Sid Meier. Reading his manuals for the original Railroad Tycoon and Pirates!, for example, was downright educational. The original Pirates! even forced the player to figure out where they were by using a sextant to identify only their latitude and land masses to get their bearing. See Alpha Centauri below for more evidence of Meier's diligence.
The fascinating part is that very little of the actual science has been outright disproven yet.
Shadow Hearts: Covenant has the Gallery of the Dead, which could also be called "Learn Cyrillic! With Princess Anastasia".
The designers of Assassin's Creed I put a huge amount of effort into studying the layout of the 12th century cities the characters would be exploring, including a lot of still-recognisable landmarks.
Also, all of the nine targets were real characters that disappeared over the Crusades. Only a couple were believed to have been assassinated.
The sequel goes even farther: every noteworthy person in Ezio's life and every important or noteworthy location in the various cities has a small database entry that you can view when near that person/place. They're not needed for completing the game, nor are they required for any reason at all, but they're interesting to read and sometimes contain funny/snarky commentary.
The flying machine is also based on Leonardo's designs.
Likewise, the sequel had extensive attention paid to depicting late-fifteenth-century Florence, and Venice (San Gimignano and Forli being far less prominent), with several players and their friends/families commenting on how they'd visited those very locations in real life only to find them accurately (for the time) replicated in the game.
Leonardo's War Machines in Brotherhood were based on his actual designs. As were the flying machine and parachutes.
It's one thing to include accurate Italian dialogue in a videogame. It's another thing to include lots of accurate Mohawk dialogue as spoken by native Mohawk speakers, as they do in Assassins Creed III. Likewise, over 80% of the characters appearing in the game were real, historical people. And as expected by now, the in-game database is both extensive and detailed and the environments beautifully, accurately rendered. Really, by now one might as well call this series Shown Their Work: The Video Games.
Similarly, Mass Effect has reams of encyclopedic info on how everything in the Mass Effect universe works. It's clear that a lot of work went into understanding the ramifications of the mass effect, even if the effect itself (gravitational fields arising from currents flowing through a new element) is impossible given current works of physics. If it could exist, a lot of the things described in the game are very plausible.
The Mass Effect is actually based on the current cutting edge of physics, namely the research for the Higgs-Boson in the Large Hardron Collider, a particle that arises as an artifact of the field that makes massy things behave like, well, massy things. Mass is directly related to gravity, so it is at least to some degree plausible that manipulation of mass can produce artificial gravity, levitation, and force fields. Furthermore, there speed of light is assumed to be the fastest possible speed because light particles have a mass of zero and everything that has a higher mass would require more energy to move. A mass effect field isolates a ship from the gravity conditions outside the ship, which allows it to accelarate beyond light speed without everything inside being crushed into the back wall, or to make extremely sharp turns without being torn to shreds by inertia.
The Mass Effect is created by running an electrical current through a substance called Element Zero. Since human nerves send signals through the body by small electric pulses, people whose bodies are contaminated by Element Zero particles are living Mass Effect generators. With the help of cybernetic implants, they can control these small electric pulses more precisely and use the Element Zero in their body to create Mass Effect fields, alowing them to levitate, deflect bullets, and throw objects with their mind. It's one of the very few cases where "magic" powers are actually consistently explained and plausible, requiring only a single substance with only one relatively simple property.
Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald have a side-quest to catch the legendary golems (Regirock, Regice, and Registeel) which involves reading Braille. The Pokémon games have a tendency to drop little educational bits in, like museums and space launch centers. In addition, many Pokémon have Pokédex entries that refer to real-life animals and places.
If you read the credits, you will notice that they actually consulted real organizations for the blind for all their Braille plaques.
The series also generally averts Artistic License – Paleontology, design details aside, as given information is accurate and the series draws upon a somewhat wider range of species than most media (an anomalocaris-like biped, a eurypterid, crinoids, Archelon, etc.).
The generation 6 Tyrannosaurus rex Pokémon Tyrunt and Tyrantrum even reference feathered tyrannosaurs. There's also a reference to polar-dwelling dinosaurs with the sauropod Pokemon Amaura and Aurorus.
The makers of Quest for Glory IV have a lot of knowledge regrding Tarot cards, so you get several lengthy (though fairly impressive) fortune telling sequences giving the proper card combinations for the hero's past, present, and future, most of the important characters in the game, and the possible endings.
Metal Gear Solid loves doing this to the point where it starts messing with the dialog. We know you researched Aleut languages. In retrospect, it was probably a bad decision, because any attempt to write this knowledge into the story makes for some really awkward dialog.
