Tag Archives: open world games

20 Years After Dreamcast’s Japanese Launch, Where Are the Its Best Games?

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I wanted to wait until next year — the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast’s North American launch, to say anything. I know the 20th anniversary of the Japanese launch this week is technically the “true” anniversary, but I think it’s pretty widely accepted the North American launch is the one everybody really remembers. It’s still one of the highest-quality launch lineups ever, partly because SEGA waited a whole additional year for the games to be ready. In any case, I already did my personal “story” about my experience with the Dreamcast a long time ago — 10 years ago in fact. Just read that if you want a general “my feelings about this anniversary” story.

What I am writing about though is how I auspiciously started the Shenmue remaster this week and how we’ve reached a significant point when it comes to the availability of the best Dreamcast games and the console’s viability today. Continue reading

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Zelda Ocarina of Time At 20: A Legacy of Open-World Games

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Like I said in my January post about gaming anniversaries for 2018, 1998 was 20 years ago, and it bore witness to an unusual number of landmark releases. Probably the most critically acclaimed one of all turns 20 this week — The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. By many accounts it’s still the best-reviewed video game ever, and a lot of what’s in modern 3D action adventure games owes something to it.

One game from this year I can’t help but compare Ocarina to is actually Red Dead Redemption II. I see a lot in common between them in terms of both the public perception and the actual characteristics of each game. Continue reading

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Rockstar Makes Amazing Worlds, But Do The Games Inside Live Up To Them? (Late to the Party: Grand Theft Auto V)

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As of this writing my save file says I’m maybe halfway through the main story in Grand Theft Auto V but I’ve decided to go ahead and make this week’s post about it and my other recent experiences with Rockstar games since Red Dead Redemption 2 is about to drop. From those experiences and the reviews of RDR2 going out right now I’ve figured out that Rockstar’s main strong suit has been its lovingly-crafted virtual landscapes, I just don’t know about everything else in these games.

I only owned a GameCube when Grand Theft Auto IIIGrand Theft Auto Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto San Andreas came out so I was pretty late to the franchise and Rockstar games in general. I understood they popularized sandbox games but that was about all I understood of their appeal. When I finally tried San Andreas around 2006 or something I marveled at the setting and characters but found the controls unbearable, as  I wrote when I came back to finish the game last year. I’m having a much easier time enjoying GTAV because its controls are more serviceable, but I can’t help but compare its mission design to other similar games. Continue reading

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What New Shenmue Players Can Expect

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The remastered collection of the two Shenmue games is out now and I’m sure many are going into it without a clear idea of just what to expect. Shenmue is a kind of game that isn’t really common at all, at least not in the space of traditional console games. I was really into the first Shenmue when it originally came out in 2000 but haven’t played it in years. I thought I’d take this opportunity to give my own impression of what made it so special at the time and why it remains unique, and divisive, today. Continue reading

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Late to the Party: Kingdom Come Deliverance

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This past week I finished the main story of Kingdom Come Deliverance from Warhorse studios and found it pretty absorbing, but I also think it absolutely isn’t a game for everyone. It’s structurally very similar to Skyrim but Warhorse didn’t make it for anywhere close as mainstream an audience.

Probably the most important distinction which does the most to set Kingdom Come apart and might be a main reason I enjoyed it so much is that, well… it’s a detective adventure game. Continue reading

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Arma 3 “Tanks”: More Toys In The Sandbox

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Arma 3’s final expansion, “Tanks,” came out last week and I was able to check it out for a bit. I don’t think anyone else outside hardcore military simulation fans are talking about it so I thought I’d go into it a bit here. Despite my 450+ hours on the game, I definitely wouldn’t say I’m “in deep” with the MilSim crowd.

I remember seeing videos of some other hardcore tank simulator, but I have no idea how Arma 3’s “Tanks” compares to a single-purpose simulator like that. I imagine it’s not as in-depth since it’s a combined-arms game with a far broader spread of gameplay from on-foot to vehicles to aircraft. That being said, what’s in “Tanks” is still somewhat bewildering to someone like me. Continue reading

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Why A Cult Grew Around Far Cry 2

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It seems like every time a new Far Cry game comes up, somebody has to bring up Far Cry 2. I’m pretty sure I’ve done it more than once on this blog. Before Far Cry 5 came out, USGamer ran an analysis piece about what set Far Cry 2 apart for better or worse. More recently, a video comparing certain minor details between Far Cry 2 and Far Cry 5 has garnered a bit of discussion, and it slightly touches on what I don’t really like about all the Far Cry games that came after Far Cry 2.

To try to run through the main jist concisely, a lot of people didn’t like the 2008 game Far Cry 2 because its world was full of malaria and enemies who attacked players way too often. A lot of other people (like me) liked Far Cry 2 a lot because it tried to bring players into a very systemic and immersive world with lots of factors they were free to deal with however they wanted. The later games in the series stripped out many of Far Cry 2’s elements and in the experience of many became more fun for it. They certainly became more commercially successful. I think the reason some people keep bringing up Far Cry 2 is because it hasn’t gotten a definitive successor. It’s sort of a need that’s been left unfulfilled for a decade. Continue reading

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The Problem of Side Quests in Open-World Games

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Open-world games really need to stop doing that thing where dozens of side quests and collectibles pop up as soon as you open the map. This is a well-discussed issue, but all the games I’ve been playing recently really highlight the differences between how some open-world games handle side content, and what the main problems with these games are.

I’ve been playing Yakuza 5 for a while, I recently started getting further into Horizon: Zero Dawn, I finished the main story of Assassin’s Creed Unity recently, and I started a new game in The Witcher 3. I guess I’ve also been playing the extra difficulty mode in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on and off. In Horizon I’m pretty much just blazing through the main quest, as I did in Unity, but in all the other games I’m getting pulled into the side quests. Continue reading

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Late To The Party: Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, And Why GTA Online Took Over

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I’m coming up towards the end of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas now but I’m going to go ahead and write this LTTP blog about it because I don’t know if I’m going to finish the game.

I have made blog posts in the past about my struggles with GTA games, but I wanted to take one last crack at San Andreas before actually starting the copy of Grand Theft Auto V I bought years ago. I ran into some of the same problems as before and overall I don’t think San Andreas stands the test of time, but from it I also learned some important things about sandbox games which may point to why GTA is so beloved, why Grand Theft Auto Online has taken over its destiny, and what’s wrong with other sandbox games. Continue reading

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All Open-World Games Need “Discovery Tour” Modes

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Assassin’s Creed: Origins is going to have a “Discovery Tour” mode that will strip out the story and combat and let players simply explore the game’s open world with some commentary from historians. People are already lauding this as an excellent use of all the historical research that goes into the Creed games. I think similar functionality should be expanded to virtually all open-world games.

It’s really just another step in the conversation surrounding “story mode” difficulty levels. I don’t see “discovery tour” as an actual difficulty mode though, but just another way to get use out of the art assets developers spend so much time and money putting into games. Maybe it’s not for everyone but it could offer some people yet another reason to buy a game. Continue reading

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