Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Final Frontier

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Her five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Star Trek Into Darkness

I have always loved the Star Trek franchise. Though I don’t consider myself a ‘Trekkie’, it was always a series that made a lot of sense to me. Star Trek at its core was about exploring worlds and people unconstrained by ‘these mortal coils’ and it was a show that did it well for many years. These days due to business and ironically mortal issues, there is no longer a show on television. Still as a science fiction fan, I hope that one day a Star Trek television series will return.

I am amazed that so many studios are taking the next generation to explore the ‘Open-World’ format of video games, and impressed even more that they seem to be doing it well. Open-World games have long been solely the domain of derivative action games. While some have been good enough to carve their own niche, it’s hard to say that there have been any more than a handful of success stories. Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and the Just Cause series take the top of the list with a nod to the singular Red Dead Redemption.

More often than not Open-World games have had to sacrifice story as the cost of being able to go anywhere and do anything. If E3 has shown us anything it’s that the games that are receiving the most critical and commercial buzz are the games seeking to meld the high-octane flavor of small ‘corridor’ influenced worlds with the ‘go anywhere, do anything’ flavor of the open-world genre.

Destiny from Bungie, The Division and The Crew from Ubisoft, and even BioWare who went on record as saying their future games were going to be more open and fluid. With games like GTA 5 and Watch Dogs dropping later this year the bar will likely be set very high for future open-world games. As a gamer, I can’t help but think this is a good thing. Games have gotten shorter and shorter of late. Bringing more value to every single game should give developers a congruent bump in sales, and that is what I call the best of any world.

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