Less annoyingly, the military tends to get a realistic presentation in the games, though it goes back and forth. The CQC featured in the games was developed by the series' military advisor, Motosada Mori, a former mercenary and SWAT instructor. He explains in an interview that it is best used in built-up areas during situations where there are multiple enemies close to you. He goes on to explain that it is a high level professional tactic that requires extensive experience with knives and firearms and will not necessarily work to your advantage in a fight. He also stated that it is best suited for use by Special Forces personnel. In other words, while it is a very useful technique, it doesn't make you nigh invincible in hand-to-hand combat as portrayed in the games.
The Metal Gear Solid 2 credits include a team of people under "Research/Justification". Which means they hire people specifically to put this trope in.
For example, the methods and tactics used by the guards, especially during Alert and Search phases, are modelled after real-life techniques, including formations, doorway clearing, hand signals and group movement.
Metal Gear Solid 2 also delves so deeply into meme theory that some institutions use it to teach meme theory. And your mom said video games would never teach you anything.
Sometimes, it gets to the point where a character's only purpose is to demonstrate the amount of research that went into making the game. Nastasha from Metal Gear Solid was pretty much there to spout off technical info on nuclear weapons and the equipment you picked up, as well as ranting about nuclear proliferation. Sigint got this role in the third game as well. Both characters have worked for intelligence agencies and are on hand as experts, and Sigint went on to become the head of DARPA, so it makes sense that their role is pretty much to spout random facts.
While a lot of the information about genes in MGS is inaccurate, it's justified by the fact that Liquid does most of the ranting (according to Word of God, he doesn't have a very firm grasp on the subject matter), and the ultimate point of Naomi's personal story is that she's putting too much faith in genetics because it's her only hope of finding out who she is and where she came from. The stuff that they didn't get wrong is astoundingly well-researched.
In MGSV, the TGS 2014 gameplay footage showed Big Boss shaking his limbs as an idle animation while climbing. This is an actual climbing technique used to reduce lactic acid buildup. Being used by a character who is strong enough to lift a giant robot, and sprint for extended periods without rest. Still, if it'll increase his already-prodigious endurance...
Apparently writer/director Hideo Kojima is excessively fond of this trope, as his prior work Policenauts, in addition to being unavailable in English, deterred fan translations because of the precise technical terminology used in the Japanese release of the game, including the results of research in biology, astronautics, and history. In fact, an independent translator named Marc Laidlaw (the same guy who wrote the entire plot of Half-Life), spent time with a number of textbooks and other sources of research in an attempt to decipher the decidedly native-centric text dump which included college level colloquialisms and kanji.
The head admin of the MMO Lusternia is a writer, and he is very good at researching the aspects of real-world mythology that were incorporated into the game. For example, the skillset known as "Highmagic" is an extended love-letter to Kabbalah, with each individual skill accurately corresponding to an aspect of the Sephirot (Hod, Keter, Yesod, etc).
The sequel, Riven, requires you to figure out the D'ni numeral system (which uses a base 25 counting system) as part of solving a puzzle.
Even more impressive, the D'ni numbering system is actually a multiple-base number system, which utilizes a base-5 system to construct its numerals, and a base 25 system to allow for the concatenation of numerals to create numbers over 25.
Persona 3's class sequences involve being lectured (and often quizzed) on actual grammar, history, and the like (although on a 6th or 7th grade level); in FES, this is expanded to include a real discussion of tarot cards and paganism that's mostly on the level.
Additionally, the personas you can obtain in the same game are all real mythological figures, drawn from everything from Vodou gods, to Judeo-Christian figures, to creatures and characters of Greek and Roman legends. The in-game compendium offers short descriptions of where each persona comes from.
The artwork by Atlus' master designer and prolific series artist Kazuma Kaneko makes it even more delightful, giving every single monster its own spin while retaining a deep and clear understanding of who they are supposed to be. Even when Shin Megami Tensei games choose to derive its characters from popular culture, such as the Hell Biker, or Alice, they're treated with care and attention to detail.
This has the added effect of people learning sometimes shocking truths about popular deities that appear in other games. Like, say, Shiva.
Both Persona 3 and Persona 4 are also highly notable for getting one specific thing right that so many works across multiple mediums get wrong: Tarot Motifs. The "Social Links" are all built around specific major tarot arcana, and if you play them out and pay attention, you'll realize that, yes, these are in fact accurate representations of what the arcana are meant to reflect, even for the often misrepresented ones.
And this does include Death in Persona 3, which can look like it's being misrepresented as a "oh god end of the world thing" at first. Especially if you're attentive to what's really going on, you'll realize the motif is being used exactly right and it'll probably blow your mind.
The accuracy is also prevalent in how the different meanings are portrayed differently in both 3 and 4, but still being accurate. Even further, Persona 3 Portable's female route (that some would dismiss as fanservice) still sticks to the representations of the arcana in the new social links. Notably, it gives a new and deeper meaning for the Fortune (Ryoji Mochizuki), Moon (Shinjiro Aragaki) and Strength (Koromaru) Arcana.
