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Top 8 games featuring Parkour/Free Running

FEATURED COLUMNIST
Top 5 / Top 10 15 Dec 2012, 19:06 IST
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What is Parkour/Free Running? Think Akshay Kumar chasing Pepsi bottles while overcoming obstacles and passing by a dozen shops where the owner would gladly give him a couple of bottles for free. The art of free running is all about movement and overcoming obstacles.I enjoy Parkour/free running but I do it within parameters. Parameters of safety and society’s norms. Free running across roof tops is highly irresponsible, and free running across public places can set the local guards on your tail. I’ve been sorely tempted to Parkour around outdoor shopping malls. But it’ll quickly turn into a chase vs the mall guards, who albeit aren’t the fittest blokes around.

Fact is, you can’t run around without eliciting one or multiple of these responses from passer-bys:
- Hark! There goes a thief.
- Call the zoo, a monkey escaped.
- Call the hospital, delusional patient escaped.
- Delhi monkey man is here!

That’s where video games come in. They let me indulge my love for free running and pick up a couple of pointers to implement when I do it for real. Here are 7 games with Parkour/Free running in them:

Prince of Persia

The Prince of Persia series brought parkour to mainstream. It had intuitive controls and it let you shimmy, wall ride, and its combat incorporated parkour too. But it’s movement was more linear than fluid. A wall ride feels more like a wall walk if you compare it with some other games on this list. This game was the introduction to parkour for most of us though, and it has the best set levels and puzzles which make you utilize Parkour to the fullest.

Ninja Gaiden

By far, this game has the most fluid movement of all the games I’ve played. Not that it relies excessively on parkour but it has subtle organic movements which lend a sense of realism to the game. Ryu Hayabusa is a ninja after all and moves like one. While the sense of realism is missing, it is more than made up for by the smooth flow. Ryu can jump, wall ride, pause on a wall and jump again to get some serious air. It plays a part in combat too as Ryu has to rely on evasive techniques as much as his blade to stay alive.

Sadly this is not available on the PC.

Assassin’s Creed Series

Although this has a fair amount of action, the worst part about this game is that for Parkour all you need to do is keep the Spacebar and Right click pressed and you’re home free. There isn’t a button which you have to press when you near a ledge to let you jump. But that doesn’t stop it from being at the top of many people’s list of games with Parkour in it. To be fair, it does give rise to beautiful sequences of motion, but the difficulty cure is not high at all.

Batman:Arkham City

One unique facet to this game’s Parkour is the introduction of the Bat Grappling Hook. That lets you roam around the city without ever having to touch the ground. No wall rides here, but plenty of rooftops to amble around like the real batman would. And the most fun feature is the Bat Cape. Going off on a tangent, never really understood the need for prefixing ‘Bat’ to every one of his gadgets. Bat-mobile. Bat-arang. Bat-belt. Of course its a Batcape, he wouldn’t call it the Cat Cape or Robin a Rang.

Gliding with the Batcape adds a unique dimension to the game. And the cape can be upgraded through the game by completing in game challenges. Upgrades allow you to glide further and the ultimate upgrade lets you rappel while gliding, sort of like Spiderman shooting a webline and pulling himself up. Once this upgrade has been unlocked, it lets you truly fly through the game without your feet touching the ground.

Spider Man: Web of Shadows

With a name like Spider man, comes the responsibility of featuring the best Parkour of all video games. The character’s day job is to Parkour around, he ought to be good at it. In conjunction with the web swinging and wall climbing, Spider Man gives one of the more complete Parkour experiences around. And this game is blazing fast, takes you by the scruff of neck and hurls you headfirst into action. Especially the scenes where you are falling down buildings with a bad guy falling alongside you as Future Spidey.

Mirror’s Edge

No Parkour in video games list would be complete without a mention of Mirror’s Edge. It provides a double edged feature, first person view. On one hand, that let’s you experience pretty realistic movement and makes you feel like a part of the action. On the other hand, it separates the beauty of movement from the action. One of the main attractions of video games with Parkour is that it lets you watch the character’s movement, this game takes that away, unless where you see the character in one of the several mirrors.

As you approach objects such as pipes, ledges, ramps etc which can be interacted with to Parkour, they glow red allowing you to spot them easily. You have a choice to go over or under most obstacles. Make no mistake, this game has unique Parkour, but I’d have welcomed the option of using third person camera.

Free Running

Finally a game dedicated to Parkour itself. An original port on the Playstation, this was subsequently released on the PC. Goal of the game being to traverse around hitting the checkpoints and it gave you a variety of moves to execute and  do so in style. Although the movement didn’t have many varied animations, this game lived up to its promise.

Prototype

One of my favourite games, Prototype lets you traverse the entire city in a variety of ways. Alex Mercer sprints super fast and he can actually run up an entire building, something I always wondered why Spider man did not do instead of his wall crawl. This game makes you feel like a superhuman and the different metamorphosis of the protagonist, giant hammer arms etc. all add a fresh dimension to the Parkour of this game.

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