It was on this day in 2001 that Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive released Grand Theft Auto III. More than just a good game, it effectively set the stage for all 3D open-world games going forward.
Open World Games
Mafia III's biggest strength is the ambitious narrative developer Hangar 13 has chosen to explore. At a time in our own lives that eerily echoes the world of Lincoln Clay's New Bordeaux, there are a lot of parallels to be drawn from this story. It's smart and engaging, and challenges players to think about their perception of the world when tasked with walking in the shoes of someone the world is clearly against. At least, that's true for the most part. Once you start bringing murders and delving deeper into the actual gameplay of Mafia III, you'll find there's a disconnect between the game and the story it's trying to tell. You'll also find it's frustratingly repetitive and riddled with glitches.
It was today in 2006 that the first Saints Row hit shelves, making a serious attempt at capturing Grand Theft Auto’s fire with its own brand of open-world, urban sandbox.
In many ways everything that led up to No Man’s Sky felt like some sort of conscription ad campaign. “See the universe! Explore the unknown!” It’s all very enticing and delivers on a lot of amazing feelings, but like most things of this nature, it’s not always all it’s cracked up to be.
The Gulf Coast is home to some of the most beautiful scenery you'll ever witness. Sunsets just look a little bit more majestic in the southernmost parts of the country, and Hangar 13 has managed to capture that stunning quality quite well for its upcoming action game, Mafia III. Most times, 24-hour day/night cycles in open world games are merely perfunctory displays, with little thought to the vibrancy of nature's palette. Driving on a coastal highway or even through the bayou, it's hard not to stare in awe at the majesty Hangar 13's been able to capture for this sequel.
Sucker Punch Productions has long been a capable studio in producing unique and enjoyable open-world platforming video games. The Sly Cooper series put Sucker Punch on the map and ensured a place for the studio to successfully return several times over. However, there came a time when the studio wanted to step outside its familiar franchise and get a little grittier. In 2009, this desire came to fruition when they released inFamous: a game about super powers, good, evil and parkour. The game was a successful break away from the usual for Sucker Punch, providing a unique take on the idea of what a regular man can do given extraordinary powers and today we celebrate its initial release.
Only a handful of games could ever really touch the fantasy and stark realities Western films presented. That all changed in 2010, when Rockstar San Diego created arguably the most faithful video game to ever tap the spirit of the Wild West.
In 2007, the shift over to next generation consoles was in full swing. Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 had been on the market for some time and developers were getting comfortable working with the new and more powerful machines. Rockstar North in particular had still been running on Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Liberty City Stories, and Vice City Stories in 2004, 2005 and 2006 respectively without a true foray into the then-next generation. Rockstar North wouldn’t stay quiet forever though and just a couple years later, it would come forth with one of the most substantial updates to the Grand Theft Auto formula since its transfer to 3D space with Grand Theft Auto 3. Today, we celebrate Grand Theft Auto IV’s arrival on shelves in North America and the standard it set for next-gen open world games going forward.
With the proliferation of open-world games comes hordes of new side activities like bowling, insurance fraud, and goat combat. No matter how much side content gets packed into an open-world game, though, there's no escaping those main story missions. Most story missions are designed to be the best things a game has to offer; maybe you get to fly an assault helicopter and blow things up, maybe your superpowers are maxed out for five blissful minutes, or maybe you get to relax and listen to some funny NPCs bicker with each other.
After the underwhelming reception the masses had to Assassin's Creed Unity and its Titanic-sized glitches, Ubisoft has decided to take the franchise to the Industrial Revolution and turn the Templar war into Gangs of New York. All DiCaprio references aside, Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a proper return to form which makes amends for Unity's shortcomings while establishing itself as one of the finer entries of the franchise. The series last two solid entries, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin's Creed Rogue, took us across the Atlantic to the open seas of the new world, but Syndicate takes us to London as it's growing from the boom of the 19th century technology.