thoughts on Sandbox games

Kamen_Kaiju

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So GTA V reignited some passion for sandbox games. I really haven't enjoyed them since Vice City in the 90's.

But GTA V was awesome, but the missions were over too quick! What to do?

Well like any fiend who's jonesing I ran out and got GTA 4 (which also came with 2 other GTA half games: The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and the Damned.)

I also grabbed Sleeping Dogs, Saints Row 3 and Saints Row 2, Red Dead Redemption (and all it's DLC), Vice City (for PC)

...So basically I got a hold of every "Sandbox" style of game I could find.

These sandbox games feel like the whole package to me. Not just because of it's non-linear playstyle, but because you actually have a "house" with "cars" and "clothes" and you drive to your missions.

Something about that, plus having a city to explore and try to break (especially seeing what the programmed physics are capable of) is just a lot of fun. (can you stop the train? Can you fly a plane through a tunnel?)

So in case anyone else is interested I thought I'd type up some observations about these games. What they do right, what they do wrong, what I feel they do better then the original GTA R*ckstar games do, and why at the end of the day I still think GTA 5 is the most amazing of the bunch.

First up:

Vice City for PC:
Haven't played it too much because I don't have a PC controller, but it's been fun to revisit the city and drive around. The bright colors and 80's music has a great vibe to it that permeates the entire game. I got 100% playing this on Playstation when it first came out. To say I loved the game would be an understatement. ..the graphics haven't aged well though, but it's still fun and playable.

Red Dead Redemption:
Some people call this GTA in the old west, and that's a pretty apt description for the most part. This is a really fun game and the graphics and story are really nice. It definitely has a 'spaghetti western' feel to it. The aiming mechanics are almost too easy (auto target) and with the inclusion of a dead eye/bullet time like system it's pretty easy to waste groups of people. Great game but you have to be in the mood for it. If you're not in the mood for the Old West, riding a horse across a prairie to get to a mission isn't as fun as drifting a sports car around corners.

GTA 4 and the side games (TBoGT and TLatD):
I'm torn on this game. On one hand it's a good story with interesting characters, and it is a GTA game so the quality/programming is pretty high.
However the colors in GTA 4 (of which there seem to be four: Orange, Brown, Grey, and Black) can quickly get annoying and oversaturated looking, especially depending on the camera angle and sunlight at any given moment.
Also the cars handle very "heavy" and bounce around. R*ckstar wanted them to seem more realistic. Well,...they do,...they slide out around corners and depending on your speed it can take forever to stop. It's not arcade style driving and it's not very fun,....though it can be satisfying when you pull off a great high speed chase and don't wreck your car.

TBoGT seems to fix the color issue, it's not oversaturated and orange, and the colors are bright and fun in this version. They also seemed to remember that GTA games used to be "FUN!" and not bleak, and brought back some of the crazyness of previous GTA games in moments like,....piloting a Gold Plated Attack Chopper or shooting a shotgun that uses exploding bullets. Not too over the top, but compared to GTA 4 and TLaTD it was fun to see colors again.

TLaTD is a fun game,...very, METAL! :dude: It's basically like a Sons of Anarchy game built with GTA 4 software. It was a fun game though dark and bleak, but it was interesting that The Diamond Heist is in all 3 games, from 3 different points of view.

I'd not seen something like that done in a game before, and I have to admit it was a good storytelling trick and maybe even pushed the boundaries of the type of storytelling a game can pull off.

GTA 5:
Amazing, fun, crazy, good missions, tons of stuff to do, beautiful looking graphics, 3 characters to play with (4 if you count "You" as your online character.) GTA 5 is a lot more fun then 4, and it's not bleak and depressing looking with all the beaches, mountains, etc. There's a lot to do, it's all fun and it looks good. Driving is arcade style and is a lot of fun and very fast.


Ok so that's all the "Real Offical R*ckstar" created games that I've played lately,.....but how are the Clones?


Sleeping Dogs:
GTA in Hong Kong? Yup.
I wanted to like this game, and I did. More then anything I just wanted to walk around Hong Kong as a virtual tourist. I told myself the game would probably kind of suck since it's not a "real" GTA game, but I still wanted to try it.
Well, it didn't suck. And some things I think they outdid R*ckstar with.
The game is bright and colorful and the characters are interesting. The attention to detail on the melee system is great, very much like Batman:Arkham Asylum in that you have combos, counters, and you can upgrade your moves. The official GTA games don't come close when it comes to melee combat, they're very Gun-Centric.
The driving took some getting used too. It's not realistic and the cars don't feel like they have any weight. They're a little "floaty" feeling, if that makes sense.
The game was a lot of fun though and the parkour/free running elements, jackie chan chases, and hand to hand combat were awesome.
The story was really good as well and some of the finishing moves were ridiculously brutal.
There is a sequel in the works called Triad Wars that I'll be looking forward to.

