Sandbox VS Story

Recently I started playing Red Faction: Guerilla (which I’ll refer to as RFG) and I realised that most sandbox games are seriously lacking in the story department. This can be in either the quality or quantity of the story and the way it’s told. I guess this makes sense, as the idea behind a sandbox game is that it gives you freedom.

RFG is quite different to the two previous titles in the serious. The original Red Faction was full of story, it was a linear FPS, as was RF2, but RFG is almost like a different game. RFG is a third person sandbox shooter (think a mixture of GTA and Prototype.. but set on mars). The game begins with a cutscene of you arriving on Mars to meet your brother, then you go demolish a building, he gets killed and you join the resistance… That’s about all the story I’ve gotten so far (and I’ve been playing for a couple of hours). Sure there is some stuff in the background about the mysterious marauders and the old Ultor mining company, but you can pretty much ignore them and just follow the markers. This seems to be the way most sandbox games are these days.. you don’t need to know any of the story, just shoot the guys that are shooting at you and drive to the marker on the map.

I’m not saying that these games are bad, they are just a little shallow, and I think it’s a little sad that people don’t care about story in games these days.

I mentioned Prototype before and I think it’s a good example of a sandbox game that does have a story, it even has a really good method of telling that story (you absorb peoples memories in the game). It isn’t as expansive as some sandbox games and to me it seems like they took the linear story based game and built a sandbox around it, instead of taking a big sandbox and saying “now we have to force a story in there”.

I think this method of taking the game and adding in the sandbox features is quite a good idea, as it means you have a good story based game (for people like me who like story and never do half of the optional missions) yet you still have a lot of extra content for all those freaks who want to spend hours collecting random things from around the map.

Other open-world sandbox like games that use the same principal also work quite well (Assassins Creed for example).

As I said before, even though these games seem quite shallow (in the story department) they aren’t bad games at all (game play etc is still great), but I still don’t think they are perfect. Hopefully the game developers can see this too and keep striving for that perfect game.

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