Sandbox Games

By: Thomas J Ippen - Published: • References: tommyip.livejournal
The Gaming Terminology Word of the Day is Sandbox:

noun. 1: a shallow box or hollow in the ground partly filled with sand for children to play in.
Historical: a perforated container for sprinkling sand onto wet ink in order to dry it.

Gaming Term: a playable world within a game that allows the player to explore it freely, with no linear path and no predestined sequence. A multitude of options exist for following the plot, though the free-roaming nature of the world allows the player to dick around if he/she would prefer.

While a sandbox game isn't its own genre, it's beginning to feel like it. The popularity of this feel in the gaming world has grown exponentially since the rise in popularity of the GTA franchise, mainly GTA3. Personally, I don't much care for the GTA games. Kicking a guy out of a car and backing up over him is only fun so many times, and the controls for everything but driving can be counted on to be atrocious in any of the series' titles.

That being said, after GTA3 hit, we saw a slew of similarly created worlds, keeping the entirety of the story's plot contained within one giant city or area (almost always a big metropolis). This last year Crackdown and Assassin's Creed have been the big ones (the latter being much bigger than the former) and on the horizon we have the gorgeous looking prototype... which looks like it stars the offspring of Assassin's Creed's Protagonist Altair and Gollum.

PS: that's the twist ending in creed. Turns out, its' Lord of the Rings.

Big old city you can roam around in, it might actually just be New York. You can climb up buildings, and turn into weird crazy monster-hands guy, pictured above, which allows you to... i'm guessing use some worn out combat system that will make enemies just go flying without having to really engage them. It'll be like playing a cooler looking version of the Hulk. Interestingly enough, the last game these guys made was a Hulk game. sweet.

Probably-gonna-be-stupid-combat-mechanic aside, this game looks as beautiful as Creed, but with a faster pace. There's no way in shit that the area to explore (or, the sandbox!) will be as vast as the world in Creed, but if they pack more into it, it'll be a solid game regardless. One of the things that make a sandbox world a lot of fun to play in is having a bajillion clueless npc "townsfolk" walking around, oblivious to how bat-shit crazy and dangerous you are. What's the real draw in GTA? Running over civillians. Creed? Stabbing the homeless and quietly laying them down in an alley. Crackdown? Stealing a guy's truck, and, with him still inside, driving it into the ocean, jumping to safety at the last moment. Wanton destruction and cruelty is what makes these games fun. Some would say that it is breeding a generation of serial killers, but those are the people who have a vendetta against video games already. We don't need to discuss this hot topic here, lets cool off. All i'll say is that Donkey-Kong Math didn't make me want to do math. Or be a gorilla. Or even kill a gorilla.

So yeah. Prototype's gonna be da bomb.


Then there's GTA4 this spring. I'm not gonna buy it, so i'm not gonna write about it. Stats for Gaming Terminology Trending: Older & Mild
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