The Ruined Zoo in Super Smash Brothers Brawl: The opening cut scenes depict a run-down, abandoned zoo against a dark murky sky and a lone animal howling in the distance. Once the actual stage begins, however, it's Mood Dissonance to the extreme, featuring music such as this.
The Mushroomy Kingdom stage is almost this. It is a decayed, abandoned, desolate version of the classic World 1-1 from Super Mario Bros.. What it lacks in actual ruins (aside from the blocks and pipes), it makes up for with wasteland and tragic remixes.
The Plaguelands in World of Warcraft, as well as most of the other undead areas. The Eastern Plaguelands are particularly decrepit; the sky is a sickly rusty orange, the trees have tumorous growths sticking out of them, there are mutant creatures everywhere, and that's all before you reach the Plaguewood. It all gives a definite impression that the land itself is poisoned and rotting.
Large parts of Outlands in the Burning Crusade qualify for this, seeing as the entire continent is what was left after the world Draenor was destroyed.
After the Cataclysm expansion, a good percentage of Azeroth's geography now counts as this. Ironically, even as the Barrens have been split in two by a molten fissure and the Badlands scarred by dragonfire, the Western Plaguelands have made a nearly full recovery from the plague of undeath.
At the beginning of Batman: Arkham City, the Penguin greets Bruce by welcoming him to Hell. Suffice it to say he's not being hyperbolic, and the burning, dilapidated environmental detail immediately lets you know it.
In Battlefield: Bad Company and its sequel feature a highly destructible environment, the creators knowing full well how fun it is to destroy maps with C4, grenade launchers, rockets, tanks... In BC2 you can bring down whole buildings on the enemies fighting from them and dig craters in the ground!
In Fable II the region of Wraithmarsh, complete with Banshees and a plethora of Hollow Men turns out to be the village of Oakvale from the first game which has gone to ruin since a young man later revealed to be Reaver sold it out and it was looted and the inhabitants slain. For a second time.
The introduction to Fallout ends with a slow zoom out to reveal the television we have been watching is sitting unattended in a ruined house in a blasted, ruined cityscape.
Fallout 3 opens with a slow pan back through a rusted, broken-down bus as "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" plays... until the camera swings up to reveal the ruins of Washington D.C. The gameplay lives up to this, so that the first thing you see after you eyes adjust from leaving Vault 101 is a scenic overlook of the post-apocalyptic Wasteland, with the half-skeletal Washington Monument far on the horizon.
Some tropers from the D.C. area have commented that the game became less fun when they recognized the blasted ruins of their real-life neighborhoods.
Fallout: New Vegas, while much more civilized than the Capital Wasteland (and for good reason), is a good mix of Scenery Gorn and Porn thanks to the rugged vistas of the Mojave and the ruins of the titular metropolis.
The DLC locations focus more on the Gorn. The Sierra Madre is one big, blasted resort town blanketed in a toxic Cloud. The Big Empty can be described by your character as looking like it was "tag-teamed by a pair of giant fuckbots." And the Divide is just hell, irradiated ruins flayed by a pitiless windstorm, the only significant sign of activity being the slowly flashing red beacon lights that hover over the scene as if warning passerby away.
Final Fantasy VII begins with this trope: a wretched cyberpunk metropolis of Midgar in birds-eye view... and then you fall into the shoes of terrorists blowing up a scary mad science installation.
Later, you have to climb a long rope to get up onto the top of the city to raid the Shinra Headquarters. On the way up you're treated to a view of the recently destroyed Sector 7, which really shows you the scale of how big of bastards Shinra are.
Another scene not that long afterwards (well, relatively; this is an RPG we're talking about) involves literal gore as well, which also doubles as a Crowning Moment Of Awesome - your party must outrun the Midgar Zolom to proceed, which, at this point in the game, is very strong. Upon escaping it, they prepare to enter the Mythril Mine... and see the corpse of another Midgar Zolom impaled on a tree, courtesy of Sephiroth.
Emblematic of the Silent Hill series, which at best features abandoned, fog-shrouded streets and buildings in varying states of disuse and decay, and often switches to a twisted mirror characterised by blood, metal gratings, rust, blood, and more blood. Oh, and monsters. Lots of monsters.