The Persona series also shows a sound grasp of Jungian psychiatric theory. "Persona" and "Shadow" are obvious, but Philemon being named after a character from Jung's Red Book (and serving much the same purpose!) makes it clear that the developers paid attention.
This also goes over to the protagonists and antagonists personas in Persona 3 (plus the main character in Persona 4). The names either reflect the characters' backstory or sometimes even future events in the game to the point of almost being spoiling if you know your mythology. Their models often also reflects the original myth (like Orpheus's body, except the head, being prosthetic since he was beheaded in the myth)
For example Akihiko's initial persona is Polydeuces, better known as Pollux and the brother of Castor, Shinjiro's Persona, who together makes up the constellation Gemini. Polydeuces was given immortality while Castor was fated for death, therefore foreshadowing Shinjiro's death.
Persona 3 FES also features an alternate version of Lucifer named Helel. Helel is the name of a god in Canaanite mythology believed to have eventually evolved into Lucifer.
Persona 4 also heavily features Nietzschean philosophy. Actual Nietzschean philosophy. In fact, a lot of the villains fall into the Nietzsche Wannabe category while the heroes and the rest of the setting come closer to his actual beliefs.
They tend to show their work on most of the other mythology as well. In addition to the demon/persona designs mentioned above, they sometimes work it into the plot; for instance, one sidequest in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey involves Hariti getting a hankering for babies and requesting that you find a pomegranate to keep her cravings in check, since she's sworn off them. And the person who gives you said fruit for Hariti? Why, it's none other than Persephone. And they're just two of many denizens in the Shin Megami Tensei universe.
There's also the fact that Lucifer and Satan are separate entities (not only that, but in the second game, Satan can be found working for God.) This can be traced back to certain interpretations of the Christian mythos depicting Satan as essentially the devil on God's shoulder instead of the more well-known Lightbringer.
The original visual novel of Phantom of Inferno went into obsessive detail on the guns the characters used. Obsessive. It's borderline disturbing. It was toned down in the US DVD-play release of the game (which removed the option of letting you choose which gun you wanted to use) and was (thankfully) skipped in the anime.
SimAnt has two lengthy chapters on ants in the User's Manual, plus famous quotes about ants and an appendix full of scientific terms. To top it off, they included an unreasonable number of ant puns. It's freaking fantastic.
Moving away from all this antagonism, other early Sim games such as SimEarth, A-Train and SimFarm have lengthy sections at the ends of their manuals devoted to the subject of the game (Earth science, the history of railways, a study of farming...). And they're all pretty damn awesome.
This seemed to be more common in the '90s, as Lords of the Realm and Jane's Fighters Anthology both came with a pamplet describing certain 12th century castles and their histories in the case of the former, and flight and air combat tactics and principles in the case of the latter (in fact the "pamphlet" was a book a few hundred pages long in the case of the Jane's game, which is not suprising given Jane's role in the game).
This was also for Copy Protection purposes: the game would ask you to enter a certain word on a certain line on a certain page to keep playing.
In certain countries such as Japan, Gran Turismo 4 came with a booklet a couple hundred pages long, that was filled with expertise from professional drivers describing basic racing strategies, and car dynamics and so on.
Speaking of Gran Turismo, the creator of the game was a former professional driver himself, who just won 1st place in his class of sports cars.
Astro Boy: Omega Factor for the GBA sets itself up as prime Adaptation Distillation through this trope, including as many characters from the original works as narratively possible, along with an extended character biography section, which includes information about their first appearances, and logical justifications for any changes that have been made for their appearance in the game.
The '90s Windows game Odell Down Under has surprisingly detailed information on a number of aquatic species found in the Great Barrier Reef. Every time you start a game or a new round in a game there's an info screen which gives you details about the fish you're playing as. The whole point of the game, in fact, is to keep your fish alive by having it eat what it actually eats, avoid predators, and get cleaned by cleaner fish. The sharks didn't always need cleaner fish however, thanks to the remoras that live on sharks and eat their parasites. There was even an in-game fish encyclopedia on the title screen that gave detail on other lifeforms you couldn't play as like plankton and algae.
Jigsaw, a time-travel Interactive Fiction game, includes extensive footnotes regarding the history (and Artistic License) involved. Several of the puzzles require or strongly encourage detailed knowledge of the Enigma machine, the works of Marcel Proust, and how to fly a B-29 bomber.
Deus Ex knew its paranoid conspiracies. Not only was it chock full of every conceivable conspiracy theory from MJ-12 to the Illuminati to aliens at Area 51, but it was also crammed full of real philosophical concepts and ideals, from Santayana to Nietzsche. Visit the AI in Morgan Everett's base if you need a small example of the research involved.
