So, thanks to this year’s Steam Summer Sale, I’ve been able to better manage my budget and time for playing video games. Thus far, it’s included such purchases as The Shivah (wherein I play a rabbi trying to solve a murder mystery) and the much-acclaimed Garry’s Mod (wherein I wreak havoc on the physics of an open sandbox world).
It’s quite a pleasant world when you first appear, but really, that’s just an invitation to litter it with junk and blow up as many things as possible (or so depraved gamers like me think). First thing I want to do is get rid of my default old man avatar and try someone nicer. Like Chell from Portal 2, but with blue pants!
And oh look, you can summon an NPC like Alyx Vance! Except something must have gone wrong when I tried out the face poser controls because oh dear God that’s way too much mass and too many angles for a human face.
And then one thing leads to another and you find that you can experiment with matching things together.
Exhibit A: a folding chair with wheels and a thruster. Goes nowhere, but it looks great! Kind of!
Exhibit B: a high-backed leather office chair… with wheels and a thruster. Better-looking than the first construct and about as operational (which is to say, not very).
And then the next thing you know, you’re tapping into user-created and pre-existing mods, and then you’re flying modified airboats across the maps, leaving devastation and brilliant colored vapor trails in your wake.
I’ve got to say that I have some mixed feelings about these open sandbox games. I mean, I love the fact that I can go anywhere in a game environment instead of the pre-defined course from Game Start to Game Over. But on the other hand, having the whole world to yourself can be a little intimidating. When is it enough? How many hours do you want to spend trying to cobble together fantastic vehicles and buildings out of a million odd pieces when you could just be playing Half-Life 2 or any of the other Valve games that this mod was based on?
While it’d be easy to complain about camera angles and random glitches, I will say that Garry’s Mod ultimately leaves me feeling with an odd sense of satisfaction. I may not have gotten much done while I played it (at least, compared to other players), but I walk away knowing that I played and provoked my little virtual world for a few good hours and not a second more.
Which is a roundabout way of saying why I won’t ever be a Minecraft addict anytime soon. Plus, only in Garry’s Mod can you have endless fun blasting away watermelons with a Gravity Gun.
Garry’s Mod is available for download and purchase on Steam.
Update (8/1/2014): I’m taking a break for the rest of the month to focus on my job, catching up with old friends, and getting through my ever-growing list of shows to watch, games to play, and other forms of media that I’ll ultimately write a review for. See you all in September!
Bibliography: Garry’s Mod. Developed by Facepunch Studios. Published by Valve Corporation. Source (engine). Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux. Original release date: December 24, 2004.