The Way Open-World Games Can Kill The Gaming Experience


Once upon a time, in the near past, gamers cried out against the flood of linear, set-piece heavy games. It wasn’t worth the money to play a game that lasted 7 hours, involved limited choices and a crippling amount of hand holding.

Sandbox gaming brought with it a much-needed reprieve from the boredom of most AAA action games. Players could go anywhere on the map rather than being ushered through narrow corridors, we could ride horses or drive cars, there was a renewed sense of exploration in gaming. NPCs entered the frame and memorable quotes and animations not to mention glitches became the fuel for countless memes. Sandbox gaming rose to become the dominant force in gaming.

Telltale_Games

But with all this freedom and choice there is one area that inevitably suffers, the narrative. When developers seek to give us a wealth of experiences they seem to either offer us clichéd stories or stories so vast in their complexity that they are hard to follow and ultimately fall flat. In comparison when developers like Tell-Tale choose to focus our attention on the story but offer a simplified gameplay experience, we find ourselves drawn into these worlds and are unable to tear our eyes away from our screens.

Now I understand that there are many gamers who love the countless fetch quests, hunts, escort excursions and good old start a fight with that guy missions, but I find that many of these side quest detract from the main story and only offer minimal opportunities for advancement and add little to my enjoyment of the game.

ACUnity

Assassin’s Creed: Unity is a game where all too often side quests and the illusion of a dynamic world detracted so much from my experience that I found everything hard to follow and ultimately uninteresting. I love the chance to jump and run my way through beautifully recreated historic sites and I love random events unfolding in front of me that I can either watch or get involved in. However, following the story in dribs and drabs if I happened to try a detective mission, or do a co-op mission, or jump through to another time period which at best is a disjointed experience and at worst is a confusing jumble of good guys who are bad guys and bad guys who are good guys and a bunch of characters and factions I couldn’t give a fig about.

The Order 1886

Many of us don’t want the interactive movie style of Call of Duty or the clumsy on rails feel of The Order, we want a bit more freedom. But if open-world freedom is constantly presenting a massive list of distractions then inevitably the story is going to suffer.

In my opinion well-structured and interesting narrative should be a major focus in games. We are so impressed by the technology that offer dynamic worlds but all too often these nuances act as nothing more than padding and add nothing to the narrative.

So what is the true gaming utopia we seek?

Balance isn’t easy in games. If you have narrative that is too self-indulgent or convoluted you could end up alienating potential players, the Metal Gear series risks this with their flair for the dramatic. However, the Metal Gear series has got the right idea generally – make story and characters highly important, full of twists and turns and character development, coupled with gameplay that complements the story. Just don’t overdo it with cut scenes.

Game environments are also something to get right. Sound and setting are very important but many open-world games cut and paste locations to accommodate the vast amount of side missions, NPCs and miscellaneous happenings.

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What’s more, they stick to one location with a minor sub-location to make it look different. In Assassin’s Creed: Rogue we had snow, water, forest, towns, forts, but these were repeated throughout the world ad nauseum. One of the best parts in my experience was the adrenaline-pumping run through Lisbon during an earthquake. Guess what? It was linear and the only place away from the wilds of North America, which we largely explored previously in Assassin’s Creed III.

City-focused games like InFamous are the same. Once you’ve explored the Space Needle, had fun catching the monorail, and found the few other buildings that look a bit different, Seattle loses its appeal to explore. Then it depends completely on the gameplay experience and story, because you are stuck in that place. The solution is to have less focus on building a massive cityscape with millions of side-options and gimmicks, and instead focus on a tight narrative that grabs you and carries you along slowly, but with more freedom and choice than a film, through a number of beautifully created environments.

Wolfenstein The New Order

Impossible? I don’t think so. It’s about balance. Assassin’s Creed II had a good degree of that balance and diversity despite being open world. Metal Gear Solid 4 felt more open than it was, despite the great variety of stunning settings and largely linear approach, an illusion that allowed differences of gameplay style (stealth or run and gun) encased in a continually progressing story flow. Wolfenstein: The New Order brought both self-aware kitsch and sentimental depth to the shooter story, and if it had a bit more open environment would have had that balance.

Bigger is not necessarily better here. Allow me to point out the painfully obvious – most of us have to work, study, take care of kids or do other things besides sit down and play games. In this ‘time poor’ life, most of us enjoy games in bits and pieces when we can find the time.

This means the story should be strong and easy to follow, even after weeks spent away, with interesting multi-faceted characters. It should be easy to jump back into, gameplay-wise, without having to strain our memories. Ultimately it’s how engaging the experience is that determines if we come back and finish the game or move on, disappointed.

