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Tycho / on Mon, Apr 28 2008 at 12:00 am

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Life Strategies

Grand Theft Auto - like Gran Turismo - is a game that we have a difficult time integrating into our consciousness.  Gran Turismo got this way by being an uncompromising simulation of something we don’t care about, a blisteringly high-resolution image of a ketchup packet or a strip of bark.  Ketchup fans and bark enthusiasts are going nuts, they’ll pay forty dollars for part of the image.  I played the second one a million years ago, earned enough money to wash my virtual car, and then quit the series forever.

Grand Theft Auto has had another problem, or rather, we have had a problem that intersects with what the game offers: the raw, virtually limitless opportunity presented is paralyzing, a sheer face with no purchase.  We’re always impressed by each world’s livingness, but historically the story structure - the obvious thread that we can grip and pull ourselves along - is hung about the neck with frustrating, repetitive gameplay.  We end up burning out on free roaming in a couple days, taking random missions or sitting in a parking lot listening to the radio.  I feel guilty, because there’s probably no game more “important” globally than Grand Theft Auto.  I certainly feel like I’m looking in on what I consider my own community.  It never seemed to bother anyone else that the core of the game wasn’t much fun, so mostly the whole thing just makes me feel like a crazy person.

There’s been some commentary put forth about whether or not exclusive reviews can be trusted, an absolutely fair avenue of inquiry.  Unfortunately, GTA IV’s tectonic, continent cracking power makes assessing possible score inflation difficult.  IGN’s forty page exegesis is distilled down into a ten, Eurogamer says “ten,” and surely these are not the only tens we’ll see.  Gamespy tells us that the game merits five stars, but what is their celestial configuration?  Stars may be of ill omen.  1up has given it an A+, which is not a number, making the score less…  numeric(?).  At some point today, I expect to hit up GameRankings and see a score delivered in degrees Fahrenheit.  Boy, that’ll be some useful fucking information.

In any case, there’s no score higher than ten, and tens or ten equivalents are being dished out by every Tom, Dick, And Harry.  If IGN had given it a twelve, scourging them would be much easier.

The Metal Gear Online Premiere Beta has been a source of intense frustration, a Goddamned Zoroastrian ritual of bizarre elemental incantations - and I have yet to enter a single round.  You might have heard it elsewhere already, but the dereliction on display here is worth reinforcing.  When I joined the COD4 beta, a game made by some fucking guys in California, I entered in an alphanumeric code and then proceeded to play the game.  Metal Gear, one of the most famous game franchises in existence with a twenty year pedigree, had me entering a case-specific code, and then creating two additional IDs beyond the PSN I had already created.  These new IDs could not be the same,  and one of the passwords would only accept numeric input.  Once I entered the application, a succession of patches were brought down - and the installation of each required a manual exit to the XMB.  A nonexistent direct download server meant that for both patches the only option for download was BitTorrent from other frustrated users being devoured by the same experience.  Is the game good?  You tell me.  The installation took an entire day.

(CW)TB out.

when the moon doth rise in carpathia

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