Game Changers: GTA 3 and the Sandbox

Posted: August 3, 2011 in The Caveman

Open ended games.

You’ve heard of them, played them, seen them and at times, enjoyed them. The freedom of playing in a sandbox is the feeling that was likened to games that allowed you to do whatever the fuck you wanted in them.

And yes they are cool. Most of the time.

However, the concept has existed for a while now. The earliest versions of Metroid and Zelda had some form of an open-world concept going on already. They had a feel for exploration and action that didn’t exist at the time…and this was as good as it got.




Over time, developers found that games like this had potential. The only thing was that for the longest time, we were stuck in 2D. We had these little sprites that moved around and flailed a bit, and that kept people entertained. In the history of gaming, this was a big deal…and having that sort of adventure gave rise to what we have now!

This qualified as groundbreaking back then.


For the first time, we got a full immersion into a world that you could explore. And by explore, I mean go absolutely nuts in.

You have to admit, no other game let you run around with a bat like this.

The game was a huge step up from the 2D pseudo racer that was popular on earlier platforms. It took the idea of driving a stolen car and took it to a whole new level by introducing 3D graphics, environments that no one else had done for a character based game/driving game to date, and all the weapons you needed to get your ass arrested. The game gave us things nobody else would: changable radio stations, the ability to shoot down cops (and the SWAT team choppers if you got that many stars), carjacking skills…and essentially every single immoral, criminal activity you could do in the game. It was fun. And not to mention it gave us something to do when you didn’t want to get on with the mission for a while. You could jack the car you wanted before a mission and set things up…just for kicks. No objective forced you to (well…maybe when a mission started, but more on that later).


This really got in the way of getting shit done.

You essentially had the option to do whatever the hell you wanted, or get on with legit missions. Either way, you couldn’t lose (from a gameplay stand point. You’d get busted at some point, pay cash, lose your car, weapons, and stuff…but not lose in terms of having fun) . And that is what makes the series shitloads of fun.

Nowadays, the sandbox, open ended game concept is very much alive. We have games that allow for alternate endings, games with branching storylines that lead to unique endings based on the way we play the game…and essentially games that have no “right” way of being played.


Unless you wanna die, then go ahead and try and kill cops. Because they really shoot back in this one.

So the future looks bright for these kinds of games, all thanks to the amazing gameplay found in one of the classics: Grand Theft Auto 3.



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