The Call of Duty series tends to focus on real historical military operations. Even the entirely fictional Modern Warfare inserted some historical realism by using real buildings and structures featured in a level set in Pripyat, in the Chernobyl evacuation zone, and factoring them into the gameplay. After sniping Imran Zakhaev from the top floor of the Pripyat hotel which had been infiltrated in the previous level, the player and his spotter must move through the abandoned city's cultural center and streets, at the end going from the public swimming pool to the Pripyat Ferris wheel where they'll have to hold out until the helicopter's arrival.
On the subject of Pripyat, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl team definitely did the research (including several trips to the exclusion zone). Overlay the map of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant from the game and the real one from Google Earth, for instance. Also, Pripyat is *almost* dead on. Other locations (Agroprom, for instance) are uncanny. Seeing photographs of the building that Agroprom is based on is chilling. Even the faded mural on a side wall is the same as in game
The Xenosaga games have vast in-game databases that are updated with both real world and fictional information on matters biographical, historical and scientific.
More importantly, nearly all of the technobabble in Xenosaga is real or at least researched - you couldn't really use the EPR paradox for FTL communication, but how many RPGs would even suggest you could?
Eternal Sonata has, between chapters, historical accounts of Chopin's life, with real life photographs of scenery in the background.
Silicon Knights redid a level in Eternal Darkness because they found out that stained glass didn't exist in the time period it took place in.
Fallout 1, particularly, features this trope, as well as lampshading the setting's resident mutants; many are specifically assumed to be artificial. Sufficient (and rewarding) exploration reveals a detailed and clear description of how a mutagenic artificial virus designed to combat biological warfare interferes with the anaphase stage of cell division; this is, in many ways, the single most unrealistic and fantastic element of this plot point, but the game clearly takes its biology very seriously. Well, up to a point.
This was also the game that began its manual with three pages on the precise effects, graded by the scale of the bomb, of a nuclear detonation. Biology wasn't the only thing Fallout took seriously.
When Bethesda Studios took over the production of Fallout 3, they based it in Washington, DC. Their studios are based in a suburb of Washington, DC (Bethesda, Maryland; yes, we know, not a very creative name). This is why the landscape is so detailed: they know the area. Gamers based in the DC metro area noticed and praised Bethesda for it.
This◊ is a map of the real Washington, D.C. subway system. This is a map of the Fallout 3 version. The game wasn't meant to be perfect in its representation of D.C. (the real National Mall is much, much larger than the in-game version, for example, and there's a practical explanation for that), but Bethesda nailed little details beautifully, right down to the architectural styles of random buildings. Please pay a visit to D.C. and then go back to play the game. Scenery Porn.
Actually, Bethesda was founded in Bethesda, but has since moved to nearby Rockville (still in the D.C. suburbs). The attention to detail isn't just in the map, take a look at the western horizon in the game. Those gently rolling mountains don't just look like the Appalachian and Blue Ridge...
He formed the Legion by uniting several tribes and forming them into a militaristic government and state.
He compares his conquests in Arizona to the historical Caesar's conquest of Gaul, and his return to conquer the NCR to the crossing of the Rubicon.
The Legion not only all speak Latin, but also pronounce it correctly, using only hard Cs and pronouncing Vs as Ws. All but the most educated people west of the Colorado continue to call Caesar "See-zer," but the Legionaries use the historically accurate "Kai-zar."
The Legion uses historical Roman Legion ranks and organization, not just the more famous centurions and their centuries, but also more obscure ranks, such as the decanus, commander of the eight-man contubernium.
They also portrayed the Frumentarii, Roman 'military intelligence', an organization very rarely mentioned in fiction or popular books about Imperial Rome and usually known only by people interested in ancient history. Sure, the Frumentarii in game are much more sinister than their real-life counterparts (who were more intelligence analysts and tax collectors than secret police) but then again, they had to fit a 'tribal' nature of Ceasar's Legion.
They use the denarius silver coin as their currency, as well as the golden aureus, which is worth 25 denarii in-game, just as it was in ancient Rome.
They practice historical punishments such as crucifixion and decimation.
Similar to how Fallout 3 was modeled after DC, New Vegas was modeled after the real Mojave, even featuring actual towns such as Goodsprings, Primm and Boulder (known in-game as Boulder City) as well as locations such as Nellis Air Force Base, McCarran Airport (known as Camp McCarran) and Hoover Dam. The wiki devoted to the game is more likely to point out things that aren't right (for example, there's nothing much at the real-life highway intersection where Novac is located in the game, and Solar One is a bit south of that point, rather than north as Helios One is in-game) than things that are.
