[M]any players and critics have celebrated Grand Theft Auto III (GTAIII) as a game that allows the player to "go anywhere, do anything. This sentiment is flawed for several reasons. First, the game does not actually allow the player to "do anything"; rather, in the words of one reviewer, "GTAIII let you do anything you wish, within the parameters of the game." The "parameters of the game" are made up of the processes it supports and excludes. For example, entering and exiting vehicles is afforded in GTAIII, but conversing with passersby is not.
[W]hy did we care so much? As you said, part of it's because you and I have at least a basic sense of empathy and morals, and part of it's because we had to work so hard just to keep our characters alive. The big thing for me, though, was the fact that the whole game was predicated on the goal of saving lives. Most adult-oriented narratives in games these days have violence as the engine driving the story forward, as in "those aliens are attacking me so I must blast them in the face with my space-shotgun." There's violent combat in Pathologic, sure, but combat isn't the focus. [...] At the beginning of each day, the game reminds you how many people have died, how many are close to dying. That's a great device; it was a constant reminder to me that the Plague was winning. It lent urgency to everything I did; even when I wasn't close to death myself (a relatively rare situation to begin with), I knew that other people were. Every quest and action felt terribly important, and I was constantly stressed out about the epidemic's tireless advance. No wonder I got so sucked in: lives were at stake.
But instead of actually being merciful, Batman knocks him out. Dick move, Bats.
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