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GTA IV = GTA VI = 10-16-07
April 1, 2007 9:09 AM   Subscribe

Grand Theft Auto IV (video, SFW despite age verification and Philip Glass) is coming. Even six months before its release, it is promoting rage and anger (...in NYC politicians). Fansite and Wikipedia article.
posted by ztdavis (131 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm not a follower of the series, but I did like the machinima-Koyaanisqatsi-style trailer.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:15 AM on April 1, 2007


It kills me that they're using Philip Glass--I've been thinking about remaking Koyaanisqatsi with shots from GTA: San Andreas for a while.
posted by muckster at 9:16 AM on April 1, 2007


Rockstar have sure plastered a lot of stickers with their logo all over the city. (In real life, not the game.) Corporate vandals suck.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:26 AM on April 1, 2007


It's for losers.
posted by caddis at 9:27 AM on April 1, 2007 [4 favorites]


For some of us this is a religious event. I hope this looks as beautiful in HD as it does in whatever low resolution it is in now.
posted by geoff. at 9:30 AM on April 1, 2007


I hope my building is in it! Have they announced a PC version yet?
posted by Mach5 at 9:34 AM on April 1, 2007


Wow, the graphics are pretty impressive. Is this the x-box or ps3 version shown?
posted by delmoi at 9:38 AM on April 1, 2007


delmoi: xbox360 (allegedly)
posted by Mach5 at 9:40 AM on April 1, 2007


I love the giant IV logo. Seriously.
posted by danb at 9:44 AM on April 1, 2007


XBOX360 and PS3, for whatever reason they usually wait around a year to bring it out onto the PC.
posted by geoff. at 9:45 AM on April 1, 2007


Thanks Rock Star. Now I'm going to associate a perfectly good movie with a crappy game franchise.

More like Mediocre Theft Auto? amirite?
posted by Colloquial Collision at 9:47 AM on April 1, 2007


Can't wait. My flamethrowing skills are suffering for lack of use.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:50 AM on April 1, 2007


I don't know about the game, but that trailer is great.
posted by donkeymon at 9:58 AM on April 1, 2007


Well, I thought that that was very cool indeed. Highbrow, mediumbrow and lowbrow all at once. I understand Michael Nyman will be scoring the next instalment of Resident Evil.

One of my most treasured memories is going to see Koyaanisqatsi projected onto the concrete flytower of the National Theatre one summer's night on London's South Bank. It was as though the film had been made, and Glass's music written, for that location. The traffic streaming past on Waterloo Bridge could have been part of the visuals - and in that central moment where the swollen moon treks wearily across the sky, I half expected it to continue past the edge of the screen into the heavens above the Capital. As cinematic experiences go, it was hard to beat. Near impossible.

On a related note, Naqoyqatsi premiered on British television last night (BBC2, at the prime time of 1.20am) and was very good but less outrageously wonderful than the first two films.
posted by WPW at 10:17 AM on April 1, 2007


In previous incarnations, players advanced through the game by killing cops, selling pornography to children and killing prostitutes. Details of the latest version have not been released.

Um... Killing cops and prostitutes you can do, yes, although I remember very few -- if any -- moments where you *had* to do those things, except for some of the corrupt cops. In fact, I think you could complete the game without doing either of those things, but whatever. But when did you sell porn to children? Am I totally forgetting, or is this another example of journalistic integrity?
posted by papakwanz at 10:18 AM on April 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Setting Grand Theft Auto in the safest big city in America would be like setting Halo in Disneyland," said City Councilman Peter Vallone, chairman of the Council's Public Safety Committee.

Halo set in Disneyland would be fairly fun.
posted by WPW at 10:23 AM on April 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


papakwanz - Not only is that mission a total fabrication, there aren't any children in any of the games!

"Setting Grand Theft Auto in the safest big city in America would be like setting Halo in Disneyland,"

I have no problem with this.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:23 AM on April 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


WPW - ARG! Seconds swifter!
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:24 AM on April 1, 2007


This Wired writeup on Rockstar feels like it should have been part of the FPP.
posted by ninjew at 10:24 AM on April 1, 2007


Rockstar Expose.

Of course, I'd be astoiunded if they didn't end up rolling in money by the end of the year.
posted by Artw at 10:25 AM on April 1, 2007


Damn.
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on April 1, 2007


I'm withholding judgment until Hillary Clinton weighs in.
posted by kableh at 10:29 AM on April 1, 2007 [7 favorites]


I got a laugh of the billboard for America's Top Hooker.
posted by O9scar at 10:30 AM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain the Grand Theft Auto numbering system to me? How come 4 comes several different incarnations after 3. I plead Grand Theft Ignorance.
posted by ColdChef at 10:36 AM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


ColdChef - Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City & San Andreas are all considered part of the "GTA III trilogy" - All three games were loosely connected, and they used largely the same technology.

With the new software generation, Sam Hauser said they were fixing to start over fresh in a lot of ways. So, a new number. We can assume subsequent games will be part of the "IV" series.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:41 AM on April 1, 2007


Oh, and III was also in Liberty City, so IV's setting speaks to a series rest as well.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:43 AM on April 1, 2007


rest = reset

(three in a row? oh god, shut up!)
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:53 AM on April 1, 2007


Colloquial Collision : "More like Mediocre Theft Auto? amirite?"

No.
posted by Bugbread at 10:54 AM on April 1, 2007


The amount of flack over these games is really astounding. I guess it's just a medium that "the old" are not familiar with and thus afraid of, but as the first generation of video gamers become parents and play games with their kids I think this problem largely goes away. Nintendo is smart to market games to adults who arn't a new market, but rather the people who played NES as kids. I think the game hysteria will go away with the accursed baby boomers like Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman.
posted by delmoi at 11:01 AM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I always found it odd that you could do a lot of really heinous, violent stuff in GTA and no one complained, but as soon as there was any sex, in come the politicians to defend America's Christian "morality". I guess some body fluids are more equal than others.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:11 AM on April 1, 2007 [6 favorites]


I have whiled away many hours on the various GTA games, and am keenly awaiting the release of IV (198 days and counting!). While I have killed my share of hookers in the games, I find that I have spent much more time in the games doing what I couldn't do in real life (landing helicopters on buildings, doing jumps off cliffs on a motorcycle) than doing what I wouldn't do in real life (killing people). Except for the stealing cars part--you can't really get away from that in the game, obviously.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:12 AM on April 1, 2007


This is probably going to be the thing that makes me finally pony up for the PS3.
posted by mckenney at 11:24 AM on April 1, 2007



This is probably going to be the thing that makes me finally pony up for the PS3.


Same here, except I'll be getting the 360. And then taking a week off.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:31 AM on April 1, 2007


Same here, except I'll be getting the 360. And then taking a week off.

Yeah, thirded. This will get me to buy a console.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:45 AM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


GTA3:San Andreas was soulless compared with its predecessor GTA3:Vice City. I hope they spend some time developing a good story and characters instead of milking the franchise some more.
posted by ken_zoan at 11:48 AM on April 1, 2007


This will probably have me getting the 360, just the Halo 3, Gears of War, and now this finally make it fully compelling to pickup the Elite xbox when it comes out.