Saints Row 3:
How did this game never get mentioned to me? It's a silly game, but a great one. Good graphics, decent story, ...ridiculous amounts of fun.
The weapons and vehicles are great,..and some of the vehicles (like the VTOL) are just awesome. Transforming helicopter/jets.
Amazing level of customization, literally you can make your character look and sound however you'd like. Male? Female? Straight? Gay? Fat? Skinny? Different ethnicities,...etc. It's just a staggering amount of choice. By the end of the game I really felt like I'd created a character and been through a crazy game with it.
...and any game that lets you buy a 4 foot purple dildo and beat people to death with it is a pretty crazy game.

Saints Row 2:
I'd been debating picking this up since it's an older game. But when I activated Saints Row 3 online pass, it offered a free download for Saints Row 2!!! Hell Yeah!!! ...I have to say that was awesome and it really made me like Volition (the people making the Saints Row games.) I just thought that was a really cool move. And I'm liking the game so much I think I will buy it, so I can have the actual physical media/artwork.
SR2 also has an insane level of character building. Neither of these games stick you with a generic character, you build your own, which is pretty awesome and makes it feel like your character. Plus it's neat because you know chances are everyone's game is going to be a little different because they personalized it.
So being a fan of the "Girl Who Played With Fire" trilogy I wondered if I could recreate cyberpunk hacker Lisbeth Salander as my character?
I'd have to make her somewhat mannish and tough, so I picked a "walk" that was for a guy. Made her somewhat flat chested, tried to pick clothes that reminded me of the movie, gave her a black mohawk and took off the eyebrows (in the remake Salander doesn't have eyebrows,...I like the remake as well so I took that visual element),...also how impressive that the game lets me take off a womans eyebrows? :laugh2:
I got her some steel jewelry and 2 black pistols and pierced her ears.
Now I just have to hope I can find a store that does eyebrow piercing, and hope the tattoo shop has a dragon backpiece.

So this is what I came up with....



I think I came very close and it certainly has the look and feel of that character. :thumb:

But how is the game? It's actually really stupid and fun. It reminds me very much of GTA3 and GTA:Vice City just in the sheer amount of stuff there is to do, the size of the map, and just the general level of goofiness and humor the game has. The game makes fun of pop culture, other games, movies,...everything. And some of the mission are so juvenile they reminded me of the kind of fun the early GTA games were before they got all serious. For instance one of the challenges is stealing a Septic Tanker and driving through a neighborhood literally spraying sh*t all over the houses and people to lower property values. When the cops show up they are fair game as well. :laugh2:
And the rival gangs are so cartoony and colorful, each gang having it's own colors and look. (The Saints Row gang colors are purple.)
But that rival gang aspect and the looks of the different gangs and the different areas they control really remind me of Vice City as well.
The cars handle well and fast, and they don't feel light or floaty.

Initially it took some time to get used to the SR2 control scheme, it's more the way the old GTA games were which I'd forgotten about. ('X' is gas, 'square' is brake.) But after going through the options I was able to set up the controls more how I like and am used to now. (gas and brake on the shoulder buttons.)

The game feels more like strafing which is also something I'd forgotten about the earlier GTA games, but it came back quickly.

All in all Saints Row 2 is a blast!! Way more fun then I was expecting. Not a serious game at all. Just cartoony, over the top violence that puts a big stupid grin on your face. One mission I was a bodyguard to a star. When crazy fans would get too close you can pick them up and throw them. ...there happened to be the helicopter the star arrived in still sitting there,...blades a whirlin',...and I thought, "I wonder if I can throw them into the blades?" :hmm: ..I could,..and it was kind of awesome. :laugh2:

Also the Saints Row games and the Sleeping Dogs game I feel has a better map/waypoint system then GTA. You can keep your eyes on the road more and flip back and forth from road to map less then in GTA.
And you don't have to constantly tap 'X' to run like in GTA, there's dedicated sprint buttons.