Resident Evil. The old school Playstation series resorted to using static images for scenarios due to their much higher detail, which happened to be good enough to stick for the Gamecube releases.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis deserves special mention for its many cutscenes depicting Raccoon City's descent into chaos, culminating in a nuclear strike that obliterates the entire town. It was very impressive CGI at the time, and even today the destruction is glorious to behold.
Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage has several of its stages take place in decaying post-nuclear-apocalyptic cities.
Bioshock has your character arrive on the scene in Rapture after a lot of crap has gone down. Evidence of firefights, messages written in blood on the walls, damaged electronics and wires, corpses, and whole areas frozen off by sub-zero seawater leaks are visible at every third step. Ghostly hallucinations and audio tapes give you an idea of what the slum used to be like.
During the first underwater section of the sequel, Subject Delta can see the Rapture skyline, complete with decaying, flooded buildings, made all the worse by the natural beauty of the seafloor.
BioShock Infinite does a great example of this, on the first half of the game you enjoy a scenic tour on the beauty of Columbia. Later on when the Vox Populi's uprising, the city has become a wartorn ghost town. You and Elizabeth visit the same island when you first came to Columbia, and it is now totally wrecked with parts of it having fallen off from the rest or some of it floating about.
STALKER actually manages to do a good job of this. You don't expect to see abject ruination on the scale of an all-out nuclear post-apocalypse, but the empty, decaying land and the ugly concrete convey the idea of an eerily unlivable zone picked over by the desperate. Of course, then you find the mutants, zombies, and deadly anomalies — but aside from all that, just the patina of rust and decrepitude over everything is haunting.
In the early betas, STALKER featured even more desolation and destruction; eg. the Dead City with collapsed Soviet-era flats, an old research center in the Dark Valley and more.
Most of the scenery is directly based on the photos taken by the game designers in the real area surrounding the infamous Chernobyl nuclear plant. Which, in turn, may not be Scenery Gorn to some but a fascinating and perhaps beautiful outlook into the future after humanity.◊ There have been a few references on the History Channel taking a look at this in their Life After Humans series.
In Modern Warfare 2, the beginning of "Of Their Own Accord". You come out of the bunker and the trenches, to be presented with the ruins of the Washington Monument filling your screen, and the National Mall churned up by shellfire and more trenches. Just to ram the point home, the level up to that point has no music, only radio chatter and distant shell-fire. As you come out of the trench, the music starts, and it's a heartbreaking orchestral piece, perfect to set the tone.
Definitely System Shock 2. Seeing what happened to the Von Braun...
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin goes out of its way to show you just how horribly devastated post-explosion Fairport is. One of the most powerful moments is when you reach the epicenter of the explosion... or rather, the edge of the epicenter. Throughout the game, you've been seeing this titanic rising dust cloud spreading over the sky in the distance, but it isn't until the last hour or so of the game that you actually reach the crater itself, which is so vastly immense that standing at the edge simply boggles the mind.
Halo 3: ODST plays this especially strongly during the nighttime segments of prowling the Covenant-occupied New Mombasa. Abandoned cars, destroyed vehicles, and burning buildings are common.
Resistance 2 shows a shot of San Francisco in flames, being destroyed by Chimera ships, a destroyed Chicago, flooded and filled with corpses as the Chimeran Citadel looms over the city and the abandoned suburban towns of Orick and Twin Falls, made worse by the fact that each town is filled with cocoons, especially the child-sized ones that fill the playgrounds and backyards.
The Citadel in Half-Life 2 and at the end of Episode 1.
The ruined cityscape after the tunnels in Episode 1.
The railroad bridge in Episode 2.
The gas station, the view from the top of Mercy Hospital and the airplane crash in Left 4 Dead.
Being set in Warhammer 40,000, Dawn of War, its expansions and sequel, has this trope out the wazoo. Levels of devastation range from "simple" craters and structural damage to piles of bodies and ruined vehicles to the very ground and sky itself mutilated and warped by the influence of the Immaterium.
