While the Change.org petition is a valiant effort, to be sure it’s unlikely to change Rockstar’s stance on the PC release. That GTA 5 has pushed so many PC gamers to come together and respectfully demand the game’s release on their platform is to be admired. I’m sure if you looked hard enough, you’d find plenty of nasty letters, emails, Tweets, Facebook posts, and the like, all directed at Rockstar, but the important thing on this occasion is those negative responses aren’t the ones most loudly spoken, or at least hard to miss. Instead, a concerted, calm, purposeful effort has begun for the greater gaming good. Again, it likely won’t change much, but I’m personally happy to see an example of upstanding citizenship from the gamin community, from where death threats and other less-than-savory things are said for minor “infractions.”
But I digress. Here’s a list of games you can play to tide you while Rockstar rakes in the console dough.
The Far Cry series
I did an article on Far Cry 3 a little while back, explaining how a simple mod can alter the experience completely. The base game of Far Cry 3, however, is just as rich and inviting without resorting to code-level changes. The freedom and beauty experienced on the island are ones felt nowhere else; even, I’d wager, GTA 5’s Los Santos. There probably aren’t as many hours of gameplay or dialogue, and not nearly as many distractions/mini-games, but sometimes it’s exploration that really matters, not where you eventually end up. And there’s few things more rewarding than choice between jumping into a conflict guns blazing and sniping your foes with a bow and arrow. That doesn’t even consider the beautiful vistas or the joy of flight in a wingsuit.
If you’re strapped for cash, don’t worry. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon offers all the wonders of the base game, with some of the funniest dialogue and lore around. It’s stripped down, true. It’s a little dingy, sure. But like Saints Row, which I’ll get to, there’s a silliness and self-awareness present in Blood Dragon that’s hard to come by in the takes-themselves-super-serious games being released today.
Of course, if you don’t want anything to do with Far Cry 3, it doesn’t have that number at the end for no reason. Far Cry’s 1 and 2 are just as viable as their insanity ridden sequel. In fact, I find the gunplay and gameplay of Far Cry 2 more satisfying despite the aimbot enemies and stilted dialogue. Granted, the story isn’t much to write home about, and the actual mechanics of the game are rather rote – fetch/kill quests galore. That said, I love the way the game sounds, and I like the lack of always-on fast travel. The real wonder of an open world game is getting around in it, and the driving simulator that is Far Cry 2 will do little to dull your enjoyment.
The Saints Row series
Writing a GTA article without mentioning Saints Row is tantamount to idiocy, as the Saints have always ridden in the shadow of Rockstar’s behemoth. Where Grand Theft Auto now focuses on the serious, the vast, and the moral, Saints Row IV is nothing but silliness from beginning to end. Neither as grandiose or as physically imposing as GTA 5, what SR IV and its prequels have is heart. The first and second titles might be nigh-unabashed GTA clones, the developers knew what they were getting themselves into, and they threw their best stuff at it.
Now, that “best stuff” consists of dildo swords and laser jumping* in a silly-Matrix world, but you can’t deny the charm present. The attention to detail, especially those details that defy expectation, is as commendable as the gameplay is raw and audacious. There are even some things Saints Row does better than GTA, though what those things are vary from gamer to gamer. Like Blood Dragon, the games are aware of the tropes involved in the open-world-crime-game genre, and use them for comedic effect whenever possible. Indeed, Saints Row IV is aware of the tropes of just about every genre, and you’d be remiss as a gamer to not find out just which of your favorite series SR IV pokes fun at.
Just Cause 2
A game dedicated to one of GTA’s hallmark mechanics – creating chaos and profiting from it – can’t go wrong, and Just Cause 2 doesn’t. Not as silly as Saints Row nor as dedicated to the art of gaming as Grand Theft Auto, Just Cause offers a level of hamfisted fun all its own. There’s something special about grappling a plan, crashing it to the ground and launching a rocket at two passing trucks that just feels right, and I challenge you to find a more exciting, free-form experience this side of Los Santos.
Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
No, KOTOR II is not an open world game. No, it’s not a shooter. No, it isn’t even on current gen consoles. It is, however, one of the most intricate, well-built, and morally challenging games in my memory. Sure, Star Wars is all about the Light Side vs. the Dark, but tell me Kreia didn’t make you question even that immediate truth.
I put The Sith Lords in this list for a couple reasons. First, it is a game that’s aged remarkably well, especially with the dedicated modding scene it garnered. Few games recently have had so many deep, flawed yet relatable characters, so wonderfully realized a world, and so deep a moral quandary so subtly offered. Not having played GTA 5, I can go only on what I’ve read, and I’m getting the feeling the three “protagonists” of Rockstar’s latest opus are more than just evil, amoral douchebags. I would be surprised if Rockstar went so shallow in their character and world development.
You’ll be equally surprised how Obsidian created so complete a game in so short a time. To this day there are still conversations about the stories and questions brought up in KOTOR II, and I think the same could be said for GTA 5 years down the road. It might be presumptuous to equate a game I love with a game I haven’t played, those of you who have played GTA 5 and Obsidian’s masterpiece can certainly set me straight.
*Two things I’d never think to write in any sentence, let alone the same one.