Post by ommadawnyawn2 on Jun 10, 2021 17:15:33 GMT -5
Which were the first games to be called open world in contemporary reviews?
At the mobygames database, I thought I might see this for games like Pirates!, Elite, Elder Scrolls 1-2 or Star Control 2, but not even GTA 1-3 were called that back in their day and only one review mentions "open world" when describing Morrowind (to be clear though I just checked the samples, not the full reviews).
Most were called non-linear or open-ended though and some got the OW label applied to them in much later reviews.
Edit: This 2002 Vice City review also uses OW but not as a genre term, much like that Morrowind review I mentioned: "Futuregamez.net (Dec 24, 2002) Fortunately, GTA: Vice City is one game that not only lives up to the hype, but also manages to surpass it. The game is much larger and more engrossing then the previous title, and manages to create an open world unlike any other in a video game. Yes, there are a couple of small niggles, but this is the essential purchase this year. If you don't already have it, what are you waiting for?"
I don't have an answer for you, but perhaps I can narrow down the search. I'm not finding reference to open world in Oblivion (2006) either. Just reading Eurogamers review now and they refer to both Oblivion and GTA as 'sandbox' games, which I don't think is now considered a fitting descriptor. On a general look for articles about open world games I found some from 2008. I'd say the term was popularised between 2006-2008 based on what I could find.
Last Edit: Jun 11, 2021 1:58:31 GMT -5 by excelsior
Post by ommadawnyawn2 on Jun 11, 2021 3:36:18 GMT -5
Yeah it's interesting how vague the sandbox term is or was too, I've seen it used for Mario 64 and the like. But I tend to think of it as games or sims like Minecraft, Garry's Mod and SimCity. Mobygames just groups those two together with a slash between them.
I looked at the Morrowind review that mentions it, and they stumbled into more than anything. It's 100% not a phrase that was "in the air" until the PS3/360. The not good Wikipedia article wasn't even created until 2008. If that was a term that had any traction in 2002, the article would be earlier since WP itself was founded before that review and things were very anything goes for the first few years. There's stray mentions here and there from combining open with a synonym for environment and landing on world as that word.
An earlier example of just the literal term is in Steven Poole's 2000 book Trigger Happy. One of the developers of Outcast mentions it.
"A totally open world is okay," Masclef muses, "but if you don't have high levels of dramatic changes, everything starts to seem the same. So above the nonlinear play you have a totally linear story line."
Like I said in a different thread, it's a quality that's more or less always been assumed for any RPG that isn't an overworld-less dungeon crawler so no one thought to create a purposeful descriptor. It isn't until GTA III brought that kind of environment (actually inspired by Zelda) into a 3D action game and worthwhile clones started to show up that a new genre term started to coalesce after a number of years. Of course you still have earlier action adventure games, but those are still RPG-like in feeling like Zelda prototypically. It isn't without the "shock" of having a huge hit that moves the format in an unexpected direction that a critical mass of people start thinking about what that means and then later retroactively applying it.
The earliest I can find specifically in reviews since they're the most readily collected is Saint's Row in August 2006 sometimes in quotes when mentioned which is the surest sign of a new phrase starting to percolate. I looked at reviews of San Andreas as a sort of lower bound, and you do get phrases like "open environmental design" that are moving towards it, but not quite. Poking around other games in the 2004 to 2006 period, "open ended" is the term that comes up in the most places. There's definitely going to be previews or articles that mention it specifically as a genre, but those are harder to find.
It's the same thing thing with first person shooter. That doesn't concretely show up until 1995 based on some digging I did a number of years ago despite there being a huge pile of those games by that point. There was some very clunky terminology like "first person perspective shoot-em-up" in 1994 before someone streamlined it. It seems like it takes around 5 years give or take for genre term to really start settling in.
Post by ommadawnyawn2 on Jun 12, 2021 4:47:49 GMT -5
More early-ish examples (2006 is also as far back as you can search for "best open world games" on google with good results).
