Archive for April, 2008
Last night was a big GTA night. I got home, did the washing up, then sat down and played through to bedtime, apart from a quick break to get some food. So now I can give some real first impressions. Which basically boil down to WHOA! MAN! BEST GAME EVER! GUFFAW! KABOOM! PEW PEW! WHOA!
So, what did I do last night? Let’s try to remember.
I got out of bed and watched some TV. Saw a whole episode of Republican Space Rangers, which was puerile, obvious, yet still somehow very, very funny. Classic GTA humour, then. Watched a bit of poker, but then got antsy for some action.
Did some missions, including the infamous “brick through the window” mission. I’m pleased to say I did it first time by, you know, picking up the brick shown on the radar and then throwing it through the window.
I finally got a gun, The first gun I got I found in a staff only area of a strip club, but before using it I got given another gun.
Gunplay is much better than previous GTAs. Killing hits are dealt with amazingly, enabling me to create scenes that look like they came out of The Wire. Gunning down a fleeing drug dealer in the middle of an empty street is going to stay with me. It looked amazing and felt a little… odd. There was little sense of elation, more grim satisfaction. People can still take point blank hits to the chest and hardly flinch, though. The killing hits hurt and shots to limbs provoke a reaction, but other shots just seem to get soaked up at times.
I’m not sure whether I should turn auto-aim off or not. I find myself using the manual aim so much that I might just get rid of the automatic option altogether.
(And talking of changing settings, I put the brightness and contrast up by a few notches. Makes the game a whole lot better. I can see again!)
Got to the first mission where you get to make a choice at the end. After a long race through the streets and over rooftops I was asked whether I wanted to kill my target or let him live. I think I made the right one, but I guess only time will tell.
My current favourite car is the Dukes car. It’s basically an old Dodge Charger, hence the name. It’s loud, looks good and is very exciting to drive, once you get used to it. I’m a fan.
Took Michelle on a couple of dates. Went to the cabaret and then later took her out to a small backstreet bar. Tried my luck and was rewarded with the Warm Coffee achievement.
I’ve done some amazing stunts in cars. Flips and rolls and jumps, oh my! One particular series of jumps and rolls had my wife staring open-mouthed. She then said, “That is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” And she sounded like she meant it.
I think that so far I’ve only shot one innocent civilian. She’d run me over and I’d only recently got a gun, so I decided to kill her. Didn’t get a wanted rating, despite the presence of several witnesses, but did get a sense of vague disquiet. I’m sure I’ll get over it.
Got drunk a few times. It’s a really good effect and very funny, stumbling around, falling over and failing to use my mobile phone. I got terribly drunk on a date with Michelle and decided to hail a cab to get home. (It’s a immediate one-star wanted rating if a cop car sees you driving around when drunk.) Cabs are excellent. I’ve been using them a lot. It’s a risk-free way to get around and reasonably cheap. I haven’t skipped a cab ride yet, but I have told the cab driver to hurry up. Drunkenness is, I think, my favourite thing about GTA IV right now.
Saw my first chain reaction of car explosions. I clipped a taxi in my car at full speed. My car conked out and wouldn’t restart. When I got out I saw that the taxi I’d hit was on fire. The driver was writhing around on the floor on fire. Oops. Then a tire exploded. Then the whole taxi exploded. People ran away screaming. And sometimes on fire. More cars exploded. More people ran, more people caught fire. And then a car too close to me exploded and I woke up at the hospital. Again. Classic GTA mayhem, but bigger and better. Obviously, the graphics looked better, but the fire works better, the explosions work better and the animation on the civilians caught up in it all was amazing. One lady on fire practically fell over her car door, scrabbled around, managed to right herself and then got a few paces before collapsing. I took the money she dropped. It is GTA, after all.
All good fun, anyway. I was only slightly late to bed. I would have been on time, but on the drive back to the safe house Roman called my mobile and asked me if I wanted to go out to a strip club. How could I refuse? I picked him up, took him out and then drove him home. A few minor police chases along the way, but it was reasonably incident free.
If Sony hadn’t already used it, “This is Living” would be a good tag line for this game.
So yesterday evening I raided my TARDIS money bank and got out the coins I’d been saving since January for this day. My wife and I left home at about half past ten and by a quarter past eleven we were in a queue outside the Game on Week Street in Maidstone. There were at that time three people in front of us. I’d expected more. My wife played Pokemon on her DS while I rocked back and forth on a loose paving stone, counting the minutes. A minute before midnight I was standing at the counter; the shop assistant had my copy of GTA IV in his hands. When the clock changed he swiped it, I refused the offer of a £12.99 strategy guide and handed over my cash. On the way out my wife grabbed a free poster and we left.