I was reminded of Baraka in the opening scene, not the Qatsi series. But I guess I watch to many phillip glass as background movies.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:58 AM on April 1, 2007


The amount of flack over these games is really astounding. I guess it's just a medium that "the old" are not familiar with and thus afraid of

Close: the lack of familiarity makes them susceptible to fear-mongering, and it's the easiest target in the Family Values shooting gallery for mock-crusading politicians because there's little in the way of a legitimate mainstream press, for example, to mount a defence of the aeshetic and/or cultural significance of the medium or its games. (Not that it matters, because I'm not American, but if I were Hillary Clinton would've lost my vote the moment she started glibly pandering to this shrill constituency. You wanna shake your ass on the stage with your philandering husband to an anthem penned by a guy who was eventually rendered pre-verbal by his coke habit? No prob, honey, but STFU about "values" from the stump this time 'round, then, will ya?)

For the record, I interviewed Sam Houser and Terry Donavan at E3 in '99, just before the franchise exploded, and they understood what the medium could become better than anyone else at the convention. Whatever else happened to them business-wise, they totally got it on a cultural level. They knew videogames could be fully immersive Scorsese movies if they weren't so timidly willing to stay in their kids-stuff box. Implicit in this was the idea that they were free to explore the same terrain as Scorsese. Alas, America's hypocritical loony bin of a political culture wasn't ready for that.
posted by gompa at 11:59 AM on April 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Fall 2007 is going to be superb for big-budget console games - GTA4, Halo 3, the new Star Wars one...
posted by Spacelegoman at 11:59 AM on April 1, 2007


I was waiting to make my 360/PS3 decision based on where GTAIV came out (not that it's the only game I'd play, but the longer I wait, the cheaper the price, the cheaper old games become, and the more informed a decision I could make. However, once GTAIV came out, I knew I'd be itching to buy a system to play it right away), and since it's coming out on both the 360 and PS3 simultaneously, and the PS3 appears to be in a death spiral, this is what will get me to buy my 360.

mrzarquon : "I was reminded of Baraka in the opening scene, not the Qatsi series. But I guess I watch to many phillip glass as background movies."

Baraka is directed by the same guy as the Qatsi's, but has no Phillip Glass.

ken_zoan : "GTA3:San Andreas was soulless compared with its predecessor GTA3:Vice City. I hope they spend some time developing a good story and characters instead of milking the franchise some more."

This may explain the difference in opinion of folks with the GTAs. Personally, I play it pretty sandbox style, so I'm not interested much in the story or characters, but in the gameplay mechanics, music, scale, etc. As such, I've liked each GTA more than the last, as each allowed me to do more and more interesting stuff, though I confess I like the music in Vice City way, way, way more than SA or GTAIII.
posted by Bugbread at 12:07 PM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


The game looks great and all, but when are they going to come out with GTA: Hong Kong? The city's geography is already perfect for the game and with all the John Woo and other Hong Kong gangster movies there is so much back material to base the game on. Imagine starting out by washing up as a lowly thug from the mainland and then having to immerse yourself in the underworld of 80's Hong Kong. That game needs to be made.
posted by afu at 12:09 PM on April 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm holding out for GTA:Venice
posted by Flashman at 12:19 PM on April 1, 2007


One of the big game blogs (Joystiq or Kotaku, prob.) made the point that the politicians don't seem to complain about the legions of films and TV series that depict NYC as a haven of violent criminals, corrupt cops, sex fiends and drug dealers. As a parent who likes video games MORE than my child does, I think Delmoi is exactly right about the generational disconnect here. Although considering how quickly I was able to get my stepfather addicted to Wii Sports, it may change sooner that we think.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:23 PM on April 1, 2007


Delmoi - as a long-time gamer who is in his mid 30s I disagree. There is a growing number of gamer-age folks who question the violence, not just the sex.

I used to play games like this, they weren't my favorite genre, but I played them. I don't anymore.

I appreciate that GTA is very well done for it's type, but I don't think it' a good thing to put into my brain. If I'm going to swim in a virtual world I don't want the residue left behind to be from this sort of thing.
posted by django_z at 12:23 PM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just to add to RockSteady - I feel the same way about films. I loved Reservoir Dogs and and liked Pulp Fiction, but I didn't go to Kill Bill and I don't think I will. At some point I (and many of my friends in their 30s) started to question what we exposed ourselves to, not just our kids.
posted by django_z at 12:25 PM on April 1, 2007


I always found it odd that you could do a lot of really heinous, violent stuff in GTA and no one complained, but as soon as there was any sex, in come the politicians to defend America's Christian "morality". I guess some body fluids are more equal than others.

That's a nice strawman. There is in fact a huge backlash against this game, coming from every side of the political spectrum imaginable (this thread's participants, mostly leaning left, are a great example of the diversity of negative backlash). But I would think that politicians have better things to do than spend their time railing against a video game.

But don't let your personal problems with the current political regime get in the way of creating completely fallacious arguments.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 12:26 PM on April 1, 2007


Here's Joystiq on the subject.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:26 PM on April 1, 2007


Flashman typed "I'm holding out for GTA:Venice"

Which would be great.

My favorite, by far, is Vice City, because of how much it tapped into the 80s New Wave ethos and music. As far as I can tell, it's the only one of the lot with a really distinctive look and sound.

Why not a Venice GTA? Or a Jamaica GTA? Or a San Francisco 1977 GTA with an early punk soundtrack? Or an Oakland 1999 GTA with hip-hop soundtrack? Or a 1960s Nashville GTA? They could go so much farther.

In fairness, I've only played these games extremely casually.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:29 PM on April 1, 2007


django_z - I appreciate your point of view, and your decision making about what entertainment you consume, but it seems to me that much of the discussion about sex and violence about video games comes down on the side of broad-based censorship, rather than educating parents so they can decide what games their kids (and they themselves) should play.

roll truck roll - I think San Andreas did a really great job of capturing the early Gangsta Rap ethos and music. It's not quite as distinctive or obvious as the white-blazer-and-Wham you saw in Vice City, but maybe you just needed to give SA more time?
posted by Rock Steady at 12:39 PM on April 1, 2007


(30 yr old gamer here... first "video game" I ever played was the lemonade stand game on my Apple IIc back in 1980 or 81, something like that) -- One problem the "older generation" faces is that they simply don't understand how many games, especially those like the GTAs, work. They think of a game as a linear narrative wherein the player accomplishes certain tasks that earn points or some other way advance you to a predetermined goal. It is hard to conceive of something like GTA where the goal is to explore, not to rack up X amount of points or whatever. Sure, there is a linear element to it, but that is not all of it or even the major drawing point.

Also, let's think about the violence in most of these games. There are very few video games where killing a cop is even an option. This is based purely on anecdotal evidence, but in almost all violent games it seems that the player's character is some sort of cop or soldier fighting against 1) aliens, 2) mutants, or 3) terrorists. The politics of most of these games are pretty conservative, if you think about it in those terms. I loved Gears of War, but what's the plot of that game: you're a soldier killing aliens invading your world from underground... HELLO? I'm sure that plays well with the Minutemen market. GTA is pretty much an anomaly, yet people (read: politicians grubbing for a vote) hold it up as the paradigm all video games follow. And, of course, it is satire and very obviously so. Finally, like others have said, it basically rips most of its ideas from popular films, but I guess the film industry gets more of a pass since they pony up cash to the politicos. Rockstar and others just need to start making donations to the parties and then they'll be off the hook.
posted by papakwanz at 12:39 PM on April 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I think it is extremely indicative of the generational gap that much of the reporting/speechifying talk about the "points" players get for doing the various (and often fictional) despicable things, like it is some kind of GTA Pac Man.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:41 PM on April 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Or like papakwanz said.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:42 PM on April 1, 2007


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posted by mr. strange at 12:44 PM on April 1, 2007


But I would think that politicians have better things to do than spend their time railing against a video game.

