GTA Bore

On April 30, 2008, in Games, by peterb

Here’s how it works:

1. Previews of GTA IV appear in every magazine and weblog on the internet. Afraid of being attacked by mobs bearing torches and pitchforks, they universally give it 10/10, 5 stars, whatever the rating is that means “Jesus has returned to earth in the form of a videogame.”
2. Everyone buys GTA IV, including all of your 12 year old cousins.
3. Eventually, you give in to the hype and buy it too.
4. At this point, you realize that the “innovative” gameplay all of the reviewers in Step 1 talked about is, in fact, nothing more than the exact same gameplay from the past 5 games, only now with more pixels.
5. After about a week, you put the game down and never play it again.

Lather, rinse, and repeat with whatever other hit titles our corporate masters want to sell you in a given month.

I suppose people are probably expecting me to tear into the ethics behind GTA IV. I’ve certainly done the same with respect to other games. This time, I won’t bother for a few reasons. First, I haven’t played the game, and have no intention of playing the game. Second, and more importantly other people are making the argument for me, which I take to be a very healthy sign.

The more interesting question, to me, is: should I pick up Mario Kart for the Wii?


12 Responses to “GTA Bore”

  1. Thomas says:

    I’ll let you know when my copy ships. Sadly, I’m too stubborn to buy a copy from the local EBGameStop.

  2. guthrie says:

    What’s depressing about this…is that I lived through your premonition in the space of one evening. Very disappointing. Seeing the “community” fall all over itself to review the game so highly is even more dispiriting now that I’ve played it.

    Btw, I really wanted to like this game, I didn’t dislike the previous iterations, but I heard a lot of talk of “art” and “finally innovation” bandied about in reviews. COD4, Bioshock, Gears, these fairly run of the mill genre games absolutely astonish compared to GTA.

  3. @guthrie: COD4 & Bioshock are not exactly run-of-the-mill. They are *extremely* well executed.

    @peterb: To be fair, there’s a lot more in terms of (a) mini games, and (b) character development. It’s the first time in GTA history that you can at least pretend you care about the people you meet.

    Oh, and of course the physics are *wildly* improved. If you care about ragdoll mechanics, it’s an astounding example.

    At the same time, R* is determined to step over even more ethically questionable lines. My “favorite” so far: Killing jewish civilians yields more money than other civilians. No, I’m not kidding. Of course, there’s the usual hooker thing. There’s “hot coffee” as part of the story line. There’s the whole idea of bashing a transvestite hooker. And all that with fairly realistic looking characters.

    While I’m all for free speech, GTA4 is not the kind of speech I personally want to see. This is going to be my last excursion into R*/GTA land. (The things that sold me on 3 & ViceCity were the atmosphere and the fact that it was unrealistic enough that there’s no way to confuse it with reality. 4 leaves me with a rather queasy feeling. I still bought it – I didn’t expect it to feel that way)

  4. peterb says:

    > Killing jewish civilians yields more money than other civilians.
    > No, I’m not kidding.

    I don’t know what to say about this other than that I am sad to live in a world where someone probably thinks this is funny.

  5. peterb says:

    Also, how can you tell they’re Jewish?

  6. @peterb wearing a yarmulke is sort of a give-away ;)

    OK, fine, technically there might be other dark-haired people wearing a yarmulke who look stereotypically jewish. It’s never made explicit. Doesn’t make it better, in my book.

  7. Stereotypically jewish in terms of clothing, just so that that’s clear. You know, the whole long black coat thing. Haven’t checked closely if R* bothered to implement other stereotypes

  8. Squash Monster says:

    Mario Kart Wii is still Mario Kart, so I’ll just list the differences:

    They added bikes, which handle a lot differently from karts and are a largely fun alternative.

    Mario Kart’s infamous (and stupid) rubber-band AI is much less noticeable than before in most situations. The exception is when playing with human players of varying skill levels. The AI likes to take its aggression out on everybody when one person excels, so whoever is closest to the pack when the rubber band snaps is screwed. But you don’t need to play multiplayer with AIs because…

    Online play really works. It’s also a complete blast to play with a full group of people and not have to worry about the stupid AI.

    The new courses are generally very good, with a few exceptions like SNES courses that just don’t work with the four player split-screen (ghost valley).

    The new weight class and kart system is a lot more fair than any other version of MK so far: all characters in the same weight class are the same, so you can’t complain about character differences.

    The new items are largely on par with the old ones, except for the bullet bill and the thunder cloud. The former is a great addition, which puts people in the rear back into the game quickly and plainly. The latter is just another way for the game to kill you and is never really much fun.

    Overall, I’d recommend it.

  9. Ben says:

    I bought GTA3 and Vice City in some budget bundle, played them for an hour or two each then got bored. I’m with the Penny Arcade guys: the “Be a sociopathic gangster” wrapping seems to have obscured the fact that it’s not really a very good game.

    But then I always take the Lawful Good path in RPGs, so maybe GTA just isn’t the game for me.

  10. Doug says:

    I thought vice city had a very strong tongue in cheek humor that seemed absent from san andreas, and suspect didn’t re-appear in 4. So I won’t buy it. I might play it if someone gave it to me though.

    Right now my addiction is pixeljunk: monsters on the PS3. It is very similar to Desktop Tower Defense. Very much fun!

  11. J. Prevost says:

    I’ve been enjoying GTA IV. It’s definitely just as morally reprehensible as the earlier games—and Rockstar may actually have stepped it up a notch. Interestingly, though, this is the first GTA game I’ve seen that makes you feel *bad* about it.

    I’m torn between thinking that a less photorealistic presentation would be less reprehensible (since it’s easier to step back and say “Oh yeah, NOT REAL”, and continue doing awful non-plot-related things happily) and thinking that it would be more reprehensible (since it’s easier to step back and say “Oh yeah, NOT REAL”, and continue doing awful non-plot-related things without getting sick to your stomach.)

    It’s clear that GTA IV is a tremendous technical achievement, in terms of presenting a realistic modern urban setting with a tremendous amount of detail. The social impact is less clear: I think a lot of people will swing each way on the point I mention above.

    It’s certainly not a grand experiment in gameplay that takes the “capping people in the head and taking their lunch money” genre to new heights. But I’m not sure that there’s much you can add to the genre, in terms of new game mechanics. San Andreas tried to add character stats, with the whole fitness, skill, whatever system—and that didn’t really go over too well. I guess all I can see in GTA IV, game-wise, is that cars handle more like real cars.

    In storytelling… it’s not doing anything that hasn’t been done before. But, it’s certainly no mean feat to take a man like Nico Bellic and make people empathize with him, even as he enters a downward spiral back into the crime and brutality he was trying to escape by leaving the “Old Country”.

  12. Hans Larsen says:

    I’m considering buying a console because of this game. The technique and the humor of the previous title is great. And from the reviews I read I understand it’s a more detailed game with some serious character portraits.

    Give it to me NOW!