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30 Genres of Christmas
Sandbox Games
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 03, 2009   |   Episode 8 (Show Archive)  

   

It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're counting down the days until Christmas by looking at 30 different video game genres. From the most popular games to the tiniest niche titles, everything fits into a genre and we're going to be there to shed absolutely no new information about that genre in this month-long feature. Join us as we celebrate this joyous season with the 30 Genres of Christmas!



Say what you will about the artwork, but The Ballad of Gay Tony is one of the best games of the year!
How Do You Know You Are Playing a Sandbox Game? Ever wonder why you know the streets of Liberty City better than your own home town? Have you ever been punched in the face and seriously considered going to a prostitute to regain your health? Do the cops in your town lose all interest in a murdering carjacker when he drives three blocks ahead in his stolen ride? Does everybody in the game drop an F-Bomb every other word? If so, you're probably playing a Sandbox game.

Patron Saint: The planet Earth, along with its people, places, transportation and crime.

Typical Story: Meet Jimmy, your typical innocent drug dealer/gang member. While running an errand for his bosses, he's beaten up and left for dead. Confused by what just

Crackdown really got the sandbox elements right, it just forgot to add a compelling story to the mix!
happened, Jimmy discovers that it was his own guys that put out the failed hit on him. Now he wants revenge, but before he can do that he will need to run dozens of missions and visit a bunch of cities. Oh, and he'll need a jet pack (don't ask why). Can you discover the truth ... or will you get sidetracked by playing the Crazy Taxi-style mini-games?

What Jack Thompson Would Think: "These games you're playing, specifically Grand Theft Auto, are turning you into a natural born killer. Never mind that the books I read are full of the most gratuitous violence known to man, I still feel that playing a game like Grand Theft Auto will make you want to rape your mother and kill your father. Or maybe it's the other way around. Whatever the case, these games are going to be

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is a perfect example of the 2D overhead point of view done well!
the downfall of civilization. I live in a bubble and no longer work, so you can do whatever you want to this world. See if I care, you selfish bastards!"

Not a Sandbox Game: Just because a game lets you go anywhere at any time, that doesn't mean that it's a Sandbox game. By that rationale The Legend of Zelda would be a sandbox game, as both the 2D and 3D installments let you do that. Furthermore, neither the Tony Hawk nor Skate series can be considered a Sandbox game. Brutal Legend does offer elements from popular Sandbox games, but it's not the genre most people would most associate with this Jack Black enhanced action/strategy game.

Then vs. Now? I suppose the "then" in this question would be the ancient 2D Grand Theft Auto titles (including Grand Theft Auto I and II, plus the 1960s expansion packs). These games let you kill innocent people, complete missions and drive tons of different vehicles ... only using an overhead 2D point of view. If that's the competition then this isn't even worth debating. Even if you aren't into the direction that Grand Theft Auto, Crackdown and Saints Row have gone, you won't find anybody advocating for a return to the overhead 2D style.
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