And you'd be wrong.

But don't let your personal problems with the current political regime get in the way of creating completely fallacious arguments.

Nice strawman you got there. Where in Blazecock's post did he blame this on the Bush administration? Certainly the repugs are in the battle against the evil video games (wasn't there a post recently with Bill O'Reilly no-spinning against the Wii?) but, as others in this thread have pointed out, the charge is being led by such "liberals" as Hilary Clinton and Joe Lieberman, both of whom have spent a fair share of their time hammering video games, and GTA in particular, for being immoral and stealing our children's "innocence." So, pay attention.
posted by papakwanz at 12:45 PM on April 1, 2007


roll truck roll, I think these games have to be defined by more than their soundtracks. They require cities with iconic but accessible cultures and distinct musical styles/scenes, which also have a thriving criminal scene and interesting, varied geographies and architectures... and have enough accessible reference points that their intended audience feels they "get the joke". London kind of works, but it's been done a bunch of times by other companies.

Someone mentioned Hong Kong upthread; I think that would be a great one. 1930's Chicago would be cool, running liquor into the city... but I doubt many kids would enjoy a soundtrack of Jellyroll Morton and Lonnie Johnson and Guy Lombardo...
posted by Spacelegoman at 1:02 PM on April 1, 2007


I'm not really wrong here. It's a wedge issue and nothing more. And if gamers decide to get their panties (or tighty whities) in a twist because some politician decided to publicly rail against GTA, all the better for that politician (because he/she now has someone to point at to blame for society's woes).

And I brought up the administration because he said: in come the politicians to defend America's Christian "morality". You have to be pretty fucking dense not to put two and two together here. (I don't really want to expand upon this further here because quite frankly, it might get a bit personal, but feel free to e-mail me if you need the calculation explained in more detail.)
posted by SeizeTheDay at 1:05 PM on April 1, 2007


the PS3 appears to be in a death spiral

Don't get too caught up in the premature obituaries. The long term signs (sales growth, hardware potential and upcoming exclusive software most importantly) are pointing to Sony, and the 360 has been unable to take advantage of its edge in the short term.

We used to think that the death of exclusive titles due to high budgets was going to favor Microsoft's less expensive system. Considering the size and quality of Sony's software development stable along with the PS3's superior hardware (for running multi-port games like GTA IV), there's a good chance we see this go exactly the other direction.

I think Sony's PR team is, to put it politely, retarded, but they'll win this out me thinks; no thanks to them. I don't know what Microsoft (or even Nintendo) could do (or could have done) to get more killer apps out during Sony's troubled infancy, but it seems to me that they should do more than they have.
posted by pokermonk at 1:07 PM on April 1, 2007


But don't let your personal problems with the current political regime get in the way of creating completely fallacious arguments.

Unless you've been living in a cave on Mars for the last couple years, you'll have noticed both sides of the political spectrum have spent time propping up GTA as a convenient whipping boy for what they see as America's descent into moral depravity.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:12 PM on April 1, 2007


(I don't really want to expand upon this further here because quite frankly, it might get a bit personal, but feel free to e-mail me if you need the calculation explained in more detail.)

Hmpf.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:14 PM on April 1, 2007


Same here, except I'll be getting the 360. And then taking a week off.

Fourthed or fifthed or whatever. Based on the games I've seen so far, the only thing that would have made me even think about a PS3 was a GTA exclusive. Sorry, Sony.

(I was kinda hoping for a GTA: 2055 or something similar, but I can hang with the Russian mob.)
posted by Cyrano at 1:16 PM on April 1, 2007


So first it is something that politicians don't spend their precious time worrying about, but now its a wedge issue?

I guess I must be "pretty fucking dense" because politicians != republicans/Bushites, and the Bushies don't have a monopoly on claiming to be defenders of America's Xian morality, as the fact that Hilary and Joe (a jew!) have been pounding the pavement on this issue more than any other politician.

And I don't even get what the fuck this is supposed to mean:

if gamers decide to get their panties (or tighty whities) in a twist because some politician decided to publicly rail against GTA, all the better for that politician (because he/she now has someone to point at to blame for society's woes).

So, people are supposed to ignore what politicians say and do? That's smart. Is this the Treehouse of Horror "Just don't look" school of political activism? If politicians rail against, oh, I don't know, global warming, should scientists ignore it?

So yeah, you are really wrong.
posted by papakwanz at 1:17 PM on April 1, 2007


So wait, it's in New York, but what year?

Will I be firing rockets at the Twin Towers, or shoving cops into Ground Zero before I lock onto them and shoot them execution style. I'm unwilling to be outraged until I find out which is the case.
posted by elr at 1:17 PM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


ohmygodihavethebiggestbonerrightnowicantwait!!!!!!!eleven!!!
posted by Pecinpah at 1:17 PM on April 1, 2007


pokermonk : "Don't get too caught up in the premature obituaries."

Good point. I should have put a bit more emphasis on the "I'll be making my final decision when it actually comes out" part. There's a lot of time left for the PS3 to start moving; right now it looks like I'll be going 360, but things may certainly change.
posted by Bugbread at 1:19 PM on April 1, 2007


SeizeTheDay : "And if gamers decide to get their panties (or tighty whities) in a twist because some politician decided to publicly rail against GTA, all the better for that politician (because he/she now has someone to point at to blame for society's woes)."

So if people don't get upset that a politician scapegoats something, the politician cannot scapegoat it, even though he already is? But if they do get upset, then he gains the ability to scapegoat what he was already scapegoating?

Do I need a time machine and some graph paper to understand this argument?
posted by Bugbread at 1:22 PM on April 1, 2007


For me, the best of the series was the first of the III's. Liberty City was a perfect setting, very gloomy and dirty, and the protaganist was the best, as he never talked, which made the game much more immersive and more like an RPG, since the character wasn't already defined, and you were never forced to act against 'taxpayers'.

The mission design of III was much better too: many of the missions were fairly open and could be completed with different strategies, as opposed to the more linear missions of VC and SA.

I'd have to say the radio was much better too in III, with a decent variety of sounds and the use of underground or unknown artists gave the game a great feel. As opposed to VC and SA which was full of music I had grown up with and had heard a thousand times before.

At any rate, I love the idea of the Russian mob being involved and the new character seems interesting. This will be the game which makes me finally get a next-gen system.
posted by pandaharma at 1:23 PM on April 1, 2007


Imagine starting out by washing up as a lowly thug from the mainland and then having to immerse yourself in the underworld of 80's Hong Kong. That game needs to be made.