New Trailer Released For The Free Grand Theft Auto Online Update, GTA Online Heists


Rockstar Games announced that GTA Online Heists will be coming as a free update to Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and PC in early 2015. Check out the new trailer for the four-player co-op mode for Grand Theft Auto Online that allows players to plan, prepare and execute multi-tiered Heists across Los Santos and Blaine County. These will require tight communication and coordination, with players taking on specified roles at each point to accomplish multiple objectives on the way to each Heist’s epic finale. Featuring new gameplay, new vehicles, new weapons, new clothing and much more.

OXCGN’s Grand Theft Auto V Review


GTAhead

OXCGN’s Grand Theft Auto V Review

The Perfect Crime?

by Daniel Geikowski

©2013 Daniel Geikowski

I enjoy the finer things in life.

Whether it’s cruising down the open highway in a convertible, boating on a luxury yacht, shopping in high-end retail stores, golfing,  or senseless murder, Grand Theft Auto V allows me to enjoy all these favoured pastimes from the comfort of my couch.

Featuring more than just stealing cars, Rockstar Games have grown and molded the Grand Theft Auto series over time, into living, breathing worlds that aren’t just a hell of a lot of fun to cause mayhem in, they also poke fun at the society we live in today using their trademark dark humour and satirical nature.

501-1280It’s no secret that every Grand Theft Auto title is one of, if not the most anticipated title in most gamers’ eyes. You only need to hear that Rockstar made $1 billion in the first three days of GTAV‘s release, to understand how popular it is. Synonymous with controversy, the media love to create news about GTA, and people who never play games know of the series.

Check out our criminal record here!

Have Fake GTAV Receipts Emerged In Hopes To Break Release Embargo?


GTAV Receipt Header

Have Fake GTAV Receipts Emerged In Hopes To Break Release Embargo?

Wild receipts appear

by Arthur Kotsopoulos

©2013 Arthur Kotsopoulos

GTAV Fake ReceiptUPDATE: Both receipts have been confirmed as fake receipts in an attempt to break release date. The second receipt which is stamped has an incorrect product code for the game. Please do not attempt to use these receipts to buy the game as they will not work.

As of the 14th of September, a mere 3 days before its official release September 17th release, it seems that a few random receipts of Rockstar’s highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto V are making the rounds from an Australia bricks & mortar store.

The first receipt you’ll see on the right was sent to me early last night under the impression that it was a fake receipt. Due to me working at JB Hi-Fi and dealing with a lot of these receipts, I instantaneously agreed this receipt as a fake.

Anyone who has worked in retail would clearly see that any item, if available on various platforms would state under the title which platform said item was purchased on.

With games it would state whether or not it was for PC, 360, 3DS, Wii U, Ps3 etc…

As you can see on this receipt this is not the case.

The second receipt which you can see at the bottom of the page seems a little bit more legitimate.

Click to doubt whether the second receipt is fake or real

GTA V Release Date Revealed


GTA V RELEASE DATE

GTA V Release Date?

March 26, 2013

by Nicholas Laborde

©2012 Nicholas Laborde

gta v logoIt’s safe to say that the entire gaming world is anticipating GTA V.

Rockstar has been elusive up until the last few months, finally nailing down the spring of 2013, but without informing us of a concrete date.

Today, Amazon has revealed that we could be jumping back into Los Santos a lot sooner than you think. Continue reading GTA V Release Date Revealed

OXCGN’s Sleeping Dogs Review


OXCGN’s Sleeping Dogs Review

Does this dog have any new tricks?

by Daniel Geikowski

©2012 Daniel Geikowski

A drug deal goes sour. The police close in. After an action-packed pursuit along the waterfront, you’re cornered and taken in.

Sleeping Dogs, the new open world game from United Front Games and Square Enix, gets your attention from the beginning like a knee to the face.

Taking place in Hong Kong, the game revolves around Wei Shen, an undercover police officer tasked with infiltrating one of the city’s most feared triads, the Sun On Yee.

Finally seeing the light of day after being cancelled by Activision (originally True Crime: Hong Kong), it will inevitably be compared to the benchmark Grand Theft Auto series. Does Sleeping Dogs do enough to stand out from the crowd?

Should we let this one lie?

OXCGN’s Saints Row: The Third Review


OXCGN’s Saints Row: The Third Review

Most insane game of the year?

by: GrathiusXR

©2011 Arthur Kotsopoulos

Volition have always stressed that whilst Saints Row is a sandbox title it differs from the GTA series in every way shape and form.

With the release of Saints Row: The Third (SR:3) these differences couldn’t be more obvious.

From escorting tigers in low riders, collecting blow up dolls, going Top Gun in VTOL’s and blazing through Tron-like tunnels, Saints Row: The Third is a game which exemplifies fun from start to finish.

The Saints go marching here…

GTA V Countdown Appears


GTA V

Countdown Appears

by exterminat

©2011 Nicholas Laborde

At long last and in usual Rockstar subtlety, GTA V has been announced… sort of.

And a trailer is coming soon.

Rockstar, I love you.

Grant Theft Auto V here