In the Quicksand(box): Open World Games and Me

I preordered Sleeping Dogs yesterday, upon realizing that one; Grand Theft Auto 5 may not be coming this year, and two;  I haven’t played any games this year where hijacking cars is an acceptable way of avoiding rising insurance costs.

From what I hear Sleeping Dogs is going to be a gritty crime story full of notable characters and kung-fu action (what game isn’t?), and it’s supposed to encompass things like betrayal and broken loyalties and all that stuff you’d read about on the back of any straight-to-dvd actioner worth its salt (or the cost of printing its cover art).  But when I get right down to it, what was the real reason I decided to buy the game?


Living out my fantasies of repairing and detailing vehicles, of course.


If it’s not horror, I like having a sense of control over the proceedings of the game (see last week’s blog to see kinda why).  In tightly narrated games I get this by good storytelling letting me know that the events of the game revolve around me and my actions, like an egocentric child demanding a parent’s attention.  Sometimes with high-powered weapons.


“No, mommy.  It’s time for YOUR bath.”


In a Sandbox game, I fully expect and welcome this sense of control by me being given full license to dick around.  If I’m given a mission to go tail some guy back to his hideout, but then instead feel like seeing how many people I can hit ramping a schoolbus down a crowded street, then I love the game that gives me that choice.

I’m interested as all get out about Sleeping Dogs’s world and potential stories.  I don’t think the action-dripping potential of the Hong Kong action scene hasn’t been tapped for video games yet, just like the western genre wasn’t really touched on in a great way until Red Dead Redemption.

Hell, I’d enjoy such a game if it was just hours of me getting to dive through windows with a pair of unlimited-ammo pearl-handled and gold-plated pistols while doves flutter about in the background.  Or a game about me storming rival dojos and stealing their signs through martial prowess and angry yelling because they insulted my school’s boorish sense of interior decorating.  Or something.

All I’m saying is, in between those missions where I have to move the plot forward with police work and gunplay and suffering painful internal conflicts, just be sure to still let me occasionally steal a helicopter and laugh as I bail out of it onto a group of pedestrians in a park.


Show me the door to fun, and I will walk through it.  I’ll even prop it open.