Or having to be an undercover cop, e.g. Hard Boiled. Man, that would be fun.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:23 PM on April 1, 2007


I'm holding out for GTA:Venice

Coming soon:

GTGCU: Vavatch
GTV: Caprica
GTS: Off-World Colonies
GTC: Rome
GTT: San Diego (with real-life footage)
GT767: Boston
GTO: Gondor
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:25 PM on April 1, 2007


Delmoi - as a long-time gamer who is in his mid 30s I disagree. There is a growing number of gamer-age folks who question the violence, not just the sex.

I used to play games like this, they weren't my favorite genre, but I played them. I don't anymore.
-- django_z

I don't play video games much at all anymore. The last game I played was Gran Turismo 4, and the last game I played before that was Gran Turismo 3. I did play some GTAIII when it first came out, and enjoyed it. You don't have to do anything violent in the game if you don't want too. I mean I guess jacking cars is kinda violent, but you don't really need to kill many people if you don't want too. When I played it, I rarely did anything involving gratuitous violence, I don't really enjoy it, so I didn't do it. GTA4 looks like it might be fun for the graphics/physics/etc engine and so I might be tempted to get the game just to see what it's like, but I'm not sure if I will or not. I have all these game systems I hardly ever use. I thought about getting a Wii, but I don't know if I would get much use out of it.

(It's ironic that I as a kid I would have been buying an incredible amount of video game crap as a kid if had the kind of disposable income I do now, and now that I have it, I hardly care)

The reason I don't care about video game violence isn't because I really like violent games, but because I believe that they are a valid way of telling a story. If someone suggested that movies like The Godfather or Fight Club shouldn't be made they'd be dismissed as a crank by most people, but if you're talking about video games then people seem to think that they are somehow not art, not a form of expression. I think that's preposterous.

NYC lawmakers are upset about the game portraying NYC as a haven for crime, but there are tons of movies that do the same thing, and no one complains. It's the double standard I find absurd. Realistically, the NYC politicians are more worried about The City's image then any sort of increase in violence.

I appreciate that GTA is very well done for it's type, but I don't think it' a good thing to put into my brain. If I'm going to swim in a virtual world I don't want the residue left behind to be from this sort of thing. -- django_z

Well, I'm not really worried about protecting my fragile little mind.
posted by delmoi at 1:34 PM on April 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


People can, and probably should, get all angry about games like Manhunt, Postal, and Thrill Kill, because those are games which promote sadistic violence as a main theme; violence is the goal of the game, not simply an option.

But GTA has always been about freedom. My favorite parts of both San Andreas and Vice City were not the tedious missions where you had to kill 50 people (the combat has always been weak) but just going around and .... doing stuff. I remember my roommate and I were both playing at the same time, and it was sunset in both our games, so we both grabbed a convertible, he muted his radio, and I pumped up the volume on some Night Ranger - and we just cruised. Now what in the hell is wrong with that?

In any case, was I the only person who thought the new guy in GTA IV looked middle eastern? Not fully like Saudi but at least Turkish or Palestinian? I can't really decode his accent but I don't know where everyone is pulling Russian from.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:53 PM on April 1, 2007


I can't really decode his accent but I don't know where everyone is pulling Russian from.

I think you answered yourself here. He sounds Russian to me.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:55 PM on April 1, 2007


I haven't owned a console since the Genesis, and was kinda tempted to get a Wii, but... holy crow, that trailer looked amazing. I might be sucked into getting one of the more hardened consoles just to run around that city.
posted by painquale at 1:57 PM on April 1, 2007


Good point. I should have put a bit more emphasis on the "I'll be making my final decision when it actually comes out" part. There's a lot of time left for the PS3 to start moving; right now it looks like I'll be going 360, but things may certainly change.

Eh . . . the PS3's real problem is that it came out about a year and a half too early--two years from now, the only thing that will keep the 360 on top is all the people who bought one this summer for Halo, Mass Effect and Bioshock. Not that there's anything wrong with that--the original XBOX was a superior machine to the PS2, and they're still putting out games for the latter. I still want one, I just don't want one yet.

Anyway: more on track. Video games are a new medium, and so they are necessarily demonized by an older generation that doesn't fully understand them. We've seen this before, with rap and television and rock & roll and comics and film and jazz and novels and. We'll see it again in thirty years, only the parents and politicians complaining about "the youth these days" will be us. In between, and in the near future, we'll going to see games mature and develop new modes of storytelling. Already we're seeing games work on bringing out themes--Halo 2 and its comment on religious fundamentalism, Bioshock and its fears about genetic manipulation--and creating characters a player can care about.

I didn't care at all about Tommy Vercetti in Vice City: he was painted to broad, too vicious, to psychopathic. A perfect cardboard cutout for a satire of the 80s and 80s crime films, but not a character to get caught up in. CJ from San Andreas, on the other hand, was much more fully realized--he had a family, a neighborhood he came from. Relationships weren't limited to simple mission briefings, but grew as the story progressed. Cesar and Woozie may have given you some missions early in the game, but they stayed with you through the end of the story. The characters might still only be two-dimensional, but two is still more than one.

The GTA series has--and this is gonna sound really, really weird for a game that sticks "69" and poop jokes into itself anywhere they don't fit--matured over the last five years, from a simple violent sandbox game through broad satire through taking a risk by commenting on the perception of race in American media. The new one--holy shit human trafficking!--seems like the Hausers are finally serious about making a game that reaches for the heights of good crime cinema. Will it be dirty and puerile? Of course it will. This is Rockstar, after all. But there are dirty and puerile parts in Ulysses, too, for Christ's sake.

New forms of narrative are both exciting and terrifying because they're so much more immersive than anything that has come before. That's why we worry about violent games bleeding out into the real world, even though it's really no more likely than reading Treasure Island and going off to become a pirate.

At any rate, I'll see you here in thirty years, complaining about these kids and their damn holodecks.
posted by thecaddy at 1:59 PM on April 1, 2007 [6 favorites]


Unless you've been living in a cave on Mars for the last couple years

wait ... you can do that? ... how much is the rent?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:07 PM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


When I played it, I rarely did anything involving gratuitous violence, I don't really enjoy it, so I didn't do it.

I remember, after getting caught up in the initial press hype over GTAIII's "revolutionary" open sandbox approach to console gaming, actually playing it and being disappointed in how very little there actually was to do. Sure, you could jack and joyride all manner of cars and beat up random pedestrians for (meaningless) virtual cash, but aside from that....what? Sega's Shenmue, as seriously flawed as it may have been, was a much better example of a true "immersive world" gaming experience IMO.
posted by Sullenshady at 2:11 PM on April 1, 2007


I wonder if the layout of the city is going to resemble Liberty City in GTA III or if they're going to scrap that and go for a near copy of New York. If this game really replicates New York - if you can wander around the Guggenheim or the MoMA, prowl around backstage at a Broadway play, hire a developer to build condos and gentrify Williamsburg, hit on Parker Posey at a club in the Meatpacking District, attend lectures at Cooper Union, get a Neapolitan at Luzzo's on 1st, and walk tiny little dogs on the Upper East Side - then I will have no choice but to buy a new console. On the other hand, I could go to New York.
posted by painquale at 2:20 PM on April 1, 2007


Dude, painquale, don't go to New York! I hear it's very violent. Why, there's even some violent game being set there!
posted by papakwanz at 2:29 PM on April 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Don't get too caught up in the premature obituaries. The long term signs (sales growth, hardware potential and upcoming exclusive software most importantly) are pointing to Sony, and the 360 has been unable to take advantage of its edge in the short term.