Dawn of War II: Retribution may take the cake. One mission has you deploy to a world only for an Imperial fleet to warp in moments later and prepare the world for Exterminatus. Your objective changes from "Get the Big Bad" to "Run like hell to the teleporter beacon." The world has been transformed from a verdant jungle to a burning hellscape, and you race your heroes along the molten rims of craters extending miles into the planet's crust as the ground heaves and screams beneath you. Meanwhile Chaos forces, Tyranids, and Orks are in a frenzy, alternating between running madly and attacking each other in a blind panic. It's both spectacular and screamingly difficult.
In World in Conflict, most of the campaign and multiplayer battles tend to end with the map you've been fighting over reduced to nothing more than blackened ground, craters, and ruins - artillery is cheap, napalm is fair game, and more than one tactical nuke can be dropped per game. The sky even darkens a little from all the smoke if a battle drags out.
In inFAMOUS, a good portion of Empire City is in ruins, which makes for a more visually interesting setting than the generic cityscape Empire looked like before the RaySphere went off. True, it's mostly a boring gray, but even that serves a purpose as it contrasts nicely with Cole's colorful electricity-based powers.
The city of New Marais in the sequel has its own example in Flood Town - a ruined parish, still flooded and in ruin, with scrawled messages all over the buildings as the people who live there try to hold on.
The tutorial of Guild Wars Prophecies ends with the Searing, magical fire raining down on your Doomed Hometown. The next few missions take place in the ruins, which are now a burned-out wastleland; this is particularly effective if you remember how beautiful it was during the tutorial. Other uses of Scenery Gorn include Nightfall's Desolation, a sulfurous desert inhabitable only by the undead and the demonic, and Realm of Torment, the hellish prison of a banished god.
Guild Wars 2 has Orr, a former human kingdom that sank beneath the waves for centuries only to rise after being corrupted by a dragon, all the while being infested with the undead. It's littered with the remains of what were beautiful cathedrals and palaces, most of which are encrusted with dead sea life and enormous filmy eyes.
Lion's Arch became this after the Living Story ended. Originally the main city for players and filled with NPCs, it's been reduced to a rubble-filled, scarred wreck with only a scattering of guards to keep out the looters and workers. And that doesn't count the month where it was overrun with enemies, polluted with poison, and on fire.
The Butcher's room in Diablo, red with blood and full of human bodies mutilated, impaled and/or hung up on hooks.
In Cave Story, the Egg Corridor starts off nice and operational. When you visit it again later in the game, it's badly damaged as a result of the giant dragon egg hatching.
Prototype starts you off in a decent-looking version of Manhattan. As The Virus spreads, the infected areas increase in size — and these are nasty, with blood-red skies, fleshy tendrils crawling across the architecture, crows circling overhead, and, at the center of each one, a building covered in giant, throbbing, suppurating zits. Ew.
Metro 2033 has this when you get out onto the surface, coupled with snow, howling wind, and ruined buildings.
In Splinter Cell Conviction, Downtown Washington, D.C. after the EMP bombs go off with wrecked buildings or vehicles, fires in the streets and various casualties (you even get to see someone succumb to his wounds before your eyes, with his companion weeping over his body) does more to drive in the evil of Tom Reed's plan than any amount of ranting could. Similarly, the inside of the White House is also disturbing.
The Nightmare Ned video game features some really scary scenes, as per the name.
American McGee's Alice has this in spades. It's hard to single out just one screenshot for comparison, but this◊ pretty much sums up the mood of the new "Wonderland" created by Alice's unbalanced mind.
Its sequel, Alice: Madness Returns wavers between gorgeous scenery porn (Oriental area) and horrific scenery gorn (the Hatter's Domain) until Queensland. Then gorn rules the day.
Certain areas of Starcraft II, particularly when the Zerg come calling. Tarsonis, Tyrador, and Aiur are big on crumbling buildings, corpses, infestation, and creep, but none of them to the gleeful extent of Mordor Char, especially in "The Gates Of Hell".
Most areas of Odium, especially the docks in the beginning.
