Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grand Theft Auto


Let's get something out of the way here: the Grand Theft Auto games aren't that good.

Sure, they were the "first" to do the sandbox, open-world thing, which is a great fit for modern systems. Now, instead of automatically loading the next level, now you can travel half-way across the fucking MAP to get to the next fetch quest/escort mission.

It was also the first popular series to deal with the vicious and morally ambiguous world of the aspiring gangsta. For a few brief shining hours, nerdy little Shively Nasalwart can slip into the skin of Thuggly von Terrormonger and wreck all sorts of havoc on a world full of bullies and chicks who won't go out with him.

(and please don't tell me that there's deep levels of satire in the game. There are, but 99 percent of the audience doesn't give a fuck about this. They just wanna play make-believe gangsta. Don't argue with me on this. I used to sell these games for a living.)

All this is well and good, but the game is basically unplayable.

Let's go to the earlier iterations of the game. Remember GTA 3 and GTA: Vice City? Remember how there would always be a mission that you'd keep failing at because of dodgy camera controls or your character's inability to actually target the person shooting at you? Remember that? Hmmm? Shoddy. I say shoddy.

The old games were the ultimate triumph of style over substance. They were frustrating and tedious, and if the subject matter wasn't the sort of thing that appealed to idiots and angry adolescents the game's flaws would not have been tolerated.

Now we've been graced by GTA 4. And it also sucks.

I will grant that the gameplay has been significantly improved. Now I can actually shoot the people I want to shoot. And I can hire taxis to drive me from point A to point B. But in Rockstar's attempt to make an immersive world, they wound up making a dreary, bland little game. Every five minutes we get another phone call from some idiot NPC wanting to go play darts or see some horrible show or do some other pointless diversion. And if you don't do it, they're gonna stop giving you their perks.

Also, will someone please explain to me why, after all the technological advances we've had over the years, do the characters still all look like marionettes? Why do they all have the same body, same movement, same wooden-dummy limbless motions?

And let's not forget the bad writing. The games can never seem to decide if it's trying to be funny in an obnoxious Adam Sandler kinda way or if it's trying to tell serious tales of crime and retribution.

So, yeah, crime stories have been done better. So has open-world gaming. People will keep buying these and they'll keep getting inflated review scores. The emperor is still butt-nekkid, though. And kinda boring.

So, yeah, that's my rant. Now to cleanse your palate, here's a video of a cute girl playing GTA 4. Look at her! She can't do it and she's offended. And she makes cute sounds! How adorable! Girls are so useless.

disclaimer: GTA: San Andreas was pretty good. The targeting system was pretty good and the story was interesting and engaging. Well, until you got recruited by the CIA to do dumb missions.

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