For many of us, the perfect way to blow off some steam or socialize with friends is to head over to our local bars. They are quite often the hub of our social engagement; the starting point or the final destination of an evening's entertainment. Perhaps it is for celebrating a recent event or maybe drowning your sorrows having just finished one of the most disappointing sequels, or perhaps it is just to placate an annoying cousin who constantly rings to suggest that you go bowling, play darts, or shoot pool, every five minutes. Either way, a nice bar and good company can make for a fine and enjoyable evening. Whilst that is fine for the real world, where do you head when you're in-game? Today we whet our whistle and visit a number of watering holes that can be found in the virtual world.
The Blue Room - L.A. Noire Achievements
We start our pub crawl with a touch of class. The Blue Room was a jazz and blues club in Los Angeles and featured in the hit Rockstar title, L.A. Noire. The game's protagonist, Cole Phelps, is first brought here by one of the detectives, and he is first introduced to the singer, Elsa Lichtmann. A fateful meeting but let's not reveal any spoilers here, except to say there are some sultry jazz numbers to heard there.
Karaoke Bar - Sleeping Dogs Achievements
In complete contrast to the classy establishment above, we have one of Hong Kong's finest [sic] entertainment hotspots. After hurtling around the streets of Hong Kong, collecting jade statues, participating in illegal street fights, and taking on the local crime syndicate barehanded (weapons weren't that abundant in the game), what better way to kick back and relax than to wail out some notes in the local karaoke bar (I've been known to do the same myself after a few beers and a copy of Rock Band). All that wailing and screeching doesn't go unrewarded either, there's actually an achievement linked to it.
5 - The Hive - Deus Ex: Human Revolution Achievements
I confess that this one crept on to the list as a personal favorite. Whether it was the techno styling of the bar or the hypnotic soundtrack playing in the background, there was something about it that drew me to it. True, the barman was a little surly and there was a run-in with some of club's patrons but it was still a great place to visit; it had to be, just trying to get in was a minor quest in itself. As Adam Jensen, the main protagonist in the game, you have to visit the bar as it features in one of the main missions but there were a couple of side missions using the bar as hub, one of which could lead to an achievement.
4 - Second Chance Bar - RAGE Achievements
The Second Chance Bar is found in the town of Wellspring and featured in the game RAGE. Like most of the buildings and locations in the game, there is a semi-steampunk feel to the place. It's rough and ready, but still has a certain charm. It's run by Sally LePrine, who will pay you for seeing off any bandits in the locality, effectively meaning that the drinks are free, and who will complain with that. As well as having a character to play the in-game collectible card game against, there is also character reading a copy of the Doom comic proving that the bar is also popular with the gaming community and local nerds. If that doesn't make you feel at home, during a later mission in the game, it is revealed that the bar is also a front for the local resistance who have a hideaway tucked away in the basement which is used a hub for a number of missions in the game.
3 - Belle de Nuit - The Saboteur Achievements
Another night club, this time a revue bar in Paris, and again another that is linked to the local resistance fighters. The club only becomes accessible part way through the game, but becomes a hideout allowing the game's protagonist, Sean Devlin, to escape from the Nazi occupiers. Other than the very Parisian entertainment, Sean has access to the local underground and resistance which is hidden behind a secret door in the ladies' dressing room. Additionally, the underground hideout also has a gambling game where the player can earn additional equipment and items, and of course, if you were a VIP, there was also a private show from some of the girls in the club. The downside? Sadly for our Irish friend, whilst the champagne was free-flowing, they didn't serve Guinness.
2 - Afterlife Club - Mass Effect 2 Achievements
It was inevitable that at least one of the bars from the Mass Effect series would make it onto the list, and after a discussion with the team it was the Afterlife Club that got the vote. The club is situated on the Omega space station, and features in a number of missions for the Shepard's squad. A bright, neon lit, triple floor bar, featuring something for just about every race and gender in the planet. Asari dancers strut their stuff high above the floor, a large hologram covering the height of all three floors shows another dancer in close up, and there are various booths and VIP areas scattered around the club. Depending on how sociable you feel, you can simply get an exotic drink or join some of the other patrons on the dance floor, although looking at some of the dance moves, you can't help feeling that dancing has only gone backwards in the future.
1 - Thieves Landing Saloon - Red Dead Redemption Achievements
A veritable den of thieves where wearing the wrong dress code can land you in no end of trouble with the residents. In fact, this is one bar where you don't want to upset any of the locals; pick a bar fight here and you'll have the whole town forming a lynch mob and hunting you down in double quick time. It's true that it's not the brightest of saloons in the game, but it has an edge to it and tensions run high. Along with the 'purty' ladies, the chance to gamble at cards and a decent bar, it also has a place to sleep off the resulting hangover if needed. Overall though, it is the character of the bar that gets you, giving you the opportunity and feeling that you are once again an outlaw in the wild wild west.
The TA Team will be bringing you The TA Top Five every Sunday until we run out of coolness to debate and discuss. If you have an idea for a Top Five you'd like us to do, be sure to let us know in the comments!