The makers of Gabriel Knight appear to love research more than life itself. While the information is both useful and interesting, you'll be very glad that the game has provided you with a tape recorder that allows you to play back all the conversations that Gabriel has had with various Voodoo experts.
Developers of Command & Conquer Tiberium Wars contacted MIT students for input on the propagation of Tiberium, and even have a mocked-up scientific paper on the subject.
The original Age of Empires allowed you to click on any unit, piece of rock, shrub etc - then expand into an encyclopediac background history of said unit/rock/shrub. From a longboat to an elm tree, every item was meticulously mapped out in depth.
The sequel, Age of Empires II dedicated a large portion of the manual to historical information on every single unit, building and technology available in the game, as well as an extensive in-game encyclopedia of the various civilizations, events, technologies and other historical information on the middle ages.
Similarly, its successor Age of Mythology has a massive encyclopaedia dedicated to the mythological creatures. Right down to listing not just the names of the original Valkyries, but what each name meant.
World in Conflict does a frankly superb job of depicting downtown Seattle circa 1989. This would be expected if Massive Entertainment was one of the multiple developers based in the area, but they're Swedish. They even play with it by having the invading Soviets blow up the Kingdome, which was demolished in reality a few years before the game's release.
Infinity: The Quest for Earth features newtonian flight physics (no Space Friction here!) and includes, within it's procedurally generated 200-400 billion stars, the several dozen thousand that we know of, in an accurate position. However, it does occasionally fail physics forever in that it ignores most of the effect of relativity, notably time dilatation when approaching the speed of light. However, this probably constitutes an Acceptable Breaks from Reality, as there is probably no way to simulate time dilatation without making everyone else move in slo-mo - and if you introduce various people, all moving at the speed of light in their frame of reference, it's probably impossible to accurately represent it to everyone involved.
Dwarf Fortress is probably the only game in existence for which a geology textbook is a good substitute for a strategy guide (for the most part). The steps for creating alloys and certain types of glass are also 100% accurate, and most existing abstractions are temporary or deliberate.
If you look at the game files, it actually accounts for the specific heat of rocks and metals. (Some of which are actually wrong as of the current version, but will be fixed with the next release.) Talk about science!
Temperature has been implemented. Toady is now working on developing a magic system and making your livestock require food, and has indicated a longer-term goal of fixing the economy mechanics to account for things like supply/demand and inflation.
The person who made Hymmnos for Ar tonelico put some seriously extreme effort at making a language. See here.
Driver: San Francisco: The series villain, Jericho, attempts to get his hands on platinum and ammonia. While Tanner is baffled as to why, a chemist is called up to find that platinum's a catalyst that can create hydrogen cyanide when ammonia is passed over it. If you knew what you were doing of course.
By the end of the Wii survival horror game Cursed Mountain, you'll probably know all about the Tibetan afterlife.
The shipwreck-diving game Sea Rogue has a manual which lists hundreds of shipwrecks ranging from Viking boats from circa 1000 AD to the Titanic. The developers themselves include a disclaimer that this is not, and cannot be, all completely accurate information, but it is very impressive.
Brothers in Arms series, the games show off an incredible amount of historical documents in their extras section, on-site photo of rural France areas (and comparision between their own in-game buildings and their real life counterparts). The military advisor for Gearbox Software is a retired veteran general.
Europa Universalis (the third one at least) is both played straight and subverted. Go to Europe, and you find an amazingly accurate map of 1400s Europe, complete with a plethora of Holy Roman Empire one-province minor nations. Go to Asia, and you find a Japan that is not only consistently unified from 1399 to 1821, but lumped into an "East Asian" (whatever that means) culture group with China and Korea. You can tell why it's called Europa Universalis.
Even in Europe, though, there are errors - Hungary is included in the "West Slavic" culture group, and a few things are changed for balance reasons.
There are many game mods that help fix most of the inaccuracies, most notably Magna Mundi (which is made ofShown Their Work).
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows showed a bit too much work. At one point, Wolverine suspects Spider-Man has been possessed by one of the symbiotes currently ravaging New York Citynote He has, but unlike the rest of the victims he's still in control. During the following boss fight, he stops periodically to ask trivia questions. Said trivia questions are very obscure references to continuity... which can lead to problems since your answers will affect the Karma Meter.
Obligatory film link here. And when Spidey says "That's not in my online wiki entry." he isn't even lying. As per typing this, his parents' namesnote Richard and Mary are not in the Spider-Man article.
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom does a lot of research in regards to the material of Tatsunoko, which is a given, considering that the people who worked were fans of the shows.
Epic Mickey is built on this. The secondary protagonist hasn't had a film appearance in 70 years (neither has one of the villains, Dr. XXX), your allies the Gremlins haven't even been in a finished Disney film, and even things as insignificant as the barrels are based on Disney history.
