Every fucking blog post you’re going to read for the next week is about it: Grand Theft Auto IV.
But not this one!
This one’s about the economy, the pressure facing an increasingly global market, the importance of maintaining low food prices, and only very, very barely about murdering hookers with a flaming Corvette.
I’m just fucking with you; it’s entirely about murdering hookers with a flaming Corvette! If this post was any more about murdering hookers with a flaming Corvette it’d have passes to the GOP convention.
It’s an odd feeling playing this game. The controls, physics, setting and atmosphere are all completely different. The cars drive much more realistically, swaying on their suspensions as you take hard turns. The city is no longer vaguely suggestive of a cartoon New York City, it’s a grimy, exhaust choked obituary for New York City. And the characters react authentically; no more pedestrians stepping gingerly over the massive pile of corpses at the intersection, never stopping to wonder why the heads of everybody that stands at this particular corner inexplicably explode as though by sniper fire (but that would be ridiculous, of course.)
For example, if you let go of the control stick and let Nico go idle right before a rainstorm, he will feel the first few faint rain drops. He’ll check his head, hold his palm out to see if it catches the drops, check the skies and swear under his breath. The citizens caught in the ensuing downpour will cover themselves with newspapers, briefcases, or just pull their jackets over their heads as they jog to sheltering alcoves.
It’s all a level of realism that was carefully non-existent in the other Grand Theft Autos, supposedly leaving you free to indulge your homicidal rampages without guilt, but it’s here now. And you will, at first, respond accordingly. You’ll maneuver the cars more carefully. You’ll avoid driving through crowded sidewalks just to see bodies spray up and outwards, like kicking a pile of sand. You’ll only kill one, maybe two hobos for kicks before getting a hold of yourself. You’re a modicum of restraint, in short. And it makes the few visceral killing sprees you do go on all the more effective.
The game simply does not play like a carnage machine anymore, but it manages to make this transition somewhat naturally. It’s not that the wanted system is more strict (it is much better, though) and it’s not that the citizens are no longer mere chum for the feeding frenzy of your hungry fists (though if you push the wrong guy on the sidewalk, he really may know karate and whip your damn ass like it’s nothing,) it’s that when the game feels more authentic, you unconsciously react more authentically.
Being Suckered by a Game:
I saw a businessman running past me, desperate to catch a bus. He was calling for the passengers to stop it as he jogged by, and so I impulsively kicked him in the leg, just once. He tripped over my foot, careened off of a newspaper stand and stumbled into traffic where a speeding firetruck came inches from sideswiping him. He turned around and raised his hands into the air, his body language showing distinct shock, and yelled “what the HELL, man?!” My knee jerk reaction was to mutter, “shit, sorry dude.”
It actually prompted a real life, reasonable response from me!
I was so amazed by this interaction that I almost didn’t beat him to half to death with a baseball bat, then wait around to run down the Paramedics that tried to revive him with their own ambulance.
As far as I’m concerned, this is an entirely new video game experience. It’s not virtual reality, or even close. But for the first few seconds of an unexpected encounter, you may physically respond to characters in a video game like they’re actual people. That’s new, and it’s pretty amazing.
Now, because nothing prompts crazy anecdotes like GTA, here’s my favorites so far:
I was in the multiplayer, engaged in a rather intricate fistfight with a gentlemen named something like ButtKRACKER420. We had both run out of ammunition while firing at each from behind the doors of our crashed vehicles, and were duking it out in the street alongside a fire station. We were at the bottom of a long hill, and just as I’d ducked a roundhouse from him I heard a roaring sound growing quickly closer. Sir ButtKRACKER backs off suddenly, and so I turn to see what this snapping, crackling din racing towards me is, when my world explodes into flames. Another player had taken a severely damaged, flaming car and raced it down the hill at top speed. He bailed on the hill and sent this flaming slag heap hurling into me at 80 miles an hour, ironically crushing me with burning wreckage against the wall of the fire station.
I had stolen a motorcycle and jumped it off of a stair car over the fence of the airport. As I was drag racing beneath the landing planes looking for a helicopter in order to crash it into a group of obnoxious mallrats, I was thinking “man, if I drove onto the runway in real life the cops would be on me in seconds. The fucking swat team would shoot me in the face and call me a terrorist.” That’s when the swat team careened around the corner, shot me in the face and called me a terrorist.
I was about to take the subway for the first time when I saw a hobo sitting on the stairs. I stopped, turned around, and hiked halfway back down the stairs to just behind the hobo. I lightly kicked him, knocking him off balance. He tumbled from his seated position, rolled down the staircase, hit the wall of the landing and his momentum carried him flailing over it. A second later I hear a scream – abruptly cut off. I look over the edge and see him two stories below. He had landed on a man out for a walk with his girlfriend. She looked so stricken by this sudden turn that I suddenly spun around and ran for the train before they could figure out it was me.
Does anybody else have the game yet? What crazy shit has happened to you?
EDIT: For everybody that hasn’t read this yet, definitely browse through the comments here. Some of the stories there are better than the post.