Open World games are all the rage right now. In an age where developers and publishers are pressing to deliver maximum bang for gamers bucks – open world’s represent an opportunity to do so while also gaining a huge marketing gloat.
Yet some developers have overextended their hand when it comes to this. Stretching their games wafer thin and struggling to justify the lofty ambitions.
I was tempted to put a heap of Ubisoft games in here – since their policy of putting Open World mechanics into otherwise non-open world games creates its own sub-genre of awful games.
I’ve opted to not do that but they’re certainly worth a mention. So to the many Assassin Creed, Far Cry, Ghost Recon and other games that tarnished the open world genre – we salute you.
10. Fuel (2009)
Fuel’s open world is both its biggest claim to fame (Coming in at an eye-watering 5000 square miles) and also its biggest hindrance (There’s almost nothing to do in the world).
Much of Fuel’s open world uses recycled assets and large areas of emptiness to pad out that number – with lots of deserts to keep you occupied. There is variety but because of the enormous nature of the game, there’s very little fine detail to draw the eye.
Not that you’ll find much to keep you in one area. There’s honestly very little to do between races – meaning you’ll struggle to truly enjoy that huge number. This wouldn’t be so bad if fellow racers didn’t turn into idiots halfway through the races – reducing the core gameplay of the title to a shockingly simple affair.
There is a day/night cycle at play, but even that feels a little pointless when the graphics don’t really do all that much for the title. Everything’s either grey or sandy brown – lacking any variety or reason to make gamers play on.
Fuel runs out of gas well before you’ll have a chance to explore that open world, arguably the poster child for ‘pointless open world games’
9. Gangs of London (2006)
There was a phase in the mid-2000’s where Grand Theft Auto clones tried to compete over who could have the most realistic setting. True Crime tried its hands at LA and New York, but others were more ambitious in scope.
The Getaway was a fine (if very stiff to control) outing that made use of London for its gang warfare. It was incredibly detailed, managing to bring a fairly accurate London setting into the PlayStation 2 game. Sadly its sister PSP outing Gangs of London lacked all this charm.
The games a mess, controlling like a broken trolley and lacking all sense of purpose. The low draw distance made surveying London a distant dream, while the AI has no sense of logic.
Enemies stand bizarrely still and insist on affording you the chance to kill them, removing all tension from some of the games set-piece moments. The game also looks notably worse than The Getaway, reducing London’s icons to pixellated blocks. While it’s unfair to blame the PSP for this entirely, the reality is that Sony produced this title in-house.
They hyped this game huge for the PSP – yet it ultimately failed to deliver anything close to the experience fans were hoping for.
8. Superman Returns (2006)
Superman 64 may get all the attention when it comes to bad Superman games but 2006’s movie tie-in Superman Returns is equally worthy of ridicule.
The game attempts to ride Spiderman 2’s coattails, throwing an open world into the mix and slapping arguably the most famous Superhero of them all into the mix. But this game is anything but super.
Tank controls, some of the worst flying mechanics this side of Pilotwings and a whole heap of tedious side-missions stand between you and the potential of this game.
Not helping things is the fact that Metropolis looks like it’s gone through a brown phase – with some of the blandest city design you can imagine from an open world title.
Don’t get me wrong – when the game works it’s a thrill; but those moments are so few and far between, it’s hard to remain invested in proceedings (Moments like cars stopping Superman dead are deal breakers).
There’s very little reason this game had to be open world – it arguably could have been better served with a narrower focus and actual attention to detail.
7. True Crime: Streets of LA (2003)
Chasing that sweet, sweet Grand Theft Auto crowd – True Crime was one of the biggest GTA-Clones to emerge in the shadow of Rockstar’s hugely popular PlayStation 2 games. While Streets of New York had some redeeming features, I’ve never quite forgiven LA for wasting so much of my time.
Even at the time, the streets of LA felt hilariously void of life. While Liberty City and Vice City oozed charm, Streets of LA suffered from a distinct lack of character or atmosphere. Worse still, the missions are a hobbled together – mimicking some of the worst from the GTA series.
The car mechanics were underwhelming and while the game had a lot to see and do – you’d be bored with it inside twenty minutes because so much of it didn’t appeal to the eye. LA has never felt so devoid of life or excitement – that’s quite the achievement.
True Crime: Streets of LA serves as a good notice that even if you can make an open world game – you have to fill that world with interesting things to do.
6. Two Worlds (2007)
When this game was building its hype (And back in 2007, there was a lot of that for this title) the game’s director rather ambitiously stated that Two Worlds would make mincemeat of Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.
History dictates otherwise.