Plus, anybody who's spent enough time at Disneyland can navigate a lot of the locations from memory, since the game takes place in a Crapsack World version of Disneyland.
LEGO Batman does a lot of it, the Bat Computer has a lot of information on it, showing facts about the Rogues Gallery and even facts about Villains you don't even know about, such as Penguin's father dying from pneumonia on a rainy day, and Penguin's mom forced him to carry an umbrella.
In the Japanese version of MapleStory, when developing the Hayato and Kanna classes and related content, the development team has researched alot about Japanese history as well as media related to the Sengoku era.
Touhou: The amount of mythology that ZUN is familiar with isn't generally apparent in the main games, where the emphasis is more on creating something fun. But in the side materials it can get a bit nuts, with plots based on obscure Shinto rituals (and now Bhuddism, too).
And the fandom takes this Up to Eleven, with doujinshi plots often hinging on or driven by more obscure pieces of the lore about the youkai characters.
Umineko no Naku Koro ni. OK, cabbala doesn't work exactly that way, but the author obviously did some research, as he uses some basic and not well-known concepts of magic (like, "a part equals the whole").
He sure did read up on the Key Of Solomon. The magic circles used in the series do show the meaning they're supposed to represent.
THQ are huge wrestling fans and they put in a staggering amount of work to get the storylines and angles as accurate as possible. No Mercy faithfully recreated the McMahon\Helmsley era, Smackdown! had accurate depictions of everything from the draft to Booker T and Golddust, and Smackdown vs Raw? Well, the Legends Tour begins with Foreign Wrestling Heel Mohammed Hassan being detained at the airport, then goes on to make digs at the Montreal Screwjob, a recreation of the legendary Hell in a Cell with Mankind and The Undertaker, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin playing to the crowd, the list goes on.
In Halo 3, during "The Ark", the Milky Way is hanging in the sky the whole level. At one point, the Master Chief offhandedly mentions that they're beyond the rim, and 343 Guilty Spark says, "218 light-years from galactic center, to be precise." This adds up 262,144 light-years. The Milky Way is only 100,000 light-years in diameter. Nerds rejoiced.
Despite what the games would have you believe at first glance, the entire universe is well thought out, such as with the workings of all weapons, in the novels.
Of particular note is Halo's method of FTL; the slipstream space. Characters in the Expanded Universe - read: Dr Halsey - go into exhaustive detail as to how the sliptream functions, where it is in regards to our contemporary perspective, and just how mind-bogglingly weird it is compared to normal space-time.
Sharks have a reputation of being mindless, bloodthirsty killers of humans. The writers seem to know this is entirely false,note sharks don't even like the taste of human flesh, in fact based on the following quote:
GLaDOS: Excellent! You're a predator, and these tests are your prey. Speaking of which, I was researching sharks for an upcoming test. Do you know who else murders people who are only trying to help them? Did you guess "sharks"? Because that's wrong. The correct answer is "nobody". Nobody but you is that pointlessly cruel.
Age of Mythology has an entire in game encyclopedia that has some pretty in depth descriptionf for all soldiers, buildings, heroes, monsters, trees, animals, technologies and pretty much everyhing that can be selected. Fictional characters and joke units have corresponding descriptions, but the rest are pretty accurate.
In 2008, one fan wrote a blog post to discuss Hermetic lore as used by Golden Sun: the principles of the four elements, Alchemy and the Philosopher's Stone, the all-seeing eye (The Wise One)... and used additional Hermetic lore to predict with incredible accuracy that a potential sequel's plot could involve powers outside of Alchemy and the four elements, likely derived from celestial objects, such as the sun and moon imagery presented in the first game. Proving ahead of time that Dark Dawn's writers did do their research, they just had iffy execution.
For L.A. Noire, Team Bondi and Rockstar used over 180,000 photographs to map out and detail 1947 Los Angeles.
In addition to the cars, fashions, mannerisms, etc. of the late 40's. The plot is even loosely based on a real world housing scam as well.
The team behind the Red Baron series did a considerable amount of research into World War One combat aviation, and it shows in the attention to detail given to the physics engine and the aircraft designs. They also included a great deal of supplementary information. Much of it is solely educational flavor, but a significant portion consists of tactics and maneuvers which are quite useful in-game.
There's a PlayStation 2 game called Dogs's Life, where you play as a dog named Jake and can control other dogs. A focus point about the game was making sure the dogs act like dogs, instead of the cartoony dogs we're used to. The dogs are quite accurate both in design, size, and behavior. They trot like they should, move like they should, and generally act like dogs aside from a few Rule of Funny moments.
Shogun 2: Total War uses a woodblock printing art style all over the place. Creative Assembly had their artists study traditional techniques for over a year to get it right.