The Godfather (3 more that year): "Game Freaks 365 (Mar 28, 2006) The Godfather: The Game is one of those games that will unfortunately live under a lot of pressure and criticism due to its similarities to Rockstar's open world behemoth, but those of you who accept it for its own feats will get to the core of the game and enjoy every second of it. Fans of the movie or novel should consider this an offer they absolutely can't refuse."
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories: "Game Informer Magazine (Aug, 2006)
One, it showed that not only could the PSP handle a huge, open-world game that held its own with the console versions, it could also implement a fun and engaging multiplayer component to the mix. Two, it demonstrated that, although we’ve come to expect new worlds and characters from each new GTA, that there is plenty of fun left in some of the time periods and locales from past games."
Yakuza: "1UP (Sep 01, 2006)
As a myriad of publishers get up to speed with the Grand Theft Auto formula in an attempt to cash in on the seemingly limitless contemporary desire for urban sandbox violence, Sega stealthily slips into contention with something altogether different."
Saints Row (5 more mentions between 2006-2007): "GamePro (US) (Aug 28, 2006) We can only hope that the developers of Grand Theft Auto IV are taking careful notes on Saints Row, the next generation of the "open world"-style games popularized by Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City, and San Andreas. At first glance, Saints Row looks like little more than an Xbox 360-fortified version of San Andreas: from the mission design to the basic play mechanics to the tongue-in-cheek spirit, it's abundantly clear that Saints Row is firmly grounded in Rockstar Games' groundbreaking series."
IGN's 2007 review of Driver: Parallel Lines: "Driver: Parallel Lines may have the same core experience as it did over a year ago, but it lacks innovation and polish, and Wii's open-world bar has already been set pretty high."
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl: "Tap-Repeatedly/Four Fat Chicks (Apr, 2007) Sometimes it's nice to be wrong. STALKER has its share of problems, but anything this innovative, this unique, is likely to. It is, I hope, the spearhead of a bold new direction in shooters—in gaming entirely, actually. The living, open world controlled by an AI of staggering breadth and power: this is the future of video games."
Sandbox: GTA: San Andreas (1 more that year): "Armchair Empire, The (Jul 27, 2005) Xbox owners can finally break out the forty's and gather up some ho's with the biggest, baddest Grand Theft Auto game yet, San Andreas moving on in to the Xbox gaming 'hood. PS2 owners had an eight-month jump on all the bad boyz action in the state of San Andreas, but GTA: San Andreas finally gets paroled onto the Xbox, and proves worth the wait, because this is the most comprehensive, large-scale GTA ever, with plenty of the amazing GTA sandbox-style anti-hero gameplay that the series has invented."
Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction: "IGN (Jan 10, 2005)
It's a well-crafted, polished, and distinguished game that offers a new take on the sandbox design, and something very different indeed from the Grand Theft Auto's of the world. In fact, in this category, aside from Grand Theft Auto, which is the best at what it does, Mercenaries is easily the next best thing."
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction: "Game Informer Magazine (Sep, 2005)
Ultimate Destruction profoundly succeeds at exactly what a sandbox game like this should; it makes the gamer feel a sense of total freedom to move, act, fight and play."
"GameLemon (Sep 14, 2005)
This game, along with a wealth of others, is proof yet again that there is a whole genre emerging around the sandbox style of open-ended city-based game play which games like Grand Theft Auto really pioneered."
Gun: "Game Over Online (Nov 28, 2005)
Gun is a neat little package. You're treated to an interesting plot, fun, sandbox-style gameplay, and atmosphere thick enough to choke a horse."
"Worth Playing (Jan 27, 2006)
GUN is one of those games doesn’t really do anything new. It’s got the “sandbox” concept that’s been aped by all game makers since Grand Theft Auto III."
GTA 3: "Christ Centered Gamer / Christ Centered Game Reviews (Nov 16, 2006) Grand Theft Auto will always go down as the game series that invented the sandbox genre, and continues to reinvent it. The defining characteristic of the sandbox genre is the ability to do just about anything."
