Most of you probably play games for the gameplay (that seems like a tautology). But which games have created worlds that really stuck with you, from an aesthetic perspective (graphics, music)? Which titles have presented the most interesting, memorable, cohesive backdrops for the action? (It's actually astoundingly rare that a title impresses me on these merits.)
The Fallout world comes to mind immediately. Since the first game, I've loved to lose myself in that desolate world, scavenging crap and collecting bottle caps as currency, just to survive the harsh post-apocalyptic wasteland.
I've often fantasized about being a survivor of a nuclear holocaust (and I KNOW I'm not the only one). I mean, whenever you see a sci-fi movie or read a sci-fi book about the end of the world as we know it, whether it's because of an all-out nuclear attack, or a zombie plague, or whatever, you always see yourself as one of the survivors, right? Not one of the suckers who got blown up, or turned into zombies.
Well, those games pretty much allow me to live out that fantasy, in the safety and comfort of my living room. Plus, I'm way more bad-ass in those games than I am in real life. It's perfect.
Fallout games marry that with a constant feeling of discovery. Every new ruin you find is exciting because you'll probably find more scraps (or potentially awesome items) to survice, AND there's always the possibility that you're find something awesome like a new breed of mutants, a mad scientist, aliens or talking scorpions.
Resident Evil 2 and 3's Raccoon City has a really nice atmosphere to it that I like. Along with the scare factor, it just seems like a really interesting place; especially when you consider the variety of survivors and monsters that you could come across in the city's twilight moments.
I also really like the settings in Resident Evil 4. Even though it takes place on "Earth", a lot of the locations in the game really feel like something from a fantasy world. It may be a different direction from the previous games, but it's still one that appeals to me a lot. I especially like the idea of being some badass secret agent with lots of guns, who's infiltrating a castle that feels like it's directly traveled forward in time from centuries ago. I guess it's a little like an Army of Darkness feel, how you use a gun against monsters armed with more traditional weapons.
I've been playing a lot of Final Fantasy VI lately, and I had forgotten just how much I like the game's world. I like how a lot of the game feels sort of like the other Final Fantasy games, with fantasy elements and magic and such, but then there are things in the world that feel more technology driven, like the steam technology in Narshe or the Empire's futuristic machinery. I especially like the second airship in the game, since it looks almost like a space shuttle. I enjoy the juxtaposition between the more "realistic" elements and the more traditional fantasy elements. Oh, and the music! I love this game.
Mischief Makers' Planet Clancer has always seemed like a cool place to me. The majority of the world is pretty much just lots of nature and tons of gigantic blocks with weird faces on them, but it has this "otherworldly" feel to it that really appeals to me.
FFCC: The Crystal Bearers also has a really appealing world to me. It's just such a relaxing place, with lots of beautiful scenery and all sorts of different background music that makes each location stand out in its own way.
Deadly Premonition's Greenvale is a recent favorite of mine. I love how odd and insane a lot of the town feels. Some townsfolk seem just like normal people, whereas other people just crack you up with how bizarre they are. You could just be doing your own thing at some point, and then if you stay out too late, giant dobermans rise out of the ground and start chasing after you. I also really like the ghost/zombie mix, or Shadows (don't know if they should be referred to as plural or not). I find them simultaneously amusing and freaky at the same time.
I like most of the Mario RPG worlds, but Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door's world in particular I found incredibly interesting. That game seems to me like the Mario RPG equivalent with Mario Galaxy, how I always found it a joy to discover whatever else was around in the game's world. It seemed like there was always something new around every corner, and yet it all seemed to fit perfectly with the established Mario characters and setting. From a wrestling rink in the middle of the sky to a dark and dreary town that is constantly shrouded in twilight, I found each location in the game to be fun to explore.
There are other worlds that I like too, but I have to go somewhere soon, so I'll leave it right there. Basically, I seem to really enjoy games that mix realism and fantasy in some way, like Resident Evil 4 or Final Fantasy VI.
Shockingly, I think this is one area where my top pick is NOT a Nintendo franchise. OMG.
Ico/SOTC/The Last Guardian
I just absolutely love the style, the characters, the world created, the subtle yet touching storylines, the way the games connect without being straight sequels, etc.
I also want to say Metroid Prime, it was one of the most coherent game worlds for me, everything was interconnected into one perfect world, and no two rooms looked the same. The sequels as well, but to a lesser extent.
Okami, mostly for the style and the whole rejuvenation theme, I could take or leave the characters and storyline.
Mega Man X/X2 mostly for the music, though I liked the style and characters and everything and miss that style of Mega Man game.
I think Yoshi's Island is about a near perfect combo of art style and music for a light-hearted platformer.
I feel like I'm definitely missing a bunch here.
On the other side of things, Resident Evil remake, although I can't say it is an APPEALING world, but it is a very distinct one that is unmatched in what it is trying to do and I sort of miss this style of Resident Evil (albeit 0 kind of sucked...)