10: Malibu Club, “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” (2002)
Eleven years in, Vice City’s premiere nightclub has lost a little luster. The patrons’ jerky dance moves resemble a Charlie Brown school dance. Your own consist of rotating the d-pad and – well, that’s it.
However, when you first walked into this club twelve years ago it was a dream come true. Modeled after The Babylon Club from the 1983 classic film “Scarface,” the Malibu had it all; Village People strutting their stuff onstage under a purple and pink light show, and ‘80s classics like The Pointer Sisters’ “Automatic” and Wang Chung’s “Dance Hall Days” reverberating off the walls. You could almost smell the cocaine in the bathroom.
One perk of coughing up $120,000 to buy the club was that you could punch the bouncers until your heart’s content without retaliation. Ah, the good life.
9: The Hive, “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” (2011)
Can’t have a Deus Ex game without a nightclub. The Hive, a huge multi-level monster, is the most depressing club you’ve ever seen. No one’s dancing, smiling, or remotely trying to have fun. As cybernetically augmented main character Adam Jensen, you’re not having much fun either, unless smashing a guy’s face into a urinal when he’s using said urinal is your idea of a swell evening.
On the trail of gang lord Tong Si Hung to interrogate him about a hacker who attacked Sarif Industries and – ah, who cares about plot when you can shove a guy’s face into a urinal. By the way, that industrial, ambient melody coming through the speakers is composer Michael McCann’s appropriately named “The Hive.”
8: Club Errera, “Halo: Reach” (2010)
During the eighth campaign mission “New Alexandria,” fly to the ledge behind the hospital and pull the switch in the hidden alcove. Now, head to Club Errera and witness the Covenant Dance Party. Watch Grunts boogie away on the dance floor as a Brute DJs from above, pumping his fist to the cheesy electro-pop of “Never Surrender” by Nataraj and Nile Rodgers.
Or, blow the DJ away, let the record scratch to a halt, and let a dozen Brutes try to kill you for harshing their buzz. This is “Halo” after all.
7: Sao Paolo Club, “Max Payne 3” (2012)
It’s the hottest nightclub in Brazil and everyone’s having a great time. Everyone but…
“This kind of place made me want to puke. I needed a real drink to cope with the electronic music and robotic people.”
Good old Mr. Payne. Can’t blame him though. He’s working private security, babysitting some trust fund pill-poppers. After watching these kids order bottle service, snort a little MDMA, and pump their fists to the dirty favela funk of Trouble & Bass, Max’s trigger finger gets itchy. If he only had some masked gangsters to blow away. Speak of the devil, here they come. Drink down, guns out, Max. Do what you do best.
6: Club Hell, “Hitman: Blood Money” (2006)
Agent 47 in a goat mask and a mustard-colored zoot suit? Is this “Hitman” or “Eyes Wide Shut”? The masked patrons are beyond weird. Two tattooed girls make out in a corner, and a relentless jackhammer beat (a la “Slasher” by Institute For The Criminally Insane) has the packed dance floor doing a convulsive version of The Monkey. All the while, you’re killing someone in a torture chamber then setting a singer on fire by short-circuiting a pyrotechnic display. Okay, it’s “Hitman.”
5: The Blue Lagoon, “Heavy Rain” (2010)
As strong-willed reporter Madison Paige, you’ve entered The Blue Lagoon club to interrogate bad guy Paco Mendez. Dancing sexily to attract his attention seems like a solid plan of attack.
But when Paco doesn’t notice you, you head to the bathroom and give yourself a mini-makeover: unbuttoning your blouse, applying lipstick, and ripping your skirt to shorten it. Then you get back out on the dance floor and, um, dance some more.
You’re starting to feel a little dirty. But wait, Paco likes. Now’s your chance to interrogate him. Oh, he’s going to make you strip at gunpoint instead. The music track in the club is called “A Feeling of Power” by Barrie Gledden, which is the total opposite of what you’re feeling right now. Yuck. Poor Madison.
4: Barcelona Nightclub, “Goldeneye: Reloaded” (2011)
Pretending to be Daniel Craig in a sharp tux, making your way down the steps of an exclusive nightclub as Deadmau5 & Kaskade’s “I Remember” pulses on the speakers and a beautiful waitress asks your name. Bond, baby. James Bond. This is why you play video games.
Take a detour from hunting that Russian gangster and join the crowd on the dance floor. After 30 seconds or so, your shooting reticule begins to sway ever so slightly, until you find yourself getting into a full-on groove. This is Daniel Craig dancing. Thank God it’s first person so you don’t have to see it.
3: The Asylum, “Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines” (2004)
The silliest dance floor since Vice City, but with a lot of heart. Processing power in 2004 could only afford a few scattered dancers doing the same mo-capped dance gesture. They picked something resembling King Kong getting electrocuted. Pretty hot. And this may be a vampire club, but what’s with all the goth-industrial music in video game dance clubs? Don’t any game designers listen to Carl Cox or Frankie Knuckles?
On the off chance you like goth-industrial, the song used is “Isolated” by Chiasm.
2: Afterlife Club, “Mass Effect 2” (2010)
In a nightclub on the mercenary-controlled space station Omega, expect to see some things: spacey trip-hop coming out of the speakers; girls Twerking with holograms; and huge, purple, phallic cylinders extending to the ceiling. It’s a space party, playa.
That trip-hop track is Sasi Kaska’s “Callista,” which strangely enough was featured in a “Need For Speed” game eleven years earlier. Good music is timeless, especially free good music from the EA music library.
1: Maisonette 9, “Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony” (2009)
When Luis Lopez isn’t skydiving and sniping, he holds court as Maisonette 9’s head bouncer. It’s your job to get Luis through the most in-depth club mini-game of all time. Slip on your earpiece in the Security Room, chuck a violent drunk out of the Men’s Room, make sure a celebrity gets their stash of hoo hoo powder, or just chill like a boss in the corner and listen to a banging Crookers mix created especially for the game.