Gaming is a very subjective medium, saturated with expressive connotations, compulsory affinities and informal biased (hello!). Almost every aspect of the industry is receptive to interpretation, with the attenuated predictability of some gamers restricting their peripheral vision to conceive an alternative presentation. Linearity for instance is often spoken with venomous condemnation or used as a divisive adjective to describe a games shackling mediocrity. Linearity is structured, demonstrated in the narrowed breadth for deviation from the abbreviated content. Though open world or sandbox games propose far expansive grandeur, they can sometimes over-compensate for such spacious opulence by reducing the level of textural detail, architectural integration and largely desolate communities. Some individuals however are so adamantly opposed to the linearity of conceived worlds, irrespective of the beautifully constructed, textured compositions emitted, almost infuriated by the committal walls of transparency that restrict exploratory whim that they often feel coerced through levels that feel deprived of legitimacy.
I personally enjoy the sense of propulsive freedom to navigate through exploratory terrain, but often the need to explore becomes a novelty. Take GTA for instance; A city awash with superlatives vehicles, satirical depictions of superficial LA (sorry “Los Santos”), nihilistic protagonists and residual, law-abiding directives, but despite such a capacious city and its surrounding municipal boroughs the freedom to indulge becomes diluted by the ethereal desertion of civilian activity. For such a sprawling, culturally animated city it appears devoid of character, with airports with no ambient sense of wider, domesticated lives. Your granted a fictional world of festering banality to interact with and eradicate, but after extensive hours firmly integrated into 3 separate narratives that often overlap intermittently, that when you eventual reach the games finality you wish there was more, because the errant fun prevailed due to the linearity of scripted activities. If a simulated world seems rudimentary in the way it conveys an open, suggestible world, why allow it to be a free-flowing creation and rather conserve the overall stability into a less mailable form?
Understandably gamers feel a genuine accumulative liberation from expanded, supple lands brimming with resonating life, mitigating the immediate reliance on progressing a games centralised story by curtly skipping through elegant meadows, altering the aesthetic appearance of a character or simply mowing down hoes in a Hummer. Though games such as the Elder Scrolls arguably couldn’t conform to such restrictive limitations, it does diminish the intricate detail that has to be distributed proportionately across a vivid, versatile lands and disfigured assembled community. Oblivion–which is still a highly provocative and richly cultivated continent, pervade a contrasting land full of subverted catacombs to explore and myriad of mountains to ascend, but the enormity of the grandeur meant there were visual imperfections that marred the stunning views, with settlements heaving with literally….10 inhabitants with distinctively similar dialects and vernaculars boasting an array of facially contorted renderings, with one publican grimacing like a castrated canine discussing goblins with an adventurer displaying an aghast look of desperation and a faint imitation of Bales surly Batman, with a open-mouthed façade akin to a blow up toy that has been sexually satisfied.
Implementing such prohibitive injunctions on primitive exploratory inquisitiveness is a hugely preventative measure and one that certainly personifies the experience. Red Dead Redemption (and yes even Skyrim) have proved that open worlds are enriching diversities. But games such as Uncharted, Arkham Asylum and many others besides have benefited from deterrent exploration attached to them, providing satisfying, focused game-play without becoming convoluted by expansion. Open worlds are often cited as an instinctive barometer of quality, which is latent speculation. Linearity deserves a degree of respect and not so flippantly condemned as a malignant paradigm of infamy or inferiority. Remember that even the most inviting sandbox’s could conceal hidden excrement.
Are open worlds better than more restrictive games? Let me know what you think. Cheers.