We used to think that the death of exclusive titles due to high budgets was going to favor Microsoft's less expensive system. Considering the size and quality of Sony's software development stable along with the PS3's superior hardware (for running multi-port games like GTA IV), there's a good chance we see this go exactly the other direction.

I think Sony's PR team is, to put it politely, retarded, but they'll win this out me thinks; no thanks to them. I don't know what Microsoft (or even Nintendo) could do (or could have done) to get more killer apps out during Sony's troubled infancy, but it seems to me that they should do more than they have.


I think you're terribly overestimating the people at Sony here. They made a great decision with the last generation when they launchd the PS2 a year early, but they're in huge trouble this time, far more than you're making it out to be. Here are a few reasons:

1.) Gears of War. Gears has already sold nearly four million unites since November. To put this in perspective with recent data, the PS3 unit is only in about three million households worldwide. When there's a killer exclusive app that has sold more units than your entire system, you're in trouble, especially when a sequel before the end of this generation is probably a flat-out guarantee (if not two).

2.) The death of the Playstation's exclusive rights. With 360 sales hovering somewhere around 13 million, all of the developers that signed on to make exclusive games for the Playstation last generation are jumping ship. The examples are myriad: Capcom has already put out two exclusive Xbox titles (Dead Rising and Lost Planet), the next Devil May Cry (a franchise that sold around 12 million copies on the Playstation platforms since its inception, if I recall correctly) was announced for both 360 and PS3. GTA IV is coming out at the same time for both systems. etc.

(there are also unconfirmed rumors that Metal Gear Solid 4 might be released for 360 sometime after PS3)

3.) Halo 3 + Christmas! The first Christmas season after the initial Christmas launch of any console gaming system is vital. A "hey, shiny new system" response will get you through the first, provided you can meet consumer demand for your product (/cough). But the next year, the company in question better have some outrageous software or they'll be left in the dust. What happens to Sony's holiday push when Halo 3 launches early (in September) as rumored? How many units of the system itself does Halo 3 sell not only in the first few months, but when they package it up with a system (which they certainly will). I know, for example, that Gears of War is what made my mind up about picking up a 360 last fall.

In addition to that, all the other highly anticipated games that could conceivably move a lot of console unites (like GTA IV, Resident Evil 5, and dark horses like that new Indiana Jones game from LucasArts) are all multi-platform games without staggered release dates.

4.) New franchises! Let's set aside Gears for a second here (and Lost Planet, and Dead Rising). What about Mass Effect and Bioshock? Look, to be perfectly honest, I hated the original xbox when it launched, and I hate most everything about Microsoft, but they did a good enough job with the 360 to turn me to the dark side. I don't know if I ever looked forward to two games as much as I look forward to Mass Effect and Bioshock. If anyone that's thinking about what console to buy hasn't checked out a few Bioshock trailers, take a look. They blow GTA IV out of the water. The art direction in the game reminds me of something between out of Dark City.

New franchises are as important as old ones. For evidence, take a look at what Resident Evil

-----

I realize all that probably reads like I'm a Microsoft employee, but I assure you I'm far too lazy to work for a major corporation (plus, from what I've seen on various blogs, Microsoft employees tend to spend their time online bashing their employer anyway, so...).

I'm just unsure how someone can claim that Microsoft (and Nintendo, who have nicely carved out a new niche) haven't done enough to put PS3 behind the eight-ball. Let's be honest: Sony did most of the job already, and nobody is really suggesting that Sony is going to go under and the PS3 is going to stop production. But it seems pretty obvious at this point that without a stroke of genius on Sony's part (or sheer folly on Microsoft's) they've already lost the battle for first place in this round of the console wars.

For the record, I'm historically a multi-platform console gamer without any specific allegiances. I even owned a Sega CD :(
posted by The God Complex at 2:35 PM on April 1, 2007


I forgot to mention X-box Live, which is in over 6 million households worldwide at this point. And it seems that every new game that comes out for PS3 and 360 supports Xbox live play for the 360 and has little or no online support for the PS3 (Virtua Tennis 3 is the most recent example). Capturing a percentage of the PC-gaming-first crowd with online play is an important strategical selling point. Who the hell wants to play Call of Duty 3 if there aren't a few thousand people online to play against?!
posted by The God Complex at 2:40 PM on April 1, 2007


GTA: New Orleans would have been great, but I'm not sure I want to see the Katrina edition.
posted by muckster at 2:40 PM on April 1, 2007


I'm holding out for GTA:Venice

Wouldn't that be Grand Theft Gondola: Venice?
posted by ladd at 3:49 PM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


GTA: New Orleans would have been great, but I'm not sure I want to see the Katrina edition.

I lived it, and it would not be a fun video game.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:57 PM on April 1, 2007


GTG:Venice, the most relaxing crime spree imaginable!
posted by gorgor_balabala at 4:11 PM on April 1, 2007


Actually, lots of things that sucked to live through make mighty fine video games. I'm pretty sure that crawling through the ruins of Stalingrad was one of the most awful things you could possibly have lived through but damn is it fun on a computer screen!
posted by Justinian at 4:13 PM on April 1, 2007


GTA IV is not set in New York. It's in Liberty City. As can be seen in several signs within the trailer.

Sure, LC is based on NY, but it ain't the same thing.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:26 PM on April 1, 2007


GTA IV is not set in New York. It's in Liberty City. As can be seen in several signs within the trailer.

Sure, LC is based on NY, but it ain't the same thing.


There's no way the GTA IV trailer could give fans everything they wanted or reveal too much about the game. But I liked what I saw. Seeing a Liberty City revealed to look almost identical to NY (it fooled me!) with numerous identifiable landmarks, including the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal gave me a bit of a charge. It's about time Rockstar gave up on pussyfooting around the idea of real places, buckled down and gave us free reign in over as close to a representation of NYC as possible.

That's from IGN.
posted by The God Complex at 4:38 PM on April 1, 2007


Sorry, meant to blockquote that. The last block of italicized text is from the IGN response to the trailer.
posted by The God Complex at 4:39 PM on April 1, 2007


I wish I had seen that write up about Rockstar from Wired, as it would have been a great link to add to the post.

My problem, see, is that I play all these games on the PC. So I'm looking at, what? Maybe 2009 for the game.

But San Andreas at 1600x1200 is dandy, let me tell you. And you can modify the statistics for every vehicle. Want a 10 ton bike that can turn on a dime and go 500 mph? Just modify a file...

I won't have any free time once this comes out, so it's a good thing I'm getting married this August to get that out of the way.
posted by ztdavis at 5:02 PM on April 1, 2007


"Implicit in this was the idea that they were free to explore the same terrain as Scorsese."