The Enrichment Center in the beginning areas of Portal 2 definitely fits. It's even eerier when you can easily recognize places from the first Portal now crumbling and decaying.
The ruined areas of Haven City in Jak 3: Wastelander. It's unnerving when you can make out areas you've visited in the previous game now in a state of severe ruin.
Manhunt is made of this trope, as the story takes place in a crappy, run-down stand-in for New York City. From the abandoned projects to the empty mall, it's everywhere.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: When Link emerges from the Temple of Time for the first time as an adult and sees the devastation that Ganondorf's seven-year reign has wrought: The bright, colorful Market with its happy music has been turned to ruins, the carefree villagers replaced by Redead zombies. Likewise, beautiful and majestic Hyrule Castle has been replaced by the onyx coloured Ganon's Castle—hovering over a lake of molten lava, to boot.
As well, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has Greatfish Isle, which has been ripped to shreds by Ganondorf's forces, forcing Jabun to flee and hide out on Outset Island. Considering the rest of the game is mostly Scenery Porn, the sight of what has befallen Greatfish Isle is extremely jarring, likely intentionally so.
The bad futures in Sonic CD are dystopian worlds corrupted by Dr. Eggman. Sonic can make these futures better if he fixes what Eggman has done wrong in the past.
Also returning in Generations is the ruined Station Square that Perfect Chaos flooded and wrecked in Sonic Adventure. Some of the broken highways are clearly remnants of the Speed Highway stage (which is also in both games).
Halfway through the first act of Angel Island Zone in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the jungle the stage takes place in is set on fire. It continues to burn throughout the rest of the stage.
Shadow the Hedgehog takes place in the midst of an Alien Invasion, with the very first stage depicting a city being torn asunder. There are quite a few other stages depicting such carnage, as well. Following certain paths in the game also treats the player to a cutscene of the Eclipse Cannon wiping a city off the face of the earth.
One of the first few things to realize in Inazuma Eleven 2 is that the whole Raimon academy is totally destroyed by aliens. The scene specially pans on the soccer club, which is the heroes' important stronghold in the first game. The school gets better, and more fabulous than ever.
Some games in Castlevania series feature this as backgrounds, which include destroyed buildings, flame, and hanged/impaled corpses.
One particularly notable instance is the first Stage of Rondo Of Blood, which is the town of Jova from Simon's Quest, set on fire and invaded by the undead.
Many "City" stages in Contra series are this, usually since you're required to jump from a destroyed building to another while dodging alien rushes and bullets.
Dark Souls, a Dark Fantasy taking place in the ruined land of Lordran, naturally has plenty of this, from the decrepit Undead Burg to the vile shantytown pit of decay that is Blighttown to the water-logged ruins of New Londo. In fact, according to Director Miyazaki, this sort of beauty is a Central Theme of the game.
Dowerton Station, unpleasant enough in Dark Fall: The Journal, has graduated to full-on Scenery Gorn in Dark Fall: Lost Souls.
In Final Fantasy V there's a place called Gorn Town that is essentially the abandoned ruin of an ancient town, complete with broken pillars, ruined buildings and plants that have overgrown everything. It was renamed to Gohn in the GBA release, which somewhat ruins the joke.
The Ship Graveyard much earlier in the game also qualifies - an entire dungeon made up of nothing but wrecked and ruined ships, many of which are submerged.
Afterfall: InSanity has some awesome scenery gorn, particularly in the City of Light.
Super Metroid has Old Tourian, the wreckage of the first game's Tourian, as well as the wrecked ship.
In Fusion, after you destroy Nettori, Nightmare lays waste to Sector 5, flooding most of the area.
Mass Effect 3: pick a world attacked by Reapers, any world. There's Earth, where you're gunning down Husks not a hundred feet from Reaper Destroyers and their foghorns from hell; Palaven, where you watch from orbit as cities are consumed by enormous firestorms; Tuchanka, which is still a desolate planet full of crumbling ruins and baked dirt although there is still greenery there, and you can do a lot to help; Rannoch, which might or might not feature the remnants of the entire quarian Migrant Fleet falling from orbit; Thessia, which is in the process of being crushed by the Reapers; and the Citadel itself, which is torn up by a Cerberus assault and sports scarred decks, charred walls, and splattered blood for the rest of the game. Suffice to say, the galaxy looks like Hell — and it kind of is.