Those 2 things I think the clones have surpassed GTA with, the map system and the sprint system.


So concluding, should anyone be interested in trying these out....

GTA 5: Awesome, worth every penny. Beautiful graphics and 'big screen movie' feel.

GTA 4: Good if you're really interested in the series, but easily avoidable and somewhat depressing visually.

GTA 4/TBoGT: Fun game that does what GTA used to do. Be big and loud and colorful with a crazy cast of characters.

GTA 4/TLaTD: Sons of Anarchy,...the video game.

(Note: All three GTA4 games have a heavy, "realistic" feel to the driving. Not arcade style and fun.)

Red Dead Redemption: Take one part Pale Rider and The Outlaw Josie Wales, mix with GTA formula, shake liberally, serve warm. Fun game with great graphics and story, but you really have to enjoy the Old West or Western movies or it's most likely not going to be fun for you.

Sleeping Dogs: Take the GTA sandbox and make a Jackie Chan movie out of it and this is what you get. Good graphics and story with a lot of Hong Kong elements like kung fu and Triads and free running across rooftops.

Saints Row 3: Very slick game, interesting story, very bright and colorful with colorful cast. These S-Row games really remind me of the old days of GTA, where it was just bright and a little goofy. The game only takes itself as seriously as it has to.

Saints Row 2: Almost the throwback to the group and one I didn't think I'd like nearly as much as I am. I thought the graphics would look too dated but they don't. I thought it would be a poor GTA clone (and to be fair it IS a GTA clone) however it's not a poor one, it's a really fun one.

The character customization in both Row games is really mind blowing. From forehead height to the space between the eyes to the shape of the jaw,...EVERYTHING is customizable on your character. Themselves, their clothes, their cars, their houses, their guns,.....everything. ...that's pretty awesome and really makes it feel like 'Your' sandbox.


These games have all been a lot of fun and each does something a little differently or better then the others.

And really the most fun is inviting friends over and playing the game in a group and just trying to come up with scenarios and exploring them.

Can I stop the train with a bus?
Can I cause an explosive chain reaction with 20 cars?
Can I launch a car into a building?

....and on and on,...coming up with ideas and exploring them is the funnest part of these open world games.


....and the random events that just happen as the city goes about it's business. Like watching 2 pimps beat up a ho, then fight each other, then get in a shoot out with the police,...all while the ambulance is racing up to save the ho but running people over in the process,...and other cars causing accidents because all this is going on in an intersection,.....


...then you just hit the whole clusterf*ck with a LAW rocket and laugh you ass off.

Unscripted,....but fun as hell. :thumb:


Anyway, hope some of you take some time to enjoy these fun games, let your imagination run wild, and rule the sandbox.

:dude:
 

Shadowplayer

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Sandbox games are the shit. Apparently Star Wars Battlefront 3, and its a pretty big rumor, but a large portion of that game will be sandbox in the planets instead of small maps.

Also would recommend the Elder Scrolls series (which hopefully you have played but didnt list it), Assassins Creed, Fable, Mafia II, Far Cry (any but the 3rd on is amazing), Fallout 2, Just Cause 2, Dead Rising series, Mount and Blade (any), Midnight Club (for racing fans), I consider Borderlands to be one but a lot of people dont, Infamous II (I liked the game a lot, quite a few didnt), and I guess and of the newer Need For Speeds.


And last but not least, Sonic Adventure. Classic game



Anyway, check them out if ya havent. All are pretty good
 

Kamen_Kaiju

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Sandbox games are the shit. Apparently Star Wars Battlefront 3, and its a pretty big rumor, but a large portion of that game will be sandbox in the planets instead of small maps.

Also would recommend the Elder Scrolls series (which hopefully you have played but didnt list it), Assassins Creed, Fable, Mafia II, Far Cry (any but the 3rd on is amazing), Fallout 2, Just Cause 2, Dead Rising series, Mount and Blade (any), Midnight Club (for racing fans), I consider Borderlands to be one but a lot of people dont, Infamous II (I liked the game a lot, quite a few didnt), and I guess and of the newer Need For Speeds.

Knights of the Old Republic was a bit sandboxey. ...that was a great game!

