In 2001, a little game called Grand Theft Auto III by Rockstar ushered in a new form of gameplay, what we now call “sandbox,” wherein you’re free to roam the world and do what you want until you actually want to play the dang videogame. It offered total freedom and had its pros and cons; some gamers couldn’t handle the lack of direction, would drive around for a bit, cause some trouble, and never dig into the story. That’s me. I lose interest fast. Others, I guess, did actually play the game straight through, undeterred, undistracted. Kudos to them.
With greatness comes imitation, and every game developer post-2001 wanted to dish out some of GTA III‘s pie. I know this for a fact because over the past two weeks I’ve played three different PlayStation 2 games that are basically GTA clones in terms of structure and gameplay, mini-map and all. One did not surprise me, but the other two…yeah. If only they hadn’t been so blatant about it. Right, let’s muse about these three cloned sheep.
Mafia. Fine, yes. Understandable. It wanted to be GTA III in a different time period with a focus on the under-workings of the mob. No surprise here, and I do appreciate that the developers placed an importance on obeying the posted speed limits. The HUD is a bit clunky and cluttered, and the city streets are so devoid of life that one must ponder if the developers actually forgot to program in day-to-day citizens.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. This didn’t reveal its GTA III-ness until after the tutorial missions were done. Then we’re dumped into a hub world based around the duo’s terrace house on West Wallaby Street. It’s then split even further into four areas: The Town Centre of Wallersy, Grimsley Harbour, an industrial area, and Tottington Hall. You walk around and pick up missions from select neighbors, which appears as colored dots on your mini-maps. You can’t highjack vehicles in this one; if I could, those deranged rabbits would be roadkill sooner than later.
Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue. And here’s where it gets sad. I had a wonderful time with the original Ty game, which was yet another platformer during that crazy platformer-led era, but it was a solid time, with a strong focus on collecting, as well as exploring the levels high and low. I popped in Ty 2 last night now that I have extra memory card space for it, and I was shocked to discover the franchise’s formula changes, going from a focus on collecting to mechs. I’m fine with the mechs, really. But it’s all set in a giant hub world that you can explore as you please, with vehicles to help get you from one place to another. But man, I played for over an hour last night, and I did like seven side mission thingies, leaving the main storyline to the Australian side, which has me worried that the emphasis is not on taking down Boss Cass again, but doing mindless tasks for mindless friends. Let’s hope not…
Claude Speed may give his approval, but I’m so exhausted over mini-maps at this point. BE YOUR OWN GAME.