Company of Heroes featured this, but in a twist, instead of immediately starting off this, you are the one doing the destruction. Its a sight when you first start off, some french villas, beautiful market squares, and walls. But once the battle actually starts, artillery starts falling, blowing up houses, grenades and mortars start scarring the landscape, and tanks break apart the walls. By the end a battle, the landscape is completely changed, with only an inkling of the past beauty.
Command & Conquer, boy howdy! By Tiberian Sun, Earth is pretty much a ravaged, drought-ridden wasteland dotted with lovely things like Tiberian Weeds and raging ion storms. Only a scant few pockets of civilization remain on the blighted landscape, and even they are torn with the ongoing no-holds-barred beatdown between NOD and GDI. And then it goes From Bad to Worse in Tiberium Wars, when we see just how xenoformed the Red Zones have become.
In Chapter 11 of Final Fantasy XIII, you visit Oerba Village, the hometown of Vanille and Fang, and find it a decaying, Cie'th-infested ruin, partially covered in crystal sand. It's one of the most powerful scenes in the game.
Needless to say, the Emergency! series has lots of this. Peaceful towns will be torn apart by every manner of disaster you can imagine.
In Dragon Age: Origins, the Deep Roads, the tunnels connecting the cities and Thaigs of the Ancient Dwarven Empire, which are now swarming with Darkspawn and corrupted by their taint. The Circle Tower after being overrun with Abominations and Blood Mages, has most of the upper floors covered in an an oozy, fleshy... something, similar to Darkspawn corruption. Ostagar comes across as this in the Return of Ostagar DLC, where the former ruins are littered with the unburied dead from the ill-fated battle, swarming Darkspawn and the crude effigies they've constructed.
In Dragon Age II, the prologue takes place in the Blightlands, the area surrounding Lothering that has become tainted due to being overrun with the Darkspawn horde. Most of the driving plot of Act I features Hawke preparing to join an expedition to an undiscovered part of the Deep Roads, while the Legacy DLC journeys to another part, which houses an Ancient Grey Warden Prison.
Gates To Infinity has this when you're going through the Glacier Palace and fighting the Bittercold. The Palace is beautiful and elaborate, but once you know it's the fortress of the enemy, it's suddenly the symbol of an ensuing chaos that will consume all.
The Nancy Drew games will occasionally dabble in this, with many stories taking place in antique buildings in various stages of disrepair. The shining example is The Ghost of Thornton Hall. The titular hall is an old Southern Gothic mansion that's crumbling down, overrun with ivy, and still amazingly beautiful.◊
Elephant Games are known for these in their Mystery Trackers game series as much of the locations that the player visits are abandoned towns and buildings due to either supernatural disasters or man-made disrepair. And in their joint production of Fate's Carnival for the Mystery Case Files series, their highly detailed rendition of Madame Fate's carnival is scarier than its original design.
Blasted Tokyo, a version of Tokyo that's been leveled by the angels so badly that the entire place is nothing but desert, massive craters, a Rainbow Bridge just intact enough to let you cross to a plot-important area, and underground shelters. It's so ruined beyond recognition that the game doesn't bother labeling the various districts as you travel through them on the map.
Infernal Tokyo, a version of Tokyo that's bruised up, on fire in many areas, and full of smoke and rubble, thanks to the constant turf wars by the various Demonoid factions. Unlike the above entry, at least the region is still quite recognizable, but even the Chaos-leaning Walter was initially shocked upon seeing how unstable the place looks.
The infamous final level of Psychonauts shows us what happens when two mental planes collide with one another. In this case, its the mind of the protagonist, who grew up in a circus, and the antagonist, who grew up in a butcher shop. Neither of their childhoods were exactly happy, and what we get is a truly nauseating landscape known only as the "MeatCircus". Despite the notorious Difficulty Spike of the place, it needs to be seen to believe.