Elder Scrolls - Fantasy, Middle Earth type stuff? Not for me.
Assassins Creed - have the first one,...bored me silly
Fable - Fantasy?
Mafia II - Have heard good things and am considering it, but reviews said it's pretty linear and there's not much to do besides the story.
Far Cry - I have FC3 and loved it, but I'm taking a break from First Person games until I get either Battlefield 4 or CoD:Ghosts. I'll check out Farcry 1 and 2 though. :thumb:
Fallout - I have Fallout 3,...having a real hard time getting into it. The character feels floaty,.....I hate that. And the combat system leaves much to be desired. ....lots of menus too as I recall. Tons of menus.
Just Cause 2 - I heard that's awesome and want to check it out
Dead Rising - got bored after 20-30 minutes. Lots of, "hack the crowd of zombies with whatevers laying around."
Infamous - I have the first one, was a fun enough game. Coles character didn't grab me enough to explore the sequels.
Borderlands I've heard the name but don't know much about.

Really I'm looking forward to Watchdogs next. I have it on pre-order. (Xmas gift)
 

electric head

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Man reading this stuff really makes me think I need to get an Xbox or something.The last games I can remember playing were on a pc and it was the first Call of Duty and Max Payne 2. I never was able to finish either one, but sure played the hell out of them.Great Review
 

Gin&Pentatonic

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I LOVED Red Dead Redemption. Can't wait for the next installment, which is rumored to be in production. I hope they make the map bigger and add weapon upgrading and better aiming.

And Undead Nightmare was the most fun I've ever had playing a video game.
 

bertzie

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Fallout: New Vegas. Much MUCH better than Fallout 3. And the combat is a bit better as well.
 

YoshiJimbo

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I bought GTA 3 when it first came out and I think it's the only Sandbox game I've ever finished. And good choice on downloading SR2 TC, I thought that was quite good. Not as good as GTA V though.
 

Kamen_Kaiju

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I bought GTA 3 when it first came out and I think it's the only Sandbox game I've ever finished. And good choice on downloading SR2 TC, I thought that was quite good. Not as good as GTA V though.

Just did the, "Get Johnny to the Hospital" mission.

That was fun! Riding shotgun with infinite rockets, blowing up all the other Ronin gang cars/motorcycles on the way to the hospital. Cars just exploding and flying through the air. One of them exploded in such a way that I saw the 2 people who were in the car flying like 60 feet through the air,...while on fire.

Good times. :thumb:

..this mission, 4:08 in the video...
[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpWJ_uywIs0[/ame]

I love the way this game wants you to just run around blowing stuff up.

They give you tons of ammo, cool guns, and little police involvement.

You don't feel hampered by the cops or feel like you have to grind side missions out to get money for ammo and toys.
 

OldBenKenobi

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I love sandbox games, but my big problems with them is they usually aren't very deep and they (by their nature) end on a fizzle instead of a bang. You don't get a grand finale with them, you just play them until you get bored with them and at least in my case it always taints my memories of them.
 

Kamen_Kaiju

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Depends on the writing really.

GTA 5 had great writing and actors, and the ending is good. Definitely didn't fizzle.

I think a lot of people think that about sandbox games because when you beat the story missions the game doesn't end.

...and I've noticed some people get bored with these games that don't enjoy the more creative aspect of it. They want a beg/mid/end campaign.

...they're not the ones who spend an hour trying to land a car on the roof of a building,...just because they're curious to see if you can land a car on the roof of a building. :laugh2:
 

Alligatorbling

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skyrim.... at one point i would dream about it every night, i started seeing the world around me like i was in the game lol....

i love to pick pocket people in skyrim, you level up QUICK off the get go.
 

Shadowplayer

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Knights of the Old Republic was a bit sandboxey. ...that was a great game!

Elder Scrolls - Fantasy, Middle Earth type stuff? Not for me.
Assassins Creed - have the first one,...bored me silly
Fable - Fantasy?
Mafia II - Have heard good things and am considering it, but reviews said it's pretty linear and there's not much to do besides the story.
Far Cry - I have FC3 and loved it, but I'm taking a break from First Person games until I get either Battlefield 4 or CoD:Ghosts. I'll check out Farcry 1 and 2 though. :thumb:
Fallout - I have Fallout 3,...having a real hard time getting into it. The character feels floaty,.....I hate that. And the combat system leaves much to be desired. ....lots of menus too as I recall. Tons of menus.
Just Cause 2 - I heard that's awesome and want to check it out
Dead Rising - got bored after 20-30 minutes. Lots of, "hack the crowd of zombies with whatevers laying around."
Infamous - I have the first one, was a fun enough game. Coles character didn't grab me enough to explore the sequels.
Borderlands I've heard the name but don't know much about.

