Archive for May 21st, 2008


How I’ve Been Spending My Free Time As Of Late

May 21, 2008

I have to apologise for my recent absence from the Chamber. Well, on second thought, I still have been checking in, I just haven’t been posting anything new. The reason:

Grand Theft Auto IV

I’ll admit, I’ve been into video games since I was a kid.  My brother and I would sit and play the Intellivision system for hours. Later came the NES, then the Sega Genesis, then the Playstation, then the PS2. And sprinkled in there somewhere I bought a Nintendo 64 and a Sega Dreamcast. I guess it’s safe to say that I’ve always been a “gamer” . Over the last few years, however, I’ve spent less free time with it, and I had been progressively shifting my hobbies over to the internet, eventually resulting in the creation of this blog. In fact, over the last year, my games and consoles have been mostly dust collectors, with the exception of pulling out a little Guitar Hero. And unlike previously, I did not run out and buy the new PS3 when it first came out.

A few weeks ago, however, a buddy of mine convinced me that the new GTA IV was going to be the reason to break down and buy the new console. So, I gathered whatever trade-in video game software and hardware that GameStop would actually take and drove to the store to get myself the new system and the game (and a couple others) at the beginning of May.

So, the reason why I haven’t been posting on the blog as much is because this game is so darn addicting. It really is the most enveloping and escapism-enabling entertainment product I’ve ever seen.   And I’ve played a lot of video games and watched a lot of movies.

Even if a player chooses to avoid the violence and debauchery, its hard not to marvel at the genius of it all. I mean, the realism of the graphics, physics and soundtrack are impressive enough, but the storyline and the freedom to sculpt the experience to one’s liking takes it to a whole new level.    

It’s like an interactive action movie.  For the game’s characters, got everything from egotistical gangsters to power-tripped cops to bitter cab drivers to impatient pedestrians.  For the action, you can engage in high-speed car chases, intersection gun battles, drive-by shootings, scaling buildings and even beating someone down with a baseball bat.  But, if you just wanted to play it cool and be a good boy, you could just call up your pal Packie, hop in a cab, pick him up and head to the bar to get wasted (and naturally, if you try to drive home, the chances are you’ll get the cops on you).   Taken symbolically, the game represents an almost comically cynical view of America, right down to the entertainingly satirical TV shows that you can watch on the sofa in your safehouse.

While playing I couldn’t help but wonder how much work must have gone into creating it (a hint I finally received once I finished the main story missions and watched the credits roll for at least 20 minutes).    The attention to every conceivable detail is just plain impressive.   For example, I couldn’t believe that when the hood of the car you’re driving finally flies off (due to damage combined with a high rate of speed), you can actually hear it land on the street behind you…in the rear surround speakers.    Flies buzz around trash receptacles.   You walk past a bum on the street spouting insane rhetoric.   You can hear the click-clack of elevated trains pass overhead, and look over and see its shadow on the building across the street.    People scream and flee if they see you point your gun at them.  Is it too real?  I dunno.                                                                                                             

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been.  So, I decided to create a thread for comments on the game…or if someone wants to give me grief over it, that’s fine too.

Update:  Game Hint

It’s kinda handy to keep a LCPD cop car parked in front of your safehouse(s).  For convenience purposes, of course.  On the other hand, it may be more fun to just steal the cop cars when you want them.  Up to you.

Anyway, if you want a quick vigilante mission and you don’t want to go through the hassle of finding a cop car, here’s what I do…

From wherever I happen to be, I just hail a cab, go back to the safehouse, then hop in the cop car.   Once I’ve accessed the police computer, I select “Call Police Backup”.  They get there in seconds, which is just long enough to go back the the LCPD screen and select either “View Current Crimes” or “View most Wanted” to pick my next mission.  The cops show up and hop out of their cars, guns drawn.   I calmly get out of my parked cop car, walk over and jump right into one of the “backup’s” cars and head on towards the target criminal.   Unfortunately, once I’ve done a few missions in that car, it gets pretty beat up and I have to ditch it.  (kinda fun to see how many missions you can get one car to last) ….So, I just pull it aside and hail another cab to go back to the safehouse, repeating the process.   In other words, I always have a fresh cop car (and more importantly, the computer access) in about the time it takes to hail one of those taxis that are so commonplace in the game (I’m the type that is using the cabs to get anywhere in the city in mere seconds).   It’s makes it easy to do vigilante missions over and over.