Friday, 23 January 2009

Monsters on the Tube

Although my previous efforts in documenting the London Underground in Film & TV have concentrated mainly on those two mediums, there are a number of video games that feature the network in one form or another. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider III has the busty heroine battling giant rats in the disused Aldwych station, while The Getaway's stunningly accurate rendering of the streets of central London includes authentic versions of almost all of the stations within the playing area - including the surviving fragment of the disused City Road station - as well as similar structures like the Kingsway Tram Subway.

Now being in possession of a PS3, I recently acquired a copy of Resistance: Fall of Man, which is set in 1951 in an alternative universe in which Europe is being over-run by the Chimera - alien-produced mutations of human corpses - and is notorious for provoking the ire of the authorities at Manchester Catherdral for having part of one level set within the historic building. Of course, you might think that if the planet was actually being over-run by hellish and demonic human-eating monsters, even the Church of England might bring itself to agree that killing them anywhere would probably be a good idea, but there you go....

Later, the game's narrative moves to London, starting inside Covent Garden Market itself, where posters promoting the "Electric Railway" and featuring a stylised variation on the London Underground logo can be seen. Once outside, however, the environment is rendered in such a way that the route to where the Piccadilly line station should be is blocked by "new" buildings. Subsequent action shows that the developers have been very "flexible" with the city's geography, with Holborn Viaduct almost adjacent to Trafalgar Square!

It is only when the player reaches the south side of Tower Bridge that the promise of the "Electric Railway" posters pays off, with a hoard of Chimera streaming out of a subway entrance, which then turns out to be the route to the next level. Inside the ticket hall various nasties are encountered, with more to be found on the platforms and in the two running tunnels, both of which are partially blocked by wrecked trains.

The architecture is a curious mix of sub-surface and deep-level tube-type stations, with two separate large and open bay terminating platforms, but small and narrow running tunnels, and ones lined with bricks at that. Most remarkable, though, are the wrecked trains: remarkably accurate renditions of the experimental streamlined 1935 Stock. In the real world only three of these prototypes were ever built, but obviously in this alternative universe they were more successful. Another commendable touch is that inside the ticket hall, diagrams in the style of Harry Beck show the layout of the network.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Dorrit said...

A good many years ago, probably in the early 70s, we saw a film on PBS in the US that was set in a station of the London Underground during WWII. It was about the different people who would go down to this one particular station at night during the blitz. But I can't remember the name of it or really anything else that would help me identify it, I'm sure it was a BBC production. Does it ring a bell? Thanks

23 July 2009 at 22:51  

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