The two Buffygames on XBOX, the first in particular, are very accurate in capturing the look, feel, and humor of the series. Numerous references, Call Backs, and Call Forwards are used, as are most of the voice actors.
Two of the Kim Possible games for the Game Boy Advance; Drakken's Demise and especially Team Possible, play almost as lost episodes of the series. It starts with the same type of zany plot the show is famous for (a plot to steal Kim's photo album to lead her into a trap set by Monkey Fist, then the album taken by the Senors to a night club in space) and it goes uphill from there.
Westwood's DuneGames depart heavily from the Duniverse with regards to storyline, factions and characterisation. That said, the dialogue in particular is so chock full of tiny references and nods to the books that one gets the feeling that with all the liberties taken, the makers still knew the books by heart.
They also managed to replicate DavidLynch's style to a tee during cutscenes.
CyberConnect2 and Asura's Wrath, most definitely: This page describes the extensive amounts of Buddhist symbolism in the game, and inspirations for its visuals. Just for example, the way the Demigods are injured is made to resemble the damage done to old Buddhist gilt lacquer statues.
Trauma Center: Under The Knife has the GUILT diseases being based very real and very frightening diseases not well known by the average joe. Also it subverts the idea of using a Defibrillator to get a pulse during the first game (which is a huge no-no in reviving a person's heart)
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, a game once widely derided for its supposed cartooniness, includes in its large ocean overworld effects that simulate the effect of the atmosphere on distant objects, including the gradual fade to blue of a distant object due to the increasing thickness of air between the observer and the object and the "sliding down" of an object below the horizon caused by the earth's curvature on an object that is far away and moving away from the observer.
The Mario Golf and Mario Tennis series use real-life golf/tennis terms (which is sort of a given), to the extent that many of the games have a term dictionary built in.
This is especially true with the handheld games, as they're essentially RPGs set in a sports academy, with golf/tennis rounds in place of battles. Some of the training mini-games explain and let you practice real-world techniques, like the different kinds of serves in tennis.
Letters used in game are derived from Glagolitic – the eldest Slavic alphabet.
Siege tower is based on attempts to reconstruct Helepolis, the gigantic siege tower used in the Siege of Rhodes in 305 BCE.
Also other siege engines like counterweight trebuchet and ballista are based on reconstructions, but are bigger, fling bigger pojectiles and have much longer range than real life examples.
Foltest: "That was a ballista, Excellency. Its arms strengthened with bronze plates and strung with horsehair, it can propel heavy bolts up to a mile away. A deadly and very costly weapon. An experienced crew can cock and release two bolts each minute. Yet it has one flaw." Shilard: "Your Grace, please take cover!" Foltest: "The recoil of the arms is so strong upon firing... (another bolt flies) that the weapon shifts. It simply cannot hit the same spot twice."
Buldings and interiors are based on historical reconstructions. The architecture style of temples are mix of Gothic (portals, arcs, stained glass) with massive Romanesque towers. Amphitheater in Loc Muinne are based on ancient Greek theatres. Wooden crane from Flotsam was inspired by an analogical structure found in Gdansk, Poland.
The stone statues of Vaiopatis, hidden in the forest near Flotsam, are based on the existing remains of pagan cultures, mostly on “Zbruch Idol”, a stone statue of Svantevid, Slavic god.
The massive use of medival heraldry (e.g. Temerian coat of arms are based on the arms of "France Moderne").
Armors of Keadwen, Temeria, and Nilfgaard are based in turn on XIV, XV and XVIc. armors, to depict technological advancement of specific nations.
Design of steel swords are based on Oakeshott's typology of blades, pommels, crosses and grips. Sometimes they uses flame-blade, side rings, finger rings and/or flukes, based on renaissance real life examples (like flamberge).
Various references can be found in paintings (Danse Macabre), sculptures (Venus figurines) and fashion (selectively chosen items, clothes and styles from XV and XVIc. fashion).
The developers of Scribblenauts. Over 22,802 words, and artists have to draw a sprite for every word. Wow.
Technically less than that, since a lot of sprites have multiple names applied to them, but it'd still be an impressive number regardless.
Being a simulator of sorts, World of Tanks is filled with little details that would almost certainly be absent without all the care and hard work that Wargaming.net puts in. The developers are known to do things like observing in-game tanks in person at museums and the like, then making slight adjustments to the game models and armor values to better reflect the actual vehicle.
The Endless Ocean series is absolutely loaded with heavily researched information about all manner of sea life. Just about every single animal you interact with comes with a load of provided information, even the most obscure and little-known deep-sea life to common and unimpressive inch-long reef fish get at least one page worth of information about their feeding habits, biology and other quirks of their behavior if the player decides they want to learn about them.
