That inexplicably manage to be entertaining as hell.
If you'll forgive the blatant, kotakuesque attention-whoring title, I'd just like to pose the question "what is it that attracts (or repulses) you from open world games?"
Games like those in the GTA and Elder Scrolls series somehow manage to keep me coming back time after time in spite of what should be crippling flaws in their design. Somehow, though, I easily overlook the pain-in-the-ass controls that would have me scratching any other game-disk with my house keys and manage to have a hell of a lot of fun.
I have logged more hours in Oblivion than is healthy for any one person, and have yet to finish the main story quest. I happily abandoned my sworn duty to deliver some amulet to whatever secret heir, instead opting to do almost anything but: from rescuing townsfolk turned invisible by a spell gone awry to beating on blind monks. All those infinite sidequests, in Oblivion, and disconnected missions, in GTA, are what keep me coming back time after time. Hell, sometimes I just screw around just to see if I can get in on that emergant gameplay you guys are always going on about.
With GTA IV's release there's been a lot of discussion on what it takes to build a believable world but, even though I agree that suspension of disbelief is of great importance, in the back of my mind I always remember that time a friend and I nearly died laughing having spent the better part of an hour disrobing nobles with a magic spell and watching them carry on about their lives as if nothing had happened. It's these weird, unique little moments that attract me to these games and somehow they are compelling enough to make shoddy controls or frustrating mechanics nearly irrelevant to me. This is in no way meant to be a defense of half-assed game design, but I was just curious as to all of your thoughts on the subject.