Monday 9 December 2013

10 great open-world games of the last gen... that aren't GTA

Lets be honest here- Grand Theft Auto 5 is one of the best open-world games ever. Hell, any game in the GTA series could be described like that, but lets take the focus away from GTA for a second. The open-world videogame is on the rise as players demand more immersive, detailed and alive worlds. So here are 10 great open-world games of the last generation... that aren't GTA.

Think GTA: Hong Kong. You play as undercover cop Wei Shen on his journey to infiltrate a Triad gang. Set in an incredibly detailed city, Sleeping Dogs boasts slick gunplay to back up its excellent martial arts segments. Led by voice talent like Emma Stone and Lucy Liu, Sleeping Dogs packs quite a punch, an offers an experience that goes beyond the typical “GTA clone”, which successfully carves out its own little patch in the open-world genre.

From the creators of GTA itself, Red Dead Redemption puts the player in 1911 during the last days of the American Frontier, and in the shoes of ex-Outlaw, John Marston. Packed with typically inventive Rockstar Games' moments, Red Dead Redemption replaces the average GTA player's car with a trusty old nag, and their advanced weaponry with classic, gritty western firearms. It's one of the best games of the last generation, and shouldn't be missed.

Possibly the most over the top "GTA clone" on the market, Saints Row: The Third not only lets the player wreak havoc using hover-bikes and laser rifles, but also skydive naked while holding a massive purple dildo. So yeah, needless to say it can get a little crazy. It's hilarious and quite unlike any game you've played before. While it's a different beast than the first two titles in the franchise, it's a must-play and far, far better than Saints Row 4.

GTA's focus on a life of crime surely echoes back to the rise of the mafia, particularly from the 1920's onwards. Mafia 2 gives the player an authentic 1940's mafia experience in the shape of classic cars, high impact shootouts, and a vast, detailed open world that changes over the course of the game. It's a huge improvement on the first game, and anyone looking for a more vintage crime simulator should check it out.

Open-world games don't always need to be about crime, of course. Prototype 2 features a stunning open world, and a protagonist with incredible powers, thanks to a mutating virus. Using these powers the player can pick up and throw trucks, sprint vertically up buildings, hijack choppers in mid-air, infect people and use them as virus bombs and wipe-out crowds of people in a single swipe. Decimating a city never felt so good. It's like GTA on steroids.

We can't talk about open-world games and not talk about Skyrim, right? While it's a different beast from GTA altogether, it's still one of the finest crafted open-world games out there, and an experience still well worth investing time into. With plenty of quests to complete, armour and swords to collect and secrets to find, Skyrim is literally a game that will at least take up 150 hours of your time. Sure, it's nowhere near as good as Morrowind (what is, right?), but it's a pretty epic game nonetheless.

L.A Noire could be considered the thinking-man’s GTA. You play as Cole Phelps, a detective moving up the ranks in the LAPD. Set amid the backdrop of a stunningly recreated 1940's Los Angeles, it's very much a stripped down GTA, with a nice dose of detective work added to the mix. It kind of plays out like the classic point-and-click adventures, which while a far cry from GTA, will interest some players.

While not as over the top as Saints Row: The Third, Just Cause 2 takes the idea of a "GTA clone" and turns it on its head. There aren't many games that let the player surf the wing of a flying jet, but Just Cause 2 does. Armed with a grappling hook that opens up all kinds of gameplay possibilities, you play as Rico Rodriguez in a bid to overthrow a Southeast-Asian dictator. Boasting one of the biggest open-worlds to date, Just Cause 2 was criminally overlooked, and aching for a sequel. 

Infamous 2 is what you get when you cross Watchmen and GTA; a thrilling ride into a world in which real super humans have arisen. Jam-packed full of powers such as the psychic vision and arc lightning, Infamous 2 is the true meaning behind the term "sandbox game". While it may have rubbed shoulders with the Prototype franchise upon release, Infamous 2 sets itself apart with its array of unique gameplay elements and fantastic set pieces. 

Set during the American Revolution, Assassin's Creed 3 is, much like GTA V, one of the most authentic open worlds to date. Like Red Dead Redemption, despite it’s setting, it 's quite accessible to a GTA gamer, only San Andreas is now 18th century New York, and your pistol a deadly Tomahawk. There's plenty of talk about Black Flag at the moment, and while that is pretty epic, the world itself in Assassin's Creed 3 is arguably better.

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