Although it's quite clear the T and G viruses do whatever the hell they need to have happen to further Resident Evil's plot, it's also quite clear that the developers did some serious homework on virology. Many of the files are loaded with Genius Bonuses, but most notably was Sergei Vladimir's "partial immunity" to the T-Virus. Such a thing actually exists in real life; it's even the principle behind how viral vaccines work.
The Big City Adventure series has a wide variety of interesting facts about tourist attractions in cities from San Francisco to Tokyo. Similarly, 80s edutainment game Are We There Yet? gave basic facts about two mostly-obscure tourist attractions for every state in the US.
In King of Fighters XIII, there's a stage set in London, England featuring police officers in the background. You'd expect the navy-suited officer you see in most other out-of-country works that feature England as a location, especially since it's a game, right? Wrong. The officers are in regiment gear, radio, 'Police' patch, and to top it off, hi-vis jacket. See for yourself◊.
Nearly every installment of the Nancy Drew games features this to some extent. The plots incorporate random in-depth knowledge about locations, histories, historical figures, and legends from around the world. Oftentimes there are books lying around full of fun trivia. The puzzles might involve real codes, secret signs, or (usually) well-translated foreign languages. The games can teach you about the periodic table, how to read sheet music, how to lift fingerprints, how to play card games, the list goes on. One game even includes a pretty tasty cake recipe.
The events of BioShock Infinite - a flying city, cybernetics, alternate universes - may be fanciful, but the game absolutely nails the attitudes and prejudices of late 19th/early 20th century America, from the religion to work to money. Despite the fact that it takes place in an Alternate Universe, a lot of the information it gives is accurate to how people from that time would explain it.
In the MMO, UCGO, players are able to pilot a humongous variety of Mobile Suits, Fighter Jets, Tanks, and more from various Gundam series taking place in the One YearWar. The makers of the game even made sure everything in the game was in a 1:1 scale!
Despite the large amounts of Artistic License and Rule of Cool, Primal Carnage has a few subtle hints that the creators did their research. The Pteranodon walks on all fours, is toothless, launches quadrupedally from the ground, and is explicitly stated on the official site NOT to be a dinosaur. The Dilophosaurus is correctly sized and lacks a neck frill. The theropods have non-pronated hands, and one of the available skins for the raptors is fully feathered. Finally, the Carnotaurus has stubby forelimbs with no visible claws and is correctly portrayed as a Lightning Bruiser with a difficult time turning at top speed.
As noted in this analysis, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies did a pretty accurate portrayal of sensitive hearing, in regards to Athena Cykes. Most notable instances are, the headphones that gave her headaches but actually were dampening her ability through specific frequencies and how Athena covers her ears when suffering sensory overload. Even Athena's detection of discord in the human voice fits.
Tears to Tiara 2: Surpassing the first game. The amount of details corresponding to the Classical period, the Punic Wars, and Phoenician mythology is amazing.
The Hero is based on Hannibal Barca but named after his father. Monomachus is a real life Carthaginian general under Hannibal. Enneads is a book on Neoplatonism. Dion is short for Diogenes. Charis is one of the three Graces. Laelius is general and friend of Scipio Africanus. Aemilia is Scipio's wife. Ashtarte, Tanit, Eshmun and Melqart are all real Phoenician gods, and were really at one time thought of as two gods, Tanit-Ashtarte and Eshmun-Melqart.
Tamar is roughly Toletum. Avron is a mix of Hibera and Emporion. Tartessos, a mix of Atlantis and Tenochtitlan, is named after one of the earliest Phoenician colonies on the Iberian Peninsula. Cemenelum, part of modern Nice, was the capital of the Roman province of Alpes Maritimae. Imperial Capital Alba Longa, based on Ancient Rome, is named after the real city state that founded the Latin League and was a major rival to Rome. Carthage appears with its Phoenician name of Qart Hadast.
Sensible World of Soccer was practically an encyclopedia of mid-1990s soccer teams. The game featured around 1500 teams from countries all around the world, and included individual statistics for tens of thousands of players.
In Mega Man's debut trailer, there are brief cuts to a screen inside Mega Man's head showing silhouettes of different Robot Masters he's defeated. All of the Robot Masters shown are in the same poses as their official art, and Guts Man is even shown with a Light number rather than a Wily number, due to being created by Dr. Light rather than Dr. Wily.
Mega Man's Final Smash involves summoning alternate-continuity versions of himself, all of which fire a laser with their left arm...except for MegaMan.EXE, who fires with his right arm, like in his original game.
In particular, this reflects the handedness they seemed to show in their original series, where most actually had Ambidextrous Sprites but were usually facing to the right. Most of the Mega Men shoot with the hand farthest from the screen, which when facing right is their left hand; EXE alone shoots with his near (right) hand in his source series.