Really I'm looking forward to Watchdogs next. I have it on pre-order. (Xmas gift)

You really need to play Borderlands and get some of the newer Assassins Creed games. I heard some good things about Watchdogs. Will probably grab that when I get a chance. Its true Mafia is pretty limited to the story but its worth playing. Still a good game.
 

Skintaster

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Have you played the "Undead Nightmare" expansion of Red Dead? Pretty awesome. Old west meets zombie apocalypse.
 

Kamen_Kaiju

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If I had the time to play video games, I sure wouldn't play video games.

I guess a, "Good for you!" is in order?

Have you played the "Undead Nightmare" expansion of Red Dead? Pretty awesome. Old west meets zombie apocalypse.

I have it but I haven't played it yet.

My next zombie game is Yakuza Dead Souls. :dude:

Yakuza + Zombies = Win.
 

JCM900MkIII

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You should get your hands on Mafia 2 + the dlc.
Great story (not as good as Mafia 1 though).
Not "sandboxy"enough for me though.

I think Scarface was ok (had on the Wii).

And I think the driving in GTA 4 sucks eggs... worst driving in a GTA game.


(speaking about driving.... Gran Turismo just fell on my doormat... laters!)
 

Chilli

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Red Dead Redemption, great game. Online with a bunch of mates, hardcore mode so no auto aim and no floating labels on players, loads of fun.
 

Lampens

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You know what a great sandbox game was? Operation flashpoint. Big maps with a lot of freedom on how to approach missions, camouflage worked, and you could be dead within 2 shots, glitchy but pretty fun. The aiming of an m16 felt pretty much as close to the real thing than any other game. The front sight post almost covering an entire person at about 300mtrs, firing and controling your breathing or you would miss. No running and gunning like in the newer fps style games. Most fights took place over bigger distances. It wasn't just point and click or just blast full auto like you would do in CoD or Battlefield with lots of explosions or action everywhere. Really the anticipation of shooting and seeing the person drop with a slight lag like a target on the shooting range, or it still standing and that desperate feeling you get of "shit, I missed, only one more miss allowed or I fail the test" lol.
Used to play that in a clan. A big community that modded and made their own scripts for missions.

I saw something on youtube about ARMA. The look of it was pretty similar to operation flashpoint. to bad it's only for pc.
 

Muttering Bill

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I hated GTA and RDR. Ok, pretty much anything Rockstar has ever put out. I gave them a fair chance, but they just did nothing for me.

Saints Row, otoh, is amazing. I've only played the 3rd so far, but it has so much more personality than GTA. Yeah, they really want you to just run around and blow stuff up. I can entertain myself for hours just screwing around. Robbing stores, killing mascots, taunting gang memebers, nut punches and wrestling takedowns. It's just more fun than GTA ever was.

Also, the first Assassin's Creed wasn't so good. The sequels are much better. I'm sure you can pick up the "Ezio Trilogy" cheap now if you decide to check it out.

And Skyrim... it's first Elder Scrolls game that I liked. The world is huge, you can just get lost for hours exploring and finding new areas and quests. You can also waste a lot of time doing pretty much nothing. I once spent an evening moving all my stuff from my Whiterun house to my Riften house - easier access to the Thieves Guild. Just carting junk from one house to another for a couple of hours, then arranging it just so in the new place. Had a great time doing it too.
 

Kamen_Kaiju

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Saints Row, otoh, is amazing. I've only played the 3rd so far, but it has so much more personality than GTA. Yeah, they really want you to just run around and blow stuff up. I can hours just screwing around. Robbing stores, killing mascots, taunting gang memebers, nut punches and wrestling takedowns.

If you can forgive the 'less then amazing' graphics, Saints Row 2 is even more fun and ridiculous.

(totally worth watching this trailer,...if nothing else because they make fun of Roman and all his, "Nico! Lets go Bowling!" phone calls in GTA 4)

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKNp13NyRts]OFFICIAL Saints Row 2 Makes Fun of GTA IV Trailer - YouTube[/ame]



.....I'm still kicking myself in SR3 that I saved Shaundra instead of choosing the Apoco-Fists.

Save a woman or get gloves that make whoever you punch explode?

Decisions,...decisions,.....

....still not sure I chose correctly. :laugh2:
 

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