For the longest time, one of the ways to show off your new hardware (other than cars) was by showing screenshots with a ton of people rendered on it.
I was planning on buying a Playstation 3 until late one night on G4, I saw a trailer for Dead Rising, boasting it's hundreds of zombies on the screen at once. I almost threw up from excitement. I went out the next week and bought a Xbox 360.
On the flip side of this, it's really noticeably when a game is supposedly set in a major city, but is sparsely populated.
The Star Wars games seem to stick out, probably because of how many creatures roam the streets in the films.
I was recently playing Star Wars Bounty Hunter on the Gamecube and while was chasing down targets and having blaster fights with some of the dumbest guards in the galaxy, I realized that I'm on Coruscant, supposedly the most populated city in the galaxy, and there are only 10-15 residents hanging out.
And then I started thinking about other Star Wars games.
All the Battlefront games take place on what should be mostly populated maps, but there I am, killing Stormtroopers in Mos Eisley with 31 other soldiers and no one else.
KOTOR attempted to populate it's worlds with those really awkward NPCs that sort of stand around until you approach. But there were still large swaths of land in these cities with no one in them.
Even the Force Unleashed, a newer Star Wars game was often only populated by enemies. Yes, you were often attacking Imperial strongholds, but the Imperials often built their strongholds in major cities.
It's a dumb thing to complain about, but it's one of those things that bothers me.