Yeah, but this is my beef with gamers— Scorsese? Fucking Ulysses? GTA:SA was boring, riddled with pop-up (which should have been something they axed, instead of making sure that half the missions required the same commute as most morning jobs), and full of amazingly terrible dialogue that seemed like it was written by folks still mastering the LiveJournal entry medium.
Gaming is still constrained by the thought that it only has to appeal to testosterone-addled sub-morons who are willing to spend hundreds of hours with any given grind.
Seriously? That traffic school thing? Fucking sucked.
And GTA:SA was worse as far as fun than GTA:VC, even though it looked better. With VC, I was willing to look around for hidden packages, and things like the incremental increases and bonuses made it worthwhile. Hundred fucking pearls? Never gonna do it. The tags coulda been cool, but at about 60 in, I couldn't give a fuck. I've tried picking it up again— the replay value is fucking nil because of all the bullshit you have to deal with (something that would make the game much, much more fun is if you could replay missions that you had already completed, because some of the missions are fantastic).
So, yeah, I can't wait for a game that truly does open things up, that truly does break away from the constraints of pandering to the lowest common denominator's view of fun, a game that's art and that pushes the boundaries of human experience and not just computing power.
Hell, I'd even settle for a game that realizes that the reason I watch The Godfather isn't just for the hits.
Maybe I just need to hire coders.
posted by klangklangston at 5:12 PM on April 1, 2007


Graphics look pretty nice. For a console game.
posted by notmydesk at 5:16 PM on April 1, 2007


notmydesk: It'll eventually come out on PC, but the graphics will still suck compared to whatever is out for PC by then.
posted by ztdavis at 5:21 PM on April 1, 2007


klang, check out Bioshock. I'm not sure if it's the open-ended sandbox you might be looking for, but the story and art direction both seem like they're a cut above the usual pablum (I'm far more interested in seeing how Bioshock turns out than I am GTA IV).
posted by The God Complex at 5:33 PM on April 1, 2007


Klang, instead of looking forward to a game that fills your requirements, I suggest looking backwards...

Games like Fahrenheit, Thief/System Shock, Monkey Island, Grim Fandango and so on. All of these represent to me what gaming should be about: immersion. Gaming is years behind films when it comes to writing, production, acting etc. The one thing we have is something no other platform has: an immersive environment where the user is allowed to wonder around without a plot (necessarily) pushing them forward.

System Shock 2 is my favorite game of all time, though I know that it has several critical gameplay and design flaws. Mainly because it made me feel (and still does) like I'm alone on an deserted spacestation. The sense of 'being there' is something that is critically lacking in most games today, mainly because of the need to pander to the 'console gamers'. The gameplay mechanic is still pretty much the same run-and-gun as before, but hopefully we'll one day move on to a more realistic approach.

Personally, this is why Bioshock and especially Alan Wake really strike me as games to keep an eye out for.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:47 PM on April 1, 2007


notmydesk: Graphics look pretty nice. For a console game.
So, uhh, exactly what video card do you have that's faster than the one in the 360 or PS3? Unless you dropped 650$ on a 8800GTX, I'm not sure you're going to do any better on your pc than the 360/PS3.

slimepuppy: The sense of 'being there' is something that is critically lacking in most games today, mainly because of the need to pander to the 'console gamers'.
Seems like a false dichotomy. The console gamers are going to, on average, have a bigger TV than their PC brethren. Is there something somehow inherently more immersive about a keyboard an mouse than a gamepad? A game like Resident Evil(any) or God of War is damn immersive.

I think PS3 vs. 360 comes down to whether Sony can get a compelling bunch of console-exclusive games on the shelf within the next year or two. Even if the 360 weren't largely the same hardware at 2/3rds the price, it's just too easy for publishers to port games to both and not leave a bunch of sales on the table. Porting to both helps publishers ameliorate the high risk of shipping this early in the console cycle, and publishers are all about reducing risk.

Anyway, I hope both do well; having both means competition, and that's good for everyone.
posted by blenderfish at 6:05 PM on April 1, 2007


Any word on whether the PS3 and XBOX 360 games eill be identical? Are we actually going to see any PS3 games that are noticably different from their X Box counterparts?
posted by Artw at 6:08 PM on April 1, 2007


I always found it really interesting that San Andreas raised this incredible press shitstorm when people discovered the hidden sex mini-game. A mini-game that was nearly impossible to unlock (using a pro-action replay, or some such device).

Meanwhile, at the exact same time as that happened, I'm playing God of War, on the same console, with the same M rating. A game that features a threesome mini-game, and WAY more nudity than I expected in a PS2 game.

But God of War didn't get a single mention in the whole fiasco. How the hell did they pull that off?
posted by graventy at 6:09 PM on April 1, 2007


Yeah, but this is my beef with gamers— Scorsese? Fucking Ulysses? GTA:SA was boring, riddled with pop-up, . . . and full of amazingly terrible dialogue that seemed like it was written by folks still mastering the LiveJournal entry medium. Gaming is still constrained by the thought that it only has to appeal to testosterone-addled sub-morons who are willing to spend hundreds of hours with any given grind. Seriously? That traffic school thing? Fucking sucked.

Okay, I'm not seriously comparing the GTA series, or any other video game in development, to Ulysses. I'm only saying that "dirty and puerile" are not, on their own, something antithetically opposed to good art. Nor am I arguing that San Andreas is the be-all end-all of games, or that I expect GTA:IV to suddenly drop the manic attitude and be a sweet, dark game that goes beyond run-and-gun-then-play-with-the-physics (though a man can hope). But I am saying that storytelling's getting better, the game worlds are getting more realistic, and we're reaching the point that a videogame that does live up to those standards is something that can be seriously discussed, versus laughing the possibility of videogames ever having emotional heft.

I probably need to hire coders too.

On preview: But God of War didn't get a single mention in the whole fiasco. How the hell did they pull that off?

Not set in the real world? Not the Senate's problem.
posted by thecaddy at 6:24 PM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


slimepuppy: interesting that you mention Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy to those in the US) - I think it's the first and only game I've abandoned partway through solely because the writing was so abysmal.

Half-Life 2, Shadow of the Colossus, Ico, Okami, Psychonauts, Final Fantasy XII, Silent Hill 2, Project Zero/Fatal Frame. And many more besides. I'd argue the sense of 'being there' in videogames is greater now than it's ever been, and the potential the medium has for works of visual art and for emotional storytelling is really starting to be explored properly. You just have to look further than the 'same run-and-gun' games you mention. It's worth noting there's only one PC-native game in that list, too.
posted by terpsichoria at 6:31 PM on April 1, 2007


ArtW - At this point, it looks like the big differences between the two versions will be the online content/function.

According to speculation, anyhow. Rockstar isn't saying much.
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:40 PM on April 1, 2007


graventy:

Funny thing. I took my copy of GTA:SA to GameStop the other day, to trade in for some game credit. They couldn't take it because it is the original version with the impossible to find hot coffee mod. Something that what, maybe 5% of the population will take the effort to find? To be honest, if I were a parent and my child went to all the trouble to unlock the hidden content, I'd be more proud about his/her (oh who am I kidding, his) future as a brilliant software designer than I would be upset at him looking at some jaggy digitized tits.
posted by papakwanz at 6:58 PM on April 1, 2007


Somewhere in Russia, a young mobster is saying "Look at thees! We tink Moscow is the capital of gang crime, but according to thees veedeo game, New York is the shiznit! We must move all operations there immediately!"
posted by fungible at 7:00 PM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I'd argue the sense of 'being there' in videogames is greater now than it's ever been"

It's funny you mention Half-Life 2... I thought Half-Life 1 had a much, much better sense of "being there". In the sequel, they added needless characters with horrible dialogue, a big cute robot sidekick, and a stupid ZOMG ORWELL! plotline. It was the Hollywood blockbuster version of Half-Life. It seems to me that that's the direction that video games are taking, and for some reason, eveyone applauds them for it. "Emotional storytelling" in the video game world means Titanic-style tearjerking. The first HL was pretty much pure, distilled atmosphere, which was perfect.