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories "GameZone (Jun 13, 2006)
The impact Grand Theft Auto III for the PlayStation 2 made on the game industry was overwhelming to the point that the “sandbox” gameplay influenced other games on several other consoles including the next-generation of consoles."
The Godfather (3 more that year): "Gamernode (Sep 25, 2006) Given the innovation and online multiplayer found in Saints Row, The Godfather falls short of being the superior sandbox title on 360. It's definitely a quality game that Xbox 360 owners shouldn't be quick to pass over, but if you were annoyed by the game's repetitiveness or didn't enjoy The Godfather in your first go around, then there isn't enough here to warrant a purchase."
Saints Row (7 more this year): "Planet Xbox 360 (Sep 11, 2006) Saints Row lived up to all the hype it was receiving for the past year and a half or more. Volition put forth a game worthy of challenging GTA of its crown for king of the sandbox. With a sequel, I am sure Volition and THQ will be able to do even more with the title and expand on what they have already created. This is the fall title you need to pick up before you become heavily addicted to Gears of War."
Scarface: "Video Game Talk (Dec 05, 2006) I'll be honest; I wasn't expecting much from Scarface. After all it's a movie game, and one based on a cult classic at that. So many things could have gone wrong with this title and even though it mimics GTA it brings enough fresh material to the table to stand on its own two feet. Montana's Balls and the Rage meter really added an arcade spin to the sandbox theme and the atmosphere's undeniable Scarface influence helps things out a lot. "
"Gamer Within (Aug 02, 2007) Overall, Scarface: The World Is Yours is an enjoyable game. Killing and working your way to the top of the Miami drug-cartel is a fun ride. Radical Entertainment has the ‘GTA’ gameplay pumping full speed - so GTA fans will know what to expect. But all the car stealing, shooting and mobster fun is given the Scarface twist. Yes, the game has its problems, but the Scarface journey is an entertaining one. For fans of the movie or anyone looking for an adult, sandbox game for Wii, Scarface: The World Is Yours is definitely worth a look."
"Play.tm (Jul 17, 2007) - uses both sandbox and open world just in case Scarface is a great technical achievement on the Wii. It looks the part and provides all the required controls via the Wiimote and nunchuck. However, it doesn't seem able to do what all great games in this genre need to do, it never becomes more than the sum of its parts. Maybe this is down to a lack of imagination and development of the environments and characters. Maybe it is simply that the original premise is not compelling enough to create the level of emotional involvement needed. Whatever the cause, this game leaves us feeling that it could have been so much more. And, whenever that happens in a game of this genre you can't help but turn your thoughts to the upcoming granddaddy of sandbox open world play, Grand Theft Auto, and hope the next release makes good on this and all the other broken promises."
EVE Online: "MMORPG.com (Feb 11, 2008) EVE is one of the most complex games I’ve sunk my teeth into. It’s an infinitely gratifying space-sandbox where you can do just about anything, assuming you can take the time to learn the gameplay in a mostly-hostile environment…"
Driver: Parallel Lines: "Game Over Online (Apr 24, 2006) In spite of a few missteps, Parallel Lines is a welcome entry in the Driver series. There are still some issues that need serious work, but some existing problems were remedied, and I appreciate that. Graphically, it’s the most engrossing sandbox game yet."
"GameCell UK (2006) In essence, Parallel Lines does indeed revisit the old style of semi-sandbox gameplay founded in Driver, and later expanded so monumentally by Rockstar’s GTA series. "
"Play.tm (Aug 09, 2007) Driver Parallel Lines exists in a family of sandbox-city-crime games from the previous generation. They each have different strengths and weaknesses. "
ES4: Oblivion: "GameSpy (Mar 26, 2007) Although virtually every other genre has incorporated RPG elements, no other RPG has so thoroughly taken in the ideals of the sandbox genre as Oblivion"