Have you ever played a what you thought would be a sandbox game, but turned out to be a linear path where you couldn’t go back to something that you though you would be able to? More and more games are taking this path, Assassins Creed 1 and Call Of Juarez:Bound In Blood, every so often you are allowed to run around but after 30 minutes you are bored and want to continue with the story.
I remember when a sandbox game had a story, but if you just wanted to walk around killing civilians indiscriminately, the game pretty much said it was okay, hell it normally kept score of how many wanted stars you had gained and lost or how many members of the public services you had set fire to. The Grand Theft Auto series was a perfect example. WAS. GTA4:Gritty Immigrant, really dropped the ball by making me have to go bowling or drink, it did however mean that I was drinking whilst my character was which is the first time I have ever seen a game imitate life so closely.
Then we have games like Just Cause 2, which contains such a herculean sandbox that you could fly across the map, and by then you could have completed a smaller, and infinitely better game like Mario & Luigi:Bowsers Inside Story in the travel time alone. The actual size of the in game world made me just want to do the missions, which were only unlocked by dicking around, something I wasn’t really wanting to do because it’s only fun if there are actual consequences, even if that only means respawning at a hospital. But in Just Cause 2 you play as a descendant of Merlin and have inherited only his awesome powers.
At the end of the day, if you want to be led along blindly and think your playing a sandbox, why not buy one of these games, but if you have noticed the decline in actual sandbox games, then why not go and play some San Andreas or Vice City, two of the best sandbox games around. If not, then why not fire your angry e-mails to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.