Musings Of A Mad Hatter: The Beauty Of Open-World
I’ve always been a sucker for games that have even a shred of open-world elements inside them. Most of my favourite games of all time are free-roaming games where you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. There’s just something that draws me towards that feeling of exploration and being able to craft your own stories if you feel like it. Many of my most memorable experiences from gaming occurred when I strayed off the beaten path of a game, ignoring the story, and just did things because I felt like it. Open-world games give me those opportunities.
I’ve recently completed Sleeping Dogs (also, 100% in everything and full 1000 GamerScore, what up?) and while being an amazing and almost emotional game, it gave me so many good laughs when I was just going around town in my usual fashion doing side-quests or collecting collectables. I’ll give you a few examples: I was driving around on a Vespa listening to heavy metal, running people over on the side walk and doing ramps over a bunch of cars. It all looked extremely comedic for some reason. It also made me laugh when I was on my phone on the road talking to someone and as I looked to my right one of those tram cars was barrelling towards me at full speed with no intention of stopping and subsequently threw me in the air doing about five backflips and I landed in the path of an oncoming vehicle. After that, Wei Shen, that badass of a man, stood up and went back to his call like nothing happened.
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The thing about those events that happened is that they weren’t supposed to happen. I made them happen. I think that is amazing because it gives you that extra bit of memorable gaming on top of the already designed experience that the designers planned out. Imagine a scenario with me. You work in an office that is occupied only by hardcore gamers (wouldn’t that be a perfect world?), I’m pretty sure that all the watercooler conversations will be about someone’s funny experience within an open-world game. If all those people played Call of Duty’s campaign then there won’t be any unique experiences, because everybody experienced the same thing. Open-world games give you an opportunity to be unique and do things you deem entertaining.
I remember when I was playing Driver San Francisco I once played for two hours doing absolutely nothing. All I did was drive around, tried to make big jumps, experimented with different vehicles and generally just goofed around for the most part. For a full ten minutes the only thing I did was drift around a circular island over and over. You can’t do that in something like Forza 4 or NFS Shift, people will think you should go to the loony bin. This is why I will always prefer my racing games open-world. My favourite racing game ever is NFS Underground 2 because it offered me freedom and some sweet customising options. I don’t give a rat’s ass about track days and circuits, I want to speed through a highway with nowhere to go and maybe have some cops on my ass. I like that. And I don’t even like racing games.
Another glorious thing about the open-world is the ability to create little miniature stories within that game world. Some of them may be stupid or nonsense, but they are certainly fun to indulge in. Back in the olden days I played GTA San Andreas for days on end where I just derped around basically. I have this one little story that entertained me for an entire day believe it or not. I was the bicycle man. I know I can’t make this shit up. Oh wait I did, nevermind. What I did was I got a BMX, drove all the way from Los Santos to the big mountain, through San Fierro and into Las Venturas in one trip. Along the way I would stop at fast food joints, jump on buildings, try to see how far I could wheelie and all kinds of dumb stuff. That took me about six hours, the average play time of an “average” AAA shooter title. Nothing told me to be the illustrious Bicycle Man, I just said fuck it and rode my bicycle across miles of game world because I felt like it.
There are tons more experiences that I can share with you majestic and beautiful creatures, but that would just take way too long. I still haven’t delved into my Skyrim and Fallout experiences because that would take another article on its own. The truth stands that open-world games will always be superior to linear games because of the vast amount of freedom you are given. I’m curious, give me some of your wacky open-world experiences.