But I'm one of those guys who liked Myst.
posted by painquale at 7:10 PM on April 1, 2007


Well, y'know, I liked the first Silent Hill (until about the end when a big WTF took over), I just started playing Shadow of the Colossus (and got bored after trying to run up the long thing from, what, the third guy?), and I really dug Okami (though skipping through the dialogue would have added about 50% more fun).
I even enjoyed FFXII.
It's just that there's a huge gulf between the potential of the medium and the way it's been used. It's like having film and the grand vision that everyone has as the apex is fucking Braveheart.
posted by klangklangston at 7:15 PM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's just that there's a huge gulf between the potential of the medium and the way it's been used.

Depends on your criteria of success. I am of the opinion that games should be fun first, and look good/tell a story second. I'll take the fun game with the poor writing over the tedious/poorly designed game with the excellent writing any day. Other people may be different.
posted by blenderfish at 7:26 PM on April 1, 2007


That's a red herring. I don't go to see 2001 or Eraserhead or The Godfather or ∏ or Pan's Labyrinth because they're fun movies per se. I think that video games can do similar things, but they haven't yet.
posted by klangklangston at 7:36 PM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


They are fun... WHEN YOU ARE STONED TO THE BEJESUS!!!!!!!11!
posted by papakwanz at 7:52 PM on April 1, 2007


The problem is, the kind of dialogue- and editing-driven exposition and commentary on a character's inner state that makes, say, Goodfellas or The Sopranos (to stay with the gangster genre) artful and compelling is something I'd argue nobody has really pulled off well in a game yet. Doing that stuff in a cutscene pulls you right out of immersion (and the third or fourth time you rewatch it after failing a mission, gets annoying as all hell) and presenting it within normal gameplay a la Half Life 2 seems to lessen the effect of it as story material without the "You. Must. Watch. This." power a good director could bring.
posted by arto at 8:49 PM on April 1, 2007


Really? Because I'd rate Half Life and Half Life II as excellent when ity comes to computer games storytelling. They're not really obvious about it, but that's kind of the point.
posted by Artw at 8:52 PM on April 1, 2007


Bah. Planescape:Torment is still the best-written video game ever.
posted by Justinian at 9:19 PM on April 1, 2007


Baraka is directed by the same guy as the Qatsi's, but has no Phillip Glass.

Baraka
was directed by Ron Fricke, not Godfrey Reggio. The connection is that Ron Fricke also shot Koyaanisqatsi, but neither of the other two.
posted by mosessmith at 9:45 PM on April 1, 2007


Really? Because I'd rate Half Life and Half Life II as excellent when ity comes to computer games storytelling. They're not really obvious about it, but that's kind of the point.

Maybe I'm being a little overly critical then--I confess, I primarily know HL2 through the demo--but I guess what I'm trying to get at is that games seem to require something different to invoke those kinds of emotional responses, and it might be that the best techniques for doing so haven't even been thought up yet.
posted by arto at 9:29 PM on April 1, 2007


Funny thing. I took my copy of GTA:SA to GameStop the other day, to trade in for some game credit. They couldn't take it because it is the original version with the impossible to find hot coffee mod.

Ought to try selling it on eBay, I bet it's probably worth something.
posted by delmoi at 10:07 PM on April 1, 2007



klangklangston: That's a red herring. I don't go to see 2001 or Eraserhead or The Godfather or ∏ or Pan's Labyrinth because they're fun movies per se. I think that video games can do similar things, but they haven't yet.

arto: The problem is, the kind of dialogue- and editing-driven exposition and commentary on a character's inner state that makes, say, Goodfellas or The Sopranos (to stay with the gangster genre) artful and compelling is something I'd argue nobody has really pulled off well in a game yet.


I think the problem is that people think of it too much in terms of movies, or shoehorning devices which work in movies into games-- movies can and should certainly provide inspiration, but I think the goal should be to do things that only games can do. I would argue that GTA3 is meaningful, and it has nothing to do with the writing or cinematography or acting or lighting or music or whatever-- it is meaningful because it teaches you something about yourself when you play.
posted by blenderfish at 10:54 PM on April 1, 2007


I agree completely with blenderfish. What makes GTA so compelling is that it excels in ways that would only be possible in the medium.

It's not the poorly written cutscenes (with their creepy wooden hands) or overwrought dialogue that makes the games 'cinematic'. It's their ability to evoke an atmosphere, a definite sense of place, a different feeling to every alleyway and underpass. Movies can do this, of course, but they can't put it all together and bundle it with the freedom to wander and explore and drink it all in at your leisure that the interactivity of video games make almost essential.

The best parts of the game are when something completely unintended but utterly magical happens --- suddenly being caught in the midst of an epic dust storm while your rickety helicopter is buffeted on all sides as Pressure Drop comes on the radio --- and you're pulled into this alternate universe that, despite all the talk of 'realism', is made by better by the fact that it is so unlike reality.

What I mean is this: I haven't played Vice City in almost two years, and while I was thinking about it, I realized that I actually missed Vice City --- not the game or the action or the characters, but the actual city itself. When I popped in the CD, it was like taking a little vacation to an imaginary world. It's a crude world, and rough around the edges. No substitute for real reality, but compellingly real in its own strange, neon-tinged way. It's rare that movies or books or whatever can evoke this kind of living, breathing alternate reality at all, and impossible for them to present it in such a tangible form.

The missions and plots are all fine for what they are, and the games may not be the consummate form of the medium, but it's GTA's ability to not only provide me with my own little cartoon California (replete with its own culture and bizarre internal logic) that feels like it actually could be some strange, magical world on the other side of my television screen, but then allow me to exist in that cartoon world, do what I want in that world, poke around at its corners and actually feel like a part of it --- well, let's just say it's hugely immersive, and immersive in a totally unique way, and it's that that really amazes me about the video game medium, and it's that that makes me wonder what else the medium can do. And if this is only just the beginning, then I really, honestly wonder what the medium, free of the artificial blockbuster-movie confines its been pigeonholed into, will one day do.

(I'm not some retarded fan boy, btw, and I really don't play video games that often even, but something about GTA just takes me there, you know.)
posted by Tiresias at 11:50 PM on April 1, 2007 [8 favorites]


Delmoi - Point taken about the open-ended nature of GTA, that does sound enjoyable. And you're right, there is a double standard between movies and games. And I don't think there should be and it's primarily generational.

I would never be on the side that censors either. But I'm not a big fan of the violence (it bothers me much more than the sex) in films or games. I don't consume much of it and I like to talk about it with other people because I don't think thoughtful conversations are happening enough on this topic - it tends to be shrieking fear-mongers at the decline of civilization or eye-rolling 14-28 year olds who say "big deal" I think there's more to it than that.

Actually I'm much more concerned about the growing invasion of sadistic horror movies at the local video place than about any video games.

