Getting Into Gaming: GTA IV
Have you ever felt like everyone knows something you don’t? Like when everyone thinks a particular actor or actress is super hot and you think they really aren’t, or when everyone is raving about a book or series and you really just can’t get into it… I had that feeling with GTA… a lot. For starters, the concept never really appealed to me, but I felt like I really should give it a chance someday because if everyone else likes it so much I figured I must be missing something. It’s one of those games that I kept meaning to play but never got around to actually playing, probably because I was always uncertain of whether or not I’d like it.
It was really just a strange co-incidence that I happened to be scheduled to play it so soon after the release of GTA V, but the hype was quite good for motivating me to play it. Unfortunately, this column also happened to be due during my holidays, so I didn’t have a convenient friend I could borrow GTA V from, so the best I could do was GTA IV, but I figured that wasn’t too far off. A little bit of research tells me that not an awful lot has changed in the 5 years between the release of GTA IV and V, other than the graphics getting better and some minor changes to gameplay and improvements to the interface.
- You’ll Be Able To Play (Expensive) PS2 Games On Your PS4 Now | 2 months ago
- Jessica Jones Disempowers Its Male Characters And The Effect Is Refreshing | 2 months ago
- Hell Is 30 000 Deathclaws Tearing Through Boston And It’s Glorious | 2 months ago
- Sony Santa Monica Is Teasing Something Truly Strange | 2 months ago
One of the most common compliments I’ve heard people give to the GTA franchise is the quality of the voice acting and story missions. For me, story line is easily one of the most important aspects of a game, and open-world games that I can get lost in (Skyrim being a particularly good example) are a personal favourite. However, no-one can deny that GTA also has occasionally come under heavy fire from groups of gamers and non-gamers alike. So I was somewhat excited to try the game, but also not getting my hopes up.
Now here’s the breaking point in this article: I really, really do not understand the GTA craze!
I’m not interested in getting into a feminist rant or a humanitarian soapbox diatribe about the somewhat blatant racism. I’m also not one of those people who believe that gamers are empty vessels waiting to be brainwashed into violent tendencies by the games they play. I wasn’t looking at any of that, although the racism was a little hard to miss, because there are plenty of soccer moms and well educated socialists who will write long, heartfelt and sometimes well-reasoned (although still unconvincing) discussions on these topics.
But, GTA is the first proper game I’ve ever played that made me rage quit within the first 20 minutes. At first I got slightly irritated that the whole world froze for what felt like forever while a few useful bits of information came up in the top left corner. Of course I was grateful for the tutorial, as until that point I’d just managed to get myself stuck behind a kitchen table, but I don’t think they needed to make me paralyzed so that they could tell me what button to press to steal a car.
I then got irritated because there was no intermediate foot speed between leisurely stroll and flat-out Olympic sprinting, so I was either taking 20 minutes to walk down the street, or getting stuck on lampposts and rubbish bins while trying to dodge other pedestrians at a top speed sprint down the pavement. Then I got run over because the other cars on the road seem to have a very strange understanding of how traffic lights work… This was only exacerbated when I was asked to negotiate rush hour traffic in a car which only seems to travel at 120km/h. At first I tried my absolute hardest to blend in, thinking that since I was driving a stolen car and was no longer under cover of night, I should try to behave like a normal law-abiding citizen so as not to attract the attention of every traffic cop in the city. Apparently I was wrong… and after taking out 3 pedestrians, rear-ending 2 cars and pin-balling between lampposts and the struts of flyovers and bridges, I gave up trying to be subtle and switched to “Get the f*** out of my way! F****** idiot pedestrians! What the f*** is wrong with this guy??” while my car became less and less roadworthy with every corner I tried to take. Meanwhile the helpful hints tab was back telling me to use my brakes to take corners more smoothly… It was shortly after that that I rage quit for the first time.
But in fairness, I established in my last article that virtual driving is not my strong point, and if I’m bad at speeding along empty roads in the dead of the night, you can only imagine how bad I am at driving on busy roads in the middle of the day. So I pressed on as best I could, but it didn’t get much better from there. I barely even managed to attract police attention because I spent most of my time trying to extract my car from corners of buildings. But my driving skills weren’t the only thing that I struggled with. I appreciate that the game isn’t really about being a nice person, but I feel like I was somewhat lied to by the Wikipedia page that said “Grand Theft Auto IV also contains morality choices at points throughout the games…” because I didn’t encounter a mission that could be completed without stealing something, killing someone or driving like a maniac through a public area. Unless you count ignoring the mission as a morality choice. Maybe that comes in later but what I experienced of the game didn’t motivate me to keep playing in the hopes that I would read a point of enlightenment.
I also can’t say I was hugely impressed with the voice acting. Yes, sure it was better than a lot of other games, but I’m not sure that generic East-European and Latino accents can be considered excellent voice acting. Also, the story line wasn’t exactly earth shatteringly good either. It played like one of those typical movies made to make you feel terrible for being happy with your life: the American dream is all a lie, the real world is dark and terrible, drugs, gangs, people dying, racism, betrayal… etc. So the two things I was looking forward to the most about the game were a bit of a let-down. And I can’t even say that the game was good for a bit of mindless fun because it was just infuriatingly difficult to achieve anything!
I’m sure that if I was slightly better at driving games I might’ve found the game less frustrating, but I think it would take a lot more for me to actually have found it enjoyable.I had hoped that GTA would take the silly funness of Need for Speed, but make them so much better by incorporating an actual storyline, but in terms of what GTA fans had promised, I feel quite let down by the game. I can always appreciate a game which is just for funsies and I don’t always expect a game to be the full package with a deep and meaningful plot and amazing characters and graphics and fun value and all that, but when a game promises to deliver and doesn’t, I do feel like I’ve been slightly cheated.
I realise that I’m in the minority in this, and perhaps with time I could learn to see the virtues of the game, but with so many other games out there, waiting to be played, GTA isn’t likely to be a game I would revisit.