Seattle is 'Infamous:' Emerald City stars in new video game

SEATTLE - Scaling the Space Needle, riding atop the Monorail, and sneaking into the Crocodile become a whole lot easier starting at midnight Thursday.

That's when the Emerald City has a starring role - in the video game world.

'Infamous: Second Son' hits stores later on this week, after more than two years in production. The game is set in the Emerald City, with notable icons making cameos, thanks in large part to the 130 staffers at Sucker Punch Productions in Bellevue who worked on the game.

"We're big fans of this place. We live here, we work here, and, you know, there hasn't been a lot of games - if any - that were full-on set in Seattle," said Horia Dociu, the game's art director. "It's kind of like an homage to Seattle, if you will."

To recreate the look and feel of Seattle, designers went on 'photo safaris' to document everything from details in the city skyline to the look and feel of local graffiti, Dociu said. Beyond the big landmarks that make appearances in the game, smaller ones do, too: the Elephant Car Wash, the gum wall at Pike Place Market, and even a few local musicians.

"Sir Mix-a-Lot is selling burger buns," laughed Dociu.

The premise of the game, however, is as dark as a Seattle January day: an oppressive police state has taken over the city, and gamers take on the role of Delsin Rowe, a young artist who fights against the state.

"We made Pioneer (Square) feel like Pioneer (Square); downtown feel like downtown. It's the amount of detail we put in at the walking-around level," said Jason Connell, art lead. "It's home to a lot of us. Some of us lived here our entire lives. It felt like the natural, right place to go."

Connell showed off the nine different types of distinctly-Seattle weather patterns in the game.

"We're making the game in the city we live. On some level, that's really exciting, but that's also, 'I live on this block. It has to look like this block.' And so there's some pressure to make sure it's right," Connell added.

'Infamous' is the seventh big game in 17 years Sucker Punch has been around. Previous iterations of the game were set in New York City and New Orleans, said company co-founder Brian Fleming.

"The Seattle parts of it was one of the earliest decisions," Fleming added. "Even just locals who come in to play-test the game - you see their recognition. 'Oh my gosh. This is Seattle!' It's just a time to be proud of the city."

While using landmarks in the game required signed licensing agreements, don't expect to see all of Seattle's favorite hotspots when you turn on your PlayStation 4, Dociu said. Rick's Drive-In, for example, is woven into the game, instead of another similarly-named popular local burger joint.

"I'll still get a Dick's hamburger," Dociu joked. "No hard feelings."