I do think there is a connection between the way most of us live in this country (cut off from family and other people and community in our apartments and homes and virtual lives) and the need for more and more shock to feel.


...tempting to respond to your "fragile little mind" comment, but I'll pass.
posted by django_z at 1:05 AM on April 2, 2007


Tiresias - what you wrote is beautiful. I have had that experience with other games...and it is what keeps me coming back and what excites me.

I definitely think we are still in the long adolescence of this medium. And it will get much, much better.
posted by django_z at 1:07 AM on April 2, 2007


I moved about a year ago, and something bad must have happened to my PS2 during the move because when I set it up again it didn't work anymore.

I'll have it fixed some day I guess, but there's no hurry.

It is possible to quit, guys. Cold turkey. I did it.
posted by matteo at 4:59 AM on April 2, 2007


According to Will Wright, games operate with a different emotional palate than movies, and the difference is one of agency.

A game is about things YOU are doing, and a movie is about things THEY are doing.

Movies evoke empathic responses -- excitement, sadness, etc, but always for the other.

Games evoke more immediate responses -- Satisfaction, fear, even guilt.

The best games recognize the difference. The worst games try to shoehorn 'character' and 'plot' into a game and try to force you into an emotional state that movies are far better at evoking. This is why cut scenes suck. If you wanted to watch a movie, you'd have watched a movie. You want the pure adrenaline rush that only games can give.

I think this is why Half-Life 2 works as a pure gaming experience. The consistent 1st person perspective and lack of dialogue from the main character keeps there from being an wall between you and your character. You ARE Gordon Freeman. His accomplishments are your accomplishments, his failures are your failures, and his death is your death.

I think if you did a game like HL2 with the freedom to act of Oblivion or GTA3, you'd have the ultimate game experience.
posted by empath at 5:29 AM on April 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


I definitely think we are still in the long adolescence of this medium. And it will get much, much better.

Agreed. I don't think there has yet been a Citizen Kane of games.
posted by empath at 5:30 AM on April 2, 2007


mosessmith writes " Baraka was directed by Ron Fricke, not Godfrey Reggio. The connection is that Ron Fricke also shot Koyaanisqatsi, but neither of the other two."

Ah, thanks. My memory sucks.
posted by Bugbread at 7:47 AM on April 2, 2007


matteo writes "It is possible to quit, guys. Cold turkey. I did it."

If you look at the number of people here saying "this will get me to buy a (ConsoleNameHere)", it should be relatively clear that addiction isn't really a problem here. If it were, we'd already have a 360 or PS3.
posted by Bugbread at 7:52 AM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually I'm much more concerned about the growing invasion of sadistic horror movies at the local video place than about any video games.

I am too, but mainly because those movies SUCK; they aren't even scary, they are like bad porn: a lot of goo on the screen without any emotion. They are dumbing down the horror genre. Whenever another iteration of Saw or one of its clones come out, I hear my students (college freshmen) talking about how awesome and freaky it is, and I die a little inside.

I'd much rather hear them talking about how much fun it is to play Halo 2 or GTA.
posted by papakwanz at 8:40 AM on April 2, 2007


Halo set in Disneyland would be fairly fun.

GTA set in Disneyland would be fun, too.
posted by effwerd at 9:44 AM on April 2, 2007


If it were, we'd already have a 360 or PS3.

maybe they're just too expensive -- it just means you're not that addicted.
posted by matteo at 10:13 AM on April 2, 2007


(I just walked by a local electronics store, and about 10 days after the PS3's launch here they're already sitting on mountains of consoles, glumly waiting for buyers)
posted by matteo at 10:15 AM on April 2, 2007


Tiersias you just summed up exactly how I feel about the GTA games. I can't wait for GTA IV..
posted by jockc at 10:50 AM on April 2, 2007


GTA: McMurdo.
*steals snowmobile*
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Penguin. *shoots* Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. ...

“and you're pulled into this alternate universe that, despite all the talk of 'realism', is made by better by the fact that it is so unlike reality.”

Yeah, I’ve had those moments in GTA. It strikes me that the best games give you the tools to create your own reality within their world through your actions. It can be almost mythmaking at it’s best. And you’re right there with your character - you are ‘that guy’ and what’s nice about it is it’s almost dreamlike - not in the sense of escape, but that it’s for a (shared) audiance of one. I remember being parked on the docks in LC - just by the Yakuza chick’s apartment when you get off the boat. All those shipping containers about. The sun was setting and it just felt like an intimate calm in my (virtual) life. All the crap with the betrayal and everyone wanting a piece of you just sort of melted away. There’s a kind of freedom there. And there’s the possibility of synchronous understanding with other players that is so subversive - and I think that’s what really scares these people. They can’t see beyond the shooting and sex and such - but they can sense what’s actually going on. You can say to someone ‘I was there, in that place’ and they can say it too. And you’ve both created something from the raw material within the game. The treasure of that shared but independent artistry is what scares them. So they play up the hookers and shake some sort of 1/2 assed ‘child porn’ threat words at people to scare them away from it. They’re having enough trouble from the few people creating art and concepts and communicating things now. Hell, the ratings boards slap an NC-17 on and economically censor whatever they don’t like.

“I really, honestly wonder what the medium, free of the artificial blockbuster-movie confines its been pigeonholed into, will one day do.”

It could make creators of us all.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:55 PM on April 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Unintended consequences are exactly what the GTA games are all about for me, as well.

In San Andreas one day I was flying around in the jetpack and noticed that if anyone rear ended a cop car, the cop would get out and shoot the offending driver. So I would fly around in the jetpack, land in front of cop cars. They'd stop, get rear ended, get out, and shoot the driver behind them. Slightly amusing, yes, but one time the pedestrian killed the cop, so the cop's partner had shot the pedestrian and then took over driving the car.

I watched all this happen from the top of the cop car (one of the blazer's out in the desert). When the cop got back in he just drove away with me sitting on top. Thing is, this particular cop didn't pay attention when I shot at stuff. He just kept driving. Some particular fluke in coding made him ignore me completely, even when my wanted level got as high as five and six stars.

Now, since I was on top of a cop car no other cops would shoot at me. They would drive up to the car I was on top of, get out, realize that the car I was on had driven away, get back into their cars, rinse, repeat as desired.

Granted, I'm not sure if any of this allays the fears of those that think the game is too violent.
posted by ztdavis at 1:02 PM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


"It could make creators of us all"

Isn't that what Spore is going to do?
posted by ztdavis at 1:04 PM on April 2, 2007


If they outlaw video games about outlaws, then only outlaw video games will have... um... where was I going here?
posted by papakwanz at 3:40 PM on April 2, 2007


  1. Murder is against the law.
  2. But you can experience it vicariously in video games like GTA, because you're in a game world where the law doesn't apply.
  3. So let's assume that games like GTA are outlawed.
  4. Logically, then, the only place you could play games like GTA would be inside game worlds where the law doesn't apply.
  5. So, basically, you'd have to play GTA as a minigame inside Animal Crossing.
That would be sweet.
posted by Bugbread at 5:15 PM on April 2, 2007


So wait, this isn't an april fools joke? I never trust anything within a week of april 1st.
posted by tehloki at 6:28 PM on April 2, 2007


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