Everyone has a favorite type of game or genre of games they love to play more than any other and it’s something that usually has started years ago. Some people love to play fps (first person shooter) games and there may be a particular game they’ve played in the past that makes them loyal to that particular genre.
I can remember very early on in my childhood, surprisingly, playing the Atari that my dad had back in the early 1980s. I can remember just a little bit playing the original missile command and pac-man. Of course over the years, new game systems came out such as the original NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and I remember playing Mario Brothers, Duck Hunt, Super Mario Brothers 2, Contra, etc. Those were fun to me at the time, even though most were linear plat former games.
Later on in the early 1990s came the Super Nintendo and also I couldn’t resist the Mario or Zelda games for that system as well, but as I got older I kind of started to want to play something different instead of just playing these games, going through the levels, get to the end, beat the bad guy and win the game and generally don’t play it again unless I want to see if I can go through the game any faster than I did when I first played it.
Also by this time and moving into the mid 1990s, PCs were really starting to gather steam and starting to become more commonplace in households and with that, games were starting to be developed for home pcs back in those days. Then in 1997 a new game was released by a company under the name DMA Design (It is now Rockstar North) called Grand Theft Auto. This was one of the first major free roaming games to ever be released and would really begin the trend of open world games that we now see today.
I had many fun times with the original Grand Theft Auto back then. I did not get it for the PC which it was originally released to, but later bought the port of it for the first PlayStation game system. Even though the game had a top down view, it was so much fun to roam around its three cities, stealing cars, causing mayhem and doing other crimes. To be honest, I don’t think I ever beat the game, I just had so much fun doing my own thing in the open world environment. Who here can remember playing the original Grand Theft Auto?
Later on of course there would be Grand Theft Auto II and then Grand Theft Auto London. Two years later in 1999 for the PlayStation, a game would be released called Driver that would be one of the most fun games I’ve ever played. It was developed by a company back then called GT Interactive. The game tried to designed to recreate the great car chase movies of the 1960s and 1970s and it would take place in 4 free roaming cities which were Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.
The game’s story was centered around an undercover cop trying to infiltrate a crime syndicate operating in each of those cities. I do remember completing a lot of the missions in the game, but I just had so much fun driving around the cities and trying to escape from the cops, that it actually took me awhile to beat the game. Driver was very glitchy as it was a very ambitious game for the PlayStation back then. I do remember the game freezing a lot of times, but also the glitches for me just added to the gameplay and I had a lot of laughing moments back then. I do remember that if the cops were chasing you, hit your car just right or lost control and hit a light pole or building, your car would go flying WAY up in the air and it seemed like it took forever to land again. The draw distance back then for that game was terrible and there was so much clipping and choppiness, but I still had so much fun with it.
Bring on the early 2000s which saw releases of the Sega Dreamcast (Sadly the last Sega system to be released back in 1999) and the PlayStation 2 as well as Nintendo’s Gamecube. The Super Nintendo would be the last Nintendo system I ever owned as the PlayStation systems (and also later on, an Xbox system) would be my main systems of choice from here on out as they had the type of games I love to play. I did also own the Sega Dreamcast as that would be the one and only Sega system I ever had.
I did have a few games I did love to play on the Dreamcast which were Crazy Taxi and Crazy Taxi 2 as well as the Tokyo Xtreme Racer series. One interesting thing about the Tokyo Xtreme Racer series is that it is what I would consider a “limited” free roaming racing game. Technically all open world games are limited as they can’t go on forever and have invisible barriers or something to prevent you from going on and on and on, but at least in those you can generally explore every nook and cranny there is in that environment. With the Tokyo Xtreme Racing series, it did take place in Tokyo, but you could only drive around the city’s highways and not on the regular city streets, plus the game always takes place at night. It was not a problem for me as I LOVE freeways and highways and to drive on them and their huge overpass ramps onto other highways was extremely awesome to me.
Eventually I did get a PS2 and Grand Theft Auto 3 and subsequent titles released for the system during its life cycle. GTA3 and GTA San Andreas were two of my most favorite games for the PS2 because of the cheat codes they had for the games that made them absolutely insane to play! I remember putting in a code that would give the pedestrians in those games weapons and then putting in a riot code and watch them go crazy! You were lucky to survive even 5 minutes with the riot code on! Many times I had fun moments just trying to survive and just watching the pedestrians in the game blow themselves to pieces.
There would be other games I would get for the PS2 as well such as the continuing Need For Speed saga, Test Drive, LA Rush (sequel to San Francisco Rush although not a faithful sequel, but still quite fun for me to play), Driver sequels and more. One notable thing about LA Rush is that there was a code in the game you would enter that would make the traffic go BLAZING fast at 250mph!! Try driving around the city of LA in that game with the traffic going that fast and NOT getting hit almost constantly!
Next comes 2005 and 2006 where the Xbox 360 and the PS3 would be released (both of which I still play from time to time along with my new PS4). I would buy the Xbox 360 on launch night along with the first fps game I ever owned, Call of Duty 2 (thanks to the convincing of a very new friend of mine at the time). I would also buy the game Need For Speed Most Wanted and played that one quite often and was also one of the first games I ever played online on a videogame console via Xbox Live.
One of my most favorite racing games to ever play on the Xbox 360 though would be Test Drive Unlimited. It still boasts one of the largest game maps in a racing game to date as it is based on the main Hawaiian Island of Oahu. It features all kinds of roads from two lane roads, to high curvy roads and wide open interstate highways. It’ll take you nearly an hour just to drive around the entire island! What I loved about the game too though is the online aspect of it. You could form your own car club with others, cruise around, do limited stunts, race others and just have a great time.
Eventually I would get a PS3 as I wanted it for the free online play, the Blu-ray player and also the fact that I was on my 3rd Xbox 360 because of the problems with the system early on in its life. The open world games I have played and still do on the PS3 are Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto V. Love those games and the exploration in the massive game maps.
Last but not least of course is the brand new PS4. Still very early in its life and with so many free roaming games coming out in its future, I’m so excited to try them out with the power of the new system. Check out my review of one of them which is Need For Speed Rivals.
So what are your experiences with free roaming games over the years? Have you had a lot of funny and crazy moments in that genre of games that you can remember?