Despite being the only car in the car park outside the Archbishop’s Palace The General hadn’t been broken into or stolen – which would have been ironic and upsetting in equal measure. We were blessed on the way home – for the first time in my entire life I managed to get out of Maidstone without having to stop at a single traffic light.
By half past twelve I was sitting on the sofa with a huge grin, watching the opening cut scene and credits. I only played for an hour and fifteen minutes, because I had to be at work the next morning, but that was enough to form some first impressions.
The main shock was that this is definitely a 3D GTA game. That may not sound like it should be in the least surprising, but I was expecting it to be very different, somehow. But, no. It’s got the same type of look, the same kind of structure. The cars have GTA-style handling, though it’s now weightier and meatier. In fact, that probably applies to the game as a whole. It’s GTA, but more solid.
I’ve never known a game before where I looked forward to cut scenes so much. They’re superbly done, with great direction and voice acting. One character stood out to be as being voiced by bad actor, but after finding out more about them I’m beginning to think that it’s not the voice actor that’s bad – I think the character is a bad actor. That may sound like trying to paper over the cracks in an otherwise great game – which is always a temptation when a game I love does something badly – but, trust me, I don’t think it is in this case. You’ll see what I mean.
Graphics? Well, they’re a mixed bag. Stunning lighting and a world of extraordinary character, but it’s all a bit muddy. The details can be hard to see at times, and not only when it’s dark. (According to forum reports, people have achieved great things with messing with the display sliders in the Options menu – I’ll try that out tonight.)
It’s got some lovely touches that make the world feel more real – mainly to do with the random street characters actually doing things other than milling around. A homeless man shuffles past, someone reads a newspaper, a nurse leans against the hospital having a smoke. (The last one I noticed after attempting to get into a fist fight with a random passerby, just because I could. Someone else joined the fight and they beat me into unconsciousness. That didn’t happen in previous GTAs. Yes, other people may have joined the fight, but there was never a problem with putting them down. Either I’m out of practice, or things are harder now.)
As for sound, it’s great. But it always has been. My favourite radio station so far is called, I think, San Juan Sounds. Never heard any of the tracks on there before, but it’s great stuff. I was especially impressed with the gunfire the one time I was shot at. It sounded terrifying. Sharp cracks and pops and dings as bullets hit metal.
I’ve not got my hands on a gun yet myself. And I’ve only been in one cop chase. (I sped down a hill, slammed into a police car and managed to turn my car over a couple of streets away trying to escape. Managed to avoid the cops, but wrecked the car I was in and failed the mission I was doing.)
There’s a lot left to do and I’ve only seen a few streets in the city. I’m already recognising places, though. Not just the obvious things, like the huge roller coaster seen in the first GTA IV trailer way back when. I found my way to a character’s house not through use of the GPS system, but because I recognised the building at the end of her street.
So, I’ve not scratched the surface yet. At all. But what I’ve seen I really do love. There’s a real world there, with characters I want to see more of – and the tools are there to really enjoy it. Tonight, hopefully, I’ll get my hands on a gun. Gunplay was always GTA’s biggest weakness, so I’m interested to see how it is now.
It’s going to be a long day in work.
And. It. Was. Good.
Some terrible performances which are probably best forgotten, Suffice to say that I managed to die before reaching 500m on all the attempts.
What can I possibly say? I solved four or five grid-based number puzzles and had fun doing so, though I got stuck on one for a few minutes.
So much fun had and I didn’t even go online. I did a fair few time trials – badly – then did some Grand Prixs. It was great, but then my TV decided to show random flashing pixel-high two-centimetre long lines all over the screen, so I had to turn everything off and on again and by the time I’d done all that it was time for the Eastenders Omnibus and too late for more Mario Kart.
Current favourite track is Rainbow Road, but it’s often my least favourite track. Depends on whether I’m in a big heavy kart or on a tiny bike.
Utterly infuriating, far too much text, unskippable repetitive cut scenes, yet somehow still charming. One of those “turn off in disgust and come back to ten minutes later” games.
Well, after hours and hours of slow, slow downloads and updates I finally got online with this. Not quite sure what to think. It seems to encourage one type of play control-wise and another well, play-wise. It’s all very well to try to be sneaky and cunning, but it all boils down to speed and accuracy with the right stick in the end. Unfortunately, I have none of that. I’m very good at faking people out by playing dead and using the cardboard box, when it comes time to capitalise on that I’m all over the place and my shots merely serve as a way to give away my position to the enemy who just ran right past me.
And I’ve no idea how the CQC stuff works at all.
Downloaded this horror game demo from the Japanese store. Shouldn’t have bothered. Awful camera, clunky controls and not a lot else that I could see. I could have been missing something, mind, what with it being in Japanese and all.
One quick go, then my wife got off the phone and it was time for some TV. Bye 360!