Picked up Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars on DS a couple of days ago. Tim Spaeth from the podcast was raving about it, and if I'm not mistaken, I believe the words "game of the year" were in there somewhere. I hadn't originally intended on picking it up, but after hearing his praise I decided to take the plunge since I had a little extra trade credit on hand. In terms of production it's certainly got everything nailed down tight and I am impressed by the ability of programmers to pack so much onto the DS, but in all honesty, I got quite bored of it almost immediately.
When I gave Grand Theft Auto IV the insultingly low score of 85%, quite a few people suggested that I had some kind of a secret grudge against the game that kept me from giving it the glowing adoration that it so obviously deserved. Well, I'm finally ready to admit that yes, I did have a secret predjudice against the game, one that I'll reveal through the medium of crudely-edited video:
Game Description: For Niko Bellic, fresh off the boat from Europe, it is the hope he can escape his past. For his cousin, Roman, it is the vision that together they can find fortune in Liberty City, gateway to the land of opportunity. As they slip into debt and are dragged into a criminal underworld by a series of shysters, thieves and sociopaths, they discover that the reality is very different from the dream in a city that worships money and status, and is heaven for those who have them and a living nightmare for those who don’t.
Liberty City is so dense with culture, from its varied architecture to its faux-internet websites and range of satirical television and radio programs, that it is easy to forget the boundaries the game has set and easier to get lost within it. The improvements on graphics, sound and design were always going to be a given though it is significant that the game controls are now adequate enough to foster a sense of empowerment in every shootout or cop chase.
So, after two days of playing, what’s my take on it? I’m not at all impressed.
It’s not that the game is terrible because it’s not, but it’s certainly not deserving of all the accolades and perfect scores. Granted, I’m still very early on and have not yet completed the single player portion, but based on what I’ve seen so far… I don’t think I actually will. How's that for a ringing endorsement?
Some of GTA4's problems can be attributed to the developers' desire to hold features over from previous incarnations, and the rest seem to be caused by the understandable lack of focus that results from attempting to create a truly epic game world. All of these problems are outweighed by what the game gets right, both in the superlative story it tells and the unprecedented freedom the multiplayer mode offers.
I haven't played Grand Theft Auto IV yet, and I probably won't play it for quite a while. But that doesn't mean it isn't exerting an influence on my life. Like many people, I've been keeping track of the game's astronomically high Metacritic ranking, and it's safe to say that I'm pretty damn stoked about the possibility of playing it. The problem is that I'm currently in the midst of a competing set of interests and commitments, which for sake of brevity I'll simply refer to as "life."
The words on everyone's mind today are Grand Theft Auto IV. This is a big game, quite likely destined to be one of the biggest in history thus far. I hardly think I need to explain why, but for anyone who needs proof, look no further than your nearest newspaper or television newscast.
In other news, Sony’s Scott Steinberg was recently quoted at GameDaily Biz as saying that the 360-exclusive downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto IVwasn’t going to be a big deal. My first inclination was to say that the man was smoking crack, but after further thought... I’m not too sure.
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