen Memories. there were times were I would just load that DLC and leave my 360 idle with Shepard standing on the balcony.

    No city from Mirrors Edge?

    The city stuff looks great. Although when you look at the other screen shots, it doesn't actually look anything different than what we have on PC today. In fact arguably it appears the only difference is nicer rendering and lighting. Some games already look like they have more detail.

      Yeah Mirrors Edge is pretty damn amazing, I still play it for the cityscape. Love the 'cleanness' of it.

    Just Cause 2 was one of the few games where I could pause and look at the sheer quality of the graphics, despite the huge draw distance, and say 'wow'. Hell, even if Just Cause 3 used the exact same graphics I'd still be buzzed.

    I stopped being impressed by graphics around 2006. I know theyre always getting better, but I havent seen a great leap forward since the 16bit to PS1/N64 transition. The tech numbers may say otherwise, but I just dont 'feel' the shifts anymore.

      A pretty cityscape is nice, but all I could think when reading this article is how few of these games with gorgeous scenes actually let you travel there and explore those areas. Graphics upgrades does not make an immersive game.

      It's more that there's little improved here and there. However the flaws get more and more noticeable. The bigger improvements lately seem to purely be things like lighting and AA making smoother images.

      I think we've all seen hints of what is possible but nothing has put everything together. Or even trying. Which is part of the reason nothing seems to be taking leaps and bounds. A lot of momentum with what the future was happened but then just stopped.

      You really need better world building technology. Big environments that look and feel real, but actually have good physics, destruction and so forth.

      Compare the world built in Crysis in 2007. Nothing has taken that big a leap. A lot of what that game did is still rare. Far Cry 3 comes out and you can draw a lot of visual comparisons, however despite the bigger environment, some fancy new rendering features that weren't out when Crysis 1 came out. Everything about the game is technically inferior. A lot by a large margin.

      Look at BF3 and BC2. BF3 undoubtedly has better graphics, but the added features to the world seem to have made no progress and implementation of destruction, ect

      You're use to playing Crysis you jump into Far Cry 3 and automatically assume you can do stuff, which you can't. It's the same with BF3 after BC2. You fired a rocket at a wall, expecting it to come down.. nothing happens.

      Of course not every game of course should be open world full of destruction and physics, but I think there's some base level of what should be there, which we aren't. that what the new Sim City looks like?

    My votes from memory would go to Liberty City for sheer scale and atmosphere (that first trailer reveal with the camera panning across the city left me speechless). Another would be bioshock's rapture skyline when looking out the windows or in the bathysphere ride; really helped build the atmosphere in that game. Agreed about the above comments of Mass Effect and Deus Ex; can't wait to see some next gen sci-fi cities like those two.

      Liberty City in which game? 3 or..? Anyway, I personally can't stand Mass Effect type cities, the entire lack of scope puts me off. Every time you get to a beautiful planet and visit a city it ends up being a few rooms and corridors when I'd absolutely love to explore their entire world indepth. Hopefully they go back to having explorable planets in the next game, but with slightly more content than the near empty ones of ME1

        Oops, probably should have put gta4 beside it. I thought the original gta3 LC looked dull even back then; Vice city is when they started to nail the settings.

        Absolutely agree with the lack of scope (exploration-wise) in Mass Effect, although I still admire the atmosphere those city vistas give. I usually get a feeling of "this seems smaller than I imagined" after doing everything but those first moments of "holy shit look at that place" still resonates for me with each first playthrough in each of these types of games. I haven't played the third game but I sure hope they dial back the linearity of ME2 and open up their levels more, like you said.

    It's about an hour into Sleeping Dogs. I met this cute American girl outside my apartment, and I asked her out or she asked me out or something, I have to go to some park somewhere to meet her, and I have absolutely no idea where I'm going other than following the arrows on the road.

    So it's pouring with rain, I feel like I'm lost in a new city (because I basically am), I'm riding a motorbike through neon and garbage, there's some music on the radio in a language I don't understand

    and I'm in love, with the game and the city and the people and the world. I've been playing video games since I was 6, for as long as I can remember, and it's the first time I've ever felt like I was in a real place, with real people.

      Yeah, the world in Sleeping Dogs was awesome for immersion. I remember stopping just to admire the neon lights reflected in a rain-soaked road at night while sitting on a motorbike at an intersection.

    skyrim. jaw dropped more than a few times at some of the vistas (and continues to do so)

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