Two Worlds is an ambitious title, let down by some incredibly poor foresight. The game allows you to explore to your heart’s content, while the character customization on offer is arguably leagues ahead of its competitors. Yet despite this, the game plays host to a series of bugs and glitches that undo all this good work.
From bizarre audio miscues (Why do weapon noises mysteriously cut out during combat?) to world breaking glitches, getting around Two Worlds is an adventure all to itself. Oblivion’s open world may not be to everyone’s liking but at least it feels like somewhere you’d want to explore.
Perhaps most disappointing, the animations of many of the characters are stiff and awkwardly limited. It really takes you out of Two Worlds, and sadly brings the entire experience to a screeching halt.
5. Driv3r (2005)
Another developer – another attempt to ride Grand Theft Auto’s success.
Driv3r went big in its ambitions, offering up three whole cities for the gamer to enjoy. Sadly, not one of them is worth your time. Much like True Crimes – Driv3r’s lack of atmosphere makes experiencing the game an absolute drag.
Many of the city streets feel empty and devoid of life – with barely anything to do in the interim. Perhaps more shockingly, the core driving mechanics feel stiff and unresponsive. You’d think with three whole cities to explore, there would be plenty of variety on show yet somehow Driv3r manages to make all of its locations feel as bland as each other.
There’s no incentive to wander around and explore the world. There’s no life to the streets or personality. Without these, why should gamers feel incentivized to go off the beaten track and find their own fun?
Throw in lackluster AI and repetitive missions and it’s no wonder that Driv3r struggled upon its release to garner much positive press.
4. Homefront: The Revolution (2016)
The city of Philadelphia has never been so dull as it finds itself “recreated” for the purposes of Homefront: The Revolution – a game more broken than the story it tries to tell.
The world is unappealing to explore, empty and bizarrely cramped. The open world element feels half-baked, with amazingly tedious vehicle mechanics merged into the core experience with little regard for the outcome.
There are a few hub areas to explore, with crafting mechanics thrown in to encourage players to search the world – but it feels forced and ultimately pointless. Add in a heap of technical issues (That have since been patched out) and Homefront: The Revolution was anything but revolutionary for the idea of open world games.
This game didn’t need to be open world but insisted on having one regardless. It’s a decision that detracts from the overall experience and turns what could have been an interesting sequel into a forgettable mess.
3. Infestation: Survivor Stories (2012)
In the shadow of Day Z’s success, many pretenders attempted to jump aboard the zombie chasing wagon. That fad ultimately faded – thanks in large part to games like Infestation: Survivor Stories.
Originally released under the title “The War Z” – Infestation was a hugely broken and barren experience from the get-go.
Its Steam page gloated about multiple huge worlds, a skill-based point leveling system and private servers – all of which were absent from the released game. The single world that launched with the game was far beneath the promised 100 square kilometers – weighing in at around 10km squared.
Yet the biggest middle finger from Hammerhead Studios came the day after launch. Infestation forced gamers to wait an hour after dying before jumping.
A patch released on the games release date pushed this up to four hours, with an instant respawn option only available through the use of microtransactions. It was a staggeringly awful idea that saw many games abandon the title altogether – leaving the worlds hilariously barren.
For a game that relied on atmosphere and horror to sell itself, Infestation’s only achievement was scaring away customers.
2. Ravens Cry (2015)
The idea of a pirate themed open world game is a tantalizingly great one – something Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag showcased can be done to great effect in the AAA space. Ravens Cry, however, is no Black Flag.
The open world experience is riddled with glitches, bugs and some of the word refinement of this entire generation. Worse still, the world itself is filled with next to nothing to do – as you explore the oceans and attempt to tackle the forgettable side missions.
Sadly because of the huge number of glitches in this title, you won’t be able to enjoy that sailing for all too long – as Ravens Cry does it utmost to ruin its atmosphere.
The game is shockingly broken and lacks any reason to exist. Compared to Assassin’s Creed, a game that Ravens Cry openly lifts ideas from, it’s nothing but a pale contender. There’s a reason this game was rebranded then pulled from the Steam store.
1. Day One: Garry’s Incident
Day One: Garry’s Incident was a terrible game, but as an open world outing it only gets much worse.
The core game sees you exploring a tropical island, trying to uncover its secrets and trying to make sense of it all. The reality is that you’ll be fighting against the poor game design. The game is riddled with game breaking glitches, issues and poorly designed areas.
There’s a huge emphasis placed on “surviving” using the wild, but the mechanics are so crude and uninspired that you’ll almost wish they hadn’t bothered.
Worse than this, the game fails to do anything remotely interesting with its glamorous locales. Instead of offering up a world that’s interesting or filled with secrets – the open world is used mainly as a way of lengthening the games laughable runtime.