It's said you can't go more than 5 minutes in London without stumbling into a Pret a Manger. That applies equally to Dan Douglas' Build Engine facsimile of the English capital, which features some of the most obsessively mundane recreations of naff British chain stores I've seen since someone put a Greggs in Far Cry 5.
Late last month, avid Twitter user Douglas began a modest project. Using the Build Engine (the tool used to power 3D Realms games like Duke Nukem 3D back in the '90s), he'd recreate the office where UK Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock got caught violating covid restrictions by cheating on his wife. Very topical, extremely good stuff.
thinking about reinstalling duke nukem 3D to recreate matt hancock’s office in the build engine featuring a working security camera pic.twitter.com/0sAEeuztQIJune 27, 2021
The original goal was simply to flesh out this office with a working security camera, wherein I'd imagine one would leak sordid sprites to the pixelated tabloids. But since then, Douglas has gotten somewhat carried away in recreating not just a room, but an entire English high street.
Like Far Cry's Greggs, I adore seeing mundane, kinda naff British shops recreated in videogames. Douglas' thread goes on to not only feature more middle class retreats like Pret (a vaguely France-adjacent coffee chain) and a Sainsbury's grocery store, but cheesy photo development shops and an estate agent vandalised with "Tory scum" graffiti.
He's even included a bespoke texture for Quorn sausage rolls, despite admitting that the packaging "breaks continuity" since being designed long before the Hancock scandal.
There is something hypnotising about seeing these kinds of mundane, familiar objects brought into games. Besides the odd Watch Dogs: Legion or Forza Horizon 4, we don't often see Britain represented in games—and when it does, it's often washed of all the absurdly earnest and consistently embarrassing imagery that defines this weird little island.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to recreate a Scotmid in Half-Life 2.